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Testing water

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:39 pm
by spiritwolf68
I have been looking up water testing, I took my water down to pets-mart they said the ph and the nitrite, nitrate and ph were high, And I should change 50% of the water, put some stress coat in and some proper ph 7.0 which I did Saturday afternoon. Then I also bought a test kit I just tested it this morning and my ph is still 7.8, the nitrite is 5, the nitrate 5, And Ammonia 0Do I need to do another water change and should I do 50% or 25%. Also along with the 2 Jacks there is a plecostomus.

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 1:29 pm
by Bas Pels
For the Jsacks and the plecoi the pH is OK, the nitrate is acceptable but teh nitrite is far too high.

Has the tank been started soon or did you use antibiotics? These values indicate the nitrite to nitrate bacteria just are not there.

Some start -up preparation might do the workt. chinging water wil hoelp,. but you will not want to change 50 % a day.


Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 1:40 pm
by MatsP
<< admin comment: This probably belongs in another section of the forum, so perhaps some admin can move it. >>

I just noticed Bas has answered, but I'll expand a little bit.

Nitrite (and ammonia) are a sign that the biological flitration isn't working in the tank. That is the case for new tanks, because the bacteria that is doing the "work" in converting the bad stuff into slightly less bad stuff (ammonia -> nitrite -> nitrate) haven't built up to full capacity yet.

Likewise, many medications, particularly antibiotics will kill the bacteria in the filter. It's also BAD for the filter bacteria to do water changes without using a dechlorinator (such as Stress Coat).

Generally, it takes a tank with a small number of fish some 6-8 weeks to be fully cycled - that means have a full set of "good bacteria" in the filter.

As Bas says, high pH isn't really a problem for either of a Jack Dempsey or a common pleco. I wouldn't pay money to put some pH buffer in the tank - it's snake-oil at best and will often cause negative effects - if nothing else because it's adding to the conductivity to the water. [don't worry if you don't follow this argument, just accept that it's "good salesman" at Petsmart who figured out that he could fleece you off some of your hard-earned by telling you to buy some chemicals you don't really need - I certainly don't agree with this type of selling, but you get that sometimes... Because you're probably not going to be happy with Petsmart for "fooling you", and thus not be a long term customer. But Petsmart and the like don't need regular customers, they need LOTS of customers...]

I'd say do some reasonable water changes every day, 25% or so. Also, cut right down on the feeds. If you have been feeding three times a day, feed half the usual amount per feeding, and only once - that makes it 1/6 of the usual feeding - this will reduce the ammonia produced by the fish and thus reduce the nitrite levels.

I hope this helps.


Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 1:48 pm
by spiritwolf68
The tank I have them in now is only 3 weeks old there are no antibiotic in the tank . Also I don't know if it makes a difference but all my tanks have fresh water salt in them. I guess you call it brackish water.

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 2:00 pm
by spiritwolf68
I just thought of something else I also rinse the biological fliter 2 times a week and replace the filter 1 time per week. Mabe I shouldn,t have started out with 4 fish tanks at once since I've never had fish before but I have enjoyed taking care of them it's a real stress reliever as long as I don't wind up killing them.

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 2:28 pm
by Bas Pels

Thank you for explaining what I - hastily - neglected.

@ spiritwolf, the whole idea of a biological filter is not to clean it. It is supposed to last for months, perhals after half a year 1 third of the filter is replaced. Personlaay, I have no biological filtration, but I use pots, or inner filtration. However, a few of these pots are so overdimensioned, that I only clean them twice a year.

Most of the inner filters, also quite large - 8 -10 % of the toalt volume - have been rinsed twice now - in 1 or 1,5 years

Therefore - do not rinse the filters. Leave them for at least 2 months (not weeks, months) You may, however, rinse the fisrt compartiment if it is really dirty.

Sit down and relax. I have 26 tanks - plus 6 in my garden, and do not want to spend more then 1 hour a day on them.


Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:02 pm
by MatsP
Starting up four tanks at once isn't a problem as such... Of course, they all take time to get going, and you'll have high ammonia/nitrite during the startup, which can cause problems for sensitive fish [read expensive ones, as a general rule].

After three weeks, I expect the nitrite to be high - it's about right on the timespan.

Note also that whilst nitrite isn't good for the fish, it's a necessary byproduct of the fish-waste, so it's a part of the progress of getting the tank cycled.

I know some people like to add salt as a regular thing to their tanks, but I don't think it's necessary - at least not if you're using "public water", water from the city or similar. It should have sufficient "stuff" in it [and added free extras you perhaps didn't want, but never mind] to not need to add more salt. Particularly true if you live in a hard water area, which judging by your pH is likely...


Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:08 pm
by MatsP
Ah, got sidetracked and forgot to point out what Bas said... Thanks Bas.

Also, when you DO clean the filter media: Make sure it's not with tap-water, but water out of the tank. The tap-water will have chlorine to sterilize and kill bacteria, and the last thing you want is to kill all those good bacteria in the filter media.

Replacing it should really not happen, at least not often.

Cleaning the media is necessary when the pump of the filter starts going slow, assuming it's that type of filter. If the filter flows freely, then it should be fine to leave it. When it starts to slow down markedly, clean out the gunk in the filter sponges (or whatever filter media you use).

Some filters have a pre-filter which you're supposed to replace now and again, but the rest you leave as is.


Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:56 pm
by Lisachromis
One other point.

Did you check the expiry date of the tests you purchased? Old tests can give you wrong readings.

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 5:22 pm
by spiritwolf68
We do have really hard water. I got the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kits I didn't see an expiration date on it though. But I have been cleaning the filters with hot tap water.

Posted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:41 pm
by Ken Boorman
spiritwolf68 wrote:But I have been cleaning the filters with hot tap water.
By doing that, you're actually killing all the "good" bacteria that is starting to grow on the media. The best procedure is to siphon about 1 gallon (3.5 litres) into a bucket - from the tank - and rinse the biological fliter in that. Then you put the biological fliter back.


Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 2:07 am
by Bas Pels
Of course, they all take time to get going, and you'll have high ammonia/nitrite during the startup, which can cause problems for sensitive fish [read expensive ones, as a general rule].
As a general rule, this is very, very thruthful. However, I personally have had the experience (generalised) that fish from Panama are quite sensitive.


Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 8:00 pm
by spiritwolf68
What do you think of those algae wafers I was using those when we first started the tanks, But stopped because we thought that it was causing the problem.

Posted: Wed May 10, 2006 2:03 am
by Bas Pels
The algae wafers I know (I'm European, so the things might differ) are rich in foibers and low in protein - thus they can not produce much mitrogenous wase - let alone nitrite


Posted: Thu May 11, 2006 12:12 pm
by MatsP
Algae wafers: First of all, I don't quite agree with Bas on the "low protein" - I guess that's a relative term, but the Hikari and Ocaen <whatever> ones that I've got are around 35% protein, which isn't much less than your average flake or pellet food. It may be lower than "carnivore pellets", but the "generic" foods are around 35-45% protein. I do agree that they contain fibres.

I wrote an article on various "home-made" foods for Planet Catfish, if you want to feed a pleco, you may want to read it. Here it is.

As Bas infers, it's the protein in the food that breaks down into ammonia and thus leads to nitrite and nitrate.

I still think feeding sparingly, both plecos and cichlids, is the best approach until your nitrite is in the less than 0.5 ppm [mg/l] range.


Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 2:38 am
by Bas Pels
I was not aware of the 35 % protein in Hikari. However, as the European Union is fighting some burocratic battle with Hikari, we can not get ik anymore in a store.

(ps does anybody have Hikari for sale??)

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 9:46 am
by MatsP
Yes, I'm aware of thise problem - from what I've heard, they are using Genetically Modified something or other, without labling it as GM, so they can't sell in EU.

I've been using Ocean Nutrition from my LFS. Seems to be as good, except that the individual pieces are smaller so my Satanoperca can pick up a whole wafer and carry it away, as will my bigger Pimelodus pictus... At least with the Hikari ones, they can't do that until they've been eaten a bit...