3 Test Kits 3 Results - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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3 Test Kits 3 Results

So this is odd (and also a short novel which I apologize for). I have a high tech 36g bowfront. Established for well over a year (really about 3 years but a year and a half ago I moved the tank, switched out the substrate but kept the filter media...but the point is it has been well established and nothing unusual in all that time).

This afternoon I notice the tank looks slightly cloudy and the fish look kind of mellow. Not stressed but some of them don't look thrilled with life. We are having a heatwave here on the coast and no one has AC so the past two days it has been around 100 degrees and the tank temp has climbed from about 76 to 82 degrees. So I thought maybe it is just that. It would have been a gradual climb though as this is a dark/cooler room in the NE of the house and the house itself isn't crazy hot.

But I think just in case let me do some water tests. I did a water change 10 days ago even though the Nitrate was at 5ppm.

So after the water change the TDS of the tank was 254. Check it now it is 276. OK went up a bit in 10 days. But I have not been using a meter long enough to know if that is an alarming number.

Check Nitrate using a Nutrafin test kit and I am alarmed. Before I even add the 3rd reagent the vial has turned hot pink. Something like 110 ppm. This is strange. Even though this tank is pretty overstocked with fish I have never had that high a climb in Nitrate in such a short period after a water change and the cloudiness doesn't make sense. The Nutrafin test says that results may be off if there is any Nitrite in the water.

So I use my last Tetra Test strip. I know people say they are no good but they are nice when you have multiple tanks to do a quick check on Nitrate if you do not suspect anything is off and you don't have time to shake vials for multiple tanks. This test kit the Nitrate comes back as fairly low but the Nitrite is reading at light pink. About 1.0 mg/L. I have never had these strips show Nitrite in this tank since the tank was first established 3 years ago. I use an ammonia test strip too and that comes back fine.

So test strips. Maybe everyone is right and they are not accurate? So I use an API test kit to test Nitrite. That comes back with 0 nitrite. API ammonia test is also 0. API Nitrate test is low. Hard to read which orange but between 5ppm-10ppm.

So I look in the tank for corpses. Don't see anything. Everyone is accounted for. I put in Prime to neutralize whatever it is that is off and the fish more or less look OK. Still pretty mellow.

Check the filter. There is water coming out of the return pipe. Check the intake. Ahaha! My insanely vigorous Nymphoides 'Taiwan' has this huge mass of aerial roots that have totally engulfed the intake strainer. I clean them out, try to shift the plant, and intake tube a little bit.

Wondering if that could be it? I am assuming now that it is my Nitrites and not Nitrates that are off and the API test kit is just old and is not reading them right. Hoping this will clear up pretty quickly now that I have cleared the intake?

Going to do a water change but I have to go get RO water tomorrow. I buy it from a place in town and was still out from my recent water change.

Just an odd thing to have happen. I have always been all like "Yeah I have never had a biological filter collapse and ammonia or nitrite spike before." Oops. First time for everything?

In the picture below it is the tank on the right. Oh and I used the Nutrafin test on my other tanks to see if maybe that test kit was off but it is coming up with the results I expected for those tanks.

46 and 36 gallon planted bowfront tanks by Kaveh Maguire, on Flickr


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 03:31 AM
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First off, beautiful tanks!

I too am curious what might cause this, So i'm going to keep my eye on this and hope to hear your results.
I do like the idea of the test strips for a general sense of whats going on. while they may not be uber precise, hopefully they're consistent within the same bottle of strips. That way, if your consistently at XXppm and suddenly it changes, you at the very least know there are fluctuation to be looked into.

Best of luck!

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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In this case I am thinking the test strip was certainly more accurate than the API test! But I will try to pick up some more test strips and maybe another API nitrite test kit tomorrow. Aside from the Prime I also added Stability. The fish look totally fine at the moment. Kind of surprised that I didn't lose anything (so far). Oh and the kicker is late last night I ordered some Amano shrimp and nerite snails for this tank. Normally I test all parameters before ordering anything but since I did a water change recently and everything has been fine in this tank for so long I was like "Nah. I don't need to."

Not sure when the order is arriving but I may have to figure out some other home for them for the time being.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 03:54 AM
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All the fish went partying last night but they don't want you to know.

Kidding aside, there are many things that can affect their behavior most of them cannot be tested for at home. Doing a water change is the way to go.

I think this thread is a rather good testimony for why you should not make decisions based on test kits. Imagine how much more inaccurate they are when you compare the variability between users and withing different batches. NO3 is especially tricky compared to Po4 tests for example.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 04:12 AM
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I have compared tetra test strips with an electric PH probe and the two agreed. I recently got a Hanna KH meter and that agrees with strips. I use the steps to test my sisters water and confirmed it was hard and later she go a sampled test and the strips and lab test agreed (I don't have a liquid GH test but I do have a TDS). I also at one time used my potassium nitrate to make a reference and tested the reference with a strip. Again they agreed. The only thing I could not test is nitrite. I so rarely see it and when I do it is n't much.

I did do some tests of tetra Ammonia test strips. I don't really like those. If you wait after exposing them to water you can get a false positive. Instructions say to read them right after removal from the water. Theydon't seem to be vey accurate.

I recently had to get some new but found the store only had API test strips. While I have not done the same tests as I did on the tetra I am seeing very similar readings to the tetra strips.

think I willl have to try the JBL test strips. You can use the camera in your phone to read them. But I would venture a guess that they are similar in accuracy as the Tetra and API test strips.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 04:22 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah my feeling with the test strips in the past has been that the results matched up pretty well compared tot he liquid kits. And in the case of Nitrate (which is really all I am using it for usually) it is actually much easier to read than the API kit.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-25-2017, 03:55 PM
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Your API test kits can be callibrated. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-chemists.html

Liquid test kits I typically find them really accurate and easier to read than the test strips. for example I can easily tell the difference from 5ppm to 10ppm with the API nitrate test kit. Where as for me the test strips I find it harder to tell.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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LFS didn't have any test kits so I had to order them from Amazon and they will arrive Saturday. With the addition of Prime every day the fish seem totally fine and show no signs of stress at all. Nutrafin test was still coming back high but I decided not to do a water change right away even though I went and got more RO water. I'll see what happens on Saturday when the tests arrive.

The whole thing is odd. If it is a Nitrite spike like I suspect it is you would think the fish would be more stressed or even that some would have died. It is a tank full of tetras and Corydoras basically. And some of the tetras are geriatric.

Still adding Stability just in case though and will continue to add Prime every day until I am sure things are safe.


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrite test arrived today and the results were 0 Nitrites. So I did the Nitrate test again to see how it would come up and it is back to a perfectly normal 5ppm Nitrates. (I had gotten the high results at least 3 separate times and also used it on different tanks to make sure it wasn't the test kit that was off).

So I guess after clearing the filter intake the crash has corrected itself and things are back to normal. Glad I didn't lose any fish (though to be honest I wouldn't have minded losing some of my geriatric Hyphessobrycon amapaensis).


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triport View Post
Nitrite test arrived today and the results were 0 Nitrites. So I did the Nitrate test again to see how it would come up and it is back to a perfectly normal 5ppm Nitrates. (I had gotten the high results at least 3 separate times and also used it on different tanks to make sure it wasn't the test kit that was off).

So I guess after clearing the filter intake the crash has corrected itself and things are back to normal. Glad I didn't lose any fish (though to be honest I wouldn't have minded losing some of my geriatric Hyphessobrycon amapaensis).
High nitrates unless ridiculously high and for prolonged periods will not necessarily hurt the fish. At least by showing nitrates you are not showing a Beneficial Bacteria issue so Ammonia and Nitrites staying at 0.

'you must of had a bunch of gunk in the filter intake causing high nitrates. At least you are good to go now.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 03:13 PM
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Sounds normal to think a jam intake would starve a group of bacteria living in the filter of needed O2. And I might assume that one of the two groups we need could be effected more than the other. This seems to match up with what I find when I do cause a spike. It takes a really , really long time for the bacteria groups to get going when we do a fishless cycle but when they get knocked down in a spike, they rebound very much quicker. So it is possible to catch results like this that show something like nitrite but no big increase in other parts we might look at as odd. Like looking at the surf, we may look at one moment and say the sea is calm when we are actually missing seeing the full picture.
Wouldn't it be nice to have an automatic , recording and correcting system for testing? BORING! But it would certainly be nice to have a full record to look back and learn what we did.
Meanwhile I have to use a variety of testing to get done what I need. I use the strips to do much of the routine stuff as I want to get results quick and easy. I find the best for my water, eyes and tank are the Jungle/Tetra 5-in-1 that I pick up at Wal-mart. Two reasons for them suiting me is that it does give me notice on things that I would not have even tested for otherwise and I find the better price as well as pick them up as part of my routine shopping. Much easier for me than ordering and they are cheaper.
But for some tests the liquid are far better. API nitrate test is useless for me if I get more than about 20PPM. Even after doing the calibrate thing, it simply goes way high when I read a test sample of 25PPM. So I now use the Salifert test and get a much better idea. The why is not yet figured out but different water does different things to trying a different test kit was a logical move after lots of frustration.
I find an important point on lots of what we do is that we can't just do what everybody else does and expect the best result. Even simple stuff like which test works best is going to take some time, effort, and thought to adapt to what fits each of us. If one method doesn't work for you, try another.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clownplanted View Post
High nitrates unless ridiculously high and for prolonged periods will not necessarily hurt the fish. At least by showing nitrates you are not showing a Beneficial Bacteria issue so Ammonia and Nitrites staying at 0.

'you must of had a bunch of gunk in the filter intake causing high nitrates. At least you are good to go now.
I don't think it was actually the nitrates though. I believe it was Nitrites. If the Nitrites are high it messes up the results of the Nitrate test.


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