EI dosing and I'm getting 0ppm Nitrates - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-27-2007, 08:26 AM
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So Tom, are you saying the Seachem Nitrite/Nitrate test kit is no good? It comes with a reference solution to test the validity of the test kit. Here's the directions: http://www.seachem.com/support/Instr...40-Nitrate.pdf

What do you know about this question and answer in the FAQ section for Prime?
Q: How does Prime make a difference in reducing Nitrates?
A: The detoxification of nitrite and nitrate by Prime (when used at elevated levels) is not well understood from a mechanistic standpoint. The most likely explanation is that the nitrite and nitrate is removed in a manner similar to the way ammonia is removed; i.e. it is bound and held in a inert state until such time that bacteria in the biological filter are able to take a hold of it, break it apart and use it. Two other possible scenarios are reduction to nitrogen (N2) gas or conversion into a benign organic nitrogen compound.
I wish we had some more "concrete" explanation, but the end result is the same, it does actually detoxify nitrite and nitrate. This was unexpected chemically and thus initially we were not even aware of this, however we received numerous reports from customers stating that when they overdosed with Prime they were able to reduce or eliminate the high death rates they experienced when their nitrite and nitrate levels were high. We have received enough reports to date to ensure that this is no fluke and is in fact a verifiable function of the product.

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post #17 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-27-2007, 08:49 AM
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At least they added a single point reference.......if you can read over 1,5, 10, 20, 40, ppm range, that's better than many can.

To have a proper ref solution, you need two or three points.
Just like a pH meter with a pH probe.

Do folks believe that they do not need to calibrate those as well? That it's good enough? Or that one point will do?

I was not pleased with the SeaChem kit personally.
Reading the colors was difficult.

Lamott uses a similar method, but has a much better color gauge, something critical when measuring ppms etc.

Same for any colormeteric method.
Use a good scale or use a spec/colorimeter etc if you want real accuracy.
Test kits vary, cheaper ones more so.

I can promise you that research folks do not suggest using a cheapo test kit without calibration. I'm not letting myself nor anyone off the hook here.

I know Prime is stanky..............

I think what they are suggesting is that it chelates the NO3/NO2 perhaps, the
toxicity goes way down, I'm not sure about KNO3, because the toxicity of NO3 takes a heck of lot before symptoms appear. Richard messed up a decimal place and added 200ppm for a month, no fish deaths, I've added at least 160ppm with no fish issues, but did kill some shrimps, about 50%.

Takes a lot of NO3...............
It may bind and then the bacteria will have to cleave off the binding agent etc.

They use ETDA to test whether there is metal toxicity in water samples.
They add it and see if it reduces mortality vs a control.
If so, then they know they have a metal issue.

Similar deal with the NO3/NO2/NH4.

Bacteria will break down ETDA, or gluconate, Glycine etc and nab the NO2 as well, NO3=> N2 is anaerobic about 250mv or so.
So unless you have those conditions somewhere and a decent flow through etc, then that's not going to happen much.

While it may bind, I do not think it offers much reduction in NO3 toxicity because there is not much there over a vert large range to begin with, NO2? NH4?

You bet, but not NO3.

So allowing the bacteria to chop the more toxic stuff till the tank settles down sounds more like what is occurring.

I'm not SeaChem nor represent them though ....................I do suggest their products as they are the best in hobby, but Hach./Lamotte are at another level than aquarium companies when it comes to environmental monitoring.

SeaChem does very well in their market for $.

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #18 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-27-2007, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
At least they added a single point reference.......if you can read over 1,5, 10, 20, 40, ppm range, that's better than many can.
The range for the Nitrite is 0 to 25 ppm and the range for the Nitrate is 0 to 50 ppm.

Because it at least has a reference solution to check the validity of the test kit is one of the reasons that I use it.

For the $ it is better than the other "cheapies." Not everyone has the $ to invest in the higher quality test kits even though they should be used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I was not pleased with the SeaChem kit personally.
Reading the colors was difficult.
I agree very much here. I was a colorist for an international textile company for many years and I know what you are saying.

Anything past 10 ppm on the Nitrite scale and anything past 20 ppm on the Nitrate scale is hard to tell any difference.

I break their color chart into four different areas to get any use out of the test kit. Any reading on the Nitrite scale is not good; so I'll just use Nitrate as an example:
1) 0 to 2 ppm - not enough Nitrate
2) 2 to 10 ppm - I can easily tell read these to know the ppm. It tells me that I'm in the lower limit of the EI Nitrate target range of 5 to 30 ppm.
3) 10 ppm to 20 ppm - it's in the middle of the EI target range
4) Anything past 20 ppm is very hard for me to tell much difference between the ppm readings on the color chart. I can't tell if I'm in the upper limit of the EI target range or if I have way too much Nitrate. This is a bad part of the test kit. But, I've found a way to get some use out of it anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
To have a proper ref solution, you need two or three points.
Just like a pH meter with a pH probe.

Do folks believe that they do not need to calibrate those as well? That it's good enough? Or that one point will do?
Good points.

Here's some questions. Do you tell a newbie that they need a high $ test kit or do you tell them that a test test like the Seachem's does a good job and that the Brand X's kits are bad? If newbies are told to believe that the only way to go is with high $ test equipment; would they continue in the hobby? Many of the newbies are young people with little $.

Newbies have a steep learning curve just to start in this hobby. Concerning testing, this is some of what they have to learn:
- learning about the different variables and parameters in this hobby
- learning how to test
- what to test for
- when to test
- interpreting the test
- are the results telling me that it's OK or is there an adjustment that needs to made
- what changes need to be made
- what do I look for
- if this change is made, what other parameters should be monitored
- what to test for now
- what has the change done, is it the correct change or is the change wrong
- what now
...and so on.

That's a lot of information that needs to be learned, processed and then be interpreted. This isn't the easiest hobby around by any means. The challenge, science, technology and the possible beautiful results are an intriguing part of this hobby.

When I started listing all those "whats", two things came to mind.
1) I began to appreciate how very helpful and important your EI dosing regimen is. Thank you for the EI.
2) Again, thank you for pointing out the importance of quality test kits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Lamott uses a similar method, but has a much better color gauge, something critical when measuring ppms etc.

Same for any colormeteric method.
Use a good scale or use a spec/colorimeter etc if you want real accuracy.
Test kits vary, cheaper ones more so.
I looked at the LaMotte Nitrate test kit. It is a low range test kit. It's range is from 0.25 ppm to 10 ppm. I wasn't sure if I could use it for higher amounts of Nitrate by diluting the sample with RO/distilled water. Is it possible to do this with this kit? I have LaMotte's Alkalinity test kit. I like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I can promise you that research folks do not suggest using a cheapo test kit without calibration. I'm not letting myself nor anyone off the hook here.
I agree. My college training and the fields that I worked in strongly verifies that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I know Prime is stanky..............

I think what they are suggesting is that it chelates the NO3/NO2 perhaps, the
toxicity goes way down, I'm not sure about KNO3, because the toxicity of NO3 takes a heck of lot before symptoms appear. Richard messed up a decimal place and added 200ppm for a month, no fish deaths, I've added at least 160ppm with no fish issues, but did kill some shrimps, about 50%.

Takes a lot of NO3...............
It may bind and then the bacteria will have to cleave off the binding agent etc.

They use ETDA to test whether there is metal toxicity in water samples.
They add it and see if it reduces mortality vs a control.
If so, then they know they have a metal issue.

Similar deal with the NO3/NO2/NH4.

Bacteria will break down ETDA, or gluconate, Glycine etc and nab the NO2 as well, NO3=> N2 is anaerobic about 250mv or so.
So unless you have those conditions somewhere and a decent flow through etc, then that's not going to happen much.

While it may bind, I do not think it offers much reduction in NO3 toxicity because there is not much there over a vert large range to begin with, NO2? NH4?

You bet, but not NO3.

So allowing the bacteria to chop the more toxic stuff till the tank settles down sounds more like what is occurring.
Thanks for the info about Prime. Many people think that it is a very good product. I'm glad that you say that it binds with Ammonia and Nitrite and reduces the toxicity of these. Will Prime possibly skew Nitrate testing results?

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I'm not SeaChem nor represent them though ....................I do suggest their products as they are the best in hobby, but Hach./Lamotte are at another level than aquarium companies when it comes to environmental monitoring.

SeaChem does very well in their market for $.

Regards,
Tom Barr
Thank you very much for your response.

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post #19 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 02:00 AM
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When we address a newbie's questions about testing, do you lie and tell them oh yea...anything is fine just as long as you test.........or tell them the truth with all it's complexities?

I do not like either option.
So I went after a 3rd option, no testing at all and if you do, do it right.

Most that are good with plants do not test anyway...............
Why can't I teach them how to do that also?

What about the experiences is critical?
What assumptions are easy to address?
What habits do newbies need to focus on?
Which are cheap?
Simple?

If they like non CO2, I'll go that direction based on their goals and habits.
CO2, typically EI.

Both are cheap simple, easy, no test kits.

So blow some $ on cheaper test kits that are not effective in the range of interest, or spend more $ for the better stuff and do the calibrations.

Hopefully www.gregwatson.com will start selling reference stock solutions for folks that want to know NO3/PO4. I spoke recently about this on the phone and it seems likely.

These can be diluted down with DI water and a simple pipette to give any range of interest.

So you can make it easier on newbies still wanting to go that route.
This way you can go many different directions and improve upon those past assumptions or avoid them altogether.

Prior, we all just made bad assumptions............


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post #20 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 05:09 AM
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Thanks Tom!

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post #21 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
 
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Yes, thank you!

If I had known how "bad" this API master kit was, I wouldn't have bought it. But in a sense, it reminded me how much I enjoyed chemistry. So testing the test kit has been fun, but disappointing too. I was really surprised at how "off" some of the tests were.

Now I'm interested in the more accurate tests kits. Sure it's a lot more expensive, but most of the time, you have to pay for quality. You can claim it on your taxes if you are making money from this hobby. Of course you have to claim "hobby" income in order to do this. LOL

So when we read a thread about someone's tank woes (algae outbreak, fish dying, etc), it's just not as easy to respond by saying "test for this or that". For the most part, he/she doesn't have the proper tests to even give the accurate readings. Sad They, the makers of these 'cheap' test kits, should really work on improving the quality of these tests.
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post #22 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 08:53 AM
 
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So API Test Kit sucks??????

I just got it.............. EHHHHHH
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post #23 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
 
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The pH (API) is not too bad. It gives a general reading, which I found to be "almost" on target. Reading the color is what is difficult. But I run comparisons to get a better "feel" of where it's at. Ex. I test solutions of pH around 6.0, 7.0 and of course my hard tap water ~8.0.

The nitrate is inaccurate. Wayyyyyyyyyy off the mark.

I have yet to test the other 2; nitrite and ammonia. I'm not holding my breath on those either.

This is basically why I started this thread. LOL Sorry Yoko.
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post #24 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 09:19 AM
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A mistake is still a lesson learned, is it not?
One you tend not to forget...........

Why you made it and how to avoid the same again are the next lessons.......

How does one know if the newbie or total stranger has a good set of test kits, how are their skills with test kits? Have they tested it? Calibrations etc?

By discussing it with you, you will know a lot more than many........
You will question the test kits unlike those before you.

Testing is not bad, but it does introduce some assumptions as well, just like not testing and using EI............

The key here is addressing these assumptions in a practical manner that gives you decent results with less work and more certainty.

Ideally, a well calibrated cheapo test kit or good frequent water changes and dosing frequently.

Or you could do large hard plumbed semi or automated water changers, and go more than 1-2x a week water changes etc using RO etc, or you could buy nice test kits/spects/colorimeters and take accurate readings.

Armed with good test methods and equipment, you can measure subtle relationships, pick up NO3 and PO4 uptake dynamics, good CO2 measurements etc.

You will have good base data at least.

Linking a single parameter like NO3, CO2 and NH4 etc to algae or plant growth is more tricky though. But at least you have the methods to do so and compare with other folks that are also interested in getting good data that is meaningful.

That same approach is what developed a method to get rid of the test kits and not rely on them. So less work, less cost and simpler.

The goal is not to use test kits just because that's what we "are suppose to do to monitor things" for planted tanks. They are used to reduce effort, cost and work.

Many assume they are used to check on things if something seems a bit out of whack, well who checks the test kits?

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #25 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 09:27 AM
 
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The pH (API) is not too bad. It gives a general reading, which I found to be "almost" on target. Reading the color is what is difficult. But I run comparisons to get a better "feel" of where it's at. Ex. I test solutions of pH around 6.0, 7.0 and of course my hard tap water ~8.0.

The nitrate is inaccurate. Wayyyyyyyyyy off the mark.

I have yet to test the other 2; nitrite and ammonia. I'm not holding my breath on those either.

This is basically why I started this thread. LOL Sorry Yoko.
EHH.... Well, I don't really care about PH.... It's the other 3 I worry about!

One of my tests (I think it was Nitrite) I could not match the color on the card. It wasn't addressed on the card, so I kind of just assumed it was ok, since everything else checked out ok... I know that's not right, but I figured maybe the mistake was in procedure.
Maybe I didn't shake it long enough or I waited to long, etc etc...

Mr. Barr is right though, I should be on top of things, enough to not have to worry about a test kit. I should know where my levels are at.
I feel so irresponsible now
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post #26 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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I put a bunch of KNO3 in a small amount of water and the tetra and seachem kits measured 0 nitrates. I bought the LaMotte kit and it measured off the charts.
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post #27 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 08:25 PM
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SeaChem suggested that the Lamotte and their kits where similar.........both use absorbic acid reduction.



Regards,
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post #28 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 08:54 PM
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heh, I have an API "Master" test kit and always wondered why it gives me the same readings no matter what.
Example: I test No3 and it looks like 20ppm or so (determining shades of red isn't easy)
Then, I do a 50% water change and test again. No3 looks about the same, even though it should have dropped significantly if there isn't any in the tap water (there isn't).

I'm also not real happy with the Red Sea Po4 yest kit. It's a PITA to test and it always just registers a blueish-green, which tells me very little.

I'm too cheap to buy Lamotte or better, so I just do frequent wc's and pay attention to my dosing and the plants themselves.
Nevermind test kits.
Perhaps for KH and ph, but that's about all.

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post #29 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-28-2007, 09:21 PM
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Even with pH and KH, simply using a KH ref solution + drop checker or pH probe removes any need for that.

Then you do not need any test kits.
You make a visual test once every 2 weeks or so.

That takes maybe 2 to 3 minutes.

Regards,
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post #30 of 37 (permalink) Old 03-30-2007, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
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Even with pH and KH, simply using a KH ref solution + drop checker or pH probe removes any need for that.

Then you do not need any test kits.
You make a visual test once every 2 weeks or so.

That takes maybe 2 to 3 minutes.

Regards,
Tom Barr
OK Tom what do you suggest someone go out and get to test their water parms. Is it the drop checker? Cause I too have the API kit and wondered why i always got the same readings and want to get the most accurate i can. thanks

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