Cycling Help - Different Tests giving different results

DarkReefer

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Hi all,

A couple weeks ago I started cycling my first marine tank. However after Day 2 it basically stalled and handn't done a single thing.
Here's a diary of what's happened so far.

Tank is a 70.2 Waterbox

Day 0 - Put in Dr Tims One & only + Dosed Ammonium Chloride (for memory around 180 drops)
Day 1- Ammonia 1.5 (Salifert Test)
Day 2 - Ammonia 0.5 (Salifert Test) + Dosed Ammonium Chloride after speaking to LFS and being told I should do a dose but they did not specify how much etc (200 drops this time as I thought I had done too little last time for my tank)
Day 3 to Day 13 Ammonia tested 1.5 (Salifert Test) After speaking with LFS and taking them water to test (they also used Salifert I believe) they confirmed Ammonia was up and I asked them about adding more bacteria etc. They gave me Seachem Stability to add and left me with that. Added 2x caps of Seachem Stability to the tank.
Day 14 - Ammonia tested 1.5 (Salifert Test)
Day 15 - Ammonia tested 1.5 (Salifert Test) Also went and bought an API Marine Master Saltwater Test Kit.
The test results from the API Kit are as follows;
pH 7.8
Nitrite - 0.25 ppm
Nitrate - 0 ppm
Ammonia - 8 ppm

Why on earth is Salifert test reading 1.5 and API test reading 8?! Obviously this explains the issue I've been having. I would have thought it the Salifert was reading high it would at least show 2 (as in it can't test any higher), why 1.5?!

Should I add some more Seachem Stability to increase the bacteria to take out the ammonia (and if so how much) or should I water change or do nothing ?

Would appreciate some help as I would love to get some livestock in the tank. Feels like it's taking forever at the moment.
 
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lpsouth1978

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I would lean toward trusting the Salifert test as API is notoriously inaccurate. However, if the Ammonia is truly @ 8ppm I would do some large water changes and bring that down. That would be high enough to stop a cycle all together. The general rule, IIRC, is that you don't want to exceed 5ppm at any point.
 

LionFishReeferMom

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I would lean toward trusting the Salifert test as API is notoriously inaccurate. However, if the Ammonia is truly @ 8ppm I would do some large water changes and bring that down. That would be high enough to stop a cycle all together. The general rule, IIRC, is that you don't want to exceed 5ppm at any point.
We also had different results when testing at home with an API kit and then when we brought samples to the fish store where they tested with Salifert after having heard about API being inaccurate.
 
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DarkReefer

DarkReefer

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I would lean toward trusting the Salifert test as API is notoriously inaccurate. However, if the Ammonia is truly @ 8ppm I would do some large water changes and bring that down. That would be high enough to stop a cycle all together. The general rule, IIRC, is that you don't want to exceed 5ppm at any point.

Mmm fair enough.
I haven't had any issues with my freshwater tank so far and that's been using an API hence trying that one to get an alternative reading It's only a relatively new tank about 5 months old but still seeing great results and fish breeding okay etc.
Seeing the ppm so high on the API seems to make me think it's a more accurate reading than the '1.5' on the Salifert. If it was in fact 1.5 I feel the bacteria would've caught up some more within 2 weeks.
8ppm from the API test seems to explain more to me as to why the cycle is taking so long.

I've seen all these youtube people etc using this Dr Tim's stuff time and time again and they all report it taking under a week to cycle so having it hang doing nothing the way it has had me thinking something definitely went astray and it's not doing what it should be doing.

Might consider doing a 50-75L water change on it perhaps.
 
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brandon429

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you have an easy issue to fix, notice his 8ppm issue, then instantly fixed.
Dr Tims is ten day bac, you are day 15+


so you’re ready :)

once you change water out, it’s ready to reef. *if you demand more proof than twenty threads we have just like this one above, then you can run the three point ammonia test from Jacks thread, but that’s not necessary. Change water out, refill. Add life, you’re cycled, would sound insane were it not shown right there your exact issue

notice: your issue here is trifling over wastewater readings, thats old cycle science.

new cycle science proven: changing out wastewater leaves a full filter behind, and ready, attached to all surfaces, on the date the bottle bac says it will be ready.

heres ten more pages and about fifteen more work examples, all exactly like your tank, all ready by the date on the bottle.

so as you can see, you are cycled. Just need that filthy wastewater gone.
 

brandon429

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If you can’t change all the water change most of it, you won’t have free ammonia issues such as 8 ppm and then 2 ppm dangerous left over from a full water change, you’ll have safe ammonia from a large water change. You don’t even have the levels claimed currently, thats test kit estimates and yes salifert over reports, you have to run TAN conversion on your reading above and after a water change the nh3/TAN converted level will be safe since you have rocks and sand that are actively ready, they’ll eat up any trace ammonia within about two hours after your water change, no your test kits won’t show it :) but our threads with living fish and corals sure do.
 
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DarkReefer

DarkReefer

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If you can’t change all the water change most of it, you won’t have free ammonia issues such as 8 ppm and then 2 ppm dangerous left over from a full water change, you’ll have safe ammonia from a large water change. You don’t even have the levels claimed currently, thats test kit estimates and yes salifert over reports, you have to run TAN conversion on your reading above and after a water change the nh3/TAN converted level will be safe since you have rocks and sand that are actively ready, they’ll eat up any trace ammonia within about two hours after your water change, no your test kits won’t show it :) but our threads with living fish and corals sure do.

Hi brandon, thanks very much for posting and giving me some insight. I'm surprised to see and read about others who've had similar things happen.
I only have about 75L of water on hand currently so I might just have to do that as the WC and then possibly run down and grab some more. Would I be okay to get away with 2x separate 75L changes ? or do you think I just do the 1x 75L change and then test again and see where we're at?

Thank you again for your insight.
 

brandon429

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On a tank that big the changes are costly and hard to work up agreed, working with nanos has spoiled us rotten :)


do a decent change out and maybe pick up a cheap ammonia adsorbing filter to clean out the rest, I think zeolite media in a filter would scrub out ammonia remaining pretty quick if I’m not mistaken it’s ammonia specific and so are other media I’ll search out real quick to see

* I bet if you hover close over your tank and smell water right now it’s not detectable


even true 3 ppm will stink, marked smell. Nh3 is powerful and the tests read mixed metabolites that are not necessarily actual free ammonia

if you do have an obvious ammonia smell then the change + adsorbing media will work, it’ll clear out the water in a few hours of contact

443A441F-F0E8-4506-B864-C8739FB1E14A.png
 

brandon429

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Once it’s been changed and ready a test kit isn’t what tells us ready, it’s a handful of clean up crew members, some snails.

free ammonia will kill them in two hours. If they make two days / proofed ready. This isn’t a mean guessing set to kill gastropods it’s because we use life to prove these test kits are nearly useless in cycling, and that keeps working out well for us.
 
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DarkReefer

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On a tank that big the changes are costly and hard to work up agreed, working with nanos has spoiled us rotten :)


do a decent change out and maybe pick up a cheap ammonia adsorbing filter to clean out the rest, I think zeolite media in a filter would scrub out ammonia remaining pretty quick if I’m not mistaken it’s ammonia specific and so are other media I’ll search out real quick to see

* I bet if you hover close over your tank and smell water right now it’s not detectable


even true 3 ppm will stink, marked smell. Nh3 is powerful and the tests read mixed metabolites that are not necessarily actual free ammonia

if you do have an obvious ammonia smell then the change + adsorbing media will work, it’ll clear out the water in a few hours of contact

You're right, I just went and smelt the tank, can't smell anything at the moment.
I'll do the 75L change (close to 20 gal) and see how that goes. I'll enquire about the ammonia absorbing filter too and see if my LFS has anything like this.

Looking forward to doing this change now and seeing things happen.

Been looking forward to putting in some fish and maybe even some sort of corals.

So you're suggesting I get some clean up crew first to test it's truly ready?
 

brandon429

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Yes for sure, bringing in fish too soon begets disease. Jack is now having a hard time with velvet. Need to choose and plan your disease control mechanism before fish

corals will be ok too, but since we did goose in some strong ammonia here the snails are the cheapest verifiers and if they die it means I made a bad call on universal cycle timing, we will update the thread with that loss and modify our means around it, they wont die in shame for nothing

your lfs will not believe us lol, nobody does. That’s the gradient for new science to make sure this isn’t all a bunch of hokey, working solo and building proofing threads.
 
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DarkReefer

DarkReefer

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Yes for sure, bringing in fish too soon begets disease. Jack is now having a hard time with velvet. Need to choose and plan your disease control mechanism before fish

corals will be ok too, but since we did goose in some strong ammonia here the snails are the cheapest verifiers and if they die it means I made a bad call on universal cycle timing, we will update the thread with that loss and modify our means around it, they wont die in shame for nothing

your lfs will not believe us lol, nobody does. That’s the gradient for new science to make sure this isn’t all a bunch of hokey

That makes sense, no point buying expensive fish/corals to potentially have them die.
I'll make the water change tomorrow morning most likely. Should I wait an extra day before getting the clean up crew? Or put them in tomorrow afternoon ?

Any crew in particular I should look at or just a couple of snails? (don't want them to take over my tank later though or anything).

Would they interfere with sand sifting fish (blenny?) or some sort of crab/shrimp? Wasn't initially intending on adding snails that's all.
 

brandon429

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No they won’t harm or take over unlike freshwater ones

after the wc we should wait about a day with the adsorbing media in line for a nice safe zone scrub of any nh3 remaining if any which I already suspect to be very low not very high

you can pull them back out after a couple days n give them back for credit easy. Try and get a couple big easy turbo or margarita snails they are perfect mine canaries

i do not know what combo of metabolites causes these gross ammonia misreads, but 2+ ppm true has a distinct cat litter smell when it’s really there.

after snail proofing, can load up on corals and begin coral feeding and prep for fallow run a few weeks from now, then fish all set.
 
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brandon429

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Hey if you’d rather get a decorative shrimp like a common $5 peppermint that’s ok too, any shrimp is uber sensitive to free ammonia even above .0x hundredths, they’ll force a very low level proofing if a typical reef shrimp lives past two hours in suspect water.
people will always claimed fish added are burned but tough it out, this is why people hate fish in cycling. Suspected burn


well that’s not happening and using much more sensitive animals will show, we bet. Cant wait for inputs the collective feedback here is aimed at knowing safe start times, to keep animals alive, vs guessing at start dates which is risky. We don’t want to rush, you’ve waited half a month that’s no rushing in today’s world. Most start with fish on day one you were prudent

there is nothing wrong with forcing a cycle to comply by the date on the bottle or at worst by the dates on a cycling chart, that's all we do.
 
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DarkReefer

DarkReefer

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Thanks brandon, I'm eager to see the results after the WC and test subjects :)
Definitely don't want to harm fish which is why we all want to run the cycle, we all want them to be nice and healthy when they join us.

Cheers Rusty, was thinking I'd head there. Popped in there yesterday and saw they had a bunch of snails, maybe even a shrimp. We'll see :)
 
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Did more tests this morning before WC.

Day 16 -
Salifert - 1.5
API - 8

WC completed, swapped out 125L in total.
Went to grab some Ammonia filter media, asked them if what I had picked out was the best option, the guy suggested I get API Ammo Lock instead. (What I had picked out was apparently for a nano tank). Explained I was running an 'experiment' and suspect the tank is cycled etc, but his suggestion didn't change.
Haven't dosed the tank or anything with it yet, thoughts/opinions on that?
 
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