Water test results

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jasejinx

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I have just completed a water test for my 120 litre tropical fish tank and these are the reults:

Ph = 7-7.5
Ammonia = 0-0.6
Nitrite = 0.3 mg/l
Nitrate = 5 mg/l

Can anyone tell me if these are ok levels to keep my fish at, and if not how can I go about reducing or highering these results. As you probably can guess I am new to this. Many thanks.
 

Isabella

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First of all, welcome to Fish Lore

It's good that you haven't stocked your tank yet. From your readings, I presume you haven't had your tank running for a long time. Am I correct? You have ammonia and nitrite present in your water because your tank is cycling. If you do not know what cycling means, please read about the Nitrogen Cycle that can be found in the Beginners' Articles (which are on the Freshwater Beginners board). Now, ammonia and nitrite are very toxic compounds to fish, and that is why they need to be at zero at all times when you have fish in your tank. Nitrate is less toxic but if its concentration is too high, it can be toxic as well. The general guideline is to keep nitrate below 40 ppm (40 being the max). However, I'd personally not keep nitrate above 20 ppm because a nitrate level of 40 ppm isn't exactly healthy for fish.

Now back to the cycle: it takes about a month to cycle a tank, and it may take longer if you cycle your tank with fish. But as I've said before, ammonia and nitrite are very toxic to fish, so it's best to cycle the tank without fish. You need some matter decomposing though when you cycle fishless, so you can be adding a few flakes of fish food to your tank every day until the tank is cycled (remove the decaying flakes the next day). Your tank will be cycled when both ammonia and nitrite equal zero. Nitrate will be at some number, but if it's too high, perform a large water change before adding fish to your tank. Nitrate is a compound that will be always present in your water after the cycle is finished, but you can keep it very low or at 0 by regular water changes (say, 25 - 30% weekly water changes). Besides, regular water changes are recommended for many other reasons, for example, they do not let any chemicals to accumulate in your water to toxic levels and they remove a lot of decomposing wastes from the bottom of your tank. When you perform a water change, use a siphon tube with which you stir the gravel as you siphon the water out. This way, you remove all fish wastes and uneaten food that was trapped underneath the gravel. If these wastes are not removed regularly, they rot there and they increase your nitrate.

Lastly, when you clean your filter media, clean them in tank water only (take some tank water in a bucket and clean the media there). This is because if you clean them in tap water, chlorine (or chloramine) in your tap water will kill off the beneficial bacteria in your filter that are supposed to keep your tank cycled. And if they're killed off, you'll have to cycle your tank again. And ... if you have fish in your tank already, they may get sick or die from ammonia and nitrite during the cycle. If you read the article about the Nitrogen Cycle, you'll know what I mean by the "beneficial bacteria".

OK, this should be enough to get you started Ask if you have any more questions.

P.S. When your tank is cycled, that's when you start adding fish. BUT please stock your tank GRADUALLY - adding only few fish at a time. This is because if you add too many fish at once, you may have an ammonia and/or nitrite spike, which may make your fish sick or even kill them.
 
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jasejinx

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If there is a few neon tetra and glowlight tetra's in the tank what would be the best thing to do. I have had the tank about 3 weeks and had the fish for about 1 and a half and they seem ok at the moment. Is there anything that i can do to to stop them getting ill or even die?
 

Isabella

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If you already have fish in the tank, perform large DAILY water changes (say, 50%) to be removing the accumulating ammonia and nitrite. Do this until the cycle is over, meaning until ammonia and nitrite = 0. This is the best you can do for fish in a tank that is cycling while they're in the tank. Adding commercial products removing ammonia and nitrite isn't exactly good because it may interfere with the cycle.
 
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jasejinx

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Many thanks for your reply Isabella. I have just made a 50% water change in the tank and was just wondering how long i should leave the tank before getting more water results. Should I get results weekly or sooner do you think?
 

Butterfly

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During cycling testing daily is a good idea as the ammonia can rise in a short period of time. wait 24 hrs after a water change to test again. Hope that helps.
Carol
 
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jasejinx

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Just completed another water test and here are the results :

Ph = 7.5
Nh3 = 0
No2 = 0.3 - 0.8
No3 = 7

Could you tell me if these readings are something I should expect from my previous posts above?
 

Isabella

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Ammonia has decreased to zero, which means the tank is cycling well Now, all you need is nitrite at zero as well.
 
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jasejinx

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Happy with that. Is there any way that i can get my Nitrite down to 0 or is that just gonna take time. The fish seem ok so i will keep testing and keep my water changes going and hope that everything will be ok.
 

Isabella

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There is no way to make nitrite go down to 0, but you may be performing daily water changes to be removing the accumulating nitrite (for the sake of the health of your fish). The cycle has to complete itself, and the only way for this to happen is this: the beneficial bacteria first convert ammonia into nitrite, and then they convert nitrite into nitrate. So, you can't help or change the order of the cycle. Ammonia and nitrite HAVE TO be present in order for nitrate to appear. They're all connected. The best thing to do while you have ammonia and/or nitrite in your tank AND have fish in the tank at the same time, is to perform those daily 50% water changes, until ammonia and nitrite both = 0. If you don't have fish, that's a different story.
 
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