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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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ammonia test orange?

My aquarium was planted and filled on July 2, dirt capped with gravel, fluval 206 canister filter with a small amount of media from a cycled aquarium. Nothing added to the water except water conditioner.

I've tried testing the ammonia twice, and keep getting an orange color, which is not a value on the chart. So I am confused, water information below:


Water out of tap

Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate - 0
PH - 7.7
KH - 40ppm
GH - 60ppm


Aquarium July 3rd

Ammonia - orange
Nitrite, nitrate - 0
PH - 7.4
KH - 60ppm
GH - 60ppm

Aquarium July 5th

Ammonia - orange
Nitrite - 0.3
Nitrate - 7
PH - 7.6
KH - 60ppm
GH - 60ppm


Pic 1: test brand I'm using
Pic 2: result color against chart.
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Last edited by xmpjx; 07-05-2015 at 06:04 PM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 07:29 PM
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Is the test kit new?

Mix an ammonia solution and try calibrating the kit.
There is some calibrating info in many threads here.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-05-2015, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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I just got it about a month ago. I did get it second hand (master kit for $10!) But he said he had never actually opened any of the liquids, nothing looked like it had been touched or opened either. All the other tests seem to be fine, I've compared them with the random single kits I had.

I will look into calibrating it, thanks for the suggestion!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 01:37 AM
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There should be expiration dates stamped on all the bottles. Make sure it's not expired.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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No dates that I can see, the lot numbers don't make up a date either. I dont have anything here to calibrate either, although my tap water gives a light yellow result, so does my 10g.
I'm going to get a new ammonia test, the other ones I use regularly give correct results so that's worth the $10 anyway haha
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 09:44 PM
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You should be able to find the reagents for this one separately.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-06-2015, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Local store is sold out ammonia test kits at the moment (just my luck haha) so I got one of those seachem wheel things that moniters it.

I did read something about certain water conditioners messing with ammonia tests, but the conditioner I use is made by nutrafin as well. So that scenario seems unlikely.

For now I will use the wheel as a general guide, and moniter the nitrites.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-07-2015, 06:31 AM
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i dont see anything wrong with the test. probably water had a bit of tint thats all. yellow means ammonia is 0. i dont even use chart for things like nitrites or ammonia, just a rule of 'yellow=its all fine, grab a beer an enjoy the tank' on both
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-07-2015, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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If this was from my 10g I wouldn't be confused with a darker color, as there are tons of tannins in that aquarium, but the water I tested and took this picture with isn't visibly tinted, and the tank has only been up for 4 days now. So a reading of 0 is a little surprising haha My nitrites are still going up though, wouldn't that imply there is still ammonia?

It's definitely grab a beer and enjoy the tank kind of weather lately, I'm not complaining too much about the air quality "stay inside" warning going around these days: air conditioning + aquarium
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-07-2015, 01:04 PM
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It could be that the first part of the cycle is complete and all the ammonia is getting converted to nitrites.

To address your point about water conditioners. A lot of them do. Test before adding the conditioner, or 24 hours after. A lot of them, like Prime bind to ammonia and make it ammonium, which is harmless, but still shows up in test kits (and can be eaten by nitrifying bacteria).

Also, if your tap water has chloramine in it, your water conditioner is going to break it into chlorine and ammonia and then remove the chlorine. If you've got a good one, it'll also convert the ammonia into ammonium.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Well, it'll cycle eventually lol whether I monitor it or not. So, after nitrites spike and go back to zero and nitrates spike and level out then the cycle is done?

I'm just confused over nothing here haha I will continue to use the seachem alert wheel as a general guide and testing the other things I can test.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 12:43 AM
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Here is the fishless cycle.
All the answers you need about growing the bacteria!

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for supplying all that information for me I've read a few other cycling articles over the years, just confused with this test I suppose. Haven't used this kit before this aquarium and wasn't expecting to not see a spike in the first week.
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