Results and Queries - My first attempt at using API Freshwater Master test kit

  1. hud316 Member Member

    Received my API test kit in the post and my initial readings are PH 6.4 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 40

    According to the test kit instructions my PH should ideally be about 7.5 for a communal tank...I'm currently looking at getting API Proper P.H 7.5 adjuster on ebay to sort this. Are there any other methods in the meantime to get my PH closer to the 7.5 rating until my API Proper arrives? Daily partial water changes etc?

    My nitrate is also a bit too high according to other posters on here it should be at 20 or under, I'm checking ebay to get some Aqua Nitra-Zorb or detox as its now known. There seems to be two options to get size 5 or 6, but none of the postings say if the size relates to size of tank or if its just a packaging issue, i.e. you get more for size 6...anyone able to clarify what the difference is with sizes?

    Finally the API test kit advises doing weekly tests but on here again I have seen people say they do dailly tests, is this just a personal prefference or would fishlore posters advise doing daily tests?
     
  2. ryanr Moderator Moderator Member

    Hi hud,
    Before you 'waste' money on the API Proper, it is generally advised by all in Fishlore not to use chemicals/additives to change your pH. These products tend to cause more issues than what they solve.

    6.4 is not necessarily a bad thing, and we generally advise that chasing a number for pH is not the way to handle things.

    You can increase pH naturally with the addition of crushed coral if you really must chase a number, but if 'it ain't broke', I wouldn't change it.

    Given your tank has been up and running for as long as it has, messing around with the pH is certainly not advised.

    Regarding nitrates - what is your water change routine? How much and how often? Water changes are the preferred method of removing nitrates from your water.

    Your plants and lighting schedule may be contributing to both your (perceived) low pH readings and higher nitrates. While lights are off, plants release carbon dioxide into the water column (not a bad thing, just how things work) - the more CO2 in the water, the lower your pH reading will be. Essentially what I'm saying is your water could actually be higher, but CO2 brings it down - part of the reason why we advise chemicals shouldn't be used.

    Have you tested your tap water? I would also take a sample (in a glass) from your tank, and leave it sit for 24 hours, preferably with an airstone running it, and test the pH again.

    Plants also consume nitrates, but they can't do this while lights are off - increasing your lighting may help the nitrate uptake of the plants.

    With all this said - If there is nothing wrong your tank - don't go changing anything, you may create many problems for yourself un-necessarily.

    Regarding testing regimes - I used to test weekly, but to be honest, I rarely test anything on my tank anymore. I test GH/KH weekly, nitrates if something looks wrong. Your regime should be what you're comfortable with. After a while, you get 'to know your tank', and testing may not be necessary. It's definitely a personal preference.

    HTH
     

  3. Lexi03 Well Known Member Member

    Good advise above.
    As far as the testing I also don't test my tanks much after they have been running a while. Normally I test daily while cycling, anddaly for 1 week after adding fish to a newer tank, after I get a tank stocked I test weekly on water change day, until I have figured out how much of a water change to keep the nitrates under 20ppm. When I get to a point where I know what the nitrates will be each week before the test is done, I stop the wekly tests too, and pretty much only test if I feel something is wrong with a tank.
     
  4. catsma_97504 Fishlore Legend Member

    Great advice above. Do not waste your money on those products. Instead purchase a timer for your lights. 4.5 hours is too short for live plants. And 10 hours weekends is just asking for algae.

    Do you dose any ferts? If not then increase your water changes. If you have been changing 25% weekly, then increase to 40%. To get the level down now, especially if your fish have fin rot or any signs of stress, start with a 75% change now. If you haven't been doing weekly or bi-weekly water changes, start doing so for the health of your fish. There is nothing better than fresh water for freshwater fish.

    Increased water changes may help to raise/stabilize your pH. It also depends on your tap levels.

    If you haven't already, run all tests on your tap. It is best to know what is being added to an aquarium.
     
  5. hud316 Member Member

    Thanks for the great feedback...will give the products a miss..saves me a few pennies too so cheers.

    Re: Nitrates my water change routine is partial changes every 4 or 5 days (approx 1/5th of the tank water) and then a 1/2 to 3/4 water change every 16/17 days. In Scotland our tap water has chlorine in it and I stay in an old tenement block which likely has old pipes so I add API Stress Coat to any new water and mix it in before adding it to the tank.

    My tank light is normally on for about 5/6 hours per weekday and approx 10 hours on weekend days, I have an airstone in my tank which is normally on the same amount of time as my lights each day. My light is connected to the mains so I think adding a timer may involve messing about with the electrics of my tropiquarium 55 tank which I would not be comfortable about doing if I'm being honest.

    Up until last week I had a fert (I forget its name) that I added with each big water change but I dont think it done much good and now that its finished don't plan on buying anymore unless anyone can recommend a particular good brand.

    Apart from my guppie which for the past few weeks has looked a bit lifeless sitting at the top of the tank and I've not seen her eating all the other fish seem very active and healthy.

    This might be a silly question...but there is probably someone else out there thinking the same and going to be glad I asked anyway...when people say they test their tank on water change day, do you mean doing the test after you have removed the old and added the new water...I'm assuming its after, but may as well ask as we are on the subject :)

    I will do a 40% water change tonight and come back with my new results hopefully tomorrow if I can get online, thanks very much for everyones responses. The beauty of forums such as this is what may seem a trivial or major problem for some can normally be solved by people with more experience which is much appreciated. :;thx
     
  6. ryanr Moderator Moderator Member

    Great water change routine IMO. For a water conditioner, you could also consider a product by Seachem called Prime. It's great for removing chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals etc. It's up to you, you seem to have a good routine, and it works for you. Another good one is Kordon Amquel+, but again, your system seems to be working for you.

    As for testing - generally you should perform your tests prior to a water change, that way you know where the tank is, and can change your water change amounts accordingly. e.g. if your nitrates are too high, I would suggest >40ppm, then maybe a 50% water change, but if they're around the 20ppm, maybe just a 20% water change. By testing after a water change, it doesn't give you the ability to really know what's happening in the tank because after the change, you've reduced the concentrations but you don't know by how much. Hope that makes sense :;sh

    On the air pump side, I'd actually reverse your current system - using the air pump during lights out actually helps to promote gas exchange, and get more Oxygen into the water - as the plants release CO2 during lights out.

    But again - these are just my thoughts, you seem to have a system that is working for you, so it's not necessary to change anything. If you are going to change anything, do it slowly, and do it one at a time. That way if you strike a problem, you'll know what caused it, plus it'll give your fish a chance to adapt to the new environment.

    Oh - and there's no silly questions in fishlore :;hf
     
  7. hud316 Member Member

    Done my second test today and my readings are
    PH 6.0
    Ammonia 0.25
    Nitrite 0
    Nitrate 40

    Checked my tap water and that is

    7.0 PH
    0.25 Ammonia
    0 Nitrate
    0 Nitrate


    In the past week I have done one 40 % water change, and been very sparce with what I have been feeding my fish no more than a finger pinch every 2 days so there was not a lot of uneaten food left in the tank.

    Given my tap water is 7.0 PH in order to get my tank level PH closer to the recommended 7.5 level would it be advisable to say do a 40% water change maybe twice a week?

    I have taken the advice of Ryanr and started leaving my air pump on when the lights have been out too.

    Cheers
     
  8. ryanr Moderator Moderator Member

    Like I mentioned, I wouldn't go chasing a number for pH.

    Have you tested pH just before lights on, and just before lights off? Your pH will swing during the 'day' (lights on vs lights off).

    It would also be handy to know the KH (Carbonate hardness) of your water. KH buffers your water, and has a direct relationship with pH.

    I'd do the two tests for pH (morning/night) to see what sort of a swing you're getting, then start with appropriate actions/methods.

    Oh - and with the air pump now switched, keep on eye on things, but I think you should see an improvement in health of fish and plants.
     
  9. catsma_97504 Fishlore Legend Member

    I agree. Chasing a specific pH level will not only drive one crazy, but it will be very stressful on fish!

    But, as your tank has not fully cycled the pH is still going to bounce around. As your water source contains ammonia I would do smaller water changes every couple of days instead of the large single change per week. I also recommend purchasing a detoxing water conditioner. Seachem Prime or Kordon AmQuel with NovAqua will do everything that StressCoat can, plus these products will detox the ammonia in your tap to help protect your fish.