Not Following The Api Nitrate Directions

sixtyfour

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Ever notice that the directions for the API nitrate test involve a lot of shaking? Ever wonder what would happen if you ignored those directions? I gave it a shot. Seems like not doing all the shaking results in a test that tells you, you have 0 nitrates when that isn't true.

In this picture the tube on the right was prepared correctly. The tube on the left was shaken the same way you would the ammonia test.



I kind of wish I had a tank with higher nitrates to see how much of a difference that made. I suspect the poorly prepared samples will always read 0.
 

kallililly1973

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Not knocking your experiment but a lot of people smack the nitrate bottles against the table which I believe the testing chemicals settle to the bottom so that may be why they want you to shake that specific bottle for so long...
 

Fahn

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I always smack the bottles hard against the palm of my hand for a good 20-30 seconds. I've even heard of some people throwing the bottles against the wall...
 

Jellibeen

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Yes, the testing chemicals settle. At one point someone on here wrote to API inquiring about testing bottles that hadn't been used in a few years, but were not expired. The API rep wrote back saying to knock the bottle around and shake it very well before the first use because the chemicals settle.
 

Momgoose56

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Fahn said:
I always smack the bottles hard against the palm of my hand for a good 20-30 seconds. I've even heard of some people throwing the bottles against the wall...
I just shake them. I don't smack, bang, slap or whack the bottle, I just shake it vigorously as the instructions say and you're right, it makes a huge difference, that "following the instructions" lol!
 
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sixtyfour

sixtyfour

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What I was wondering was if you don't follow the directions what result do you get? Would it read high, low, or something completely weird. My test suggests it will read low. It might even suggest if you don't agitate the second bottle, and the solution correctly, it will always read 0. This might explain why we see so many beginners saying my nitrates are 0, but my fish are dying.
 

DuaneV

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Ive had the same results. Tested Nitrates on friends tanks just to see, results were none/low so retested with LOTS of shaking and BANG, you have high nitrates.
 

ystrout

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I too get 0 nitrates when I don't shake the bottle.

What I've noticed these last 2 summers is that my API nitrate test bottles have been going bad. The first bottle essentially turns the water a dull orange color rather than yellow and it won't react with Bottle 2. Has this happened to anyone else? The bottle that went bad last year expired in 2020 and my current one has a 2023 expiration date....
 

david1978

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I just don't use mine. Its easier that way.
 

Momgoose56

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ystrout said:
I too get 0 nitrates when I don't shake the bottle.

What I've noticed these last 2 summers is that my API nitrate test bottles have been going bad. The first bottle essentially turns the water a dull orange color rather than yellow and it won't react with Bottle 2. Has this happened to anyone else? The bottle that went bad last year expired in 2020 and my current one has a 2023 expiration date....
I think it's like a lot of bottled liquids. If they're opened and left open for periods of time, are stored in places where temperatures fluctuate widely (top shelf in hot seasons, bottom shelf or floor in very cold seasons), accidentally cross contaminated with other solutions over time (wrong lid replaced on them, tip touched to water or other chemicals etc.) or left unmoved for months at a time, they will deteriorate sooner than the projected expiration date. I have multiple tanks and so don't really have a problem but I can see how it happens.
 

Momgoose56

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david1978 said:
I just don't use mine. Its easier that way.
Eyeroll. david1978, are you one of those people that doesn't feed your fish so they won't poop too? LOL!
 

Nefersmum

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I've struggled extensively with the nitrate bottle in my API such that I purchased an NTL kit instead. I have recently contacted API having had my tap water tested by my water board. I'd had seriously worrying results from both tap and tank. They said more or less the same - not mixed enough. I've swung it, banged it, bounced it on the counter frightening the bejesus out of my poor cat and boogied round the living room doing the Time Warp (thankfully no film footage survives) to mix the blessed thing with the same result. One major difference I've found is that the NTL bottle is opaque so you can see the sediment and judge if another rumba is needed.
 

david1978

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Momgoose56 said:
Eyeroll. david1978, are you one of those people that doesn't feed your fish so they won't poop too? LOL!
You have to feed fish? But seriously once you get a system down what's the point of testing? I finally bought a kit 2 years ago because I was setting up an off the normal tank. But I went 20 years without one before that.
 

Nefersmum

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I know what you mean. It's what we seem to be doing now but it's frustrating when things seem to be complicated by testing reagents that are unnecessarily difficult to manage
 

AvalancheDave

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Nefersmum said:
I've struggled extensively with the nitrate bottle in my API such that I purchased an NTL kit instead. I have recently contacted API having had my tap water tested by my water board. I'd had seriously worrying results from both tap and tank. They said more or less the same - not mixed enough. I've swung it, banged it, bounced it on the counter frightening the bejesus out of my poor cat and boogied round the living room doing the Time Warp (thankfully no film footage survives) to mix the blessed thing with the same result. One major difference I've found is that the NTL bottle is opaque so you can see the sediment and judge if another rumba is needed.
API uses nitrate units.

Water company and FDA use nitrate-nitrogen. The legal limit for nitrate in drinking water is 44.3 nitrate or 10 nitrate-nitrogen.

I think NTL is one of the rare aquarium test kits that uses nitrate-nitrogen.

If API results are roughly 4 times NTL and under 44 then everything is as expected and your nitrate levels are legal.

Edit: UK limit is 50 ppm nitrate.
 

AvalancheDave

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If the nitrate #2 is a suspension then getting the drops out quickly before it resettles may be important. If you shake it really well but let it settle it defeats the purpose.
 

MomeWrath

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I know you all are talking about fresh water, but saltwater keepers that use API tests (they aren't the very best for salt) are always warned to follow the nitrate directions to the letter, to the extent of setting a timer or using a watch to shake the bottles and the mixed test for exactly the amount of time listed. Thou shalt count to thirty. Thou shalt not stop at twenty-nine, neither shalt thou proceed to thirty-one!
 

ystrout

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Momgoose56 said:
I think it's like a lot of bottled liquids. If they're opened and left open for periods of time, are stored in places where temperatures fluctuate widely (top shelf in hot seasons, bottom shelf or floor in very cold seasons), accidentally cross contaminated with other solutions over time (wrong lid replaced on them, tip touched to water or other chemicals etc.) or left unmoved for months at a time, they will deteriorate sooner than the projected expiration date. I have multiple tanks and so don't really have a problem but I can see how it happens.
Yaa I think that is what happened. I try not to, but I always mix and match my nitrate caps and ammonia caps since I open them both at the same time.
 
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sixtyfour

sixtyfour

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ystrout said:
Yaa I think that is what happened. I try not to, but I always mix and match my nitrate caps and ammonia caps since I open them both at the same time.
I put little drops of paint on the caps. I also label the tubes so I always use the same tube for the same test.
 

H2O Concierge

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My labels alwa
sixtyfour said:
I put little drops of paint on the caps. I also label the tubes so I always use the same tube for the same test.
My labels always come off. what do you use.
 

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