baffling test readings and dying plants too. thinking of just strip the tank...

  1. lottienr1 Initiate Member

    Hi fishlore fans :),

    I am confused and ready to just empty and start at fresh. Wash the gravel and sand, get rid of my plants and buy fakes instead. My lfs told me not to do a fishless cycle they were deadset against adding ammonia to an aquarium to wich you later want to add fish too. So I can't really go to them. They cycle all their tanks with fish and tetrasafestart. The other pet shop that sells fish here are totally uneducated when it comes to fish and have tanks full of dead fish, and continiously medicating the fish. So appart from tank gear. def not worth asking their advice either..I am totally counting on you guys :).


    OK so my tank info on the left is pretty much up to date but most important things just quickly.
    tank:
    120l(30gl) planted tank with rocks & bogwood
    2 airstones,pf interpet 3, co2 x2, heater, 2x15v daylight

    I'm in the cycling process and nothing seems to go the way it should.(or as I read and I read and still am reading bucket loads)
    Anyway I was messing about with them paper test strips when i started off (as per advice of my lfs....) and thought the readings we're odd and than I read more and more about them being inaccurate. So off to the store and got myself an API master kit.

    First off all the readings are indeed completely different with this test kit. That could ofcourse be because the water parameters have indeed changed but i don't think that is very likely.

    So today i started with just testing my tap water again and shock horror read this:

    PH low: 7.6 so test PH high 7.4 ???? how can this be??
    nitrates40/80 some colour inbetween:confused:
    Nitrites 0.25/0.50

    How come the ph does not match?
    Why are the nitrates in my tapwater so high?

    tested my aquarium water too. I'm day 7 of my cycle.

    PH 8 ever sinche i bought the master kit it has tested at 8
    ammonia 1-2 (fed the tank half the amount of drops yesterday as my nitrites were of the charts. yesterday ammonia before adding was 0.5)
    Nitrites 1-2 (yesterday it was 5++)
    nitrates 0 (yesterday 5 ish):confused:

    I am totally confused. Can Anyone make sense of this?

    O and all my plants seem to be dying too.
    As i kept the light on for 8 hours the first days i also got a nasty slimy gunk algae and the water smelss stagnant.

    Any and all help would be most welcome....Or should i just rip everything out and start all over again..:(...I do have a filtered goldfish tank 15 or 19l with a tiny filter all in one pad should i put that in my tank to help things along?
     
  2. LyndaB Fishlore Legend Member

    What kind of ammonia are you using? You want pure ammonia that doesn't bubble up when you shake the bottle.

    It's not unusual for the pH to be very shaky during the cycling process. This will settle down after the tank is cycled.

    It's no surprise that you got different results with the test strips and the API kit. In order to get solid results with the kit, be sure to follow the time for each test exactly. Also, be sure to smash the nitrate bottle against a countertop or table a few times to break up the crystals that form inside, otherwise you will not get true results. When you get to the point that you're using it consistently, you don't have to bash the bottle anymore.

    As for the plants, I'm no expert there. Be sure that you don't have any dead brown foliage, that could cause that smell.
     

  3. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    Just to clarify Lynda's great advice, it's nitrate bottle number 2 that really needs to be beaten up. Bottle number 1 just needs a regular shaking.

    Not shaking bottle #2 hard enough will give false readings. That could explain why your tap water is reading 40/80 and your tank is reading zero. You might expect the plants to absorb some nitrate, but I don't imagine they would absorb 40-80ppm's worth.
     

  4. lottienr1 Initiate Member

    ok i'll try again!
     

  5. lottienr1 Initiate Member

    if i strip the tank to start over would i have to replace the filter material with new?
     
  6. lottienr1 Initiate Member

    yep same result! bang and smashed and shook did everything as it said on the instr. booklet tap test 80 tank tests 0 if i was to drain the tank cleaned the decorations etcetc do i have to get new filter media?
     
  7. jdhef Moderator Moderator Member

    To answer your question, there should be no need to change your filter media if you drain and refill the tank.

    But to tell you truth, I'm still puzzled by your test results. Have you checked the expiration date for your test kit? There is a code stamped on the bottle and the kit is supposed to be good for 3 years beyond the stamped date. (There is a thread somewhere on this forum that gives more in depth info on finding and deciperin the date, a forum search should turn it up if you need it).

    It's also very odd that your tap water contains so much more nitrate than your tank water. But if you were to refill with new tap water, you're nitrates would be very high to start out with and will only get higher once cycled. It is recommended to keep nitrates under 40ppm and prefered to keep them under 20ppm.

    Also, are you giving your plants enough light. You indicated in your first post that you had been keeping the light on for 8 hours a day. I'm not plant expert by any means, all my plants are plastic, but I think plants need more than 8 hours, and the light needs to be of enough wattage (but I don't know what that wattage should be and I do know different plants require different wattages).

    Lastly, 15-19l is way to small for goldfish. It is recommended to have 20 gallons for the first goldfish and 10 gallons for each additional goldfish.

    Best of luck!
     
  8. psalm18.2 Fishlore Legend Member

    Let the tap water sit for a day then retest. Do you have a photo of your tank? Plants do eat nitrates, that's why heavily planted tanks add nitrate as a fertilizer. If you want to start over with fresh water go ahead. Don't rinse out the filter media, leave it be. What are your ammonia and nitrite readings?
     
  9. LyndaB Fishlore Legend Member

    Don't start over, you'll most likely just go through this again. Help us figure out why it's happening so we can get your cycle moving along.
     
  10. lottienr1 Initiate Member

    Thanks for all your replies!:;hug2
    I have in the mean time restarted. Striped and drained it last night. Before i got all these posts (different time zone)
    Tipped away all the old plants they were in a pretty bad state. Lot of rotting material...does not help in running a clear thank :)
    Bought nice and fresh ones today they looked much better to start of with than the first lot i had. Went for the "easy" ones. I have substrate to feed the plants co2 running.

    I have 15wx2 daylight bulbs in. Wich should be more than enough. I actually learned that plants do not need more than 4 to 6 hr of light. (sorry forgotten the name but very good with plants on this forum)
    I think the algae was due to too much light and the high amonnia they love to feed on that right?

    It is not thickly planted but more than just 1or two plants. I am now using a combo of real and fake to fill it out nicely. I was not gonna use real plants anymore but the fake ones make me feel fysically ill just looking at them hahaha sorry what I mean is the majority I don't like.

    i'll read my tank tomo just letting it run for 24 hrs before i do anything with it.
    I retry today. I looked at the selll by date but it seems to be fine till 2016.

    And I'll bring it to the lfs tomo both tap and tank to test! See if my readings match up with theirs.

    Keep you posted!
     
  11. JessiNoel21 Well Known Member Member

    Good luck I hope the second time is the charm :)