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Water Quality and Algae Questions and comments about water quality.

 
 
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Question Confused about reading test results

Hello all,

I was wondering if somebody could help me understand about water chemistry. I am currently trying to cycle my new tank so I can move my fish from my smaller tank. I have no problem doing the tests but I have no idea what it means, . I dont know how to tell if the water is stable.

Test results: PH- 7.8 / Amonia- 0.6 / Nitrite- 0.3 /
KH- 60mg per litre / GH- 40mg per litre.

Is this water ok for my guppies and corys? Should I move them now? It has been up and running for 3 weeks.

Thanks,
Vanessa B.
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Default Re: Confused about reading test results

Are you cycling the larger tank fishlessly or do you have another type of fish in there?

The nitrogen cycle can be a confusing thing, but it is something all aquarium owners should know about. I'll start at the beginning.

Waste excreted by fish is released as ammonia. Ammonia is very toxic to fish, and even the tiniest bit can kill or sicken them. I have a betta that almost died from .1% ammonia. He was badly stressed the week before though because he jumped out of water for 5 minutes during a water change. In a mature and cycled tank, there are lots of beneficial bacteria. That's a long word and it will be used often in my reply, so I'll refer to it as BB. There are two types of BB: 1) converts ammonia into nitrite, and 2) converts nitrite into nitrate. Nitrite is also very toxic to fish, and nitrate is only toxic in high numbers. If you have a planted aquarium, most of the nitrates will be sucked out of the water and used as plant food. If not, your fish rely on you to do waterchanges to keep nitrates under 20-30ppm. In a fully cycled tank, test results will always yeild ammonia: 0, nitrite:0, and nitrate: higher than the tap water. A cycling tank will show ammonia and/or nitrite like your tank does.

Now, tap water has very very little BB. There are not enough to make a safe and stable enviroment for fish, but there are enough to breed. Cycling a tank is pretty much breeding BB. Now how do you do it? Easy! Ammonia is "food" for the BB. Just like any other animal, if there is food, there is reproduction. They will keep reproducing until a balance is reached between "population" and waste production. The only problem is that this can take about 1.5 months and while your tank is cycling, water params will likely be high and your fish could suffer. This is why it is imperitive to closely moniter the water levels and do very frequent small water changes while cycling a tank. Its easier to start out with only one or two small fish than a tank's full capacity. Understand all that so far? Okay, now here are some shortcuts and pointers.

BB grows everywhere...the gravel, the ornaments, even the glass walls! BUT, the filter is the hugest colony of all. That is really the point of the filter: to colonize beneficial bacteria. What kind of filter do you have? Does it have a catridge or a sponge? Do you use bio-max or bio-balls? If you are not using either of those two things in your filter and you have even the slightest amount of space in your filter, I suggest you buy some. These will colonize huge amounts of BB and they will live there safetly. If you just have a cartridge or sponge and no room for those things, you must be very careful. Do not overstock your aquarium, and never ever replace or wash your cartridge. EVER! There is probably chlorine in your tap water, and by washing the gunk from the cartridge with this water, you are killing all of the BB and your cycle will crash. Replacing it with a new one will also crash your cycle. Even if the filter box says to replace the cartridge, do not do it because they do not care about your fish, only money. Cartridges will last a VERY long time, and you can safely wash them by swishing them in a bucket of dirty tankwater after a waterchange.

Do not use ammonia-chips/zeo-lite in your tank. This will disrupt the cycling process and they can be dangerous if they are not used properly.

Prime Waterconditioner is a miracle in a bottle. This stuff not only removes heavey metals and chlorine, but it also detoxifies ammonia and nitrite without disrupting the cycling process. This will come in handy a ton if you are cycling with fish, and its perfect for dosing the tank inbetween waterchanges.

Now, I think this shortcut will help you a bunch! The filter and media inside the filter on your smaller tank is most-likely loaded with BB. Hook that filter onto the bigger tank and move your fish to that tank as well. There may be a small bump of ammonia and/or nitrites, but other than that, this tank will be virtually cycled. It will be safe to remove the smaller filter in 2-3 weeks and your cycle will be complete.

For future refference, there are more humane ways to cycling than from scratch using a fish like you are trying to do right now. If the fish survive, they will probably be especially sensitive to poor water quality and illness, and may die an early death. If you do not have another filter to "seed" with, there are other options. One is Bio-spira. This is basically hibernating BB that can be bought to jump start the cycle and your fish will not be harmed. There are other brands, but this one has the highest success rate. Another idea is fishless cycling. In summary, you use an alternative form of ammonia to cycle the tank, adding no fish at all until the tank is ready. If anyone wants more info on fishless cycling, feel free to start a topic or send me a personal message. I think I've spoke enough already lol.

Got all that Vanessa? I know its a lot of info, but I broke it down as simple as I could. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask


Oh yah, gH and kH don't have to do with your cycle. kH stands for Carbonate Hardness, and this is what buffers and stabilizes your pH. A high kH is almost always a good thing. gH stands for General Hardness, and that means how hard or soft your water is. The prefference depends on the type of fish that you own. There are two ways of measuring kH and gH (like american inches and metric cm) and I don't know what yours are off the top of my head so I'll get back to you on those test results.
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Question Re: Confused about reading test results

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for all of the info. I think I get it now. To answer your question, I am cycling my big tank without fish. My filter is a AquaClear 30 power filter, made by Hagen. It is an outside filter that takes a sponge and other inserts. Right now I have the sponge, carbon, biomax and an amonia remover insert in it. Do you think this is ok? I also have a product called Cycle that contains beneficial bacteria and I have been adding that to the filter and water. I love the idea you had about moving the old filter and fish over but unfortunately my canopy would have to be off to do that and I have 2 very curious little cats named Ebony and Chai that would love to get their paws on my poor fishys. Any other suggestions? Right now my amonia level is almost 0 and my nitrite level is 0.3 miligrams per litre. I think there are 4 gallons per litre but im not 100% sure. Do you think this level is safe? Im not sure what kind of things are different about the tests I have, and the ones you have. The instructions that came with my test kit are not very clear.

Well Lauren, I guess Im still a little bit confused but I hope the details I gave will help you to help me.

Vanessa B.

PS: Sorry I took so long to write back, I was gone away camping for a few days.
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Default Re: Confused about reading test results

Hope you had fun camping

One question...are you adding some sort of ammonia to the water? The product "cycle" will jumpstart it, but there needs to be some sort of ammonia (liquid household ammonia, fish food, actual fish) to keep it going.

Ebony and Chai are cute names. My own cats are actually not interested in fish at all. They seem more interested in pet toads and mice
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Post Re: Confused about reading test results

Hello,

Im not using any amonia right now. I actually have amonia remover in my filter. Is that bad? Do you think I should put my fish in there or mabey just put some food in there?

It's funny that you mentioned toads. I saw one on my camping trip.
It was sitting on a rock right next to the campfire to keep warm. Or he might have been hiding from the "Osprey Birds".

Talk to you later LittleHippyGirl!

Vanessa B.
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Default Re: Confused about reading test results

Hmm...that's odd. Do you have ammonia in your tap water?

If you want to do the cycle fishlessly, You need to add about 2-3ppm ammonia to start, and add a tiny bit each day to feed the beneficial bacteria until the cycle is complete. The simplest way I've found is just tossing cheap fish flakes into that aquarium, about as much as you would feed a tank of fish.

Toads are cute little things, and that's sweet that he was keeping warm by your fire <3 I used to have a toad that I took home from school because they take awful care of their animals. Later I found out that he wasn't even a pet. Some one had found him in a canal, plucked him from his happy home, and stuck him in a 10 gallon to starve. Poor baby. I've also taken home african clawed frogs and all sorts of fish. It hurts to know that other people think that just because an animal doesn't have big brown eyes and fluffy fur means that it doesn't have feelings or importance ._.
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Wink Re: Confused about reading test results

I totally agree about the toads! I recently sighned a petition against injecting albino fish with color! They said that it is the equivelent of us being injected with a needle the size of a pencil! They actually think that they dont feel anything! Isn't that awful?

Im really itching to move my fish to the new tank and it has been more than a month now. Do you think that it would be safe to move them if I keep a really close watch on things? I also dont want to hurt them. Im also planing to move my fancy gold fish (Creamsicle) from his 3.5 gallon to the 5 gallon because he is outgrowing his home.

What do you think?

Vanessa B.
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Default Re: Confused about reading test results

M'kay, if you're really itching to put the fish in, try this...I'm not sure if I've mentioned this already, but I appologize if I forgot, there's just so much information! You can move all the bio-max from the old filter to the new filter in the new tank, along with all the fish. Just toss out the ammonia-removing insert because I think that is what has been causing havoc and confusing us. Carefully moniter the ammonia and nitrite levels. This method usually has no problems, but I'm concerned that the ammonia removing insert may have starved off beneficial bacteria in that filter.

Just curious. How big is your new tank, how many fish, and what kinds? This will help me understand a little better. Good for you for upgrading your goldfish too. Unfortunately, goldfish get very large and you will probably need a bigger tank than that soon to keep him healthy. When you move him over, move his filter or media over with him.
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Post Re: Confused about reading test results

Hey there Lauren how are you?

I removed the amonia insert from my filter and added some Cycle (BB), to my tank. I also put some food in there to give them some amonia to eat. Is there a way to test if the bacteria are living/surviving in there?

I have 3 small corys, 3 male guppies and a flying fox but im hoping to find another home for the flying fox because he's not always behaving himself.

My new tank is a 20 gallon and the one they are in now is a 5 gallon. My goldfish is in a 3.5 gallon. I had planned to move the guppies and corys to the 20 and the goldfish to the 5 which is already cycled. I dont plan on keeping the 3.5 going after that. I would eventually like to add more guppies and some neons once every thing is stable in the 20 gallon.

Talk to you later!

Vanessa B.
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Default Re: Confused about reading test results

Sounds like a good plan Vanessa

Testing the water regularly will help you determine if the Cycle is working. Over a series of tests, you should see ammonia rise and fall, and as that's falling, nitrite will start to rise, then fall.
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