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Old 04-17-2021, 08:45 AM   #1
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Question confused with water testing (using API test strips)

Hey
I set up a new aquarium a week ago and just recently found out that i need to test my water for all sorts of chemicals, so i did my first test today and it only passed for nitrate with a score of 40
the rest were all too high. how can i lower my GH, KH,PH and nitrite levels? or does this just take time? thanks!
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Old 04-17-2021, 09:03 AM   #2
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Do you have fish in there?

Did you cycle the tank?
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Old 04-17-2021, 09:45 AM   #3
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Can you give some more details?

Tank size? Stock? Water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)? Temperature? Plants? Filter? Dont worry too much about the hardness one. Unless you are trying to keep especially picky fish (which i hope you arent as you seem a novice) or have especially extreme levels, they arent critical. I presume your test kit doesn't have ammonia? You might need a different test strip for ammonia. A liquid test is better than strips. Eg. API master test kit.

Do you know anything about the nitrogen cycle?

Do you know how to cycle a tank?
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Old 04-17-2021, 11:16 AM   #4
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my tank is around 5 1/2 gallons (25 litres) and i do not have any fish in there yet. i am planning on getting a few smaller fish, such as assorted danios and minnows next weekend. i'm not sure how to tell whether or not my tank is cycled, but i did use the required amount of quickstart and i have seen small amounts of algae on my decorations. I do have two live plants in my aquarium and i use liquid fertiliser instead of soil for them. my filter came with the tank, the brand being ciano, but i'm not sure of the specifications (the cartridge has a blue top and the sponge is black, in case that means something as i have heard that different coloured cartridges have different purposes). I don't have a heater yet, but i am considering getting one tomorrow to raise my water temperature from room temp to 25-30 degrees celcius. i tested the water today and got the following results: GH:180ppm, KH: 240ppm, PH: 8.5, Nitrite: 0.5, Nitrate: 40. no, my testing kit doesn't have ammonia. is it alright to stick with strips? not sure if i will be able to purchase the master test kit soon.
as for the nitrogen cycle, yes, i am aware of what it is and how to get it started, on the most part. i'm not too sure about getting some cheap, hardy fish to introduce ammonia, so i used quick start instead. would you recommend putting a bit of fish food in the water as another way of introducing bacteria once it breaks down? also, what do you mean by stock? thank you!
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Old 04-17-2021, 12:27 PM   #5
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To start with, i would be very careful about what to stock your tank with. 25 litres is very small and you are limited on choices. By stock i mean what fish, snails, shrimp etc you plan to keep.

Danios are certainly not a good idea. Even the very small ones like celestial pearl danios are active swimmers and will need double what you have. I would say the same for minnows. Your tank is big enough to support those types of fish, but they wont be happy in such a confined space. The problem is that the small fish you are looking at are generally social fish and need to be in groups, and your small tank wont support those numbers or give them swimming space.

If you want a recommendation for a fish in a 25 litre, consider a single betta. They are small enough to live comfortably in your tank and dont need company. You could add a snail if you wanted to see something different along with it. If you really want those types of schooling small fish, get a bigger tank. 40 litres minimum, preferably 80 litres. Bigger is normally easier.

As to your water parameters, your pH and nitrate are high. Are they that high from the tap?

I wouldnt add any fish until you can test for ammonia, and given your high values i would check both your tank and tap water.

As to test kits, liquid tests are more accurate, easier to read and as you get 100s of tests from a liquid test kit, much more cost effective in the long run. Its a good investment. I would rather invest in a liquid test kit than buying some ammonia test strips, but its up to you.

There are essentially 2 ways to cycle a tank. Fish in, you stock lightly to start with, and control toxic waste through water changes, and gradually increase stocking over an extended period of time. You can either determine your water changes through testing, but if you stock lightly and change some water frequently, your tank will likely cycle in the background without you ever noticing.

Fishless cycle is where you replicate fish waste by adding an ammonia source. Either pure ammonia, ammonium chloride, or some people use fish food or a cocktail shrimp. I dont like the fish food/shrimp route because you have no idea what level you are raising ammonia too, especially if you have never done it before. You keep dosing ammonia until your system develops enough beneficial bacteria to for your cycle to process out the waste, and you know when this is through regular testing. This typically takes 3 to 8 weeks. Once done you can add fish into an already cycled tank.

Which do you prefer?

I would get something to test for ammonia, and let us know what this is in your tank, along with results for your tap water.
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Old 04-17-2021, 12:46 PM   #6
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thank you so much! very helpful. i think i will try the fish in method. i should've known that the pet store was not going to be very accurate with the amount of fish i can keep- some of the staff were telling me i could keep a GOLDFISH in my tank, and that 'it will just die a bit earlier, but that's okay'. horrifying.
i will try to get some ammonia test kits as soon as i can.
i'm about to test my tap water- i don't have to treat it first, right? i also did some research earlier and it said the ideal amount of nitrate is less than/=40 ppm, is that right?
this is my source: https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/ph-gh-kh
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
To start with, i would be very careful about what to stock your tank with. 25 litres is very small and you are limited on choices. By stock i mean what fish, snails, shrimp etc you plan to keep.

Danios are certainly not a good idea. Even the very small ones like celestial pearl danios are active swimmers and will need double what you have. I would say the same for minnows. Your tank is big enough to support those types of fish, but they wont be happy in such a confined space. The problem is that the small fish you are looking at are generally social fish and need to be in groups, and your small tank wont support those numbers or give them swimming space.

If you want a recommendation for a fish in a 25 litre, consider a single betta. They are small enough to live comfortably in your tank and dont need company. You could add a snail if you wanted to see something different along with it. If you really want those types of schooling small fish, get a bigger tank. 40 litres minimum, preferably 80 litres. Bigger is normally easier.

As to your water parameters, your pH and nitrate are high. Are they that high from the tap?

I wouldnt add any fish until you can test for ammonia, and given your high values i would check both your tank and tap water.

As to test kits, liquid tests are more accurate, easier to read and as you get 100s of tests from a liquid test kit, much more cost effective in the long run. Its a good investment. I would rather invest in a liquid test kit than buying some ammonia test strips, but its up to you.

There are essentially 2 ways to cycle a tank. Fish in, you stock lightly to start with, and control toxic waste through water changes, and gradually increase stocking over an extended period of time. You can either determine your water changes through testing, but if you stock lightly and change some water frequently, your tank will likely cycle in the background without you ever noticing.

Fishless cycle is where you replicate fish waste by adding an ammonia source. Either pure ammonia, ammonium chloride, or some people use fish food or a cocktail shrimp. I dont like the fish food/shrimp route because you have no idea what level you are raising ammonia too, especially if you have never done it before. You keep dosing ammonia until your system develops enough beneficial bacteria to for your cycle to process out the waste, and you know when this is through regular testing. This typically takes 3 to 8 weeks. Once done you can add fish into an already cycled tank.

Which do you prefer?

I would get something to test for ammonia, and let us know what this is in your tank, along with results for your tap water.


hello, just read through community guidelines and turns out you may not have received my reply as i added a link to one of my information sources.
i prefer the fish in method, so i will probably go with that next weekend. thanks for letting me know about the minnows and other fish, no surprise the pet shop had misleading information about the amount of fish i can keep in my tank. as for the testing, i will try to get an ammonia test kit. also, should i treat my tap water and then test it, or should i just test it without any treatment?
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:28 PM   #8
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The only thing that a water conditioner should do is remove chlorine, you arent testing for chlorine. Just test the tap water neat. You could let it sit for a couple of hours first. I understand this can change the water chemistry and effect pH, but i might be wrong on that.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
The only thing that a water conditioner should do is remove chlorine, you arent testing for chlorine. Just test the tap water neat. You could let it sit for a couple of hours first. I understand this can change the water chemistry and effect pH, but i might be wrong on that.


okay, thanks a lot. i'll send you the results once i am able to test the water.
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Old 04-17-2021, 02:47 PM   #10
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The only thing that a water conditioner should do is remove chlorine, you arent testing for chlorine. Just test the tap water neat. You could let it sit for a couple of hours first. I understand this can change the water chemistry and effect pH, but i might be wrong on that.


hello, same result (about an 8.0 for ph) and nitrate but less for nitrite
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