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Old 07-10-2012, 10:51 AM   #1 
Blue Fish
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: East Tennessee
Question Fishless Cycle...could test strips be faulty?

Okay, posted this same question over in the Cycle Logs thread on the TFK forum, but I thought I'd cross-post here as well to get some more information.

I started an experimental bucket cycle on the 6th. Originally I had the ammonia too high, so I had to start again.

The experiment is one that Hallyx suggested I try to find out if cycling the *filter* would work to cycle a tank, rather than cycling the entire tank. In other words, taking a 5 gallon rubbermaid tote, and cycling treated water through it with a well-sponged filter to the point of getting proper readings, then seeing if that filter could be taken to an established unfiltered tank and cause that new tank to cycle spontaneously. In theory, when you cycle a tank, you are actually cycling the filter, the filter and the substrate are where the bacteria live...So if you've got a filter with lots of sponging (so lots of bacteria colonization space), and you don't kill off the filter bacteria, would that allow the bacteria to be inserted into a tank with fish, and start the cycle without having to put the fish through a fish-in cycle. At least that's the theory.

Unfortunately, I'm a total newbie to cycling, and I've made a couple of mistakes...and now I'm getting some weird readings. So, thought I'd ask some questions on here. :)

Okay, starting again:
ammonia at 4ppm
two well-sponged filters going with airstones as well
temps in the 90's
5 gallon bucket, water treated with API dechlorinator
seeded with fish food for ammonia

ammonia at 3-4ppm
some *slight* change in the color for the maybe just the beginnings of some bacteria
0ppm on the NitrATE
Water no longer stinks but is cloudy from fish food

ammonia at 0ppm
and no change in nitrITE or fast does this bacteria grow and then starve?! I didn't think I could starve it out that quickly?
water is still cloudy, but less so than previously
added in another tablespoon of crushed tropical fish flakes to hopefully add in more ammonia and feed some more bacteria... :P
temps have been about 90-95, very humid, two waterfall filters and an airstone going, four sponges (two on filters, (well, and two small sponges attached to the intake filters) two floating for hopeful use as sponge filters in the future.)
5 gallons of treated water.

Also, I'm using a good ammonia water test kit, but for nitrATE and ITE, I'm stuck using those awful test strips until my LFS can get a master test kit in for me. Could the test strips be faulty and giving me incorrect readings on the nitrITE and ATE?
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:58 AM   #2 
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Yes, test strips can be very inaccurate. I hope your cycle goes well! :)
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:24 PM   #3 
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Ive heard that test strips are very inaccurate...I personally like to use API liquid master test kit :) it's a liitle more money, but very worth it in the long run! You won't have to guess at your levels
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:35 PM   #4 
Blue Fish
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Yes, I've been waiting for PetSmart to get in a new Master Test Kit for that reason. :) I was able to get the ammonia water test kit so at least I'd have a start...They told me it would be in quickly, so I didn't just order one online...but it's taking much longer than anticipated. Hence the awful test strips. :P I'll go by today and see if they've gotten it in and recheck my levels. :) I know something grew in there because the accurate water ammonia test came back at 0ppm...I'm just hoping that the nitrITES and ATES haven't died off in that 24 hour period without anything to eat. I did add some fish food though to raise the ammonia levels, so if they're in there, they've got food. :)
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:36 PM   #5 
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if you just started on the 6th, I wouldn't worry about having starved the bacteria lower on the chain. chances are, you aren't even starting to cycle yet unless you have a seeded sponge in one of your filters.

And yes, the strips can be quite inaccurate. I foudn that out while cycling my tank. The strips read 3ppm while the liquid tests came up 6+ppm. Loony.

good luck!!!
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