Zero reading of nitrates after water change normal?

DrogJustDrog

I just did my first water change as a betta owner. Yes I cycled my tank before getting him (at least I believe I did) prior to getting him I had 20.0 ppm nitrates and 5.00 ppm ammonia. I decided to do a water change which took the nitrates down to 5.0 ppm and the ammonia to .25 ppm.

I thought it would be safe to finally put a fish in the tank (poor judgement, so far he hasn't been sick and I've been vigilant to avoid that) I tested my water for ammonia and got about 5.00 ppm ammonia again so I did another water change.

This time after the change I got around 0.00-5.00 nitrates and 0.00-.25 ammonia and the way I work is I round to the worse number in a situation. Do I still have nitrates even if I don't see it in the test? Or have I doomed this betta and have to do the dreaded fish-in cycle now? It's 5.5 gallons for anyone wondering. I have two filter cartages as well.
 

Azedenkae

I just did my first water change as a betta owner. Yes I cycled my tank before getting him (at least I believe I did) prior to getting him I had 20.0 ppm nitrates and 5.00 ppm ammonia. I decided to do a water change which took the nitrates down to 5.0 ppm and the ammonia to .25 ppm.

I thought it would be safe to finally put a fish in the tank (poor judgement, so far he hasn't been sick and I've been vigilant to avoid that) I tested my water for ammonia and got about 5.00 ppm ammonia again so I did another water change.

This time after the change I got around 0.00-5.00 nitrates and 0.00-.25 ammonia and the way I work is I round to the worse number in a situation. Do I still have nitrates even if I don't see it in the test? Or have I doomed this betta and have to do the dreaded fish-in cycle now? It's 5.5 gallons for anyone wondering. I have two filter cartages as well.
What size water changes? And, did you measure nitrite? Nitrate tests generally convert a portion to nitrite, and then read that as a proxy, so if there is nitrites present, it affects the nitrate reading.
 
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DrogJustDrog

What size water changes? And, did you measure nitrite? Nitrate tests generally convert a portion to nitrite, and then read that as a proxy, so if there is nitrites present, it affects the nitrate reading.

They were each about 30%. I did test nitrites afterward and got a reading of zero.
 
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Azedenkae

They were each about 30%. I did test nitrites afterward and got a reading of zero.
Righteo. Chances are that you did not have much nitrate to begin with, and each time you did a water change, you removed nitrite that dis-proportionally reduced your nitrate readings, hence it seems like such a big decrease. After all, for example a decrease from 20ppm nitrate to 5ppm nitrate would be more akin to a 75% water change, not a 30% water change.

Sounds like yeah, you probably have some but very little nitrate now. Unless you have plants and/or algae growing, which utilizes nitrate and can deplete it.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Righteo. Chances are that you did not have much nitrate to begin with, and each time you did a water change, you removed nitrite that dis-proportionally reduced your nitrate readings, hence it seems like such a big decrease. After all, for example a decrease from 20ppm nitrate to 5ppm nitrate would be more akin to a 75% water change, not a 30% water change.

Sounds like yeah, you probably have some but very little nitrate now. Unless you have plants and/or algae growing, which utilizes nitrate and can deplete it.
I do have a piece of drift wood that is a bit covered in hair algae, think that could be the culprit?
 
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mattgirl

I hope you meant the ammonia was .50 instead of 5.0. If it is getting up to 5.0 you need to keep a very close eye on it daily and be prepared for daily water changes if needed. Right now I wouldn't be at all concerned about the nitrates. They have to get really high before they could cause any harm to your little guy. The most important numbers are ammonia and nitrites. You want to keep both down as low as possible to protect your new little guy.
 
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DrogJustDrog

I hope you meant the ammonia was .50 instead of 5.0. If it is getting up to 5.0 you need to keep a very close eye on it daily and be prepared for daily water changes if needed. Right now I wouldn't be at all concerned about the nitrates. They have to get really high before they could cause any harm to your little guy. The most important numbers are ammonia and nitrites. You want to keep both down as low as possible to protect your new little guy.
I'm just afraid he's going to die now. I did so much to avoid this. I really didn't want this to happen. I didn't want him to get sick from ammonia. (and yeah I did mean 0.50 for ammonia don't worry too much)

I do have a bottle of tetra safe start (I got it when API quickstart wasn't working) is it worth using?
Update: I just did another paranoid water test. It seems like everything is 0.00 ppm except for ammonia which is towing a line just under 0.25 ppm. What have I done?
How could this happen? I mean there is a little floating plant that the LFS put in his bag that I put in the tank with him but I have a hard time believing it could have this big an impact on the nitrate levels. I even tested nitrites on the day before I got him and I don't remember having any then either.


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Flyfisha

A quick point of interest DrogJustDrog .
Having zero nitrates is not a problem because nitrates are bacteria poop not the bacteria themselves.
Having zero nitrites is not an issue as nitrites are also bacteria poop and will quickly be eaten by the nitrates pooping bacteria.
 
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DrogJustDrog

A quick point of interest DrogJustDrog .
Having zero nitrates is not a problem because nitrates are bacteria poop not the bacteria themselves.
Having zero nitrites is not an issue as nitrites are also bacteria poop and will quickly be eaten by the nitrates pooping bacteria.
I imagine what you are saying is I might've just cleaned up the poop of the bacteria but still might have the bacteria present?
 
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Flyfisha

That is exactly what I am saying.
We can’t measure bacteria in water we can only measure how much poop they make each week.
 
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DrogJustDrog

That is exactly what I am saying.
We can’t measure bacteria in water we can only measure how much poop they make each week.
That makes me feel a bit better. Thanks.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Update: I tested his water, good news is nitrate is at 10-20 ppm. I am due for a water change as the ammonia is at 1.00 ppm. I'll do a 25% one and thankfully my mother agreed to help me look for some water wisteria later to replace some of the plastic plants with.
 
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mattgirl

Update: I tested his water, good news is nitrate is at 10-20 ppm. I am due for a water change as the ammonia is at 1.00 ppm. I'll do a 25% one and thankfully my mother agreed to help me look for some water wisteria later to replace some of the plastic plants with.
Instead of 25% I will recommend you change out at least 50% of it to get that ammonia down lower. When doing a fish in cycle I highly recommend you try to keep the ammonia down to no more than .25ppm so after a few hours if this was my tank I would do another 50% water change to get it down to that level.
 
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DrogJustDrog

I found some aquarium plants! I've got java fern, anubias, and bacopa. (I was told most of them were floaters, at least they should be floating it seems) I also did a large water change as you suggested. Hopefully things should start leveling out.

I kept the fake plants in for the sake of the BB. I'll probably remove them as things level out. (ignore the tilted thermometer that occurred during the water change)


image0.jpg
 
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mattgirl

I found some aquarium plants! I've got java fern, anubias, and bacopa. (I was told most of them were floaters, at least they should be floating it seems) I also did a large water change as you suggested. Hopefully things should start leveling out.

I kept the fake plants in for the sake of the BB. I'll probably remove them as things level out. (ignore the tilted thermometer that occurred during the water change)


image0.jpg
Good deal. Both the java fern and anubias can be tied or glued to something in the tank.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Good deal. Both the java fern and anubias can be tied or glued to something in the tank.
Alright. I've noticed my little guy has been investigating the mess. It's very cute! He usually either smoothers the left side or front of the tank but he's been more adventurous when I added the plants :D
 
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DrogJustDrog

I feel like I am in a double bind here- on one hand, all the wasted food pellets' and flakes (I had an accident where I poured in a whole bunch of flake food to cycle the tank when I should've pinched it in and now it's still in there after one whole year.) and fish waste ends up at the bottom of the tank, but on the other hand vacuuming the gravel seems like a bad idea.

I also have three different chemical cycling products: Tetra Safestart, API quickstart, and Nutrafin. I'm wondering if any of these could help me with the ammonia but I don't want to waste product. I'm at 1.00 ppm ammonia right now even though I did a water change yesterday. I am so afraid I'm just condemning myself and this fish here.
 
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mattgirl

Once a tank is cycled vacuuming the gravel isn't a problem. It might help with what is happening if you would go ahead and try to get all that food out of there. Adding some of the bottled bacteria might help. At least it shouldn't hurt. I think the best thing you can do though is get some of the buildup of food out of the gravel.
 
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DrogJustDrog

I did another water change, bringing 1.00 ppm ammonia to 0.5 ppm. I also tested the nitrates last night and got 5.00 ppm, though they are up to 10-20 ppm before I did said change. I believe it was the chemical cycling product as I have been pretty liberal with my decholnator not knowing it could kill BB. I know that now.

At least I always poured it into the water change bucket and never directly into the tank, that might've saved the small thread my cycle was on.
 
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mattgirl

I did another water change, bringing 1.00 ppm ammonia to 0.5 ppm. I also tested the nitrates last night and got 5.00 ppm, though they are up to 10-20 ppm before I did said change. I believe it was the chemical cycling product as I have been pretty liberal with my decholnator not knowing it could kill BB. I know that now.

At least I always poured it into the water change bucket and never directly into the tank, that might've saved the small thread my cycle was on.
I'm not sure what you mean about your dechlorinator killing off your bacteria. I know it is said that it can interfere with tetra safe start but it isn't going to kill off the bacteria in the tank. Not using a dechlorinator if you have chlorine in your tap water could kill off bacteria though.

Stop with all the bottled bacteria. If you don't have it get a bottle of seachem Prime. It is a water conditioner and is the only thing you need to use while getting this tank cycled. I recommend it over the other water conditioners while doing a fish in cycles because it also detoxes low levels of ammonia.
 
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Flyfisha

I am following along and trying not to add comments for no reason that might confuse?
When adding de chlorinator measure it accurately each time. An overdose will lower the amount of oxygen in the water . Oxygen is needed by bacteria to stay alive. An overdose is five times more than needed . But watching some videos it would seem some people are wasting large amounts of de chlorinator Willy Nilly.
Fast forward to 6.45 minutes to see de chlorinator wasted, otherwise it’s questionable if there is much to be gained by watching?

 
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DrogJustDrog

I am following along and trying not to add comments for no reason that might confuse?
When adding de chlorinator measure it accurately each time. An overdose will lower the amount of oxygen in the water . Oxygen is needed by bacteria to stay alive. An overdose is five times more than needed . But watching some videos it would seem some people are wasting large amounts of de chlorinator Willy Nilly.
Fast forward to 6.45 minutes to see de chlorinator wasted, otherwise it’s questionable if there is much to be gained by watching?

Oh thanks for this! You've really been quite helpful Flyfisha. I'm planning to not use so much, as I was using around 10 ml for about half of five gallons which I don't need according to the dechlorinator I use. That and it will probably make the bottle last longer.
 
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mattgirl

Oh thanks for this! You've really been quite helpful Flyfisha. I'm planning to not use so much, as I was using around 10 ml for about half of five gallons which I don't need according to the dechlorinator I use. That and it will probably make the bottle last longer.
Ouch, yes, 10ml in 2.5 gallons of water is way too much. I use Prime. I add 1/2ml to my 4 gallon bucket. When doing a water change on my 55 gallon tank I fill that 4 gallon bucket 6 times so am adding a total of 3mls to my tank. Get a syringe to dispense your water conditioner. With it you can add a more accurate amount.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Ouch, yes, 10ml in 2.5 gallons of water is way too much. I use Prime. I add 1/2ml to my 4 gallon bucket. When doing a water change on my 55 gallon tank I fill that 4 gallon bucket 6 times so am adding a total of 3mls to my tank. Get a syringe to dispense your water conditioner. With it you can add a more accurate amount.
I do have a turkey baster I use for water changes (doing the shake up and down thing didn't work and I certainly don't wanna taste this aquarium water now that I have a fish) and eyedrop pipettes. I think those will work alright.

I don't think seachem prime is available near me, though I can find API ammo lock which I know isn't as good.

I'm also considering doing two water changes in a day rather than one.
 
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mattgirl

I do have a turkey baster I use for water changes (doing the shake up and down thing didn't work and I certainly don't wanna taste this aquarium water now that I have a fish) and eyedrop pipettes. I think those will work alright.

I don't think seachem prime is available near me, though I can find API ammo lock which I know isn't as good.

I'm also considering doing two water changes in a day rather than one.
Please don't get and use ammo-lock 'specially while trying to get a tank cycled. If you put some of it in there your ammonia level in the test tube is going to shoot up and you are going to freak out thinking you had to have done something wrong. The only thing you would have done is add this product so Please don't do it. If you can't get Prime then just try to use the correct amount of the water conditioner you are already using.

If one water change gets the ammonia down close to .25 stick with it. Did you get all the excess food out of there? If you haven't I highly recommend you do so. It is adding to the ammonia level.

I think you are talking about a gravel vac instead of a turkey baster. They are two different things. If you had both you could use the turkey baster to get the gravel vac started. I've never been able to get the shake up and down thing going either. To be perfectly honest I've not really tried it.

Some folks have had better luck putting the whole gravel vac in the tank, fill it with water, hold your finger over the bucket end of the tubing while keeping the other end in the tank. Put the bucket end in the bucket and remove your finger. The water should start flowing as long as the bucket is lower than the tank.

Either of those 2 ways make too much of a mess for me so I just suck on the bucket end, watch the water in the clear tubing closely to make sure it doesn't make it to my mouth. Still I get tank water in my mouth from time to time. I don't imagine it could possibly be worse than the water in a public swimming pool, a river, a lake or the oceans of the world. All but the public swimming pool have fish in them and we never know what's in a public swimming pool that is combated with chlorine and who knows what other chemicals.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Please don't get and use ammo-lock 'specially while trying to get a tank cycled. If you put some of it in there your ammonia level in the test tube is going to shoot up and you are going to freak out thinking you had to have done something wrong. The only thing you would have done is add this product so Please don't do it. If you can't get Prime then just try to use the correct amount of the water conditioner you are already using.

If one water change gets the ammonia down close to .25 stick with it. Did you get all the excess food out of there? If you haven't I highly recommend you do so. It is adding to the ammonia level.

I think you are talking about a gravel vac instead of a turkey baster. They are two different things. If you had both you could use the turkey baster to get the gravel vac started. I've never been able to get the shake up and down thing going either. To be perfectly honest I've not really tried it.

Some folks have had better luck putting the whole gravel vac in the tank, fill it with water, hold your finger over the bucket end of the tubing while keeping the other end in the tank. Put the bucket end in the bucket and remove your finger. The water should start flowing as long as the bucket is lower than the tank.

Either of those 2 ways make too much of a mess for me so I just suck on the bucket end, watch the water in the clear tubing closely to make sure it doesn't make it to my mouth. Still I get tank water in my mouth from time to time. I don't imagine it could possibly be worse than the water in a public swimming pool, a river, a lake or the oceans of the world. All but the public swimming pool have fish in them and we never know what's in a public swimming pool that is combated with chlorine and who knows what other chemicals.
Alright. The water changes get the ammonia level down to .50 (at least that's what the test said last time I tested the water after a change, I haven't done it for the last few changes.), so that's why I am considering doing them a bit more frequently or larger. For the excess food, I don't think I'll ever be sure I got all of it out because I've rinsed this gravel twice after the accident and I still occasionally see flakes. I took care of the larger ones I saw last water change however.

That and I did mean I use a turkey baster to get the gravel vac started. Sorry that wasn't clear it was late when I wrote that.
 
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mattgirl

Alright. The water changes get the ammonia level down to .50 (at least that's what the test said last time I tested the water after a change, I haven't done it for the last few changes.), so that's why I am considering doing them a bit more frequently or larger. For the excess food, I don't think I'll ever be sure I got all of it out because I've rinsed this gravel twice after the accident and I still occasionally see flakes. I took care of the larger ones I saw last water change however.

That and I did mean I use a turkey baster to get the gravel vac started. Sorry that wasn't clear it was late when I wrote that.
Rinsing the gravel should have removed most of it. If you are still seeing flakes is it possible someone else feeding your fish when you aren't looking? or are you maybe over feeding? Watch your little guy when you feed him and make sure he is cleaning his plate :) One little fish should not be producing this much ammonia so it leads me to believe the excess ammonia is coming from something other than him.

Gotcha, i understand what you are saying now. A turkey baster is almost a must have in this hobby. It comes in handy for so many things.
 
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Flyfisha

“If you are still seeing flakes is it possible someone else feeding your fish when you aren't looking?”

Put the fish food out of sight .

Even adults can’t resist the temptation to feed fish that come up for food.
 
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DrogJustDrog

“If you are still seeing flakes is it possible someone else feeding your fish when you aren't looking?”

Put the fish food out of sight .

Even adults can’t resist the temptation to feed fish that come up for food.
I have it in a little wooden chest under the stand along with my other aquarium products. I understand that- I've recently started feeding him every other day rather than everyday to help keep the ammonia down and he's not too happy about it. Though he does eat bloodworms easier than his bug bites since they sink.

I just did another water change and this time I tested the ammonia levels both after and before. The test were the exact color of around .50 ammonia. Shoot. I'm really hoping it's because I did the test wrong.
 
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mattgirl

I have it in a little wooden chest under the stand along with my other aquarium products. I understand that- I've recently started feeding him every other day rather than everyday to help keep the ammonia down and he's not too happy about it. Though he does eat bloodworms easier than his bug bites since they sink.

I just did another water change and this time I tested the ammonia levels both after and before. The test were the exact color of around .50 ammonia. Shoot. I'm really hoping it's because I did the test wrong.
Are you shaking the testing solution bottles just before using them? Sometimes it seems to help get a more accurate reading.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Are you shaking the testing solution bottles just before using them? Sometimes it seems to help get a more accurate reading.
Probably should. I've realized an unspoken rule of aquarium keeping seems to be "always shake the bottle" even if it's not explicitly stated. I just did one and I'm watching to see if it darkens.

Edit: It's about .25 ppm. Whew.
 
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DrogJustDrog

Update time! I got a little sick. Threw off the water change schedule by a day, also one of my plants started dying. Hopefully everything should be going a bit smoother now that I feel better and I removed most if not all of the steams of the dead bacopa. I think what happened was I used waste water from a water change to clean them and the pressure from the exit tube broke up the steams at the root, making them unable to get nutrients.

The excess leaves will be removed in coming water changes.
 
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DrogJustDrog

I tested the ammonia again and it is back up to 0.50 ppm. I'm worried I might've screwed up. Did I rid my tank of BB when I gravel vac'd the dead bacopa away?! I'm trying to get into my filter to see if there is any of it left inside but the cover of the impeller won't budge.
 
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mattgirl

I tested the ammonia again and it is back up to 0.50 ppm. I'm worried I might've screwed up. Did I rid my tank of BB when I gravel vac'd the dead bacopa away?! I'm trying to get into my filter to see if there is any of it left inside but the cover of the impeller won't budge.
Don't panic. Just change out half the water to get it back down to .25. Eventually you will have grown enough bacteria to stop the spikes.
 
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DrogJustDrog

The ammonia spikes are getting smaller and smaller, and I need to do smaller water changes less frequently. I'm very thankful that my Betta, Napalm has stayed relatively well through all this! He has no signs of fin rot or ick and it doesn't appear that he has any ammonia burn on him either.
 
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