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Old 04-19-2011, 10:27 PM   #1
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Interpreting Test Kit Results

I'm very new to this. I'm using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, and I'm very frustrated. I simply can't determine a definitive match between the colors in the test tubes and the colors on the card. Also, to my eyes, the colors on the card for Nitrate 10ppm and 20ppm are identical, as are the 40ppm & 80ppm colors.

To my eyes, I call the results as:
  • pH 8.0-8.2
  • Ammonia 0.25
  • Nitrite 5+
  • Nitrate 10-20

Ammonia is fairly easy, since it's supposed to be as low as possible, any color progression is pretty obvious. I have the most trouble with reading Nitrite and Nitrate.

Here are photos from my latest test:

Nitrite
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink

Nitrate
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink

(The camera alters the colors somewhat, so I changed angles slightly to reduce reflections. The colors in the darker photos are closer to what I actually see in the test tubes.)

I just lost everything to Ich, so I'm basically starting over. It's been 12 days since the last fish was removed. I've done several 10%-20% water changes and gravel vacuumings. A couple of days ago I added Stress Zyme. Yesterday I did a 50% water change and put in a new filter element (Aqueon QuietFlow 10). I want to start adding fish, but I don't know if my water is ready.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:23 PM   #2
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You are FAR from being ready my friend. Since you've got an empty tank the best thing would be to do a fishless cycle to get it ready for stocking. Take a quick peek at the link in my signature.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:26 PM   #3
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I'll be happy to walk you through it to set up the tank. Right now the water is highly toxic and is deadly to fish. Check out my article and contact me if I can provide any assistance.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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Based on the pics, I think your interpretation of the test results are correct. You're right, though - they can be super hard to read. I tend to pass them to my sweetie for a second pair of eyes.

Overall, I agree with eco23 - with nitrIte that high, a fish sounds like a bad idea.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:01 PM   #5
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Based on the pics, I think your interpretation of the test results are correct. You're right, though - they can be super hard to read. I tend to pass them to my sweetie for a second pair of eyes.
I did have my younger sister look at them... she couldn't do any better.

Quote:
Overall, I agree with eco23 - with nitrIte that high, a fish sounds like a bad idea.
I just read "The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling" and "Tips and tricks for your fastest fishless cycle!". It's much more involved than I was lead to believe.


Should I now treat my tank as a "stalled cycle", or dump all the water and start from the beginning?
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:09 PM   #6
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Both results to my eyes is 5ppm
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:11 PM   #7
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There's 2 sides to this. #1- pretend like you're mid-cycle and dose up with 4ppm of ammo until the cycle completes. Depending on how long since there been fish in there you should already be deep into your cycle with those levels and currently have a good amount of bacteria.

#2- The other side... I could be wrong, but I think once there's been an ich outbreak it's in the tank forever living in the substrate. It can come back out when the fish are stressed and their immune system is weak. Personally, I'd start from scratch and scrub the tank and replace everything. However, I understand that financially and patience wise that's not always an option.
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:14 PM   #8
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#2- The other side... I could be wrong, but I think once there's been an ich outbreak it's in the tank forever living in the substrate. It can come back out when the fish are stressed and their immune system is weak. Personally, I'd start from scratch and scrub the tank and replace everything. However, I understand that financially and patience wise that's not always an option.
going to agree with this. you can never be too careful. ich is a nasty little disease, i wouldn't want to see you lose even more fish to it. best bet is to empty the tank and give it a good scrub (using vinegar or a diluted bleach--rinsing extremely well with hot water several times after).

it stinks, but at least this puts you on the right track to being a successful fishkeeper
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:18 PM   #9
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I also just saw it's been 13 days since the bacteria last had an ammonia source. Chances are that most, if not all of the bacteria has starved. So, in essence it will be like starting over. I'd go ahead and break everything down and start over. Hopefully someone can add some expertise, but I'm thinking soaking your substrate and plants in a mild bleach solution might kill off any ich living in it. Then again, I think ich lives basically as a cyst, so bleach might have no effect on it.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:02 PM   #10
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Nitrite and ammonia both need to always be at zero when there's fish in the tank Nitrate ideally should be kept from exceeding 20ppm. Changing your filter media is the last thing you want to do before adding fish. That is where the majority of your good bacteria that eats up the ammo and nitrite lives.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siva
Nitrite and ammonia both need to always be at zero when there's fish in the tank Nitrate ideally should be kept from exceeding 20ppm. Changing your filter media is the last thing you want to do before adding fish. That is where the majority of your good bacteria that eats up the ammo and nitrite lives.
Yeah, but if he's starting over because he had ich in the tank and is going to re-cycle fishless...you definitely want to get rid of the media as it might have traces of the infection. If you've got a few extra $'s, I'd scrub and replace everything you can.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:19 PM   #12
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Yeah, but if he's starting over because he had ich in the tank and is going to re-cycle fishless...you definitely want to get rid of the media as it might have traces of the infection. If you've got a few extra $'s, I'd scrub and replace everything you can.

Sorry should have been more clear, I meant going foward
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by siva

Sorry should have been more clear, I meant going foward
Good point. I don't change mine until it's literally falling apart. And before you throw it away put the new one next to the old for a while to let it seed the new filter. If you have a HOB (hang on back) filter, avoid the carbon cartridges. Buy the sheets of filter material and cut it down to size and use that instead.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:56 PM   #14
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That one is really a matter of personal preference. I use the carbon. It is not harmful, though I understand you feel it is not useful.
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Old 04-20-2011, 08:10 PM   #15
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That one is really a matter of personal preference. I use the carbon. It is not harmful, though I understand you feel it is not useful.
It's not carbon that's the problem. I run it occasionally too if the water gets cloudy. It's just that these companies fool people into replacing the cartridges every month to make $. When I'm done using the carbon, I cut a slit in the cartridge and throw out the carbon granules and pop the empty cartridge back in. These greedy companies really don't care if you have mini cycles every month. Just gets you to buy more fish and chemicals.
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:54 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the good advice. I've been trying to reply, but I was blocked from posting -- I guess I was too active for a new member and tripped a spam alarm or something.

Based on your advice, and what I've been reading, I've started the "fishless cycle".

Thanks!
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Old 04-21-2011, 08:25 PM   #17
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Good for you! Trust me, it's much easier to do...and it's a great feeling putting fish in for the first time and knowing they have a healthy home. I'll do everything I can to help along the way. Use my guide and message me if you have any questions
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