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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2014, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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Strange test results

So I went away for a week and two weekends. I did 50% water changes in all of my tanks (which is par the course for most the part).

Since the tanks went a little longer without a water change, I figured some of my numbers might be a little off for testing. I tested the tanks and all my tanks came back as about expected, but almost all of them had 10 nitrates, except for one. My 30 gallon had basically none (in my signature).

Oddly enough this tank also had a higher ammonia than I was expecting (.5 ppm). I sometimes get a .25 reading but I was told that may be a combination of the water and the test kit.

No tanks had any nitrites.

Is it possible that the person I had watching my place over fed my fish and caused the ammonia increase? But either way, why would there be no nitrates? Nothing else has changed about any of these tanks.


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2014, 03:33 AM
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Overfeeding a tank with a good bacteria population:
Ammonia may show up for a tiny blip (missed by the caretaker).
Nitrite may show up for a tiny blip (missed by the caretaker).
The bacteria catch up very quickly to a slight increase in their food supply.
Nitrate rises.

Overfeeding a heavily planted tank:
None of the nitrogen molecules show up. Plants grab the ammonia as soon as it is available, so very little of it gets turned into nitrite or nitrate by the bacteria.

More severe overfeeding or a tank with a questionable bacteria population, or slower growing plants: ammonia shows up, followed by nitrite, then nitrate.
Bacteria do not catch up that fast, and the plants are not growing so strongly as to be able to help out that much.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What actually happens may be anything in between, so the simple answer is:
Yes. The tanks were over fed.
Next time use little cups, (I like Coffee-mate creamers) or daily pill sorters so the caretaker cannot over feed the tanks.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-02-2014, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Overfeeding a tank with a good bacteria population:
Ammonia may show up for a tiny blip (missed by the caretaker).
Nitrite may show up for a tiny blip (missed by the caretaker).
The bacteria catch up very quickly to a slight increase in their food supply.
Nitrate rises.

Overfeeding a heavily planted tank:
None of the nitrogen molecules show up. Plants grab the ammonia as soon as it is available, so very little of it gets turned into nitrite or nitrate by the bacteria.

More severe overfeeding or a tank with a questionable bacteria population, or slower growing plants: ammonia shows up, followed by nitrite, then nitrate.
Bacteria do not catch up that fast, and the plants are not growing so strongly as to be able to help out that much.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What actually happens may be anything in between, so the simple answer is:
Yes. The tanks were over fed.
Next time use little cups, (I like Coffee-mate creamers) or daily pill sorters so the caretaker cannot over feed the tanks.
Thanks for the info. You know ,I thought about that after I got back, the pill sorter thing. I have a feeling what I described as a pinch may not have been understood. Also, I found a betta pellet in my 10 gallon, so I am wondering if they got confused as well.

I just thought though also that it is odd my nitrates were so low, that was the most confusing part. Nitrates should only go down with a water change right?

Would you consider from my pics my 30 gallon to be heavily planted? I do myself. Although I stopped EI dosing a month or two ago because the growth was getting out of control, and I went back to root tabs.


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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-03-2014, 04:36 AM
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The pill sorter idea is a great one. Only way to go for entrusting others help.

Water changes are not the only way to reduce Nitrate or indeed have a consistent zero Nitrate reading. There are actually anaerobic bacteria that consume Nitrate. They then convert the Nitrate back to Nitrogen which then harmlessly gases from tank. These bacteria "complete" the Nitrogen cycle. These bacteria like low water flow and don't require oxygen (thus anaerobic) and prefer small tight crevices in decorations, filters and substrate that have low water flow, and low/nil oxygen as mentioned. So maybe the 30 has a good colony of these bacteria.

As to the Ammonia, I agree with Diana, it depends at what stage all this toxic conversion is at.

As to the level of planting? Looks pretty close to heavily planted to me.

Hope I have helped.

Last edited by WaterKeeper; 12-03-2014 at 04:48 AM. Reason: Changed response.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-03-2014, 12:01 PM
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I looked in your signature at the 30 gallon. The pictures from Oct. of this year look like about medium planted or a bit more. I can still see the back of the tank, so it is not heavily planted.

Plants sure look like they are thriving, so would be very good at removing nitrogen.
Plants can take in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, so it is entirely possible that they are removing all evidence of the over feeding (except the actual pellet).
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