Reading API ammonia results? API test faulty?

bumblinBee

Three different tanks, that have been set up for varying lengths of time, here are their results. Now to me, these all seem to be 0 ppm. Please let me know your thoughts. My test kit is relatively new, and none of them expire until 2024 or 2025.

I'm having a bit of trouble with my tank readings, and I've posted on here about them before. I am getting 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates in all three of my tanks right now. The 20-25g is many years old, the 5g is about 2 years now, and the newest 5g I set up last week with media from my other tanks and has been stocked lightly. It obviously doesn't make sense to be getting readings of 0 for all of these, but for all intents and purposes, this test kit should be working. I know how to use the kit properly, I've watched videos and read articles and of course read the instructions provided by API in order to insure I was doing it correctly - and when I was initially setting up the older 5g, I was getting readings. Not sure what is going on - let me know if I'm not reading the colour chart correctly or if you have a suggestion for what I should do here.

(I've never gotten a yellow colour that perfectly matches the 0ppm mark on the colour chart. It's always paler. Is it meant to perfectly match the 0 ppm colour on the chart? Can somebody show me what it should look like at 0 ppm?)
 

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WRWAquarium

All tests look to be 0 to me.

For the all your tanks Its possible for your water to be 0 0 0 for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unlikely to have no nitrates in the established ones but possible depending on stock, plants, filtration and maintenance.

For the new set up if you have a low bio load and established seeded media I can see how you can get 0 readings, happened to me before.

What are the tanks like? Lots of fish? Few fish? Lots of plants? No plants?

Buy another kit if your not sure I suppose.
 

bumblinBee

All tests look to be 0 to me.

For the all your tanks Its possible for your water to be 0 0 0 for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unlikely to have no nitrates in the established ones but possible depending on stock, plants, filtration and maintenance.

For the new set up if you have a low bio load and established seeded media I can see how you can get 0 readings, happened to me before.

What are the tanks like? Lots of fish? Few fish? Lots of plants? No plants?

Buy another kit if your not sure I suppose.
20g: 6 glowlight tetras, 1 betta, colony of ghost shrimp, 6 nerites, 1 black devil snail, 1 bamboo shrimp + pest snails.
5g: 1 betta, 2 horned nerites.
New 5g: 5 ghost shrimp, handful of ramshorn snails. Several frogbit.

I mean I can't imagine the 20-25g isn't cycled if the shrimp are doing alright? I don't know anymore. I'm always told you need to meet very specific conditions in order to get 0 nitrates?
 

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mattgirl

It is very difficult to get a paint chip to perfectly match a liquid in a tube. Your ammonia readings are zero in all three tanks. Seeing no nitrates in any of the tanks is unusual though. I can see not seeing any in the newest tank since it is new and has a very low bio-load. It is possible you have managed to grow the necessary bacteria to remove nitrates in the tank that has been running for many years. With the bio-load in the 2 year old 5 gallon I would expect to see at least a hint of some.

I know you said you followed the instruction for running the nitrate test correctly. I will admit I thought I was when I first got my test kit. Come to find out I missed the part about shaking the test tube for a full minute.

Since this is a new kit did you bang bottle #2 against a hard surface and give it extra shaking time to make sure the sediment in the bottom of the bottle was broken loose so it could mix well with the liquid? If it isn't mixed really well we will get a false reading. I would run the tests again and this time bang and shake bottle #2 like my life depended on ti.
 

bumblinBee

It is very difficult to get a paint chip to perfectly match a liquid in a tube. Your ammonia readings are zero in all three tanks. Seeing no nitrates in any of the tanks is unusual though. I can see not seeing any in the newest tank since it is new and has a very low bio-load. It is possible you have managed to grow the necessary bacteria to remove nitrates in the tank that has been running for many years. With the bio-load in the 2 year old 5 gallon I would expect to see at least a hint of some.

I know you said you followed the instruction for running the nitrate test correctly. I will admit I thought I was when I first got my test kit. Come to find out I missed the part about shaking the test tube for a full minute.

Since this is a new kit did you bang bottle #2 against a hard surface and give it extra shaking time to make sure the sediment in the bottom of the bottle was broken loose so it could mix well with the liquid? If it isn't mixed really well we will get a false reading. I would run the tests again and this time bang and shake bottle #2 like my life depended on ti.
Thank you for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it! I'm glad to hear my eyes aren't playing tricks on me. I feel foolish for not knowing there were varieties of bacteria that consume nitrates - I had to look them up just now! I've never seen them mentioned in articles discussing the nitrogen cycle.. I guess because they aren't the primary concern when first cycling a tank, the bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites are though, so they steal the limelight.

I'm fairly certain I've been performing the tests correctly, one of the first videos I watched mentioned that the nitrate test bottle # 2 was particularly important because it forms a sediment on the bottom that needs to be shaken very very thoroughly, so I've always made a point to shake the **** out of it, pardon my French. I'll definitely try the tests again to be absolutely certain, but my hopes are not high :(



*As an update for everybody who's taken the time to respond, I reached out to API regarding this because I wanted to know how likely it was that my test kit was faulty - and they responded within a day and told me that they wanted to send me a new bottle of the nitrate test #2!

"What may have happened is that the #2 bottle was not shaken hard or long enough for one or more of the tests performed. Over time, this will permanently ruin the test kit. This can also happen when the bottle leaks in transit or in storage, as the bottle would not have been shaken prior. This is more likely the case when you are certain that you have performed the test according to instructions or if you have used the same kit successfully in the past. If this kit is used infrequently, it has a lot of time to settle between uses, which makes the shaking step even more crucial."

So I'm super impressed with the speed and efficiency of their support team! I was genuinely just wondering if I would need to buy a new one or not and they offered to send it out, completely free, no questions asked. Very happy with this, my fingers are crossed that this was the issue and hopefully I'll be getting some results on the nitrates this time!
 

mattgirl

Thank you for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it! I'm glad to hear my eyes aren't playing tricks on me. I feel foolish for not knowing there were varieties of bacteria that consume nitrates - I had to look them up just now! I've never seen them mentioned in articles discussing the nitrogen cycle.. I guess because they aren't the primary concern when first cycling a tank, the bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites are though, so they steal the limelight.
Most of the time we don't talk about the nitrate eating bacteria since it seems most of us never manage to grow it. We simply keep the nitrates down with water changes. Now though, you know there is such a thing and you could have managed to grow it :)
I'm fairly certain I've been performing the tests correctly, one of the first videos I watched mentioned that the nitrate test bottle # 2 was particularly important because it forms a sediment on the bottom that needs to be shaken very very thoroughly, so I've always made a point to shake the **** out of it, pardon my French. I'll definitely try the tests again to be absolutely certain, but my hopes are not high :(

*As an update for everybody who's taken the time to respond, I reached out to API regarding this because I wanted to know how likely it was that my test kit was faulty - and they responded within a day and told me that they wanted to send me a new bottle of the nitrate test #2!

"What may have happened is that the #2 bottle was not shaken hard or long enough for one or more of the tests performed. Over time, this will permanently ruin the test kit. This can also happen when the bottle leaks in transit or in storage, as the bottle would not have been shaken prior. This is more likely the case when you are certain that you have performed the test according to instructions or if you have used the same kit successfully in the past. If this kit is used infrequently, it has a lot of time to settle between uses, which makes the shaking step even more crucial."

So I'm super impressed with the speed and efficiency of their support team! I was genuinely just wondering if I would need to buy a new one or not and they offered to send it out, completely free, no questions asked. Very happy with this, my fingers are crossed that this was the issue and hopefully I'll be getting some results on the nitrates this time!
It is great that they got back to you so quickly and it is even better that they stand so firmly behind their products. I agree with what they think may have changed the properties of the testing solution. I often wonder if tests have been run a time or two without shaking well enough or if some liquid has leaked off. All tests after that won't be accurate even when done correctly.

I look forward to the results of the new testing solution. :)
 

bumblinBee

Most of the time we don't talk about the nitrate eating bacteria since it seems most of us never manage to grow it. We simply keep the nitrates down with water changes. Now though, you know there is such a thing and you could have managed to grow it :)

It is great that they got back to you so quickly and it is even better that they stand so firmly behind their products. I agree with what they think may have changed the properties of the testing solution. I often wonder if tests have been run a time or two without shaking well enough or if some liquid has leaked off. All tests after that won't be accurate even when done correctly.

I look forward to the results of the new testing solution. :)
It would be very cool if that were the case with my older tank, but the boats still out on that one haha!

Yes, I'm pleasantly surprised! Fingers are crossed, I will definitely update once I've received the new bottle :)
 

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