First Aquarium Confused About Test Kit please help

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Before explaining my situation i should note that I dont have any live stock in my tank yet. I should also note that I made the mistake of putting live sand in BEFORE putting in mixed salt water and it killed off some of the bacteria causing the ammonia to rise.

Ive been testing my aquarium pretty frequently for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. My ammonia hasnt gone down from about .5ppm in a few weeks. My nitrites/nitrates have both gone up significantly. I was under the impression that as my nitrates went up, my ammonia would go down. Im using the API saltwater master test kit for my tests. I read somewhere online that there is toxic ammonia and non toxic ammonia and the test cant tell the difference between the two. I did a calculation online using my pH and temperature to find the toxic ammonia levels and it came up with .0574. So, if that number is accurate, how did some of the ammonia become non-toxic on its own? Should I do a water change now, or should I wait for my nitrate levels to go back down to zero? Right now my nitrate levels are between 80-160ppm and my nitrite levels are 5.0ppm. If anyone could offer me some guidance I would appreciate it. Thank you.
 
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arking_mark

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Before explaining my situation i should note that I dont have any live stock in my tank yet. I should also note that I made the mistake of putting live sand in BEFORE putting in mixed salt water and it killed off some of the bacteria causing the ammonia to rise.

Ive been testing my aquarium pretty frequently for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. My ammonia hasnt gone down from about .5ppm in a few weeks. My nitrites/nitrates have both gone up significantly. I was under the impression that as my nitrates went up, my ammonia would go down. Im using the API saltwater master test kit for my tests. I read somewhere online that there is toxic ammonia and non toxic ammonia and the test cant tell the difference between the two. I did a calculation online using my pH and temperature to find the toxic ammonia levels and it came up with .0574. So, if that number is accurate, how did some of the ammonia become non-toxic on its own? Should I do a water change now, or should I wait for my nitrate levels to go back down to zero? Right now my nitrate levels are between 80-160ppm and my nitrite levels are 5.0ppm. If anyone could offer me some guidance I would appreciate it. Thank you.
Welcome...

Personally, I would wait till the ammonia was lower. Unfortunately, API test kits aren't great for accuracy and I would only use them as a yes/no for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. I'll leave it to the chemists to explain how ammonia works.

I use Seachem for ammonia testing, as they have a kit that checks for free ammonia. If you want to go high-tech, I also like my Seneye. But honestly, you can just wait or add some starter bacteria if you want to speed things up...but you seem to be almost there.

My reef keeping mantras that help me navigate most situations (red applies here):
  • Nothing good happens fast in a reef tank
  • Triple-check before you believe or make any changes to your tank
  • Only make one change at a time in your reef tank
  • Only dose what you can test for
  • Don't chase #s, stability is what's critical
  • Anytime you add anything to your tank (even quarantined livestock), your whole tank is at risk
  • Most problems can be mitigated with larger water changes and GAC
  • Have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup backup plan for reefing risks
  • Stick to one reefing methodology. Don't be a Frankenstein unless you're willing to fail while blazing your own path to success
  • Do not believe manufacturer claims
 
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Welcome...

Personally, I would wait till the ammonia was lower. Unfortunately, API test kits aren't great for accuracy and I would only use them as a yes/no for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. I'll leave it to the chemists to explain how ammonia works.

I use Seachem for ammonia testing, as they have a kit that checks for free ammonia. If you want to go high-tech, I also like my Seneye. But honestly, you can just wait or add some starter bacteria if you want to speed things up...but you seem to be almost there.

My reef keeping mantras that help me navigate most situations (red applies here):
  • Nothing good happens fast in a reef tank
  • Triple-check before you believe or make any changes to your tank
  • Only make one change at a time in your reef tank
  • Only dose what you can test for
  • Don't chase #s, stability is what's critical
  • Anytime you add anything to your tank (even quarantined livestock), your whole tank is at risk
  • Most problems can be mitigated with larger water changes and GAC
  • Have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup backup plan for reefing risks
  • Stick to one reefing methodology. Don't be a Frankenstein unless you're willing to fail while blazing your own path to success
  • Do not believe manufacturer claims
You said you use seachem for ammonia testing.. are you referring to the multitest free and total? That test and their nitrate/nitrite have pretty mixed reviews on amazon. its pretty hard to decide whats right to use for my tank.
 

arking_mark

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You said you use seachem for ammonia testing.. are you referring to the multitest free and total? That test and their nitrate/nitrite have pretty mixed reviews on amazon. its pretty hard to decide whats right to use for my tank.

It's not great, which is why I went Seneye. It was an easy choice since I wanted a PAR meter which is its best feature.
 
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It's not great, which is why I went Seneye. It was an easy choice since I wanted a PAR meter which is its best feature.
Yeah that has mixed reviews too. And that's pretty expensive for a 32 gallon tank. And having to replace the slides that cost 40 dollars a month is kinda insane. So i don't think that's gonna work for me
 
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Before explaining my situation i should note that I dont have any live stock in my tank yet. I should also note that I made the mistake of putting live sand in BEFORE putting in mixed salt water and it killed off some of the bacteria causing the ammonia to rise.

Ive been testing my aquarium pretty frequently for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. My ammonia hasnt gone down from about .5ppm in a few weeks. My nitrites/nitrates have both gone up significantly. I was under the impression that as my nitrates went up, my ammonia would go down. Im using the API saltwater master test kit for my tests. I read somewhere online that there is toxic ammonia and non toxic ammonia and the test cant tell the difference between the two. I did a calculation online using my pH and temperature to find the toxic ammonia levels and it came up with .0574. So, if that number is accurate, how did some of the ammonia become non-toxic on its own? Should I do a water change now, or should I wait for my nitrate levels to go back down to zero? Right now my nitrate levels are between 80-160ppm and my nitrite levels are 5.0ppm. If anyone could offer me some guidance I would appreciate it. Thank you.

I read from a Dr. somwehere one time that on his tests 75% of bacteria from Saltwater will survive a FW change.

As in if you took a SW tank, emptied it, and filled it back up with FW suddenly, 75% of nitrifying bacteria would survive and continue to live.

If you research it out I'm sure you can find it somewhere.

did you use Live Sand and Live Rock? Did you bacteria boost it with a bottled boost?

In regards to testing, you just have to keep trying until you get the hang of it.

With API Test kits there's very little margin for error in terms of how you're "EXACTLY" supposed to do it.

Just youtube their own videos and do it exactly like they do. Once you verify you're doing it exactly then we can verify your test results.
 
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I read from a Dr. somwehere one time that on his tests 75% of bacteria from Saltwater will survive a FW change.

As in if you took a SW tank, emptied it, and filled it back up with FW suddenly, 75% of nitrifying bacteria would survive and continue to live.

If you research it out I'm sure you can find it somewhere.

did you use Live Sand and Live Rock? Did you bacteria boost it with a bottled boost?

In regards to testing, you just have to keep trying until you get the hang of it.

With API Test kits there's very little margin for error in terms of how you're "EXACTLY" supposed to do it.

Just youtube their own videos and do it exactly like they do. Once you verify you're doing it exactly then we can verify your test results.
I only used live sand and i emptied an entire bottle of fritz into the water a couple weeks ago. Im pretty sure im doing the test right but ill look on YouTube to be sure.
 

terraincognita

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I only used live sand and i emptied an entire bottle of fritz into the water a couple weeks ago. Im pretty sure im doing the test right but ill look on YouTube to be sure.
You gotta shake those dang bottles for literally 1 minute.

Use your phone as a timer.

Also I forget if it's nitrate or ammonia, but you also ahve to shake the vial for 1 minute after adding the drops.

hence why I hate API. So dang confusing, and way to much shaking, for very specific numbers of time.

an I always find myself going, was it 1 minute? 30 seconds? wait. Do I need to shake this one?

anyway yeah check the videos. Let us know.
 
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You gotta shake those dang bottles for literally 1 minute.

Use your phone as a timer.

Also I forget if it's nitrate or ammonia, but you also ahve to shake the vial for 1 minute after adding the drops.

hence why I hate API. So dang confusing, and way to much shaking, for very specific numbers of time.

an I always find myself going, was it 1 minute? 30 seconds? wait. Do I need to shake this one?

anyway yeah check the videos. Let us know.
Ive definitely been doing the tests correctly. I don't think that's the issue. And the test youre referring to is the nittate test.
 

arking_mark

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Yeah that has mixed reviews too. And that's pretty expensive for a 32 gallon tank. And having to replace the slides that cost 40 dollars a month is kinda insane. So i don't think that's gonna work for me

After my tank stabilized, I only use the slides when I go on vacation. Each slide lasts a month and is about 12$.
 

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Are you adding any source of ammonia, or just stuck at .5?

1. It’s not nitrate you need to be at 0, it’s the ammonia. Nitrate is essentially non-toxic except at extreme levels, and will typically only rise at first.. Ammonia is toxic at much lower levels. Nitrates of 20 are no big deal; ammonia of 2 would be fatal in short order. pH modulates the toxicity of ammonia. The higher the pH, the more toxic a given concentration becomes. For purposes of cycling your tank, my opinion is you really want to get it zero. Some would disagree with that passionately (and not without good reason). You can read up on it in numerous posts.

2. The API ammonia test is fine. Hard to screw up. You’ve been doing it for awhile; sounds like you’ve got the hang of it. The issue with API ammonia is it’s notorious for showing a false positive in SW. The difference between 0 and .25 can be ambiguous, but most people seem to figure it out. The API nitrate test reagent #2 needs serious shaking, as does the vial. I find with the vial, side to side is better than up and down—API vials tend to leak a bit. Testing nitrite gives you more detail about the cycle, but nitrite isn’t that much of a danger in SW.

3. I wouldn’t do a water change unless your ammonia or nitrite was insanely high.
 

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Oh, with API, I find 5ml is too much and harder to work with. I use a syringe and just do 2.5ml for ammonia and 2ml for nitrate/nitrite, and cut the reagent proportionally. Easier to swirl/shake; uses less reagent!
 

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Oh, with API, I find 5ml is too much and harder to work with. I use a syringe and just do 2.5ml for ammonia and 2ml for nitrate/nitrite, and cut the reagent proportionally. Easier to swirl/shake; uses less reagent!
I use API on my fresh water and will try that. thanks for the idea.
 

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I use API on my fresh water and will try that. thanks for the idea.
Yeah API seems to be a lot more common on the FW side of the hobby. I actually like API tests a lot for FW, but they’re not sensitive enough for reefing. Although my tank is having a dirty phase with NO3 around 20, so have been saving my Salifert and using API to keep tabs on it. Still need Hanna for PO4–the API phosphate test isn’t nearly sensitive enough to detect even what would be rather high PO4 for a reef tank.
 
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