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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-08-2016, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Color me confused

The following is from the bucket I'm cycling filter media in. I bought a new API kit to test with today.

First picture: The tube on the far left is the nitrate test from the water I'm using in the bucket. The ammonia level I started the cycle with was around 1.5-2 ppm which is shown in picture 2 although not well.

How is it possible that the ammonia is being processed but I'm not seeing any nitrites or has that test simply not that sensitive and I have to wait a bit longer? Yesterday with the Seachem nitrite kit I got mixed results although they did appear as seen in picture 3.

Thoughts?

P.S. I'm experimenting with Tetra Safe Start if that helps.
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Last edited by Smooch; 09-08-2016 at 05:54 PM. Reason: Added extra info...
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
The following is from the bucket I'm cycling filter media in. I bought a new API kit to test with today.

First picture: The tube on the far left is the nitrate test from the water I'm using in the bucket. The ammonia level I started the cycle with was around 1.5-2 ppm which is shown in picture 2 although not well.

How is it possible that the ammonia is being processed but I'm not seeing any nitrites or has that test simply not that sensitive and I have to wait a bit longer? Yesterday with the Seachem nitrite kit I got mixed results although they did appear as seen in picture 3.

Thoughts?

P.S. I'm experimenting with Tetra Safe Start if that helps.
Your Ammonia reading doesn't look much different to me. Isn't that first tube your PH tube? The second tube would be the Ammonia tube and it looks pretty green...

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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Your Ammonia reading doesn't look much different to me. Isn't that first tube your PH tube? The second tube would be the Ammonia tube and it looks pretty green...

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The first tube is a nitrate test of the water I used.

I was questioning the validity of this test earlier, but have since confirmed that it's legit. It's all good. I should have fully cycled media either tomorrow or Saturday at the latest.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 01:50 AM
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FYI @Smooch, Tetra Safe Start will not work well (if at all) when doing a fishless cycle. The best way I can describe this is the Tetra Safestart uses a proprietary type of ammonia solution to keep the bacteria alive. When you add this to your tank, then add your fish it seems to work. If you add it to a tank that is being cycled, then add in bottled ammonia it somehow kills the bacteria. Somewhere in the Matrix without Seachem thread I think there is a link to this information. Also, if you go to the Tetra website I think it might also confirm the above information. In my case, I did this once during cycling of the test tanks and learned the hard way adding Safestart does nothing.

If you go to the Matrix without Seachem thread, go to post 85 (I think) there should be an Excel spreadsheet printout showing the initial cycling of the tanks. I do seem to remember ammonia levels being reduced some without generating much nitrites.


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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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FYI @Smooch, Tetra Safe Start will not work well (if at all) when doing a fishless cycle. The best way I can describe this is the Tetra Safestart uses a proprietary type of ammonia solution to keep the bacteria alive. When you add this to your tank, then add your fish it seems to work. If you add it to a tank that is being cycled, then add in bottled ammonia it somehow kills the bacteria. Somewhere in the Matrix without Seachem thread I think there is a link to this information. Also, if you go to the Tetra website I think it might also confirm the above information. In my case, I did this once during cycling of the test tanks and learned the hard way adding Safestart does nothing.

If you go to the Matrix without Seachem thread, go to post 85 (I think) there should be an Excel spreadsheet printout showing the initial cycling of the tanks. I do seem to remember ammonia levels being reduced some without generating much nitrites.
I'll head over there tomorrow and go through your findings. I am curious where all the nitrates are coming from though. I didn't use tap water as mine kills everything and the water I used doesn't have any nitrates in it.
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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:13 AM
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Tetra Safestart Look for the manufacture answers to the initial questions - very interesting.


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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
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Tetra Safestart Look for the manufacture answers to the initial questions - very interesting.
I'm using that link as a guideline actually. No Prime, water changes, keeping ammonia levels on the lower side, ect... What they don't talk about is water temp. I have mine set to 84 with a pH of 8.0 as I'm also testing out the info in the article I directed you to on your thread. I refuse to torture my fish with 3 ppm ammonia readings, hence this is why I'm doing this outside of the tanks. They don't need the stress nor do I even if I am sick of daily water changes.
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:32 AM
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Agree 100% - your fish should not have to suffer from crappy tap water. Will be following your threads to see how your testing goes! 84 degrees should be fine for cycling. During the summer I found that 95-98 degrees did not make the beneficial bacteria very happy - at least I did not get the results I was expecting.


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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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I'm going to allow this to play out. I'll wait for the media to finish cycling, then remove one bag of bio media from the 29 and replace it with the new one. The ones that are in there are not doing much of anything anyway, so why not. If it works, I should see a decrease in the daily ammonia readings although I'd prefer it they were wiped out entirely. I think at this point that would be too much to ask, but who knows.

It is weird that I only had a few hours of nitrite readings though and what I got wasn't bad even with the highest reading. It's definitely not something I've ever seen with all the tanks I've cycled.
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 03:04 AM
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I've experienced this with the last few tanks I've fishless cycled.
Two things stand out to me. 1) I also used a bacteria supplement, though in my case seachem stability, and remember thinking that the constant 0 nitrites was odd
2) I also used higher temps for them > 80
I know the species of bacteria that convert nitrite to ammonia do not reproduce as quickly as the others but possible they consume at a faster rate?
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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 03:07 AM
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Remind me again, what brand/type of media are you cycling?


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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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I've experienced this with the last few tanks I've fishless cycled.
Two things stand out to me. 1) I also used a bacteria supplement, though in my case seachem stability, and remember thinking that the constant 0 nitrites was odd
2) I also used higher temps for them > 80
I know the species of bacteria that convert nitrite to ammonia do not reproduce as quickly as the others but possible they consume at a faster rate?
They don't all develop at the same time. Water temp can influence growth rate.

How long did it take for you tank to cycle with Stability?


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Remind me again, what brand/type of media are you cycling?
I have Bio Max in the filters, I'm cycling Fluval ceramic rings as it's the only thing I could find locally in decent amounts. For whatever reason Fluval doesn't sell big boxes of Bio Max or it's just my local stores don't carry it.

Since my tanks have decided to chill out, I can focus on what is going on with this cycle. Yesterday I bought a bottle of Aqua Safe Plus. I added some this morning to the bucket. I just tested it and got weird results. The picture is horrible and out of focus, but I don't feel like testing again for the sake of a picture.

Knowing that API nitrate tests can be unpredictable, this may be nothing or something. The label on the Aqua Safe Plus doesn't say anything about removing nitrates. The nitrite weirdness happened before I added the water conditioner so that still remains a mystery.

If I had trace amounts of chlorine in my water, would that kill off everything to the point of no return, or would the bb grow back once the chlorine was removed? I looked all over the place for a chlorine test yesterday and couldn't find one. I don't know why chlorine is a issue in my brain right now, but something still isn't right and I want to know what messed up my tanks.
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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 02:43 PM
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Cycled, dosing 4ppm ammonia daily at 84-86, in 23 days.
Though I don't know how good they are for testing trace amounts, what about a pool supply store for chlorine test?
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 03:38 PM
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BioMax media has been my go to product since the start - good stuff.

Curious, you said your are cycling Fluval "ceramic rings" - are these the BioMax rings (rough/course feeling) or are they pre-filter ceramic rings (smooth surface)? If they are the smooth rings, then you will not be able to grow a large population of BB on them as there are no pores for the BB to grow in. If they are the BioMax then no problems :-)

"Yesterday I bought a bottle of Aqua Safe Plus. I added some this morning to the bucket. I just tested it and got weird results. The picture is horrible and out of focus, but I don't feel like testing again for the sake of a picture." Knowing the BB in the Aqua Safe Plus is supported by an ammonia based film, it would not surprise me to see a slightly elevated ammonia level in your tank. As for the nitrates, if you are using the RO water in this tank then the elevated Nitrate level could mean nothing more than the Nitrite Oxidizing Bacteria are starting to do their job.

Trace amounts of chlorine likely is not going to kill off all of your BB, certainly not to the point of no return. As with this type of life (BB), I would say it is pretty difficult to keep it down forever - once the chlorine is gone the BB will happily return.

It would be interesting to know if there is any levels of chlorine in your well water. Might explain some of your odd situation. Pool supply shops should have chlorine tests available. FWIW, my local Menards store sells pool supplies and they do have chlorine test supplies as well.


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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 09-09-2016, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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BioMax media has been my go to product since the start - good stuff.

Curious, you said your are cycling Fluval "ceramic rings" - are these the BioMax rings (rough/course feeling) or are they pre-filter ceramic rings (smooth surface)? If they are the smooth rings, then you will not be able to grow a large population of BB on them as there are no pores for the BB to grow in. If they are the BioMax then no problems :-)

"Yesterday I bought a bottle of Aqua Safe Plus. I added some this morning to the bucket. I just tested it and got weird results. The picture is horrible and out of focus, but I don't feel like testing again for the sake of a picture." Knowing the BB in the Aqua Safe Plus is supported by an ammonia based film, it would not surprise me to see a slightly elevated ammonia level in your tank. As for the nitrates, if you are using the RO water in this tank then the elevated Nitrate level could mean nothing more than the Nitrite Oxidizing Bacteria are starting to do their job.

Trace amounts of chlorine likely is not going to kill off all of your BB, certainly not to the point of no return. As with this type of life (BB), I would say it is pretty difficult to keep it down forever - once the chlorine is gone the BB will happily return.

It would be interesting to know if there is any levels of chlorine in your well water. Might explain some of your odd situation. Pool supply shops should have chlorine tests available. FWIW, my local Menards store sells pool supplies and they do have chlorine test supplies as well.
It's the smooth rings unfortunately. I want a big box of this https://www.amazon.com/Aquaclear-20-...+Aqua+Clear+20 stuff without the bags. Should I just suck it up, order and deal with it? I don't have any heartburn with swapping it out, it's just annoying that I can't find a big box without the bags and such that will fit in smaller filters such as my 10 gallon which has two Aqua Clear 20s. There isn't much space to play around with.


It's the drop in the nitrate reading from yesterday that I found odd. Aside from pulling water for testing, I haven't done anything to the bucket other than make sure everything is doing what it needs to do. Filter, air stone and heater. I'm using the Belmont Purified water that was giving me grief. I figured since it has ammonia in anyway, I may as well put it to good use. I've been hoarding RO water. LOL Hubby and my son haven't complained about not being able to use the kitchen sink, but it is a pain in the butt when everybody is home. Inevitably somebody will want to use the sink for something.

Google tells me that Home Depot sells pool test kits. I'll see if I can get my hands on one over the weekend. I've never tested my water for chlorine as well water isn't supposed to have it. All things considered, I suspect that there are lots of things in well water that shouldn't be there. If I test and it shows nothing, so be it.

EDIT: Opted to suck it up about the BioMax and ordered it. It will be here on Sunday. In the meantime, I'll keep the bucket going and feed with ammonia as needed.

Last edited by Smooch; 09-09-2016 at 05:10 PM. Reason: Added stuff...
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