Having A Hard Time Reading The Tests...

  1. samantha.h Member Member

    To preface this--my eyesight is really bad. I'd love for another set of eyes. I know it's hard to distinguish pictures because of the distortion of light/pixels/etc., but if anyone has insight I welcome it!

    Attempting a silent cycle (cycling w/o fish or "starter", plants only). Using API liquid test kit, expiration dates ranging from 2018-2020. pH reading is 7.4 for sure.

    ETA: Plants were added last Sunday, tank has been running with driftwood in it for 2 weeks now. Also, for some reason I have had ants going into the tank and drowning in the water for about a week and a half now, which might be adding to the bioload? I'm not sure about that bit.
    water test 7-20.jpg water test 7-20 nm2.jpg

    The 1st image has my results from NH3, NO2, and NO3. The one I'm having the most trouble with is NH3/ammonia. I can't tell if it is yellow or if it's the color of 0.25ppm. I tested my tap as well for comparison (2nd image), and they look the same to me.

    My guess for readings is 0ppm/0.25ppm, 2ppm/5ppm, and 10ppm/20ppm.

    Again thanks for any help I can get on this. I know it's not the best. I wish the colors weren't so similar on this test!
  2. samantha.h Member Member

    PS: please ignore my disgusting looking grout. I promise that isn't mold, it's just really old grout on our tile counters. :emoji_confounded:

  3. clk89 Fishlore VIP Member

    It's hard for me to tell on the ammonia. With these tests it's easier to tell color differences when you put them up against the white on the test card next to the colors. Hopefully that made sense lol.
  4. samantha.h Member Member

    Here's some new readings from this morning...I'm definitely leaning towards 0ppm today in comparison to yesterday for the NH3. It's looking very yellow. I'm guessing 2.0 for NO2 and still can't tell the difference between 10 and 20 for NO3.

    nh3 reading 7:21 (1).jpg nh3 reading 7:21 (2).jpg no2 reading 7:21.jpg no3 reading 7:21.jpg

  5. samantha.h Member Member

    I've always had a hard time with this test kit because, to me, even if there are 0ppm of ammonia the test never looks as yellow as on the card. It's always a pale yellow color, not a bright yellow color like the nitrate bottle #1 drops.
  6. BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    I agree with those numbers
  7. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    Hi there. I have found that sometimes the dilution test will help with deciding colors. What you do is use distilled water. 2.5ml of distilled and 2.5 ml of tank water. Then do your test as normal. (Your pH won't be accurate using this method, but the rest will).

    Then once you have your results, multiply it by 2.

    How I read your most recent results is 0 Ammonia, 2ppm nitrites, 20 Nitrates. But it is hard to tell without being there in person.

    I suggest a 50% water change to drop those nitrites, but otherwise your cycle is coming along.

  8. samantha.h Member Member

    Okay, here's a semi-update. I'm in a little bit of a quandary right now.

    I tried the dilution test, per @AllieSten, and I don't know what to make of the results.
    Ammonia is still reading 0ppm. Nitrates look like they're at 10ppm, per the dilution test.
    My nitrite reading still looks like 2.0ppm when it is 100% tank water. When I do the dilution test, the nitrite test reads at either 0.25ppm or 0.5ppm. So, to me, that should mean the 100% tank water should be reading 0.5-1ppm, correct?

    Here's where I'm stuck: am I supposed to be reading these with the test tubes literally held against the test card, or just in front of it so the white makes it easier to read? When I hold it physically against the card, the colors are darker than when it is held in front of the card.


    Here's some pictures:
    nitrite 7:24 (1).jpg
    100% tank water -- w/ flash
    nitrite 7:24 (2).jpg
    50/50 dilution, w/ flash

    nitrite 7:24 (3).jpg
    Left: 100% tank water, natural lighting against white tile
    Right: 50/50 dilution, natural lighting against white tile
  9. samantha.h Member Member

    Here's a side-by-side comparison of the nitrite reading from 7/21 (Friday) and 7/24 (today):

    nitrites 7:21 vs 7:24.jpg
    LEFT: 7/21
    RIGHT: 7/24

    To me, it does look a little it lighter today than Friday, but the color doesn't seem to match the 1ppm color on the chart.
  10. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    With the dilution test you multiply the result by 2. The dilution test is 0.25ppm. So your result would be 0.5ppm. (The dilution test is 0.25, no mistaking that light purple).

    I wouldn't go with your results using the flash. It distorts the color too much. You need to look at it in natural light, and compare the colors that way.

    I would use the dilution method again. Stop using your flash, use natural light. See if that helps.

    Either way you need to do a water change to lower your nitrites. I would do a 50% water change. Then test again tomorrow.

  11. samantha.h Member Member

    Thanks for all your help with this, Allie! :)

    Do I still need to do a 50% WC even if there's no fish in the tank? This is a fishless/silent cycle. I can understand it it's going to hurt my plants, but from what I understood with my past tank is that it isn't necessary to do WC if there's no fish in the tank during cycling.
  12. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    You will still need to do water changes without fish in there. You don't want your nitrites or nitrates to get too high. It can stall the cycle.

    Since it is a fishless cycle you can wait to change the water though. If the nitrites get up to 5ppm or nitrates are up to 80-100ppm you will need to do a 75% water change before adding another dose of ammonia.
  13. samantha.h Member Member

    Just another update: nitrites are still 0.5ppm after changing water this morning. I know this part of the cycle is the longest, but I'm worried that I may have plateaued, if that's possible?

    I'm wondering what would happen if I added some cycled media from my LFS. I'm pretty sure they sell it. Would it help or hinder my already-in-process cycle?
  14. clk89 Fishlore VIP Member

    I would be careful adding cycled media from LFS if it's from one of their tanks, diseases could be passed along that way. I would just keep going the way you are going let your nitrites get up a little higher.
  15. samantha.h Member Member

    That's a good point, and I didn't think of that!

    Actually, this seems like it may be the nitrites on the way down. They were at 2ppm last Friday, 0.5ppm the past 2 or 3 days. So either it's on the way out, or my cycle is stalling

    It's hard for me to tell if nitrates are spiking, as I have nitrates in my water out of the tap and I also have a moderately planted tank. Nitrates read at a pretty steady 10-20ppm.
  16. AllieSten Fishlore VIP Member

    If your cycle was stalled, then you would see no movement at all. I think you are close to being cycled at this point. Just keep doing what you are doing.
  17. samantha.h Member Member

    It's so easy to get impatient when cycling...I wish I could remember how it was when I was cycling the 20H I used to have like 7 years ago! I'm sure I was impatient then, too, haha.
  18. samantha.h Member Member

    UPDATE: This is my nitrite reading from this morning.

    Nitrite is blue, but not turquoise blue. I'm guessing it's somewhere between 0.25ppm and 0ppm, as it doesn't quite compare with 0.25ppm either.

    Could it be just about done cycling??

    View attachment 340874 8/6/17
  19. samantha.h Member Member

    Also, another question since I don't want to make a million topics about my cycling process:

    If my nitrates are only 20ppm at the end of the cycle, do I need to still do the massive WC? I have plants in my tank, which is why I'm under the impression that my nitrates won't spike like they normally would in a tank with nothing in it. Is my assumption correct?
  20. filtered_light Member Member

    Bump :)
    (curious about these things too... my nitrite reading in my cycling tank looks like this, just off from 0)