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Old 01-07-2020, 05:21 PM   #1
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Questions about API master test kit.

First time posting here. Hoping the community can answer a quick question. I haven't messed around with aquariums in years. I used to have a couple freshwater and a reef tank about 10 years ago and strayed away from the hobby. I've recently setup a 29 gallon tank for my grandson that has come to live with my wife and I, he wasn't sleeping well at night, he is 1 years old. I figured the background noise and the double as a night light would work awesome, and it has. He loves his fishies...lol. It's been setup for about 2.5 months now, and I'm sure it has cycled. I watched the ammonia grow, watched as nitrites came and went, and I have been seeing nitrates for over a month. When I setup the 29 gallon I took one side of it and kind of "all in oned it".

What I mean by that is I setup 3 sections seperated from the main tank with 2 baffles, in the first chamber is about 2 lbs of biomax rings with mechanical filtration on top of that. The second chamber is just the heater, and third is the return pump that is actually a power head rated for about 160 gallons per hour. I used black plexiglass, and aquarium safe silicone to do this. And I setup the baffle system to ensure the water flows through each compartment completely before it exits.

I do believe that 2 lbs of biomax should be plenty of media considering I also put an undergravel filter in the tank. (I'm not a big fan of these, however it gives the kiddo bubbles to look at and some background noise). My question is every week before I do a water change I'm testing and I'm getting between 0.25 and 0.5ppm ammonia...no nitrites, and between 20-30ppm nitrates. My concern is the ammonia. Is this test kit just really sensitive and I'm just reading small amounts and that will never read 0? All I have in this tank is 2 small goldfish and a couple nerite snails.
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Old 01-07-2020, 10:14 PM   #2
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Im not sure I understand your tank set up but have you tested something like RO or distilled water for color comparison. Any substrate that might be leeching?

How small is a small goldfish? They are large bioload fish so perhaps you were not cycled for the full load of the goldfish and are now fish in mini cycling?

I would not assume it’s a false positive. The amount of bio max only provides the surface area; obviously it doesn’t guarantee that the bacteria living on it are sufficient.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:00 PM   #3
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As above in testing some water which should be 0 ammonia. Also would test tap water just in case.

Generally Iíve always had an ammonia reading that made sense eg new tank, ferts dosing, changed filters.

The colour charts I do find hard - sometimes I think the tap water here is 0 and sometimes a tiny amount of ammonia depending on the light.

Test kits getting old or have had caps left off can miss-read (from posts).
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:58 AM   #4
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I probably should have clarified, I did a fish in cycle with about 10 feeder fish. Gold fish. And I have tested tap water and got 0ppm from the same test kit. Is it possible that prime water conditioner could be giving me a false positive? The fish seem perfectly happy and active. Snails aswell. These are fancy goldfish mabey the size of a quarter. And there are only 2 in the tank like I said before. I would assume it was still cycling except for the fact that I haven't seen any nitrites at all in over a month. And nitrates climb as I would expect them too and only go down with water changes. Ultimately it probably doesn't matter all that much, 0.25ppm ammonia is not crazy high, it's just driving me nuts I haven't seen it at 0 in a while. I would understand if I had 20 fish in a 29 gallon.

To clarify my tank setup, I basically just made a normal glass aquarium into an all in one type.
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:14 AM   #5
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Prime can give a false positive. ďFalseĒ in that itís the ammonia formed by the breakdown of chloramines in new water which has been detoxified for a day or so. Youíll see the reading from this source in plain dechlorinated tap water. But that goes away within a day of a water change in a cycled tank. (In my tanks itís gone in an hour, actually).

If youíre seeing it before your water changes thatís not it.

Any leeching substrate, decaying plant matter, dirty substrate, or overfeeding?

If youíre seeing a zero elsewhere that means the kit is not incapable of showing a zero so that reading is coming from somewhere.

If you are seeing a zero
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:56 AM   #6
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There are no live plants in the tank, and the substrate is just plain aquarium gravel. I don't think I'm over feeding. I feed them just enough that they consume almost all of it in a couple minutes. And that's every other day. I guess I'll just have to wait it out and see what happens. Mabey do some extra water changes. And I gravel vac half the gravel with every water change.
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