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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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funny API test results

Hey everyone,

So I was setting up a new tank and looking at the water parameters to see how the cycle is going. It's been running for 3 days now and the ammonia reads 0.25ppm, nitrites are 0ppm, and nitrates are...40ppm?

This happened before in my other tank and I think it was because of fertilizers. However, I lowered the fertilizers in this tank and put them deeper into the substrate (>1 inch). The tank is a 2.5 gallon.

Anyone know why this could have happened? I seeded a filter in my 40 gallon tank and moved it over to this tank. Could nitrates spike that quickly before the cycle is even complete?


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:16 AM
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The nitrates are from your fertilizer tabs since you have no nitrites. You should see the nitrites start to rise very soon.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:41 AM
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The fertilizers could be leeching out, or your tap water may have some nitrates.

Of course, this is assuming your test kit is also calibrated and measuring the levels correctly. The best way to confirm this is to make calibration solutions.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
The nitrates are from your fertilizer tabs since you have no nitrites. You should see the nitrites start to rise very soon.
Ok that is reassuring. I hope they will disappear in time. I have floaters in the tank to help with the cycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
The fertilizers could be leeching out, or your tap water may have some nitrates.

Of course, this is assuming your test kit is also calibrated and measuring the levels correctly. The best way to confirm this is to make calibration solutions.
I don't think my tap has nitrates in it, at least not at 40ppm. Hopefully its nothing too serious and is just a fertilzer issue in which case, should resolve itself fairly quickly


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:55 AM
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Well, I will be interested to see what other people say, because I have almost the exact same thing going on. Its a 10gal tank, and I did not add any ferts, but otherwise the story is similar to yours. Seeded filter, and been cycling 2 days.

In my case, I know there are nitrates in the water. However, I have had that water tested and I know that they are at 10-11 ppm. And I have a new fancy (read: expensive!!) RO system for our drinking water that the dealer claimed would remove 90+% of the nitrates. I used the API test kit and got the following results:
aquarium water (40 ppm)
well water (40 ppm)
RO water (40 ppm)
distilled water (0 ppm)

At least API got the lack of nitrates correct. But I am suspicious of the other readings. The RO water, which should have lower nitrates, took the longest amount of time to turn red/orange. But it still eventually turned the same color as the other samples (about 15 minutes, as opposed to 5 for the other samples).
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 05:44 AM
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It's as simple as the nitrogen cycle.



We see ammonia first. As the colony of Nitrosomonas grows, now that they have food (ammonia), we start to see nitrites. As the colony of Nitrobacter grows we see nitrates. When both colonies are strong enough, the process is fast enough that ammonia/nitrites never become measurable by standard methods. The end product, nitrates, just builds up. Unless you have something that eats it like plants.

So in a new tank when you have ammonia and nitrate BUT no nitrites then we know the nitrates came from another source.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Zorfox it's a great diagram I took a freshwater ecology class as well as microbiology so I had to learn all the nitrogen cycle processes. I guess its a fert thing for me so I will do water changes and hope it drops, though the last time this happened, the shrimps were ok Nothing in this tank yet so I am good on survival knock on wood


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:22 AM
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Ammonia removing species is related to Nitrosomonas marina. (Not the one everyone seemed to think it was 20+ years ago).
Nitrite removing species is a Nitrospira relative. Not Nitrobacter.

Other than that, the concept is correct:
Starting a tank with no source of bacteria there will not be enough bacteria growth in 3 days of fishless cycle to show any nitrate. So the nitrate came from somewhere else, or is an error in the test.
Nitrospira is really slow growing, and in a tank with no starter colony the Nitrospira will not begin to grow until there is food for them, so not until the Nitrosomonas marina relatives get going turning ammonia into nitrite.
Make sure you shake the test reagents REALLY WELL.
Testing beyond the 5 minute mark is not valid.

naturelady's 10 gallon, starting with seeded filter, will show nitrates much sooner.
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