Testing for dissolved organics in a seahorse tank.

rayjay

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Dissolved organics are a big problem in seahorse tanks. As the levels increase, so do nasty bacteria that cause the diseases.
The only dissolved organic test kits I can find are for dissolved organic carbon.
Would using a test like that be indicative of all the dissolve organics or is there dissolved organics NOT carbon that can be there in varying amounts compared to the dissolved carbon being tested?
Hope this question makes sense.
 
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Dan_P

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Dissolved organics are a big problem in seahorse tanks. As the levels increase, so do nasty bacteria that cause the diseases.
The only dissolved organic test kits I can find are for dissolved organic carbon.
Would using a test like that be indicative of all the dissolve organics or is there dissolved organics NOT carbon that can be there in varying amounts compared to the dissolved carbon being tested?
Hope this question makes sense.
There is no simple test for dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The Triton NDOC test would be a away to obtain a measure. @taricha can give you the challenges.

Wet skimming and GAC would one way to keep the DOC LOW.
 
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rayjay

rayjay

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Thank you for your reply.
The problem we have with the hobby is that so many people just don't understand why they are losing their seahorses when all their test kits show the water to be great. It's hard to understand that something other than what all those test kits are testing for is making their water quality bad for seahorses. I was probably a decade into the hobby before I realized it.
Greatly oversized skimmers are probably the first recommendations we advise on in the last decade now, and if you can't have that then use the GAC. With no test kit we can use like other test kits, it's still a problem as the DO can build up very slowly even over a year's time give or take before it becomes problematic, or it can happen within months. It all depends on things like stocking density, feeding protocols, husbandry, filtration equipment and frequency and volume of water changes.
As all systems are different so there is really no way for us to advise newcomers as to their likely success with their specific tank with what they have and do. If we had a test kit then they could see for themselves if their setup and protocols are sufficient.
While the Triton test does give a measure, it's too expensive to use as often as we would need it in the hobby, at least for most hobbyists.
I think I'm looking for the Holy Grail.
 
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rayjay

rayjay

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From what I've been reading on dissolved organics it doesn't appear to be possible for the average hobbyist at this time.
There are people on this forum that are capable of testing it but it's not a simple or quick thing to do.
 

Dan_P

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Thank you for your reply.
The problem we have with the hobby is that so many people just don't understand why they are losing their seahorses when all their test kits show the water to be great. It's hard to understand that something other than what all those test kits are testing for is making their water quality bad for seahorses. I was probably a decade into the hobby before I realized it.
Greatly oversized skimmers are probably the first recommendations we advise on in the last decade now, and if you can't have that then use the GAC. With no test kit we can use like other test kits, it's still a problem as the DO can build up very slowly even over a year's time give or take before it becomes problematic, or it can happen within months. It all depends on things like stocking density, feeding protocols, husbandry, filtration equipment and frequency and volume of water changes.
As all systems are different so there is really no way for us to advise newcomers as to their likely success with their specific tank with what they have and do. If we had a test kit then they could see for themselves if their setup and protocols are sufficient.
While the Triton test does give a measure, it's too expensive to use as often as we would need it in the hobby, at least for most hobbyists.
I think I'm looking for the Holy Grail.
@taricha and I looked and see nothing on the horizon for a DOC test that is inexpensive AND safe for non-lab use. Saltwater testing is challenging because of the large amount chloride. Fluorescence intensity and UV absorbance could be helpful but they are expensive.

We should discuss this further because I want to measure DOC too.
 
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How about modifying a soil test kit? Apparently they measure organic matter, couldn’t we modify the test to measure the sand contents (organic nutrients seem to trap more easily on the sand bed) and compare it against the inorganic nutrients. In my head it makes sense not sure if it would be possible.

It could work as a indicator of how much organic nutrients are trapped in the sand bed before they become inorganic.
 
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I suspect the various salts in the water would complicate things immensely. However, I'm far from a chemist or scientist so any ideas that come up will have to be considered by better brains than mine, especially as I'll be 80 in a few months and have to deal with mild cognitive impairment.
 

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I can only see three issues with it, sodium chloride, ph is slightly different not sure if affecting the results and the biggest issue could be that those test are not what they claim to be and just a standard no3 test kit. Drying the sample could remove the sodium chloride issue if it were to change the results.
Everything else should be relatively similar with the exception that the results of the samples are not measurable in ppm. Soil and sea water have similar bacteria population and similar trace elements.
 
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rayjay

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My only thoughts on using a soil test kit if there is one for organics, is to test some dry soil, add saltwater sample and test again once the soil/water mix has dried and the difference would be the added soil dissolved organics. Not sure if results would be fine enough to give results needed in the seahorse hobby.
The more ideas we get though, the more likely it is to trigger something with someone knowledgeable on the topic.
 
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Since your first post, I've been searching for a soil test kit that determines organics and haven't been able to find one. Even some state soil testing doesn't give organic amounts for sample.
Have you a specific kit in mind when you suggested using a soil test kit for organics?
 

sixty_reefer

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I
Since your first post, I've been searching for a soil test kit that determines organics and haven't been able to find one. Even some state soil testing doesn't give organic amounts for sample.
Have you a specific kit in mind when you suggested using a soil test kit for organics?
Read it on here, wend trying to determine what the kits test for.

what do the nutrients levels tell you.

 

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rayjay

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A soil test will identify how much organic matter is present in your soil. Organic matter contains nitrogen and is, therefore, considered to have the potential to release nitrogen into the soil. Soil tests will incorporate the level of organic matter present in the soil into their score against nitrogen." However, it doesn't tell you how to make the comparison of nitrogen to organic carbon.
The video of nitrogen test is kind of useless IMO as saying high, low, intermediate or whatever it was, isn't going to give a factual number to correlated organics even if it IS possible.
Sure wish I was a chemist. Hopefully someone knowledgeable will be able to tell us if this is a direction that could lead to testing DO in marine tanks.
 

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I’m hopping that @Randy Holmes-Farley will step in at some point and tell us off :)

I’ve tried to download the safety data sheet for the the reagents to try and have a idea of what chemical is being used to dissolve the organic matter unsuccessfully.
Anecdotally if this where to work on saltwater it could tell us if our organics are low, medium or high giving us a idea if some actions would need to be taken in relation to the amount of potential pollutants in a system before they become pollutants.
 
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TheyGaveItToMe

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Fluorescence intensity and UV absorbance could be helpful but they are expensive.
I don't keep seahorse, but still find this interesting. Just out of curiosity is there a correlation between UV absorbance and Oxidation Reduction Potential (ORP)?
 

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Dissolved organics are a big problem in seahorse tanks. As the levels increase, so do nasty bacteria that cause the diseases.
The only dissolved organic test kits I can find are for dissolved organic carbon.
Would using a test like that be indicative of all the dissolve organics or is there dissolved organics NOT carbon that can be there in varying amounts compared to the dissolved carbon being tested?
Hope this question makes sense.
I think ORP is going to be the closet thing you are going to find. ORP can't tell you the amount of dissolved organics, but it can give you an estimate of their ratio to oxidizers. The "R" in ORP stands for reducers; with dissolved organics from fish food, metabolic waste products, and the breakdown of dead organisms being the primary source in our aquariums.
 
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Dan_P

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Dissolved organics are a big problem in seahorse tanks. As the levels increase, so do nasty bacteria that cause the diseases.
The only dissolved organic test kits I can find are for dissolved organic carbon.
Would using a test like that be indicative of all the dissolve organics or is there dissolved organics NOT carbon that can be there in varying amounts compared to the dissolved carbon being tested?
Hope this question makes sense.
@taricha, would chorine (bleach) consumption have a shot at indicating high v low DOC for the hobby? There is a Hanna Checker already for chlorine and the hobby already handles bleach.
 

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