Help interpreting water testing

angsess78

My tank test results are as follows:

ammonia 1ppm
nitrite 0.25 ppm
nitrate 10 ppm
pH 7.4
GH 30pom
KH 140ppm

they were the same yesterday when I started testing.

Tank has been set up since Saturday. It has a fair amount of plants, a large piece of driftwood, and gravel. I have a penguin 200 filter and a 200 watt heater heating to 78 degrees. All I have done is change water twice to clear tannins from the wood and dose with prime. I am assuming the ammonia is coming from chloramine in the water, but I am not sure about nitrites?
 

WRWAquarium

Hi

I would run the test on your water source.
 

angsess78

Ok. I will do that now and report back.
Tap water
pH 8.2
ammonia 0
nitrite 0.25
nitrate 0
GH 30
KH 140
 

jdhef

You water would have to have an awful lot of chloramines to produce 1ppm of ammonia, so I doubt that is the cause of the ammonia
 

angsess78

where could it be coming from?
Here is a picture of the setup if that helps
tank.jpg
 

jdhef

I really don't know. It doesn't look like you have any decaying plant material in the tank that would be releasing ammonia. What test kit are you using?
 

angsess78

API master test kit. I did them all twice and got the same results.
 

Azedenkae

Test your tap water and see what it reads in terms of ammonia.

A reading for nitrite can come from more nitrite being produced from ammonia being consumed, than being turned into nitrate. Presuming it's just your typical nitrification occurring.
 

angsess78

Test your tap water and see what it reads in terms of ammonia.

A reading for nitrite can come from more nitrite being produced from ammonia being consumed, than being turned into nitrate. Presuming it's just your typical nitrification occurring.
I did. See above. No ammonia in the tap water, but 0.25 ppm nitrite. Apparently the nitrite is in the water, but I cannot identify the ammonia source, unless it is chloramine in the tap water being converted by the prime.
 

Azedenkae

I did. No ammonia in the tap water, but 0.25 ppm nitrite.
Gotcha. Iirc chloramine would register directly with the API test kit too, but to be sure, you can add some Prime to tap water and measure that to see if ammonia still read zero. If so, then the ammonia would not be coming from the tap water, and has to come from something else. Like decaying plant matter.
 

NearMeBettas

I am assuming your tank is not cycled?
 

angsess78

I am assuming your tank is not cycled?
No. Its only been set up since Saturday. I have been waiting for the tannins from the driftwood to go down some before cycling. I have changed water twice to get rid of tannins, and it seems to be just about there. I have a botte of API quick start and some ammonia for dosing on the way.
Gotcha. Iirc chloramine would register directly with the API test kit too, but to be sure, you can add some Prime to tap water and measure that to see if ammonia still read zero. If so, then the ammonia would not be coming from the tap water, and has to come from something else. Like decaying plant matter.
None of my plants seem to be decaying. Could it be coming from the driftwood?
 

Azedenkae

None of my plants seem to be decaying. Could it be coming from the driftwood?
Could be.

Do you happen to have a guess of how much ammonia had been accumulating (accounting for the water changes)?
 

angsess78

Could be.

Do you happen to have a guess of how much ammonia had been accumulating (accounting for the water changes)?
No. I changed the water once after about 24 hours because it was so dark you couldn't see through it, then again about 48 hours later. It was much better at that point and has a minor brown tinge now from the tannins. It hasn't been changed since Tuesday at this point and I started testing Wednesday. I didn't see any point in testing if I was just going to have to change the water anyway. Levels haven't changed since I have been testing. I will test again when I get home.
 

mattgirl

This one really is a mystery. Not only are you seeing 1ppm ammonia when no ammonia has been added but you are also seeing 10ppm nitrates and the cycle hasn't even started. We know the .25ppm nitrite is coming from your tap. Where oh where did the ammonia and nitrates come from.

Your substrate looks like normal aquarium gravel. Is that correct? Some plant soil will leach ammonia. Do you have a layer of some kind of soil under the gravel? Nitrates can come from plant ferts. Have you been feeding your plants?

We can either try to get to the bottom of where the ammonia is coming from or just accept that it is coming from somewhere and continue on with growing the bacteria that will remove it.
 

angsess78

This one really is a mystery. Not only are you seeing 1ppm ammonia when no ammonia has been added but you are also seeing 10ppm nitrates and the cycle hasn't even started. We know the .25ppm nitrite is coming from your tap. Where oh where did the ammonia and nitrates come from.

Your substrate looks like normal aquarium gravel. Is that correct? Some plant soil will leach ammonia. Do you have a layer of some kind of soil under the gravel? Nitrates can come from plant ferts. Have you been feeding your plants?

We can either try to get to the bottom of where the ammonia is coming from or just accept that it is coming from somewhere and continue on with growing the bacteria that will remove it.
It is just gravel. Could it be the root tabs I put in the gravel for the plants? I got home and it’s holding at the same parameters. I hit it with the api quick start and we will see what happens. I don’t have super high hopes for it though because the stuff in the bottle was clear and didn’t smell like anything.
 

mattgirl

It is just gravel. Could it be the root tabs I put in the gravel for the plants? I got home and it’s holding at the same parameters. I hit it with the api quick start and we will see what happens. I don’t have super high hopes for it though because the stuff in the bottle was clear and didn’t smell like anything.
That is a possibility but I do admit that I don't really know. I've not come across anyone reporting getting an ammonia reading from root tabs. As in most things you can know for sure one way or another by experimenting. If they are tablets just scrape a bit of one of them in a small amount of water you know has no ammonia in it. If ammonia shows up you will have your answer. If it doesn't we will be left still wondering.

I don't know anything about Quick Start so don't know if lack of smell and looking like clear water is normal or not. Bottled bacteria isn't something we absolutely have to have to cycle a tank but some folks do have some success using it. More often than not it seems neither quick start nor stability speed the cycling process up that much. I've read better words about Tetra Safe Start plus and Fritz-Zyme Turbo Start 700. I've never felt the need to use bottled bacteria but if I was going to I would go with the turbo start.
 

angsess78

Just wanted to report back with where I am. I did a pretty much complete water change(using prime), and that pushed ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to zero. The next day ammonia was just under 1 ppm, nitrite and nitrate still zero. Readings stayed the exact same the next day. Talked to "aquarium guy" at local independent fish store and he advised using Fluval cycle in combination with 4 cherry barbs. I put the barbs in and dosed with cycle day before yesterday. Yesterday's readings were ammonia the same, just under 1, nitrite 1, and nitrate 5. Treated tank with prime again (double dose), added more cycle, and fed the fish. Fish are actively schooling and aggressively eating. Hopefully we are on the road to a cycle. I am wondering if some of the "ammonia" am reading could be something else triggering the test. It always seems to go to the exact same color and stay there.
 

mattgirl

Just wanted to report back with where I am. I did a pretty much complete water change(using prime), and that pushed ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to zero. The next day ammonia was just under 1 ppm, nitrite and nitrate still zero. Readings stayed the exact same the next day. Talked to "aquarium guy" at local independent fish store and he advised using Fluval cycle in combination with 4 cherry barbs. I put the barbs in and dosed with cycle day before yesterday. Yesterday's readings were ammonia the same, just under 1, nitrite 1, and nitrate 5. Treated tank with prime again (double dose), added more cycle, and fed the fish. Fish are actively schooling and aggressively eating. Hopefully we are on the road to a cycle. I am wondering if some of the "ammonia" am reading could be something else triggering the test. It always seems to go to the exact same color and stay there.
I often wonder the same thing about unusual ammonia readings. I have to wonder if some water contains something that fools the ammonia test into think there is ammonia when none should be there.

Now that you are doing a fish in cycle just keep an eye on the numbers and do your water changes as needed. When it comes to Prime I recommend you stick to a normal dose. Adding more than needed isn't a problem but is a waste of Prime.

The nitrite/nitrate readings could very well be coming from the bottled bacteria since they showed up so quickly. If they start going up from these levels you will know your bacteria is growing and doing its job.
 

angsess78

I often wonder the same thing about unusual ammonia readings. I have to wonder if some water contains something that fools the ammonia test into think there is ammonia when none should be there.

Now that you are doing a fish in cycle just keep an eye on the numbers and do your water changes as needed. When it comes to Prime I recommend you stick to a normal dose. Adding more than needed isn't a problem but is a waste of Prime.

The nitrite/nitrate readings could very well be coming from the bottled bacteria since they showed up so quickly. If they start going up from these levels you will know your bacteria is growing and doing its job.
I double dosed with prime because that was the advice given in the fish in cycle sticky for the ammonia/ nitrite readings that I have. Do you think one does is enough?

I am definitely checking parameters at least once a day, and will water change when necessary.
 

mattgirl

I double dosed with prime because that was the advice given in the fish in cycle sticky for the ammonia/ nitrite readings that I have. Do you think one does is enough?

I am definitely checking parameters at least once a day, and will water change when necessary.
I know the bottle says up to 5X the normal amount can be added should the numbers spike too high. My thoughts on that are, if the numbers are that high it is time to get them down with a water change. Keep ammonia plus nitrites well below one and a normal amount of Prime should get the job done.
 

angsess78

Today‘s numbers
ammonia, still almost 1
nitrites almost 2
nitrates 10
did a 75% water change and re dosed with prime and cycle.
 

angsess78

Another update.
yesterday
ammonia 0.5 ppm
nitrite 2 ppm
nitrate 20 ppm

did 75% water change.

today
nitrate near 0( slight green tinge)
nitrite 1 pom
nitrate 10 ppm

am I going in the right direction?
 

mattgirl

Yes, definitely in the right direction. Keep up the good work :)
 

angsess78

Another update. Ammonia is running zero consistently now, but nitrites are still high. A 75% water change every other day gets them down to 0.25 after the change, but back up to 2 again within 48 hours. I am also seeing nitrates decrease after the water change and go back up. Ranging from about 5 after a water change to 20 or so within 48 hours. Do I need to just keep waiting for the nitrobacter to catch up or should I dose with bacteria again?
 

mattgirl

did a 75% water change and re dosed with prime and cycle.
I read back through the thread and this caught my eye. Are you adding the prime to the water before pouring it in the tank or putting the water in first and then adding prime? If you are putting untreated water in and then dosing the water conditioner you may be killing off some bacteria each time you do a water change. This could slow the cycling process down.
 

angsess78

I read back through the thread and this caught my eye. Are you adding the prime to the water before pouring it in the tank or putting the water in first and then adding prime? If you are putting untreated water in and then dosing the water conditioner you may be killing off some bacteria each time you do a water change. This could slow the cycling process down.
I am using a python water changer and adding prime before adding any water back to the tank. I syphon out, then get the water temp matched to what my tank is, add prime to leftover water in the tank, then set the python to fill the tank. I do all this with the filter off.
 

mattgirl

I am using a python water changer and adding prime before adding any water back to the tank. I syphon out, then get the water temp matched to what my tank is, add prime to leftover water in the tank, then set the python to fill the tank. I do all this with the filter off.
Perfect and of course just as it should be done. :)

At this point all I can suggest is giving it time to finish up. Kinda strange that nitrates go up that much so quickly with just the 4 little fish in the tank. Have you added more since the original 4?

I guess I should ask though if you are adding liquid ferts after the water changes? If so that could explain the high number. I know the Thrive I use raises my nitrates a bit higher than they normally would be.

How long have you been dealing with nitrites? If it has been close to two weeks I would probably change out no less than 75% of the water. I would run the nitrite test about an hour after doing the water change. If I was still seeing nitrites after doing so I would do another one. If it has been less than two weeks I would continue doing what I was doing and just give it more time.
 

angsess78

Its been almost a week with the nitrites. I am not using ferts yet because I didn't want to skew my results. Plants are showing plenty of new growth anyway without them. I am getting lots of new leaves on my water wisteria and my amazon sword, and my ludwigia has started showing red leaves. They seem to be thriving. I only have the 4 cherry barbs in the tank. I assume 4 anyway. I see 3 together quite often but never see the 4th at this point. I haven't seen a body anywhere so I am assuming he is hiding in one of the many driftwood hidey holes. I am doing 75% water changes every other day and seeing nitrites go down to about 0.25 and nitrates to 5 post water change, but they shoot right back up within 24 hours. I have tested my tap water and it tests zero.
 

mattgirl

Its been almost a week with the nitrites. I am not using ferts yet because I didn't want to skew my results. Plants are showing plenty of new growth anyway without them. I am getting lots of new leaves on my water wisteria and my amazon sword, and my ludwigia has started showing red leaves. They seem to be thriving. I only have the 4 cherry barbs in the tank. I assume 4 anyway. I see 3 together quite often but never see the 4th at this point. I haven't seen a body anywhere so I am assuming he is hiding in one of the many driftwood hidey holes. I am doing 75% water changes every other day and seeing nitrites go down to about 0.25 and nitrates to 5 post water change, but they shoot right back up within 24 hours. I have tested my tap water and it tests zero.
Sounds like your plants are doing great. At this point in the cycle I would lower the water changes to 50% and do them daily until the nitrites drop to zero. I suspect that to happen any day now.
 

angsess78

Sounds like your plants are doing great. At this point in the cycle I would lower the water changes to 50% and do them daily until the nitrites drop to zero. I suspect that to happen any day now.
great, thanks!
 

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