Nitrates Playing Hide and Seek

KSo

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Good morning!
Question about newly cycled tank:
Is it normal for a semI planted tank to have nitrates that come and go on their own? I keep bouncing from 5-10-5 ppm day to day. I don’t always do my parameter checks at the same time because of my work schedule. Got put on call today for the hospital so I got to work on the tank earlier than usual.

is this a sign of problems? Or just normal due to having plants? We aren’t heavily planted, I think lightly planted is more our case - it’s a 36 and looks like this:
image.jpg
 

Mongo75

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Good morning to you :). Nice looking tank!

I guess the first question is what water tests are you using? If it's the API liquid test (this may apply to others as well) are you following the instructions completely? Are you shaking nitrate solution #2 at least 30 seconds before adding it to the test vial? Are you shaking the test vial for 1 minute after adding the solutions and waiting 5 minutes?

Are you like me and a lot of others, and simply having problems interpreting the colors? Are you using a good light source, as close to natural sunlight as you can when comparing the colors?

I've heard that testing at different times of the day can affect the test results, but IIRC, it's pH that will fluctuate throughout the day. Not sure about the other parameters.

My experience is, and from what I've read, you really need a heavily planted tank for plants to lower nitrates.

As long as your ammonia and nitrites are staying at zero and are seeing nitrates, I think you're ok.

Side Note: I lost 3 Mollies, 2 Mystery Snails and 1 Nerite Snail back in February. Yesterday I broke down and bought 7 Zebra Danios to round out my somewhat boring tank. Busy little buggers, aren't they :).

Also, as I recall, in another post, you said you were an ICU Nurse, so keep safe, and keep healthy :)
 

mattgirl

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The nitrate shouldn't go up and down and bounce around. With just that tiny bit of difference I think is could be caused by the test itself. Maybe you added one drop more of water to the test tube or squeezed the testing solution bottle a little harder and got bigger drops. These API tests aren't scientific quality so there are variables. What you are seeing isn't a big concern either way though. :)
 
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KSo

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Aww thank you both (mattgirl - you have been my fishlore rock for awhile now ) - mongo - I am staying as safe as I can, you as well!

I am using API master kit, I’m a mess normally, but with the tests I am OCD and then some! I shake the second bottle for the 1 minute by timer for nitrates. The tube as well, but maybe I added an extra drop or bigger drop? My pH has been steady at 7.6, temp always 78; ammonia and nitrites at 0 for about a week. I need to chill out lol I think I just feel guilty for opting for a fish in cycle the fish are happy, healthy and active. Time to give myself some credit for safely cycling with fish! We are already looking at more tanks on FB marketplace, and looking to go bigger! Ya’ll warned me about MTS!!
 

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Nitrates are nothing to worry about :). Test kit leaves a lot to be desired. Your doing good nothing to worry about and great looking tank. Stay safe :) and thanks for what you do!
 

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KSo said:
Aww thank you both (mattgirl - you have been my fishlore rock for awhile now ) - mongo - I am staying as safe as I can, you as well!

I am using API master kit, I’m a mess normally, but with the tests I am OCD and then some! I shake the second bottle for the 1 minute by timer for nitrates. The tube as well, but maybe I added an extra drop or bigger drop? My pH has been steady at 7.6, temp always 78; ammonia and nitrites at 0 for about a week. I need to chill out lol I think I just feel guilty for opting for a fish in cycle the fish are happy, healthy and active. Time to give myself some credit for safely cycling with fish! We are already looking at more tanks on FB marketplace, and looking to go bigger! Ya’ll warned me about MTS!!
Please don't feel guilty about doing a fish in cycle. That is the way I have always done it and if done right there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I really didn't know there was such a thing as fishless cycling until I joined this forum :D
 
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I hope everyone is staying safe!
I can definitely appreciate those who have the patience to do fishless cycles. I’m trying to do one on a small 3.5g just to see what its like - so far? Pretty dang unimpressive

Sidenote: Who thinks I should paint the back black? Have always had black back tanks, but got cold feet because this is my biggest tank to date... I feel like it’ll make the plants pop and we are planning to have a school of galaxy Rasboras which I think would also look great on the dark background.. any opinions?
 

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KSo said:
I hope everyone is staying safe!
I can definitely appreciate those who have the patience to do fishless cycles. I’m trying to do one on a small 3.5 gallon just to see what its like - so far? Pretty dang unimpressive

Sidenote: Who thinks I should paint the back black? Have always had black back tanks, but got cold feet because this is my biggest tank to date... I feel like it’ll make the plants pop and we are planning to have a school of galaxy Rasboras which I think would also look great on the dark background.. any opinions?
I actually use a piece of cardboard that I paint black. You could also try black (or any color) construction paper. It's a lot less messy :)

20200330_064241.jpg
 

mattgirl

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KSo said:
I hope everyone is staying safe!
I can definitely appreciate those who have the patience to do fishless cycles. I’m trying to do one on a small 3.5 gallon just to see what its like - so far? Pretty dang unimpressive

Sidenote: Who thinks I should paint the back black? Have always had black back tanks, but got cold feet because this is my biggest tank to date... I feel like it’ll make the plants pop and we are planning to have a school of galaxy Rasboras which I think would also look great on the dark background.. any opinions?
Hubby and I are staying home as much as possible. If we need anything he goes to get it. I've not left the house since all this mess started. Fortunately he is healthier than I am. He is very careful though when he has to go anywhere.

I think the black background will look great. I like Mongo.s suggestion. It would be an easy way to see which color will look best.
 
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Nice tank Mongo! I have been going back and forth on maybe using black foam board instead of paint. I’ll try the construction paper if I can find it in one of the many totes stacked in the closet lol
 

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KSo said:
Nice tank Mongo! I have been going back and forth on maybe using black foam board instead of paint. I’ll try the construction paper if I can find it in one of the many totes stacked in the closet lol
Thank you :)

We have cardboard boxes coming out the...well, you know :). I cut out a piece about 1/8 to 1/4 inch larger than the tank, and give it a few coats of spray paint, then just wedge it in between the HOB and glass. No scraping glass if I don't like it, no flaking or peeling, and no tape to hold it in place. The construction paper may need a little tape since it's thinner than the cardboard. I like the idea of using black foam, but not sure how that would run for costs. Paint's cheap, and cardboard is free :). Since you have a bigger tank than my 20g, construction paper would be easier to get sized right. Seams would be less of an eye-sore!

That chunk of spiderwood is new, just added it Saturday. You can see in the photo that I'm weighing it down with some rocks, lol. My largest container is a 5 gallon bucket and all but about 8 inches fit inside. I filled the bucket with boiling water and let it come back down to room temp, then flipped it over and did it all again. After six buckets of boiling water, I scrubbed it down with my aquarium only scotch-brite and toothbrush. I'm as impatient as a kid at Christmas, so I'll deal with the tannins and weighing it down to prevent it from floating.
 
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It’s a nice piece! I have such a hard time finding wood for the tank. The little piece I did find I loved the shape of but couldn’t find similar in a larger piece. Literally took it out of one of my LFS tanks thankfully they’re cool with that as long as you’re a customer that shows they know what they’re doing in their tank
 

Mongo75

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KSo said:
It’s a nice piece! I have such a hard time finding wood for the tank. The little piece I did find I loved the shape of but couldn’t find similar in a larger piece. Literally took it out of one of my LFS tanks thankfully they’re cool with that as long as you’re a customer that shows they know what they’re doing in their tank
I like the shape of yours! It's nice that your LFS is willing to work with their customers. They know how to keep them coming back. Once all this fear and uncertainty (no, I don't take it lightly) from COVID-19 passes, I need to spend more time in my one-and-only LFS and really get to know them. I have a Petsmart 100-200 yards from my front door, and another Petsmart and a Petco, almost next door to each other, about six miles away, but there's only so much you can expect from the big-box stores.

This is what I ordered.... What I received isn't what I would have chosen in person, or maybe it is..., but after getting it, and putting it in my tank, I'm very pleased with it. It's already getting fungus :D :rolleyes:. I was really leery of ordering it online because you never know (like a box of chocolates...) what you'll get, but it was returnable, and I had enough "rewards points" that I got it free, so what was there to loose. Sometimes you get lucky :)
 
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Ok so added a new plant yesterday and got some SterbeI Corys (6). They are so fun to watch, super active and the Danio gang is not bothered by them at all. Still not happy with the plant layout but we have some growing out to do. Started using Flourish yesterday as well to see if it helps the plant situation. Considering a diy tank lid as well so we can upgrade the lighting. Is tank obsession supposed to happen this quickly? Here’s an updated pic
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Yes, it can happen this quick :D I like where this tank is going. You may want to consider getting a bottle of nilog thrive in place of the flourish though. I started out with flourish and flourish excel and wasn't having much success. Once I switched to the all in one liquid ferts my plants thanked me by actually growing. Check this out and you will see the growth achieved in just a couple of months.
 
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I was looking at Easy Green - any insight? I like where this tank is going too - kinda excited lol
 
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I’m super limited by our lighting, it’s just an LED that is doing ok, but definitely not the type we need to get my dream planted tank! I’ll look at the nilog thrive and see what I can get my hands on. I don’t feel any desire at playing with CO2 right now lol, so anything to help my low tech gig along is welcome!
 
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Bored at home like everyone else, figured I’d update some pics. The first was the many stages during the first month - set up and cycle. Today I did my first trimming of the Octopus plant, our crappy lighting was causing it to branch out really far but not compactly, so it was super messy and sparse. Hoping the offshoots will help fill in the back and keep the reach shorter? I don’t know what I’m doing, but since I’m picking up a ton of shifts at the hospital I’ll have some extra cash for more plants if these don’t make it haha
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