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Old 03-31-2006, 09:48 PM   #1
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Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate ?

I was told that I did not need an ammonia or nitite test kit if I was testing for NitAtes, since this is the end result in the cycle. Is this true? Do I only need to test for ammonia and nitites when cycling a new tank? Anyone heard anything like this before?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:07 PM   #2
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Eh..

If you are doing a fishless cycle its possible to get away without testing ammonia and nitrites as there are no fish to hurt. But you need to test the tapwater to see if nitrates are in it, my tap has 2-3 ppm of nitrates. That way you don't get any false readings.

If you have nitrates in your tap then you'll need to keep track of water changes. If you have lets say 6 ppm of nitrates and filled your tank it would read 6 ppm. Lets say you do a 50% PWC that cuts the nitrates to 3 ppm, but you then add 6 ppm when filling the tank which raises it to 9 ppm. Next time you do a pwc it cuts to 4-5 ppm but add back 6 ppm and now you're at 10-11 ppm. The good news is this is where you balance out. The bad news is you'll think your tank is cycled because you have 10 ppm of nitrates.

Its best to buy the ammonia and nitrite tests because you'll need them when you do add fish.
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Old 04-01-2006, 11:27 AM   #3
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You need an ammonia and nitrite test kit even if you are cycling fishless. You have to know how much ammonia is reading in the tank. Too much can cause a cycle to stall. Both tests are necessary. When new fish are added, you need to test for the first couple days to make sure an Ammonia spike does not occur.
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:44 AM   #4
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Thanks.. I wasn't sure to trust that advice so I thought I'd check here. Will go pick up the kits today. Any brand recommended over another? I know go liquid over dip strips.
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Old 04-02-2006, 12:01 PM   #5
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Aquarium Pharmaceuticals(sp?) makes a master test kit with everything you need in it.
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Old 04-03-2006, 09:22 AM   #6
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I'd recommend getting all three, theyre always handy to have, now that my tanks are up and running with no problems i test every three weeks, just to keep an eye on things
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IceH2O
Eh..

If you are doing a fishless cycle its possible to get away without testing ammonia and nitrites as there are no fish to hurt. But you need to test the tapwater to see if nitrates are in it, my tap has 2-3 ppm of nitrates. That way you don't get any false readings.

If you have nitrates in your tap then you'll need to keep track of water changes. If you have lets say 6 ppm of nitrates and filled your tank it would read 6 ppm. Lets say you do a 50% PWC that cuts the nitrates to 3 ppm, but you then add 6 ppm when filling the tank which raises it to 9 ppm. Next time you do a pwc it cuts to 4-5 ppm but add back 6 ppm and now you're at 10-11 ppm. The good news is this is where you balance out. The bad news is you'll think your tank is cycled because you have 10 ppm of nitrates.

Its best to buy the ammonia and nitrite tests because you'll need them when you do add fish.
I agree you should have all 3 test kits always available. Later on down the line it is very possible to get an ammonia or nitrIte spike, and you'd never see it with just the nitrAte test. Not only that but as mentioned some tap water contains nitrAte. Mine has about 5-10ppm in it (which is great since I have a planted tank) which can be a pain when trying to monitor levels and keep water changes to a minimum and toxins in check.

The reason I quoted this post though is to correct some math. I've seen this a couple times now and it is important to make sure everyone knows how concentrations and measurements happen.

If you have 6ppm of nitrAtes in your tap water, yes when it is filled for the first time there are 6ppm of nitrAtes in the tank. ppm stands for parts per million. This means that your tap water has 6 parts of nitrAte for every million parts of water. When I take 50% of the water out for a water change (1/2 of your 1 gallon tank) I still have 6ppm of nitrAte in the tank. The concentration has NOT changed. If I added back in 1/2 gallon of tap water my concentration is STILL 6ppm for the tank.

Now if I take out 1/2 gallon of tank water and replace with 1/2 gallon of distilled water/RO water/etcthe tank now has 3ppm of nitrAte. You've cut your nitrAte concentration in 1/2. There are still as many nitrAte molecules in the tank as there was before adding back the 1/2 gallon in, they are just now diluted.

So using the example that IceH2O posted:

The nitrAte level in the tank before, after the first PWC, and final are ALL THE SAME. This is good though. It means that as long as your tap water does not change (or that you measure the tap before adding water back into the tank), your nitrAte level should always be consistent. That is, however, until your bacteria begin to consume the ammonia and nitrIte. Then every time your do a PWC the nitrAte level in the tank can only be lower than before you did the water change. That's why water changes are good!

HTH,

justin
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:51 PM   #8
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That was a very thorough explanation Justin!
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Old 04-04-2006, 12:53 PM   #9
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Thanks for that explanation. Makes perfect sense.

I have gotten the ammonia kit and had the nitrAte kit. Still can't find a nitrIte kit. Will look again when I go to the "other" lfs. Until I find it, how can I (can I?) tell if things are going well? The tank is 46g has an AquaClear 70 seeded for a bit over a week running, some gravel and rocks from an existing tank and a large piece of driftwood preseeded from a trusted local fish store. I just got the ammonia kit yesterday and had done a pwc last night prior to the purchase, I tested a bucket of water I left from the water change and the ammonia was .25, today after the water change it is 0. NitrAtes are at 5. The tank has been running for about 15 days. I can feel a thin film on the tank walls. There are now 9 fish and 2 (oops 3 - a hitch hiker from a transplanted plant) snails in the tank. 2 fish and 2 blue mystery snails were added last night.
What levels am I looking for before I can safely add the 10 gallon inhabitants (about 17 inches of fish) ... After all this tank was bought for them to have a bigger home.
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