Help interpreting API Master Test Kit


HI Fishlore!

I'm on day 12 of my first ever cycle and I'm having a hard time interpreting the results of my latest tests. I think my ammonia is starting to drop a little, and I'm pretty sure Nitrites are on the rise.


Maybe Ammonia=3, Nitrites=3, Nitrates=80 ??

So hard to read today, the first couple of weeks were easy!


Is this a fish in or fishless cycle? Did you use TSS? Unfortunately I can't help with colors as have horrible time myself. To me the nitrates seem high for as high as other numbers are. (Based on numbers alone) unless you have nitrate in tap



If you're cycling fish-in, I'd so several water changes to bring down the ammonia and nitrite to as close to 0 as possible.

And if you're cycling fishless, I'd still do about a 50% water change to bring down the nitrates. Having really high nitrates can stall a cycle. Then redose the ammonia.

Can you test your tap water to see if you have any nitrates in it?


Sorry - this is fishless. So I will test my tap for nitrates, and do a 50% water change. I'll report back. Thank you.


Oh good because I haven't bought a siphon yet!

Just tested my water and 0 Nitrate.



Sorry, deleted my last post about not doing water changes for fishless cycle and with the current readings, just got up and didn't want to give you any premature advice.

Just make sure that you're reading the nitrate test result correctly, shake the 2nd reagent bottle really hard and read at 5 mins, no longer or it will give you higher results.

Regarding Geoffrey's comment about high nitrates stalling a cycle, I haven't heard that before. Could be true, but typically towards the end of the cycle, nitrates will be off the charts and I've been taught that you don't change the water unless the tank is cycled.

What are you using to cycle? it's pretty fast.
How much ammonia are you dosing daily?
and is the bacteria converting all the ammonia in 24 hrs?


First thing I want to say is that if you are "hard time interpreting the results " then you are using the test kit correctly! Being color blind, I have a really difficult time figuring out where my levels are at. Luckily, I seem to be able to differentiate 0ppm from elevated levels.

Not sure what you are using for an ammonia source, but your ammonia level is a little to high for this stage. When cycling fishless with ammonia:
1) Get the tank to 4ppm ammonia.
2) Keep tank at 4ppm ammonia until nitrites appear
3) Once nitrite appear keep ammonia level at 2ppm
4) Once nitrite's spike and zero out, and you are processing all 2ppm ammonia within 24 hours, you are cycled
5) Do large water change to get nitrates down.
6) Add some fish

Of course if you are not using ammonia, but using fish food or some other ammonia source, it can be difficult to regulate the ammonia level.


I think my ammonia is around 4ppm. I've only dosed one time and now just waiting and waiting. Nitrites are most certainly going up, as are Nitrates (which I think is odd?). I think Ammonia has begun to decrease slightly. I can hardly tell the difference between 2-4 ammonia, 2-5 nitrites and 40-80 nitrates!


I think I still need some help with this cycle. I just did a 50% water change today and AFTER the PWC I am still getting 5PPM Nitrites! Before the change my Nitrites must have been crazy high and I imagine this has been stalling my cycle. My question is, do I need to do another 50% water change tomorrow morning? Should I try to get Nitrites down to a certain level?

Also, I am supposed to be dosing up to 2PPM ammonia at this point? (Ammonia is being converted from 4PPM to .25PPM in 24 hours).



Once nitrite appear, you should lower your ammonia dose to 2ppm. A high nitrite level can stall the cycle. I rercommend not letting the nitrite level go above about 4ppm-5ppm. So I think if it were me I would do another small water change to get the nitrites down to about 4ppm.


Just changed another 10 gallons this morning and the nitrates are still around 5ppm. Good grief.

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