Where Do My Nitrates Go?

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PaulaMPi

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I FINALLY seem to have nitrates again (after a couple of weeks of them not showing again.)

I've had issues with cycling my 10g - I've had it for 4.5months, and it took forever to get a reading of nitrates, even using Prime and Stability daily. Then, once I'd have a (slight) Nitrate reading, it would seem to disappear again for a couple of weeks. This has happened several times. I have never had a reading of Nitrites. (There was one day, probably 2 months ago, I thought there was a mild purplish tint, but it was gone the next day.)

This tank is a TopFin 10g with the kit filter. The kit filter only came with the floss bag and carbon... and some green plastic piece in the filter area that is supposedly where bacteria is supposed to live - no other media. A couple of months ago, I added some Matrix (though there is VERY little room in the floss pouch for much at all).

I have been doing 50% water changes every 7 days (a couple times when medicating for parasites I'd change after 4 days).

I currently have two Platies in the tank.

Any idea why my nitrites/nitrates are unreadable so frequently?

Current parameters:
Ammonia 0ish / nitrite 0 / nitrate <5

Today:
a05b00b15bb783e731bc9efa945b8ecb.jpg


Thursday (three days ago)
809221bbaf1e07cc64258670102a2392.jpg
 

dcutl002

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It sounds to me like you may finally be cycled. I would keep an eye on all water parameters for a while, but it is looking good to me. As for water changes, I would continue the 50% every week.
 

Zahc

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Do you have live plants in your tank ? They will reduce nitrates, and if your tank is heavily planted, you may not have nitrates at all.
 

Books&Fish

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With only 2 platies in the tank, it's likely that your weekly water changes are removing the little nitrates you're accumulating. This is totally fine, keep it up. If your tank is planted, you will need more nitrates though. Infrequent nitrite readings could be a case of overfeeding once in a while causing a spike.
 

Hill Dweller

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I didn't get any nitrate reading when I had just a Betta and a snail. I was getting paranoid I wasn't bashing the test bottle hard enough haha.

Now we have 10 embers and 2 guppies we finally got a low reading, I guess all the extra bods were finally making enough mess to detect something with the test.

It actually feels better to me to be detecting something and knowing my cycle is working and the test works :)
 

PaulaMPi

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As far as plants, I have only one moss ball. Could even just that be helping with nitrites/nitrates too?

It actually feels better to me to be detecting something and knowing my cycle is working and the test works :)
I think that's where my difficulty is coming from - I have had nitrate readings several times over the months, but then they are nonexistent for long periods of time... and as I never get a nitrite reading, I've been a bit paranoid. The one thing that helps is that my ammonia levels do seem to usually be "dealt with."

I do still sometimes get minor ammonia readings - still well below 0.25... but within a few days they disappear. I assume this could be overfeeding/not removing pieces of pea for the initial value, and then the bacteria catches up?

So what I'm understanding then is it's okay for nitrate readings to be 0 - my tank parameters may look like 0-0-0 after a water change because most have been removed from the water column (and I have lowish levels of everything anyway due to not a huge bioload)... but it has not actually affected the BB that is growing in the filter and taking care of it... and I am actually cycled?!
 

Hill Dweller

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It sounds like all the right bugs are there. It's probably a better problem to have than dealing with spikes haha
 

Books&Fish

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As far as plants, I have only one moss ball. Could even just that be helping with nitrites/nitrates too?



I think that's where my difficulty is coming from - I have had nitrate readings several times over the months, but then they are nonexistent for long periods of time... and as I never get a nitrite reading, I've been a bit paranoid. The one thing that helps is that my ammonia levels do seem to usually be "dealt with."

I do still sometimes get minor ammonia readings - still well below 0.25... but within a few days they disappear. I assume this could be overfeeding/not removing pieces of pea for the initial value, and then the bacteria catches up?

So what I'm understanding then is it's okay for nitrate readings to be 0 - my tank parameters may look like 0-0-0 after a water change because most have been removed from the water column (and I have lowish levels of everything anyway due to not a huge bioload)... but it has not actually affected the BB that is growing in the filter and taking care of it... and I am actually cycled?!
It does sound like you are cycled. Your single moss ball probably has no detectable effect on your nitrates. I'd say you have nothing to worry about, just keep an eye on the amount you're feeding and how long you leave treats in for (peas and other veges.)
 

PaulaMPi

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So question about cleaning out the peas and other snacks...

I use a net to scoop out any extra flakes (which is rare, as they really are piggies!), but I have to chop up the peas so small that there are always pieces that fall to the bottom. The Platies scavenge pretty well, but I know there is leftover sometimes hiding in the gaudy gravel... How do you typically remove the extra peas (or brine shrimp/bloodworms/etc) when it's NOT waterchange time?

(I do try to feed just a little at a time - I use tweezers to feed just a few bloodworms/shrimp... but the shrimp and peas do tend to spread over the place. I even turn the filter off for a few minutes at feeding time so it will make less mess.)

I do usually get a good amount of nasty stuff out at water change time... but Platies are pooping machines too!
 

Books&Fish

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I have sand, so I just use a turkey baster to suck up leftovers. Larger items like cucumber and zucchini I push onto a BBQ skewer for easy eating and removing.
 

PaulaMPi

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I have sand in my 45 (which I am working on cycling), and I'm really starting to hate the gravel in my 10, for this reason. I'm a little hesitant to remove it straight out though - don't want to lose any of the BB that might be in there... but I'd really like to have "cleaner" substrate (neon+white gravel is both gaudy and dirty looking!)

So about the peas - if I deshelled them and feed them in bigger chunks, the fish pick up a piece waaaay to big for them to eat, and they just drop it again... so I've been chopping it super tiny so they can eat it better. Am I being too aggressive with the finer chop? Can they really eat off of those bigger chunks just fine? And is it okay/normal/crazy to turn off the filter at feeding time? (Though sorry this is off-topic for the original purpose of the thread.)
 

Naiomi

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Thanks for your post, I am having the same issue. Now i feel better to see all the replies. My kit reading is very similar to yours.
 

AngelTheGypsy

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As long as your filter is only off long enough for them to eat, it's fine.

When you feed the peas, start to pay attention to how much they eat. Drop in a couple tiny chunks, let them eat it, then drop a couple more. Then next time only feed that much. This is how I do bettas. That will give you a better idea of how much they eat, allowing you to keep from over feeding.
 
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