What's my tank doing?!? So confused!

H20girl

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First, I apologize, I posted something similar to this in the Beginner Forum before realizing that this was probably the proper place... I hope the moderators can delete anything that needs to go!

I don't know what in the world is going on with the tank and whether to trust the API test kit... the results don't make sense to me!

History:
-We put water + conditioner in the tank on Sunday, 5/2.
-On Monday, we got 5 platys (I even knew better than to cycle w/ fish but my boyfriend insisted). At first we were only using a continuous monitor for ammonia; it's always read 0.
-On Wednesday I bought an API test kit & tested the tank and the tap(results below). After the test, we changed 30-40% of the water and added Prime (enough for whole tank).

I don't know where we are in the cycle... I tested with an API kit last night but the results don't make sense to me. Why are there nitrites and nitrates after having the fish for 48 hours? Our tap water didn't show anything.

Tank results:
pH: 7.8 (maybe 7.9)
Ammonia: .25 (probably less - it looked like it was somewhere between 0 and .25, closer to .25 than to 0 though, definitely some green)
nitrite: between .25 and .50 (poor fish )
Nitrate: 5.0, color matched well, definitely orange not yellow. (Its possible we did not shake the bottle enough, but we got a zero reading for the tap water. Is it possible to get a false positive by not shaking enough? I will retest our tap water tonight with vigourous shaking of the nitrate test solution. Unless the tank is cycling quickly, I wonder if the nitrate is coming from the water or maybe the rocks? Can that happen? Can metal in rocks create nitrate? I tried to only use slate that didn't have iron or anything, but there may be a little bit).

My boyfriend and I tested independently and got the same results.

Afterwards, we tested the tap water (right out of the tap, didn't let it sit):
Tap results:
pH: 7.8
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

The tank was not seeded with anything from an established tank.
The slate in the tank was obtained from a nearby stream, but much of it was boiled or at least scrubbed (with hot water) before use. (I read partway though that boiling rocks is dangerous (they can explode?) and that it's unnecessary. All the slate was out of the water for a couple weeks before going in the tank. Do you think some bacteria could have survived on a piece of slate that wasn't boiled? The gravel (more like small pebbles) were from a craft store (boiled and washed numerous times).

I'm not sure what's going on! Now that I'm using Prime, I'm thinking further tests will be inaccurate unless I wait more than 24 hrs... is that correct? I'm not sure I want to do that because I want to change the water every day. How will I be able to tell what's going on if I can't get an accurate test?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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Meenu

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You would do the water tests right before you do your daily water change.

As to why there are nitrates...I'll let someone else answer, and make sure I pay attention so I can learn.
 
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H20girl

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Ok, thanks for clarifying! I guess as long as I do it the same time of day that's 24 hours. I wasn't sure if that was cutting it too close to the 24-hr time period, but sounds like that's fine.
 

Meenu

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When you put the platies in, did you add the water from their bag into your tank?
 

LyndaB

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Meenu, there is quite an extensive dialogue under this topic going on already..... https://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/freshwater-beginners/70816-eeek-cycling-fish-anything-i-can-do-keep-them-alive.html

Figured you might want to continue this conversation over there at the original thread H2Ogirl. It gets really confusing for people if the same conversation is going on in various parts of the forum.

We have excellent moderators here. If you ever feel you've posted in the wrong section, just ask one of them to move it for you. Chances are, they'll catch the mistake before you will anyway and already have moved it. They're quick like that.
 
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H20girl

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That might explain things, but I'm pretty sure we didn't get bag water into the tank. We floated them in the bag for 20 min and then added tank water to the bag and floated them for another 20 min. Our net was too big to go in the bag so we poured the bag of fish into the net (over a bowl) and dumped the fish into the tank. Of course they had a mix of the bag water/new tank water on them, but that's it

ETA: x-posted - oops, sorry for the confusion. I'll end this thread. Thanks!!!
 
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