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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Test kit issues

I was in the middle of testing ammonia (fishless cycling day#3), and my ammonia solution ran out (both #2 and #3) for my Tetra Laborett kit!

I have the Hagen Master Test kit as well, so started using that, but in testing before, and now, the numbers I get with the Hagen solutions are significantly lower.

For example, 24 hours ago the Tetra kit measured roughly 3.0mg/l before and 4.25mg/l after I added 8.4cc of ammonia (keep in mind, that was day#2, so already ammonia present).

This evening the Hagen measured 0.7mg/l to start, and after adding 12.5cc of ammonia, registers 1.2mg/l.

Note the difference, Hagen seems to indicate 50% of what the Tetra kit did.

Which one do I believe? Don't really want to ruin what has started - the Hagen kit also includes a Nitrite test, it measures 0.1, so something has started.

Appreciate any help! I'm totally new to all this.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 01:53 AM
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It is not uncommon to see test results from different kits that are that far off.
Calibrate the kit. Search here at TPT using the word Calibrate and I think that will bring up the thread.

ammonia is not among the calibration techniques. Maybe gotta look further.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 08:16 AM
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Wow, people are still cycling their tanks? I've discovered over the years that it isn't necessary unless you're planning on having some delicate species in the tank. You can actually get a tank up and running in as little as a day or two if you do the following:

1. Test kits are good, and I'd reccommend you get this product in particular: Sea Chem Ammonia Alert. It'll cost you about $10, and it gives you constant ammonnia readings for about a year. Just stick it to the inside wall of your tank. If pH is going to be a great concern, they also have a similar product for pH readings.

2. After you have all the substrates, filters hooked up, and the misc., add the tap water, then use a water conditioner. Yes, this may give you initial ammonia readings, which is fine, natural, and should be on the low side. Here, you'll actally see your Ammonia Alert working too, which is neat.

3. Next up is getting yourself some Stress Zyme by API. This is just bacteria in a bottle. Really, any brand should do. This addresses the major parts of the nitrogen cycle - the breakdown of Ammonia and the Nitrites. After some time, again with the Ammonia Alert, you'll see the ammonia drop to safe levels. Water changes and plants will handle the nitrates. Your filters airating the water will keep the bacteria alive and multiplying.

4. Really, that's pretty much it. 2 products - the water conditioner and the bacteria gets you setup. There's other things you can do like waiting a day before starting up your filters or using the water conditioner to allow the bubbles from the chlorines to seep out somewhat, but not really necessarily since the water is fish safe once the conditioner is put in. What you do next really depends on what you're trying to setup here - a fish only tank (salt,brackish,warm,cold) or one with plants.

5. The method I mentioned allows you to put fish in the same day, but please acclimate them. The pH differences between your water and the store's can kill the fish. So I hope you understand this part of the hobby - just keep adding your tank water into the fish's bag periodically over about an hour of time. If the store mentions this, which they rarely seem to these days, they will usually say 20 minutes. Acclimating them slowly over longer periods of time will increase the fish's chances of surviving.

6. As a side note, you actually don't have to use test kits, there are ways to know what's going on. For example, if you buy a fish and dump in the tank within seconds of getting him home and he's dead a few hours later you likely have a pH problem. Well, it certainly doesn't match the store's. Next, if you have alot of fish food, dead fish, or other organic waste, then you'll have high ammonia levels. You'll know it's too high when you see dead fish daily. If you get algae outbreaks, then you likely have a high nitrate problem.

Hope that helps.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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California, thanks, I'll look into that Seachem Ammonia Alert...can't hurt for $10. From what I've read the cycling is still standard, although I've seen a few other people with your views on the matter. Until all the FAQs state that cycling is not necessary, however, I'll just stick with mainstream.

I am already using the water conditioner to remove chloramine, and yeah, I've read about acclimation procedure.

Diana, interesting to know, thanks. I did not know about calibrating test kits...the more you know!!
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Okie dokie, I think this is it:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...2&postcount=12

Reference solutions and a quality kit to start with! Hm. lol not the answer I wanted, but hey.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Hoky dinah...their freshwater kit is $260. Makes sense for pros...but yowzers...no way I can justify that kinda cash, especially since it's only good for 50 tests.

Looks like the Ammonia Alert is the way to go!
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by California View Post
Wow, people are still cycling their tanks? I've discovered over the years that it isn't necessary unless you're planning on having some delicate species in the tank. You can actually get a tank up and running in as little as a day or two if you do the following:

1. Test kits are good, and I'd reccommend you get this product in particular: Sea Chem Ammonia Alert. It'll cost you about $10, and it gives you constant ammonnia readings for about a year. Just stick it to the inside wall of your tank. If pH is going to be a great concern, they also have a similar product for pH readings.

2. After you have all the substrates, filters hooked up, and the misc., add the tap water, then use a water conditioner. Yes, this may give you initial ammonia readings, which is fine, natural, and should be on the low side. Here, you'll actally see your Ammonia Alert working too, which is neat.

3. Next up is getting yourself some Stress Zyme by API. This is just bacteria in a bottle. Really, any brand should do. This addresses the major parts of the nitrogen cycle - the breakdown of Ammonia and the Nitrites. After some time, again with the Ammonia Alert, you'll see the ammonia drop to safe levels. Water changes and plants will handle the nitrates. Your filters airating the water will keep the bacteria alive and multiplying.

4. Really, that's pretty much it. 2 products - the water conditioner and the bacteria gets you setup. There's other things you can do like waiting a day before starting up your filters or using the water conditioner to allow the bubbles from the chlorines to seep out somewhat, but not really necessarily since the water is fish safe once the conditioner is put in. What you do next really depends on what you're trying to setup here - a fish only tank (salt,brackish,warm,cold) or one with plants.

5. The method I mentioned allows you to put fish in the same day, but please acclimate them. The pH differences between your water and the store's can kill the fish. So I hope you understand this part of the hobby - just keep adding your tank water into the fish's bag periodically over about an hour of time. If the store mentions this, which they rarely seem to these days, they will usually say 20 minutes. Acclimating them slowly over longer periods of time will increase the fish's chances of surviving.

6. As a side note, you actually don't have to use test kits, there are ways to know what's going on. For example, if you buy a fish and dump in the tank within seconds of getting him home and he's dead a few hours later you likely have a pH problem. Well, it certainly doesn't match the store's. Next, if you have alot of fish food, dead fish, or other organic waste, then you'll have high ammonia levels. You'll know it's too high when you see dead fish daily. If you get algae outbreaks, then you likely have a high nitrate problem.

Hope that helps.
I do not agree with this. I plant 1 week after the tank is running and add fish 3 weeks later. 1 month total to cycle.
I do not recommend substituting dead fish for test kits either. I have never had any luck with anything that comes in a bottle either.

Borderline troll?


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 03:05 PM
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Read the label on the bottle. Look for Nitrospira species of bacteria. All other 'cycle in a bottle' products contain the wrong species of bacteria.

I like the fishless cycle because it gives the system time to get established. Microorganisms of many species getting going, figuring out where to live, and what sort of biofilm to set up. This cannot be done overnight. For livestock that needs a well established system this is the way to go.
Gives me a chance to alter the 'scape.
Also is a good run in for the equipment. If something is going to fail in a few days, or need to be adjusted often, I would rather take care of it before the fish arrive.
If the substrate is going to be a problem then I would rather it do whatever it is going to before the fish arrive.

However, here are 3 'instant' cycles:
Use a Nitrospira product per label directions: Add it to the tank, add fish shortly after. There may be minor blips of ammonia and nitrite within 24-48 hours, but then the cycle is done.
Have a back up plan. This material is perishable, and if it is mis-handled in shipping it may arrive to you with dead bacteria.
You can add all the other bacteria sources you want, some are decomposers, some have other functions, but if there is not Nitrospira then there are not the real work horses of the nitrogen cycle in the bottle.

Set up a densely planted tank. Start with full sized plants and plant so many you cannot see the back of the tank. The plants are part of the bio-filter, and they bring in some of the nitrifying bacteria, and other beneficial microorganisms on their leaves, stems and roots.

If you already have an established tank then split the livestock and the bacteria in as equal portions as you can. Then build up each portion of the bacteria as you add more livestock. SLOWLY. If the split is too lop-sided the tank with the smaller bacteria population can go through almost a full cycle if you add too many fish at once.
I have done this a lot, usually sharing the filter media from several tanks in setting up a new tank. That way each donor tank is not losing too much bacteria, and the new tank is getting off to a good start.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-13-2012, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Diana - I agree with your views on the fishless cycle. The stuff I have is not Nitrospira, so just as well I'm doing ammonia.

Also, this weekend I will be doing 'dense/heavy planting'. I have about $100 to spend on plants, hopefully enough for an area of 36x18.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 01:56 AM
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Go with as many fast growing plants like Hornwort, Anacharis, Wisteria and others.
They are the best at removing ammonia, so are going to be the most helpful getting the tank set up.
Once conditions have stabilized, livestock thriving, you can begin to remove the faster growing plants and substituting the slower growing, nicer looking plants.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hm, you make a good point about fast growth, although that kinda contradicts my goals with this tank (low maintenance). Also would not be friendly to the budget.

I'm not super-concerned with 'nice looking' so much as 'hardy and low-maintenance'. I'm sure the guy at Menagerie will have some ideas, as well, but I'll bring that list of fast growth, see what he says.

Maybe I can do slow growth in the foreground, fast growth mid & background?
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 05:19 PM
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You can mix it however you want. My point is that the faster growing plants are better at ammonia removal, and can be swapped out later for nicer looking plants. Under low tech conditions the faster growing plants do not grow so fast, and might really be the only ones that do significant ammonia removal. The plants that are slow growing even under higher light + CO2 set ups will grow (if at all) so slowly they pretty much do not count toward the bio filter.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-14-2012, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, ok, that is important to know!! Guess my priorities for plants have changed...fast growth & hardy.

Any other suggestions aside from the three above?
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help, everyone...you can see the plants here:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...4&postcount=73
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