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Old 01-02-2011, 02:47 AM   #1 
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Weird cycling results/water testing kit problems?

So, I've started to cycle a tank (third try), this time with fish in. On the 28th, the ammonia tested at 0.5ppm. This was before the fish was placed in the tank, but after the filter had been running for over 24 hrs.

Today, the 1st, the ammonia tested at 0ppm.

Is this possible? Is it possible that there is something with my liquid water testing kit? It's from Walmart - I got back in Aug/Sept. I was having weird testing results the second time I tried to cycle. Basically, the nitri/ate levels never rose, despite the presence of ammonia.

I currently have one betta, one anubia, java moss & two marimo balls in a 5 gallon tank. I use Prime, and the heater is set to about 79 degrees.

As an aside, my daughter's betta *loves* his new 5 gallon tank. I've had this tank since August and have been trying forever to cycle it with no success. I became too fed up with the empty tank, and decided to try a fish-in cycle. Prince is soooo much happier in his new tank than he was in his old 2.5 gallon unfiltered tank.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:26 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Make sure you are rinsing the test tubes in dechlorinated water-tank water is the best-sometimes chlorinated water from the tap can cause skewed results

Make sure you are shaking the liquid reagents really good-especially the #2 bottle on the nitrate if you are using API brand-regardless-shake any reagent really good-sometimes you can get settling and check expiration dates

I would test your source water

Live plants can sometimes cause skewed numbers in regards to the nitrogen cycle-the active growth of the plants will use ammonia before it converts and depending the plants you may not have nitrate reading

Sometimes with fish in cycle with live plants you have to rely on the power of the fish and with any behavior change make an extra water only change over and above your regular weekly water changes.

Remember-Prime can change the ammonia to ammonium and the water test can't tell the difference and the plants and nitrifying bacteria can still use ammonium for energy but harmless to the fish.
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:10 AM   #3 
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If I can't get a cycle to start, should I just then stick with once-weekly 50 water changes?

Also, I was thinking of adding either shrimp or a snail. Any comments? I read that shrimp are very sensitive to nitri/ates, so I was hoping to add them once the tank was cycled. However, at the rate I'm going, I may not get there. Since I'm not getting any Nitri/ate readings, do you think shrimp would do okay in the tank?

Are snails just as sensitive?
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:09 AM   #4 
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ontario, CAN
It's possible that the test kit could be bad or expired. I once had a nitrate test kit that didn't work. I was mid cycle on a tank when I ran out and bought a new test kit. It read 0 on a tank I knew had high nitrates. I tested all my established tanks and they also read 0 - clearly not true. Went and got a exchange and the new one was fine.

Just my two cents. :)
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:38 AM   #5 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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It can be a bit harder with live plants...I would get some snails and or ghost shrimp and add them to see what happens....

And as MMK posted it could be the test kit as well

How may weeks have you been cycling-it can take 4-8 weeks to start to show nitrate-sometimes longer with plants
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Old 01-03-2011, 12:51 PM   #6 
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How long are the liquid water tests supposed to last? I only bought it in August.
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:05 PM   #7 
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Emeltee, try banging your nitrate test solution (second bottle) on a counter and then shaking it for about 2 minutes. The reagent naturally precipitates out of the solution and falls to the bottom, where it hardens as the product sits on the shelf. Sometimes you have to give it a good smack to break it up.

As for expiry, here is a quote from a letter to a customer from API:

Your solutions are not expired. Each reagent bottle has a Lot # printed
on the bottle. The last four digits are the month and year of
manufacture. Example: Lot # 28A0102. This is a pH reagent manufactured
in January of 2002. Pond Care Wide Range pH, ammonia, High Range pH,
Nitrate, phosphate, Copper, calcium and GH all last for three years.
nitrite and KH will last for four years. Freshwater pH(low range) and
Pond Care Salt Level will last for five years. I would not trust these
kits after they have expired.
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