Water Quality

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Adler

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Jan 15, 2020
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I have been fighting with ammonia not being 0 for the past month. I don't know what to do anymore I've been doing weekly water changes, I've added Tetra's Safe start plus 1 day after each water change but every time I check I still get ammonia readings.
P_20210101_161635.jpg

I used to have 0 ammonia readings but now I always get some. I've been gravel vacuuming every time when I do a WC, that definitely stirs up the settlement but does this cause the ammonia to rise? the reason why i started gravel vacuuming was because of ammonia (too much waste I thought).

I also have been thoroughly cleaning one of my filters (the old one) that is mostly mechanical now, maybe I didn't let bb enough time to cultivate in the new filter and because i cleaned the old one i lost most of my bb?
 

FreshyFresh

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Sorry if it's been mentioned, but does your water supply use chloramine instead of chlorine? Chloramine will show trace amounts of ammonia with the API master test kit once use treat it with your dechlor product.

What's more concerning to me is the zero nitrate. Shouldn't be the case in a healthy, established tank unless you just did back to back ~80% water changes. I'd question if the nitrate test was done properly. Pretty common to do the test wrong. It's usually not shaking bottle #2 enough.
 
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Adler

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Jan 15, 2020
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Sorry if it's been mentioned, but does your water supply use chloramine instead of chlorine? Chloramine will show trace amounts of ammonia with the API master test kit once use treat it with your dechlor product.

What's more concerning to me is the zero nitrate. Shouldn't be the case in a healthy, established tank unless you just did back to back ~80% water changes. I'd question if the nitrate test was done properly. Pretty common to do the test wrong. It's usually not shaking bottle #2 enough.
No, i do not know if there is chloramine in my water supply. I use Seachem Prime which, from the label, should take care of that. I didn't know chloramine affects ammonia readings. You mean clean the API flask with Prime?

that test was done yesterday, last wc i did was last weekend. I don't really keep track of nitrates, back when i used test strips nitrates were always 0. Here are tests I did back in october:
ammonia:
P_20201025_142022.jpg
nitrite:
P_20201025_142130.jpg
nitrate:
P_20201025_142242.jpg
 

Adler

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Jan 15, 2020
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Sorry if it's been mentioned, but does your water supply use chloramine instead of chlorine? Chloramine will show trace amounts of ammonia with the API master test kit once use treat it with your dechlor product.

What's more concerning to me is the zero nitrate. Shouldn't be the case in a healthy, established tank unless you just did back to back ~80% water changes. I'd question if the nitrate test was done properly. Pretty common to do the test wrong. It's usually not shaking bottle #2 enough.
A quick research showed what you said, chloramine (NH2Cl) does give ammonia reading and that if I want accuracy I should do a free and total ammonia test. 😩 the one i had never worked.

I also have a small bottle of Seachem's Am Guard that "removes ammonia" and also "removes chlorine & chloramine", will this help even if I use Seachem's Prime as water conditioner?
 

Adler

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a new week, a new test with good results:
left ammonia, middle nitrite, right nitrate
P_20210111_113007.jpg

I didn't perform a WC this weekend so see how it goes and I am glad that ammonia is 0.
As for nitrates being 0, I did as instructions say and still got 0 I am going to perform another nitrate test and see if anything changes. I found this information on another website:

"If you have fish, and you believe your tank is cycled, but you get readings of 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 0 Nitrate, you should monitor the tank frequently. 48 hours after a partial water change, you should take readings. Also if you are using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, you MUST shake and shake the second reagent. If you don’t follow the instructions you can get a FALSE reading of 0 Nitrates."

I usually shake bottles before testing but maybe i am not shaking it enough.
 

Adler

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guess I was not shaking hard enough:
P_20210111_144733.jpg

that's between 20 and 40 ppm but closer to 20 as is not red but more orange-ish.

Now, earlier today I did dose Flourish so that might be why it is so high, thoughts?
 

dudley

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Some people also recommend tapping the reagent bottle on a hard surface to dislodge any particles that have come out of suspension.

I tap the bottom of the bottle and again the top of the bottle on a hard surface and then shake the heck out and then repeat the procedure before dispensing any drops.

Is this a brand new test kit or one that you've used before? If it's one that you've had and only used a few times, the above procedure should work just fine. If you are halfway through the reagent, might want to consider a new nitrate test kit.
 

Adler

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Some people also recommend tapping the reagent bottle on a hard surface to dislodge any particles that have come out of suspension.

I tap the bottom of the bottle and again the top of the bottle on a hard surface and then shake the heck out and then repeat the procedure before dispensing any drops.

Is this a brand new test kit or one that you've used before? If it's one that you've had and only used a few times, the above procedure should work just fine. If you are halfway through the reagent, might want to consider a new nitrate test kit.
No, I've been using this kit for some months now. I shook the heck out of it, both bottles just to be sure.
 
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The nitrate kit reagent tends to precipitate solids out of solution in the bottle and they settle on the bottom. They can compact some and stick down there. Tapping the bottle helps to dislodge things and then the shaking works better. Also, the nitrate kit is least accurate in the range from 0 to 20 ppm.

Here are the ingredients in Flourish, none of which should have any effect relative to nitrate levels as far as I know:
Potassium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Ferrous Gluconate, Cobalt Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Boric Acid, Sodium Molybdate, Zinc Sulfate, Protein Hydrolysates.
 

Adler

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Last night I performed another WC ~50% to reduce nitrates, today i tested and got 0.25-0.50ppm ammonia and 10-20ppm nitrate. I also cleaned filter media in old water, could this be the reason why I see ammonia again?
 
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