Confusing Water Test Results?

OnlyHope IV

Member
I have had my 20 gallon high freshwater tank set up since August 16th, and added ammonia 4 weeks ago. I had been using Seachem Stability but I was testing for Nitrites and never saw any. 5 days ago I bought and used Tetra Safe Start Plus directly into the filter, attached a sponge over my intake filter, and put extra media into the filter. Yesterday I tested Nitrites and saw none and decided to just test Nitrates and to my surprise it was between 5-10ppm. My ammonia had been around 4ppm and now it is between 1-2ppm. Is it possible that my tank could have cycled without me seeing Nitrites? If it is, will my ammonia continue to go down to 0ppm?
 

blewishblue

Member
Yes it's possible and yes if that's what happened, the ammonia will continue to be consumed and decrease.
 
  • Thread Starter

OnlyHope IV

Member
blewishblue said:
Yes it's possible and yes if that's what happened, the ammonia will continue to be consumed and decrease.
Is there a certain time frame for when all the ammonia should be gone if it is cycled?
 

Rancore

Member
Yeah is possible, every cycle is different, hard to know for sure how long until it’s done. Best to just keep testing
 

Discus-Tang

Member
OnlyHope IV said:
Is there a certain time frame for when all the ammonia should be gone if it is cycled?
2ppm ammonia should convert to just over 20ppm nitrate in <24 hours.
 

Tsukkomu

Member
seachem told me that it wouldn't be unusual if nitrites never popped up....and it went from ammonia to nitrate instantly. I used stability but I did get nitrities. but only momentarily.
 
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OnlyHope IV

Member
So it's been 48 hours since I saw the Nitrates and I'm still getting basically the same levels of Nitrates and Ammonia as when I first saw them. Could it being going slower if the Nitrates are first being established or is something else going on?
 

Inactive User

Member
BringKermitBack said:
2ppm should convert to just over 20ppm in <24 hours.
The ratio is 1 ppm ammonia : 2.7 ppm nitrite : 3.54 ppm nitrate.

So 2 ppm ammonia would result in 7.08 ppm nitrate.

OnlyHope IV said:
So it's been 48 hours since I saw the and I'm still getting basically the same levels of Nitrates and as when I first saw them. Could it being going slower if the Nitrates are first being established or is something else going on?
How long initially did it take for your ammonia to drop from 4 ppm to 2 ppm?

No, the presence of nitrates would not impact cycling as you are describing it.

It ought to be kept in mind that there are serious limitations with our hobbyist testing kits: they don't have very fine resolution for detecting small changes in concentration. That is, your ammonia might have gone from 1.5 to 1 ppm but that change would not be very apparent from the API testing kit.

We can only assess for larger, more substantial changes in concentration, which takes time (typically several days in the initial stages of cycling) to occur.
 

Discus-Tang

Member
Minnowette said:
The ratio is 1 ppm ammonia : 2.7 ppm nitrite : 3.54 ppm nitrate.

So 2 ppm ammonia would result in 7.08 ppm nitrate.



How long initially did it take for your ammonia to drop from 4 ppm to 2 ppm?

No, the presence of nitrates would not impact cycling as you are describing it.

It ought to be kept in mind that there are serious limitations with our hobbyist testing kits: they don't have very fine resolution for detecting small changes in concentration. That is, your ammonia might have gone from 1.5 to 1 ppm but that change would not be very apparent from the API testing kit.

We can only assess for larger, more substantial changes in concentration, which takes time (typically several days in the initial stages of cycling) to occur.
Oh...
 
  • Thread Starter

OnlyHope IV

Member
Minnowette said:
How long initially did it take for your ammonia to drop from 4 ppm to 2.
It had to be in a matter of a couple of days. So you think my ammonia should still be in the process of dropping down to 0 since Nitrates are present?
 

Inactive User

Member
BringKermitBack said:
The terrible thing is that I made an error: it ought to be 3.64 ppm nitrate (not 3.54; for some reason I always remember it as 3.54), so 2 ppm ammonia = 7.28 ppm nitrate.

Apologies!

OnlyHope IV said:
It had to be in a matter of a couple of days. So you think my should still be in the process of dropping down to 0 since are present?
Correct, the presence of nitrates would not inhibit your nitritation microorganisms from oxidising ammonia to nitrate.

There is perhaps another underlying issue, but I feel that it would take a few days more observation to be confident as to whether this is just a "momentary blip" on the radar, or if it's suggestive of a more significant underlying factor.
 

mattgirl

Member
Check your PH. Just recently another member found herself in a situation quite like the one you are seeing. She found out her PH had dropped off the chart. What should have been 7.4 had dropped to almost 6. She did a water change to get the PH back where it needed to be and got her cycle back on track.
 

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