55 Gallon Tank Disturbing API Master Kit readings

ucdcrew
Member
Well, I'm not sure if I should be disturbed by this reading or not. I tested my water today, and got 0,0,0. I didn't think that was right, so I made sure to bang the bejeezus out of the second nitrate test bottle, and re-did the tests. I'm sitting at 0,0, <5 (though I may have convinced myself of the orange tint). I tested ammonia twice, and nitrite twice because I was worried that my nitrificating bacteria might be dead. No ammonia, no nitrites either.

Then I wondered about my kit, and I know that I have a nitrate reading out of my tap (I don't drink tap water). Sure enough, between 5 and 10 ppm. I have a couple theories I would like to run past more experienced fishkeepers. And yes, I did make up the word nitrificating. Grammar police, converge.

Theory #1 (worst case scenario) - somehow my tank killed the nitrificating bacteria in the last week. Last week's reading was 0,0,5. However, I am thinking I would have seen a spike in ammonia if it were the ammonia to nitrite bacteria, or nitrite if it were the nitrite to nitrate bacteria.

Theory #2 - bacteria has gotten established in the second filter of the new tank. I moved my tank from a 56g to a 55 gallon in the last month because I got a good deal on the 55 gallon tank and it has a nicer stand and canopy. It came with a Penn-Plax Cascade 700 canister filter. At the moment I am running both the Cascade and the Biowheel 350 from the 56g.

Theory #3 - Plant activity. I have two Amazon Swords under 48w of T5HO lighting. When I got the tank, I put in 40lb of eco-complete, and 20lb of Tahitian Moon Sand from Caribsea. Eco-complete for the plants, sand because people said loaches like it. My loaches do like it, btw. The plants seem to be doing really well, one of them put out these two little shoots. I buried the roots and those are now mini-swords. One of those has grown to about 5 inches tall in the last 2 weeks.

Theory #4 - My cat scared the poop out of everyone in the tank, and now there is no poop left in them.

Everyone seems happy, and colorful. My new GBRs are coloring up gorgeously, however I think I got an ambiguously sexed one. The other is a clear female though, so I'm not too worried. Feather fins colors are awesome, along with the neons. My Moonlight Gourami has turned into a punk though, nipping at the loaches and anyone else who invades his corner of the tank. I will make sure my stocking list is complete along with aquarium info as soon as I am done posting this. I'm going to keep an eye on the levels, but if there is no ammonia, and almost no nitrate, do I need to stress out my fish with a pwc? It is easy enough for me to do (I have a sink-aquarium vac) so I'm not trying to be lazy, just want to do what's right for my little guys.

I do have plans and space to set up the other aquarium (56g tall). I want to use it for Angelfish, and am thinking the biowheel for it. The t5 fixture I have now will go back to the 56, and I am going to get a new t5 fixture for the 55g. It's going to be planted as well. Is there anyway to tell if bacteria has seeded the new filter without taking off the old filter and possibly causing a cycle?
 
zeketaz
Member
you may be having a minI cycle if you have no nitrates. 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites is a good thing though. If you are showing nitrates then you should be fine.
 
callichma
Member
I love your theory #4.

It sounds like your swords are growing fast, and maybe they are using up the nitrates. Just keep a close eye on the ammonia and nitrite readings.

Also, by starting with entirely new gravel, you did away with a lot of stuff in the old substrate that would lead to nitrate production.
 
Homedog98
Member
over all... you're fine. the cycle will catch up quickly, and you'll be back in business in no time. I love your number 4 lol.
 
Virt
Member
Agree with plants using the nitrates, In my heavily planted 55 gallon I was adding 30ppm of nitrate almost daily!
 
callichma
Member
Virt said:
Agree with plants using the nitrates, In my heavily planted 55 gallon I was adding 30ppm of nitrate almost daily!
Why were you adding nitrate?
 
Virt
Member
callichma said:
Why were you adding nitrate?
Planted tank, running pressurized Co2 and high light, dosing raw nutrients, Potassium, Nitrate and Occasionally Phosphate, and a trace mix, including Iron, Magnesium, etc. (using EI method too)
The plants were exploding!
 
callichma
Member
OK, thanks, Virt. I thought it was something like that. I haven't gotten that sophisticated with plants yet.
 
Virt
Member
No worries, have a look at Rex Grigg here: if you haven't already, hes on the ball with planted tanks if you want to go that far

(also apologies to OP for off topic )
 
callichma
Member
Thanks for that link. I've bookmarked it.
 
goby
Member
No nitrates

When did we get obsessed with Nitrate in freshwater? Bob from Exotic Aquarium one of the most complete African and reef systems in miami once told me in freshwater nitrate levels less than 200ppm are acceptable, however in salt try and keep it under 50ppm. If you are planted it well could be that your net is Zero. Do you have enough gravel for anerobic de-nitrification to take place and convert to free nitrogen? You could always get a reactor with a low flow rate and run Seachem matrix media. I don't as a rule concern myself with nitrate. I have had Angel fish spawn in a heavly stocked community tank. Nitrites and ammonia are your only real concerns, unless you have a bad algae situation.Algae can comr from High Phosphates Wardlys ph 7 tap water conditioner once gave me a E.P.A. superfund greenwater tank. I switched back to Aquasafe. Now I must run out for a new Nitrate test kit. goby
 
  • Thread Starter
ucdcrew
Member
I don't think my German Blue Rams would like nitrate levels of 200ppm. Granted, I've never let it get that high to find out, but I imagine in a microcosm like an aquarium, they would do better if you kept them in an environment and water quality more like their natural environment. Granted, I bet it is like forestry and wildland fire suppression. We'll keep messing it up because it has been changed from the original, and species adapt. I'll keep testing though, but will think about what you said with an open mind. If the science behind it makes sense to me, than maybe I will give it a shot. 200 ppm seems like an awful lot. However, I seem to be having the opposite problem :
 
Jayfeather9
Member
I have 0 in nitrates 24/7 and the others are unknown...
 
catsma_97504
Member
As your swords are growing very fast, I'd say that's where your nitrates are going. You typically only had 5-10 PPM before, so that isn't all that much for your plants to be consuming.

I agree that your rams wouldn't tolerate high levels of nitrate. I've lost some mine when my tank went up to 20 PPM. I have a hard time believing that fish are healthy with 200 PPM nitrates. I've rescued many fish with neglected tanks that had 160 and those fish were so sick that many didn't make it.

I'd say all is well in your tank. Having sword babies is another indication of the health of your tank. Keep doing what you are doing.
 
callichma
Member
Nitrates aren't the only reason for regular water changes. The water changes also replace trace elements that fish, inverts, and plants use.

And 0 nitrates are a concern because it can signal a minI cycle.
 
Aquarist
Member
Good morning,

I have moved your thread from Freshwater Beginners to Aquarium Water/Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle section of the forum.

Thanks!

Ken
 

Latest threads

Top Bottom