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Old 12-11-2013, 08:24 AM   #1
design_desire
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My nitrates have plummeted of their own free will!


Hey guys,

The title pretty much sums it up. I just want to know how/why/should I be worried??

Here are pictures of my last 5 days of tests:

4 days ago


3 days ago


2 days ago


Yesterday


Today


Sorry if this is a completely daft question, I was just kind of gearing myself up for a water change today! So strange...

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:55 AM   #2
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Did you shake your reagents very well prior to testing each time? The nitrate test kit is particularly susceptible to incorrect readings if the reagent bottles are not well mixed prior to testing.

You can also verify your results by making calibration solutions to verify your results.
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:06 AM   #3
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When I read your reply, darkblade, I thought that might be it! Alas, I've just tested again after thoroughly shaking the reagent bottles, and got much the same result. :/

Any ideas?
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Old 12-12-2013, 07:04 AM   #4
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Absolutely no natural process that I know of can reduce that much nitrate, that quickly.

The active ingredient in API Nitrate Test bottle #2 is actually solid crystals, suspended in solution. They settle out, and that's why you have to shake it. Occasionally they also clump together. And a clump can even lodge itself in the dropper, acting as a filter and preventing the active ingredient from passing through, while useless liquid still does. Symptoms are falsely low results, and in case of blockage having to squeeze unusually hard to get drops out.

If you have a fine wire or needle, push it through the dropper to clear any blockage. Then slam the bottle down, bottom first, repeatedly on a hard surface to break up clumps. Finally, start another test, and shake the dickens out of bottle #2 immediately before using it, not prior to starting the test as a whole. If at any point it suddenly gets harder to squeeze drops out, you have another blockage; stop and repeat the whole procedure again before dispensing the remaining drops. Enlarging the hole in the dropper with a bigger needle can help if this occurs over and over, but go slow - make the hole too big and it may flow too freely to count drops.

Yes, all this is really necessary sometimes to get a reliable nitrate test result. They're my least favorite test.
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Old 12-12-2013, 07:39 AM   #5
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I had no idea! I beat the crap out of the bottle before testing this time, and look:



The left is earlier this morning with just shaking the bottle and the right is after beating it within an inch of its proverbial life. It's still a little less intense, but much, much closer...

I can't believe it's so hard to get an accurate reading, especially considering falsely low results will cause delays in water changes. It's risky!

Anyway, thanks heaps!!
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:06 AM   #6
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Changing the water should not depend on nitrate readings. There are a lot more waste products in old tank water that are not measurable with hobbyist tests that need to be flushed out with fresh water.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by design_desire View Post
I had no idea! I beat the crap out of the bottle before testing this time, and look:



The left is earlier this morning with just shaking the bottle and the right is after beating it within an inch of its proverbial life. It's still a little less intense, but much, much closer...

I can't believe it's so hard to get an accurate reading, especially considering falsely low results will cause delays in water changes. It's risky!

Anyway, thanks heaps!!
I had similar issues while at the end point of two different tanks cycling. The way I read the API Nitrate test you have to shake bottle 2 for 30 S vigorously, add the drops, then shake the loaded test tube for 1M vigorously.

To me the color variations are hard to detect when at the high side of the color chart. I did find that at the point I was testing 40-50 nitrate I had to do multiple 70% water changes in order to see a reduction in test results. I had assumed after that that my nitrate levels were actually much higher and the test was not able to read that high.
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Old 12-12-2013, 02:02 PM   #8
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Judging from the photo's of test result's, it appear's this is new tank ?
Ammonia and nitrite test's are also a bit high.(though pH is low enough to negate harmful ammonia to stock).
Is ammonia being dosed in this tank? any bacterial supplement's?
If ammonia is being dosed,,I would cut the dose by 1/2 and see if next day the ammonia/nitrite level's were closer to zero.
Then would perform 70% water change and see if nitrAtes don't also drop closer to 10 or 20ppm= good.(couple photo's appear that nitrates could be brought down some)
Dosing ammonia to full 3 to 4 ppm after nitrites appear, can often stall "cycling " in nitrite stage.
Might also test tapwater for nitrates>
If none of the above applies ,,then I got no idea's.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:08 PM   #9
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The tank is definitely new haha. I don't have any stock though - just trying to grow my plants.

There is no ammonia being physically added. I did add the bacterial supplement "nitrivec" about a week ago though.

I did a full test last night and the results were:

Ammonia: 0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 80 ppm
kH: 5 degrees
pH: 6.8

After getting these results, I did a 40% water change, but didn't test the water afterwards. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming this might mean the tank has cycled?

I've also noticed using my tank (rain) water seems better for the water parameters than using town water. It actually has a naturally acceptable kH value!
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:57 PM   #10
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have you tested the water out of the tap? i have never had nitrates read that high even after a 5 day power outage with no filtration... and no your tank is not cycled yet if you are still getting ammonia readings
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:59 AM   #11
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Default My nitrates have plummeted of their own free will!

My tap water has no nitrates in it. :/
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Old 12-15-2013, 02:06 PM   #12
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I would keep focus on growing plant's,lot's of them.
With no ammonia source (fish food,fish poop,),,the nitrifying bacteria can find little to feed on, but with healthy ,sizeable plant mass,,you could add a few small fish after say two week's.
These FEW small fish, would produce small amount of ammonia which plant's will readily use for food for growth.Fish food offered maybe every other day ,tiny anount,,would also provide food source for plant's and bacteria.
Add to many fish too soon,too few plant's for fishes added,,and fishes will suffer = sick,possibly dying fishes.
Add a few fish at two week interval's (quarantine time?),, and tank can mature at slow steady clip = less stress for fishes,you/me.
Cannot comment on bacterial supplement which may or may not be helping but maybe can't hurt anything either.
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:27 AM   #13
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That's what I was thinking too. I just started to get a small amount of hair algae, so I'm trying to get rid of that before I did anything. Good news is the associated WC's have brought my Nitrates down to a good level, but the bad news is I'm still getting a 0.25 ammonia reading every day. Always 0 nitrites though, so I assume the bacteria is doing its job.
Do you think I can still add maybe 2 or three small schooling fish in spite of this? I really don't want the bacteria to die off...

Thanks heaps.
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:47 AM   #14
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In the last few weeks I've seen two people read (possibly misread) 0.25 ammonia when there was really none. Try testing your rain water. Or some bottled water, if you have it, that should guarantee zero ammonia. See if you get the same result.

You can add some possibly expendable fish, though I know some frown on that; but they will help verify your water is safe regardless of test results when they are in question. Or you can add flake food as if the fish were there, it'll slowly decompose to ammonia.
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Old 12-17-2013, 06:06 AM   #15
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You were right about the ammonia, too! Thanks heaps!

I recently added three White Cloud Minnows. They're doing great so far. Thanks for your help!
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