The Planted Tank Forum banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need some help please. :)

I have a 55g medium/heavy planted tank. I don't have CO2 yet and have been dosing excel. I have approx 3WPG (Coralife 2X65W 6700 + NO 40W). Only inhabitants are a large amount of Cherries, 11 bees, 7 Amanos, 3 ottos.

I started my EI dosing regime 3/11/07 geared toward the 20-40g setup. I wanted my aquatic creatures to get used to all this before I stepped it up. So I was dosing:
1/4 tsp KNO3
1/16 tsp KH2PO4
+/- 5 ml trace/fe
excel

I noticed throughout that week faster growth, especially with my hygros. They were somewhat stunted for quite a while since I wasn't really dosing anything but some trace/fe occasionally before than. In that first week, they started to take off again.

I then tested my tank water 3/17/07:
pH= 7.5 ish
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 0

I surmized that the nitrates were being used up by the plants/bacteria and that I needed to step up a level in the EI Dosing regime. So for week #2 (3/18 to 3/24) I started EI dosing for the 40 to 60g regime.
1/2 tsp KNO3
1/8 tsp KH2PO4
+/- 10ml Trace/fe
excel

I then tested my tank water 3/24/07:
pH= 7.5
Ammonia= 0
Nitrite= 0
Nitrate= 0

BTW, I use the API Master test kit.

Observation: My plants even grew faster and once again the hygro just flourished. I'd say 2X more than the 1st week of dosing. I was concerned though because I thought I would at least get a "positive" reading for nitrates (#ppm). So then I started to think something might be wrong with my nitrate test kit. To test this, I took a sample of RO water and mixed some KNO3 in it, then tested a sample of this solution. I got a reading of 10 to 20 ppm (the color was inbetween these two readings). So I acheived a "positive" reading with this nitrate kit.

Question: My chemistry is REALLY rusty. Can anyone tell me how I can make a "test" solution that will give me a "positive/known" reading of let's say 30ppm of Nitrate??? This way I can calibrate my Nitrate test kit.

Question: This would depend on the above answer, but should I increase my KNO3 dosing?

I know this is alot of info here, but I could use some help here. Thanks! :biggrin:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
1 ppm = 1 mg/L
30 ppm = 30 mg/L

It'll be hard to measure out 30mg unless you have an accurate scale, so get 3 grams of KNO3, put it in 1L of water to give you 3000ppm. Take out 10mL of that mixture and add enough water to make 1L total solution (so, add 990mL of RO water to the 10mL of the mixture).

Hope that helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For my test solution problem, yes it does Epic. Thanks! :) Off to go make it now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, this sucks! I made my test solution (as described by Epic) and tested it. It barely even registered! Maybe 1 or 2ppm?? If that! It should have read 30ppm. Soooooooo, it seems my nitrate test kit is crap!

What should I do? Keep dosing the EI 40-60g regime?

Does anyone know of a good Nitrate test kit?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,009 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
Long shot, but I read a post like this before and the problem was that the Nitrate 2 Bottle needs to be shaken very well before using (for 30 seconds or something like that). Hopefully, that's the problem?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Long shot, but I read a post like this before and the problem was that the Nitrate 2 Bottle needs to be shaken very well before using (for 30 seconds or something like that). Hopefully, that's the problem?
I wish! LOL No, I shook that bottle long and good enough. Looks like I'll have to get another nitrate test kit. Left C posted one that I was looking at, so I'll probably pick that up.

I guess at least I know there isn't more than 30ppm of nitrate in my tank. But I'm going to lower my fert levels a little to be on the safe side. My plants are doing great and my shrimp/ottos are doing well also. I just want to be on the safe side of things.

Thanks everyone for the help. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Do you use Seachem Prime? I've read that it will alter your nitrate readings. Look in the seachem forum on apc for a few threads about it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,609 Posts
Ok, this sucks! I made my test solution (as described by Epic) and tested it. It barely even registered! Maybe 1 or 2ppm?? If that! It should have read 30ppm. Soooooooo, it seems my nitrate test kit is crap!

What should I do? Keep dosing the EI 40-60g regime?

Does anyone know of a good Nitrate test kit?
I';m glad you came back and said this, API test kits as well as any others than the Hach Lamotte have really sucked, perhaps a few get lucky, but I've not been one of them.

Given that they are hit and miss, I really find serious issues with folks telling others that they are accurate or that "they work for me" and do not suggest that they calibrate these junky 10$ kits.

Tell folks to calibrate if they want to reply on the measurements!!!

EI is nice because it shows just how bad and how frequent the test kits are, and I know if you seldom test, it's even a higher chance you do not calibrate

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you use Seachem Prime? I've read that it will alter your nitrate readings. Look in the seachem forum on apc for a few threads about it.
Yes I do, but only for my tank water. The test solution I mixed up was made up of RO water only. The nitrate test kit (API)is crap. Now I wonder about the other tests (API master kit). Guess I'll have to make known solutions for those tests.

I'm just going to pay close attention to what my plants and critters "say" to me about my tank. At least I know the levels of ferts that I have been dosing is ok for my tank. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Tom! :) I plan on testing the other tests that came with this API master kit. I never expected "precise" readings. I just wanted to get a "good ball park" reading at least. The nitrate result/s wasn't even close! :(

Pssst....I actually paid around $15 for the API test kit. LOL I should ask for my money back. HA! HA!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
$15 for the entire API test kit? That's not bad at all. =P

PS: Are you nocturnal? All your posts are after midnight! =P
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
845 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, but I've seen it a lil cheaper at Big Al's. LOL

Yes, I'm VERY nocturnal. hahaha But I know I'm not the only one -pointing- hehehe :tongue:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,609 Posts
So what did we all learn tonight/today?

Test your test kits.
Are they "good enough"?
No, they are not always, sometimes, but you cannot rely heavily on them without first running at least 3 points of calibration.

I hear so called folks "in the know", actually folks that really should know better, as they give advice, often are trusted etc, tell folks that the test kits are "good enough".

Unless you have run calibrations on many of these various brands(I know of very few that have and when pressed, it's pretty obvious most do not even know the fundamentals of calibrations and think they know enough about plants not to have to do the basic work involved), you will not know.

There's a huge difference between trying things out, testing them yourself etc versus assuming they are correct.

It's not so much that folks are lazy or do not want to be bothered, it's when they insist and get their pride and egos involved and like to argue/insist that the cheapo test kit is good enough and likely right for "our purposes".

Just admit they are not right unless you run a calibration.
That is a reasonable logically method, just like when you calibration a pH meter with 2-3 point references solution.

Why the heck is okay for the pH meter but not for all the cheesy test kits?

Good grief Charlie Brown.

Put the ego aside and do the right thing for the hobby.
You get far less chasing after meaningless data/incorrect data, wasting time etc. You get much more reliable data, that is useful to the hobby etc.
Folks that do not like to test or bother, use a method like EI.
It can be modified and used in any situation that can implement large water changes.

Which approach/suggestion for test is better for the hobby?
Even a calibrated pH meter is re measured monthly.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,009 Posts
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/Instructions/0960.040-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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,609 Posts
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
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,009 Posts
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

Left C
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,609 Posts
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............


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,009 Posts
Thanks Tom!
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top