Water Chemistry Frustration(+ Box Store Rant)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Robjoco, May 28, 2018.

  1. Robjoco

    RobjocoValued MemberMember

    Something is up with my 55g. It’s been fully cycled for about 6 weeks, and I’ve been stocking it slowly (well, my version of slowly). Everything was going well until I added ghost shrimp. The lfs suggested 50 (!), I went with 20, and after a few days, only 8 remain. I tried to pull each dead one asap, but probably missed a couple. Could this send me into a cycle again?

    Here are my parameters today. Using my API master kit.
    Ammonia: .25
    Nitrite: .5
    Nitrate: 40
    (My hardness test kit is arriving soon.)

    My lfs says API is inaccurate, so I wanted to get more tests. Since my lfs is 1.5 hour drive, I just went to petsmart and petco for water tests.

    The very rude woman at petsmart gave the following results, and told me I have no BB whatsoever. Whaaaaat?! I said no I’ve been cycled for awhile. She said well how often do you do water changes? I said weekly. She said well that’s why you have zero BB. But I thought the BB lived on surfaces, not in the water!
    Ammonia: .5
    Nitrite: 0
    Nitrate: 0
    Total hardness: 175 (When I asked her how they measure hardness, she said I have no idea, I just get a number. Nice. When she said 175, I told her ok so it’s ppm. She shrugged.)

    The guy at petco used a test strip.
    Ammonia: 0
    Nitrite: 1.0
    Nitrate: 0
    Total hardness: 150 ppm

    I just dosed Prime, since 2 of the 3 tests show Nitrites. Sigh.

    Suggestions and criticisms welcome. I’ll try to turn down the ol’ ego in order to help the fish.
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  2. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    Ghost shrimp are bred to be sold as feeder shrimp. Barely any of them survive.
    Did they all die together? or in a span of like a week?
    It’s possible that it caused a mini-cycle.
    Did you do a water change after you picked out the dead shrimp?

    The BB lives in the filter, 5% lives on the gravel. Little to no bacteria is in the water column. Has it been cycled for 6 weeks or has it been 6 weeks since it cycled? What I would recommend is you purchase the API master test kit. It’s the most accurate test and cheapest in the long run, The others are test strips which aren’t as accurate. If the lady at PetSmart doesn’t know how they did the test, chances are she doesn’t know about fish keeping.

    When you dosed Prime, did you do a wate change? It should only be added to new water but it doesn’t remove ammonia or nitrite, it detoxifies it, it’s still there but its detoxified for up to 48 hours. While your cycle removes the ammonia and nitrite. Do daily or bidaily water changes until you get your cycle back.
  3. OP

    RobjocoValued MemberMember

    The 12 ghost shrimp died over the span of a couple of days. I’ve had two 50% water changes since then, 6 days apart. I won’t be buying any more of those!

    I do have the api master kit. Sorry if that was unclear.

    I apologize, but I’m overlooking the difference between the two options. I started cycling in March and was fully cycled 2.5 weeks later.

    Yes, thank you. I’ll keep doing water changes.

  4. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    How did you cycle your tank? It usually takes longer when doing a fishless cycle and without bottle bacteria.
  5. finnipper59

    finnipper59Well Known MemberMember

    What the woman told you at the fish store was 175 ppm in water hardness. Best levels are between 80 and 100. Your hardness is not that bad. 175 ppm would convert 9.77 dHK. I would trust the results you got today from your API tests. Your ammonia at .25 and nitrites at .50 with 40 nitrates at 40 sounds like a simply ammonia spike from the dead shrimp and a definately cycled tank. Do a 30 to 50 percent water with your water conditioner (Prime or otherwise) and do the API tests again in tomorrow. I have the belief that doing that will have your ammonia and nitrites at or close to 0 and your nitrates down to 20 or 25. Don't take the advice from a pet shop fish bagger.

    ...that was supposed to say a 30 to 50 percent water change using your water conditioner with it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2018
  6. GuppyDazzle

    GuppyDazzleValued MemberMember

    I find it curious that a fish store person would say API Master Test Kit is not reliable.

    I had an episode with test strips where my pH was showing as dangerously high. I was ready to try emergency steps to lower it. Then I sent my water to a lab and got some interesting results.

    My daughter worked at a lab where they tested water for pools and spa products. She said "test strips are always consistent and they're always wrong." They used test strips to determine changes in water readings, but wouldn't rely on them for the actual numbers. She took a water sample in and tested it. It showed the pH levels as a little low (rather than shockingly high), and their sophisticated testing equipment confirmed the readings I got with the API Master Test Kit. Not exact, but very close.

    I know it's just one experience, but I don't use test strips any more and I do trust the API Master Test Kit.
  7. finnipper59

    finnipper59Well Known MemberMember

    Like I just said. Trust the API, change 30 to 50 percent water change because of ammonia spike from dead shrimp, and test again tomorrow. The tank sounds cycled and working just fine by my experience.
  8. NavyChief20

    NavyChief20Well Known MemberMember

    so your dKH (carbonate hardness) and your GH (general hardness ie calcium magnesium) are not mutually exclusive. Low dKH will make your pH unstable whereas higher it will be muchmore stable and buffered.

    Most of the time the people at "box store" pet stores have little to no knowledge of aquaria or chemistry. There are some exceptions. The ones at mine are pretty good but they even ask me questions when i go in there.
  9. OP

    RobjocoValued MemberMember

    I agree. Maybe he was hoping I’d buy whichever kit they use.

    It was a fish-in cycle.

    Will do, thank you! Oh and fish bagger, hahaha, perfect title!

    Thanks everyone!
  10. OP

    RobjocoValued MemberMember

    Well, after yesterday’s water change, today everything seems to be back to normal! Thanks everyone!
  11. Ulu

    UluWell Known MemberMember

    They want you to buy test strips because the profit on them is much higher than chemicals in a bottle.

    They contain stuff like hydrochloric acid and they pay $$$ Hazmat fees to ship that stuff around.

    I have been using API over 30 years & only problems I find with the API kit are these:

    You should wipe the top of the bottle off and the cap out when you open it.

    They tend to build up a little extra liquid on the tips and that can throw your first drop off, making it too large.

    Then there is the childproof cap. Pull that stupid red ring off with a pliers and throw it away. Not only does it make the bottle difficult to open, a buildup of tolerances in the manufacturing of the plastic bottle, cap, red ring, and tip causes an inaccuracy at the assembly that can make it difficult to tighten the cap properly.

    When you open a used bottle, it's common to find liquid inside the cap and on the bottle threads which should not be there.

    Keep the chemicals away from the children and you won't need the ring.

    The shape of the bottles is designed to make them easy to squeeze but it also makes them easy to fall over. Bottles of hydrochloric acid should be designed so they are very difficult to tip over.

    If you use the API phosphorus test it will show false positive readings when you have large concentrations of calcium in your tank.

    Finally, the Master Test Kit is hardly a master kit. It doesn't test hardness, carbonates, phosphates, or copper.

    That's another 50 bucks with tax.
  12. OP

    RobjocoValued MemberMember

    That’s really good info! Thank you!

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