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Old 03-17-2013, 11:41 AM   #1 
TheChosenDarkness
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A little API help?

I finally got me a API freshwater test kit. (love it by the way)

I was reading on the package about what the test means. Now, before I go into details, I planted my 3 g. (sadly 10 g isn't going to happen till next week) I have it roughly 60%-75% planted. I could add maybe a couple of more plants before saying it is officially 75% planted. So it is heavily planted. I even got one of those moss balls. I also purchased an Oto Cat and a couple of Snails. Since I didn't get substrate I did get some Flourish Tabs for gravel based aquariums. So far everyone looks good.

Now to the test results:

pH is good. I tested both High end and regular pH. The high test says about a 7.4. Where the other one says 7.6. So I assume this is pretty good.

Ammonia - Really hard to tell in the lighting of my house, but it looks like a 0.25 ppm. Should I be concerned? Should I change the water?

Nitrite - 0ppm. This is good. Means something is working.

Nitrate - 5.0 ppm (it is not quite dark enough to say 10 ppm). I read on the package that freshwater aquariums should be 40 ppm or below. I think below maybe safer. But.. what is a good ppm?


Also, the tank has been set up for 24 hours with plants. Everyone seems fine, but maybe you guys could share a little knowledge with me? My biggest concern is over the Ammonia. Now, I do have an internal filter. Just in case you might be curious. And I do have a heater. I actually went out to purchase a better heater and my old Betta heater does a better job than the 50 watt I purchased. The water stayed to cold. It said on the package it was suppose to heat the water to 78 degrees. Sadly, I left it in there for 24 hours and didn't see a climb in temp. Instead it was getting colder.

So, I switched to my other heater. So far it stays around 75-78 degrees most days. With that being said, if anyone knows a good heater I can order off line.. let me know? I need something for a plastic 3 gallon. A tall plastic three gallon.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:13 PM   #2 
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The hagen elite heaters on amazon are cheap and effetive. get the one with an adjustable knob...

you definitely wont have nitrites as your tank is not yet cycled.

You did an NPT? Nitrates could be a sign that your cap is not holding the soil well enough.
Otherwise it's the root tabs getting into the water column.

Ammonia could be due to many things, fish waster, dying plant matter etc. it is The plants are probably still adjusting and havent gotten to work on the ammonia yet.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:20 PM   #3 
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It isn't a full NPT. Just gravel based. I made sure to bury the plants in the gravel well and the tabs. It could be some of the dying plant matter. I did trim a lot of it off, but I may have not got everything. I know some people do just sand or just gravel tanks and they do fine. Right now mine is just gravel. I have plans to upgrade in a week or so. If money allows.

I will check my tank to see if the Flourish Tabs are peeking up. I am pretty sure I have those well buried, but never hurts to check.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #4 
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yes, it's absolutely fine to hae just sand or gravel or even no substrate .

It seems that you have gravel? gravel does not compact the way sand does and can allow the root tab nutrients to leech out.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:25 PM   #5 
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I double checked everything. No tabs peeking. I think I -might- know what is causing the spike in the nitrates. When I bought the plants I think there was some little white fert pellets with them. I did my best to wash it all off and catch any that floated. It is very possible this is the culprit.

Now to the bigger question.. should I do a water change? If so, should I do partial, up to 50% or 100%? I don't want to kill anything my tank or disrupt anything.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:26 PM   #6 
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Hmm... can I put sand on top of gravel? To cap it?
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #7 
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Otos must be in a group.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #8 
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What kind of additives are you using, have you already added the root tabs-Sometimes additive can cause skewed test results.

Make sure you shake, bang on the table and shake some more with the #2 reagent nitrate bottle-it tends to settle and can give false readings. Also, follow the directions to the "T" with all the testing products-especially the timeline and shaking between drops and reading results. Make sure to properly clean the test tubes, caps and device used to collect the tank water for test. All I do to clean mine-rinse under running tepid water and air dry.

I would also recommend that you do baseline test on your source water-with and without additives used. This will help tell you if additives are causing skewed results or interaction and to know if the source water itself has ammonia, nitrite or nitrate already in it to start with.

I would also start a log book so you can compare your test results to your baselines that needs to be done at least twice a year or more depending on the water source-The source water can change with seasons and when your city flushes lines if you are on city water supply and well water changes with weather, pollution and ferts/chemicals in fields...etc...... Remembering that the time of day can also impact test results-especially with live plants. By logging everything will help give you a better understanding of your water.

With nearly every abnormal test result-you will do the same thing to fix it..Water change...
Remembering that-time of day, additives, live plants...etc....can cause skewed results and the baseline source water test can help you know what is skewed and abnormal so not to stress yourself too much and make unneeded water changes.

You don't want to base water change needs on test results alone-Test results are a good start, however, since we have a lot of other things that can buildup in a closed system. Weekly-twice weekly partial water changes are still needed to maintain the system-over and above partial water changes due to abnormal test results not related to skewed results.

Put on your lab coat and start testing....The more you know and understand-the more power and control you have.....
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #9 
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Partial water change is fine. for me... I dont put a fish in a planted tank until the tank has settled. I just throw a bunch of snails in. I basically do everything by eye. if the plants are actively growing instead of dying, then it's time to put the fish in.

you can pour sand on gravel, it will fill up the gaps and the gravel will remain on top. make sure you rinse the sand thoroughly in a large bucket first
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:37 PM   #10 
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Additives like the Flourish Tabs? I mainly use a dechlorinator/conditioner. I haven't tried using anything else. The spike in the nitrates and ammonia are the only worries I have at the moment.

I can buy more Otos. That isn't an issue.

Right now I have two snails, an Oto and one Betta. I don't want to over do it. The tank itself has been set up for a minimum of two weeks. Maybe a little longer. Planted wise, 24 hours.

Also, can I cap the gravel? Like with sand?

I can re-test after a partial water change and test later tonight. To see what I get. Oh, and yes I did everything to a T. I might have to "bang" that bottle a little on the Nitrate #2. I did shake vigorously though. Everything is pretty straight forward and easy to do. So far I don't think I contaminated my results, but human error is possible at all times.
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