The greatest roadblock to understanding microbiology in reefing is titration testing

brandon429

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ammonia and nitrite misreads have caused the greatest amount of completely wrong inference and takeaway about how bacteria work for our hobby over any other hardware ever introduced. It’s bad level, I’m talking the hobby is working in retrograde regarding understanding of what bacteria do vs progressing 2019+ and beyond like other areas in our hobby

The era of digital testing will undo the complete mythinformation but since there’s 20 yrs of it online, w take a while.


It’s takes a virtual crowbar to dislodge the test kit out of someone’s hand and tell them their tank is cycled, we have issues team and it’s with titration.

Before we begin proofing

Does anyone doubt I have forty ammonia misread links handy, twenty nitrate misreads (where other testers show vast difference etc) and fourteen thousand nitrite - after - Prime misreads. Exactly that many. This means the tests aren’t reliable and when someone posts a reading online, we shouldn’t just jump and assume it’s correct. I think posted titration readings are correct 30% of the time and they will hardly ever agree with any other brands test read regardless of param.


Also

Aquarists are at total war with google cycling charts regarding timing and linking of ammonia to nitrite, requisitely

Why doesn’t google scholar search return show all varying charts to suit the posts from reef forums? Because cycling doesn’t vary much. A million charts show ammonia and nitrite complying by day 30


Have bacteria broken aeons of adaptation only recently, discovered by us, or are titration test kits the biggest game of horseshoes going on this side of the Milky Way? Was bottle bacteria necessary when they wrote the cycling charts in the 50’s? Go look in the new tank forum right now at the number of ammonia misread threads we are umpiring. Step up and post if feelin’ froggy.

What bacteria do in an aquarium is predictable without test kits, every time, 100% of the time. Something needs to usher in a change to stop the hesitations and put confidence back into biology. We do that by making work example threads. It would be neat if someone did an updated article on today’s titration comparisons/ multiple people sent a calibrated unmarked sample/take and log measures/ everyone posts back. If that’s done, especially with a verified .25 ammonia sample and a zero ammonia sample, I predict results will back up the horseshoe theory. Send them some sealed nitrite samples to work with, not any two people will get the same measure even on the same test kit I’ll bet, nitrite is the absolute worst of all due to number of confounds that skew the test. I can’t stand nitrite testing, why not just base the cycle on argon testing.


I know six people who can command an api master kit in ways I’d trust 100% but that’s the problem. It’s not just api. We collect misreads across tester brands and for sure there are many who can use api fine, I’m only remarking on what’s going on in the new reefers forum on every board right at this second check any board, an ammonia misread is happening making someone think a cycled tank isn’t cycled. For twenty years twenty times a day

B
 
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Dr. Dendrostein

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OTE="brandon429, post: 6222937, member: 48701"]ammonia and nitrite misreads have caused the greatest amount of completely wrong inference and takeaway about how bacteria work for our hobby over any other hardware ever introduced. It’s bad level, I’m talking the hobby is working in retrograde regarding understanding of what bacteria do vs progressing 2019+ and beyond like other areas in our hobby

The era of digital testing will undo the complete mythinformation but since there’s 20 yrs of it online, w take a while.


Since running out of tests kits about 6 months ago and I can go by more but I don't. I look at my corals and they're pretty much like the canary in the coal mine. So far so good doing it that way


It’s takes a virtual crowbar to dislodge the test kit out of someone’s hand and tell them their tank is cycled, we have issues team and it’s with titration.

Before we begin proofing

Does anyone doubt I have forty ammonia misread links handy, twenty nitrate misreads (where other testers show vast difference etc) and fourteen thousand nitrite - after - Prime misreads. Exactly that many. This means the tests aren’t reliable and when someone posts a reading online, we shouldn’t just jump and assume it’s correct. I think posted titration readings are correct 30% of the time and they will hardly ever agree with any other brands test read regardless of param.


Also

Aquarists are at total war with google cycling charts regarding timing and linking of ammonia to nitrite, requisitely

Why doesn’t google scholar search return show all varying charts to suit the posts from reef forums? Because cycling doesn’t vary much. A million charts show ammonia and nitrite complying by day 30


Have bacteria broken aeons of adaptation only recently, discovered by us, or are titration test kits the biggest game of horseshoes going on this side of the Milky Way? Was bottle bacteria necessary when they wrote the cycling charts in the 50’s? Go look in the new tank forum right now at the number of ammonia misread threads we are umpiring. Step up and post if feelin’ froggy.

What bacteria do is in an aquarium predictable without test kits, every time, 100% of the time. Something needs to usher in a change to stop the hesitations and put confidence back into biology. We do that by making work example threads. It would be neat if someone did an updated article on today’s titration comparisons/ multiple people sent a calibrated unmarked sample/take and log measures/ everyone posts back. If that’s done, especially with a verified .25 ammonia sample and a zero ammonia sample, I predict results will back up the horseshoe theory. Send them some sealed nitrite samples to work with, not any two people will get the same measure even on the same test kit I’ll bet, nitrite is the absolute worst of all due to number of confounds that skew the test. I can’t stand nitrite testing, why not just base the cycle on argon testing.


I know six people who can command an api master kit in ways I’d trust 100% but that’s the problem.

B[/QUOTE]
 
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brandon429

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I don’t test for ions like ca and alk or pH since water changes run pico reefs just fine. But wouldn’t you large tankers who do test agree that in your decades of owning titration kits, even online reported numbers for the top name brands are just a total ballpark? What if someone fails to:
-Shake the reagent
-Align in the correct kitchen lighting
-Verify expiry
-use sw vs fw comparison card
- see the same subjective light hue I see
-Fill the 5 ml mark line consistently
-Wait the required render time, too short or too long/9 mins for some reagents/ reading is off
-Take into consideration cross reporting and or water conditioner confounding
- ten other steps that are never verified on “why is my alk running so low” posts


Some of you own seneye now, and other digital testers for ions/Hanna etc

As you transitioned into digital testing how was it lining up with your last titration ones, were the two pretty congruent?
 
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brandon429

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I’m challenging test based cycling to a science fight after school. No more bullying bacteria, someone is standing up for them.

no more masking what they do so efficiently with myriad misreads, causing all new students to instantly doubt what bacteria are known to do so well. I’ve been watching you mislead the schoolyard a long time now, hence the title of the thread.


The schoolyard gang of let’s guesstimate ammonia, nitrite and nitrate measures to call a cycle closed just got ushered out by the left ear...by no-test biological cue cycling. Talk about reliable. The basic premise of biological cue cycling is if you see coralline, real coralline, then substrate X is cycled. A living fanworm projecting its little red crown on the rock your brought home took months longer to adhere to that rock than nitrifers did, and they arrived first.
Those details are what cycling articles should lead with

I’m not saying that covers every detail for cycling

I’m saying it’s been left out of our training materials which have instead opted for ammonia/trite/trate testing which we all know to be fully, completely, out of line within the hobby.


Why don’t cycling articles lead with that info

Because they recirculate dated info, and the writers of cycling articles do not participate in ‘why has my ammonia read .5 for five years?’ threads, which comes from a real example link.

There are certain biomarkers that are 100% associated with nitrification ability of the substrate they share, and we already have known submersion times as well from a million search returns from books that preceded the internet.

The truth is, cycling is like solving for a math equation it isn’t dependent on what a test kit says.


If you know time submerged, you can call the rest without a test if I’m reading the million search returns correctly and if the constant flow of work thread examples shows a pattern. nitrite can be solved by knowing time submerged and ammonia, for example, based on cycling charts the two NEVER uncouple after day 30

Just because we’ve been told to dose much more raw liquid ammonia than a real running bioload presents and mix up the cycle water like a sewage plant doesn’t mean cycling varies...it means we need new cycling articles that show consistent ways to set up new reef tanks. Currently, what we get told to do is base your whole cycle on a wastewater sample using testing that all reefers agree in a poll varies massively. This isn’t acceptable any longer.


We do not need titration testing to cycle an aquarium, ever. There are better ways
 
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Good write up. I think this will be a good discussion. Like you mentioned so many kits and variables how do u know what to believe. We were just recently trying to determine which thermometer was the most accurate. And that’s just a thermometer.

I think more experienced (aka old:)) can get away with not testing. Like jomama- love that- mentioned, eventually looking at your tank will tell you what is needed. I have salifert kits in my closet expired 2017.

That said, kits are important in the begging phase. Until a tank reaches a point it becomes stable on its own, without the kits you cannot tell where it is and what is needed. My thought the test kits are not meant to show a reading to be accurate like Pi, 8.26578. But it gives an idea. And some are more accurate than others, but user error could reduce the most accurate to a estimate

The thing that concerns me is when newer hobby people test. They see alk at 8.3 and worry it should be 8.4. Hence the run to the cabinet to dose alk only to overshoot the target or make to large of a change too fast.

Anyway, thanks again Brandon, regardless of agree or not your write ups always get me thinking.
 

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Operator error doesnt stop at testing either. It extends into disease control as well.
 

Mastiffsrule

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I’m challenging test based cycling to a science fight after school. No more bullying bacteria, someone is standing up for them

no more masking what they do so efficiently.
The schoolyard gang of guesstimate ammonia, nitrite and nitrate measures to call a cycle closed just got ushered out by the left ear, by no-test biological cue cycling.
772ABB83-26B5-48B3-930D-1CEC340BEEDD.gif
 
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brandon429

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a neat fact that neutralizes the majority of online posted titration ammonia reads:

There is no mechanism in reefing where only a majority of a given bioload/ammonia sample is oxidized, whether by bacteria on surfaces or bacteria in solution (that you dosed from bottle bac) while a fractional portion remains as a small, consistent incremental reading each day (the classic .25)

No mechanism exists for that, it completely disregards the role of surface area in nitrification. You either have enough active SA to reduce a sample or you don’t, the concept of the stalled or partial cycle is a misnomer and it’s sole origin is the .25 reading taken at face value, regardless of context

now we have some Seneye umpires who can agree or disagree with that claim already posted a decade before digital ammonia measuring. No normal-running reef tank without losses inside causing rot permits free ammonia in the tenths ppm, our tanks are massive ammonia eating biomachines...
 
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brandon429

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Cory

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What is the problem you are seeing exactly? Is it that ammonia test kits are giving false readings? And that thats a problem to us understanding bacteria. Correct?
 
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brandon429

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we should go off examples that way focus remains pretty tight but I would say the well-known nature of the .25 sustained API reading gets the ball rolling. its now pretty much expected from the masses that titration will read ammonia when there is none, yet in the application threads we see the tide of posters supporting test readings after all these years.


Check out that linked example thread and see what you think about where its being steered. see if you think a trailing end bit of ammonia is present each day.

there isn't a mechanism in reefing for that to occur, only titration made it seem so. One would have to administer, and sustain, and precisely test and react using digitial seneye gear, the exacting doses needed of antibiotic meds so that a massive field of nitrifiers is truly partially killed-- to be unable to keep up with a normal fish bioload as this tank already does.

People who work with bacteria for a living know how tough they are, especially when water is around, they're skeptical of any claim where a person walks up to inoculated water, says "ill withhold fish food from you today" and thinks he will starve that biofilter bac to sterility.



We're about to call no ammonia not even using a test kit... that's debatable to many but to me its case closed.

another common post we see in cycling threads is the use of Prime in water prep, and then posts about how the readings are way off/why did it stall...a stall always relates to a deficiency in what bacteria do, it implies that humans have more control over hydrated bac than they do.

I think the grand takeaway is that cycling misnomers have caused people to be so fearful of tank access, at the risk of upsetting delicate bac (which aren't delicate, they're first to come and always always last to go no matter what we do to a reef) that any slew of available hitchhikers takes their whole tank over as they sit and watch, frozen from inaction at the fear of making the .25 turn into a

.5
 
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saltyhog

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I don't know of any ammonia or nitrate tests that are titration tests. All the ones I know of are color comparisons and yes they are "ball park" at best.

True titration tests for analysis are the back bone of analytical chemistry and are pretty darn accurate as a whole. The hobby kits aren't as accurate as how it's done in a lab but it's far better than the color comparison test kits.
 

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I don’t see any issues with testing during cycling as long as people are patient and don’t tinker with the process too much. In a QT tank it’s an invaluable and must have tool.

Overall it’s a pretty good and accurate indicator of a cycle. No high ammonia and presence of nitrates indicates the cycle is running but it may not be complete or bacteria colonization is too low to support the dosed ammonia (which may be a somewhat tentative proxy for bioload). Testing errors are possibly but at worst may lead a person to do a water change or dose prime or bacteria, both by far better options than adding a fish to get ammonia poisoning.

It’s a bit too broad to say that an API test kit will give outright wrong results. It’s much more likely that the test colors are difficult to read or the resolution is too high but when I compare my DT and QTs, I don’t get “false positives” on my DT...

Also, not testing (at least occasionally) for alk in an sps tank will prove to be a costly mistake over time. This applies even to many mature and fine tuned systems running calcium reactors. Nobody does 100% water changes on a 200gal tank...
 
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brandon429

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what about full running reefs that wont produce nitrate, even with stump remover

that's why we don't factor nitrate readings as signs of bac in my cycling threads, we class the reduction of ammonia as such. Nitrate tuning is for algae tuning and coral color tuning, its independent in a cycle since mechanisms exist to denitrify it haphazardly, and mechanisms clearly exist to not test for it accurately.

**all cycling threads I ever read said you had to test for nitrite and nitrate, they never addressed the massive test variation, how misreading aquariums are still going to cycle by the dates the accurately-tested ones will show, and every cycling thread Ive ever read excludes ways to use science to assess the cycle even without knowing those two.

I haven't even read a cycling article in reefing yet that says live rock shows up with bacteria already loaded on it, you don't have to purchase more.

nitrate can be in your tank and you not measuring it due to the threads we have that show 50 ppm ranging between top nitrate testers. however as a rule of microbiology, any hydrated surface not treated with antibiotics will follow the pathway google charts (compiled from fifty years microbiology book entries) show for cycling.

however a bunch of reefers want to test in the interim doesn't change that course, how we measure along the way was all messy.

and people not filling the 5 ml line consistently.

and some didn't shake the reagent.

and others didn't wait nine minutes exactly, before taking the reading and posting it.

*salty I hear you above on the clarification / not a chemist/ that's good input for those who are watching. agreed the point is the subjectivity, the adulterants that alter testing which are not on the label, those are the challenges that keep repeating.

Every google cycling chart has the same dates. that's amazing when there's no variance in multi pages of return, that pattern has implications. what if the aquarists have it all wrong, not the litany of prior sources from the 50s

to me this is a big deal that the hobby promotes such info that conflicts with science at the industry or hospital/lab level...that we control hydrated bac through our offerings, and withholdings, as easy.

I remember having to walk through quat ammonia so strong you better not inhale lol, and still coming out with listeria stuck to my soles. what it takes to unseat bacteria literally injected into a tank is beyond the scope of anyone's haphazard cycle attempt.

if you wet it, its going to cycle and do what those charts show, depending on how one arranges the test.
 
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EmdeReef

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what about full running reefs that wont produce nitrate, even with stump remover

that's why we don't factor nitrate readings as signs of bac in my cycling threads, we class the reduction of ammonia as such. Nitrate tuning is for algae tuning and coral color tuning, its independent in a cycle since mechanisms exist to denitrify it haphazardly, and mechanisms clearly exist to not test for it accurately.

**all cycling threads I ever read said you had to test for nitrite and nitrate, they never addressed the massive test variation, how misreading aquariums are still going to cycle by the dates the accurately-tested ones will show, and every cycling thread Ive ever read excludes ways to use science to assess the cycle even without knowing those two.

I haven't even read a cycling article in reefing yet that says live rock shows up with bacteria already loaded on it, you don't have to purchase more.

nitrate can be in your tank and you not measuring it due to the threads we have that show 50 ppm ranging between top nitrate testers. however as a rule of microbiology, any hydrated surface not treated with antibiotics will follow the pathway google charts (compiled from fifty years microbiology book entries) show for cycling.

however a bunch of reefers want to test in the interim doesn't change that course, how we measure along the way was all messy.

and people not filling the 5 ml line consistently.

and some didn't shake the reagent.

and others didn't wait nine minutes exactly, before taking the reading and posting it.

*salty I hear you above on the clarification / not a chemist/ that's good input for those who are watching. agreed the point is the subjectivity, the adulterants that alter testing which are not on the label, those are the challenges that keep repeating.

Every google cycling chart has the same dates. that's amazing when there's no variance in multi pages of return, that pattern has implications. what if the aquarists have it all wrong, not the litany of prior sources from the 50s

to me this is a big deal that the hobby promotes such info that conflicts with science at the industry or hospital/lab level...that we control hydrated bac through our offerings, and withholdings, as easy.

I remember having to walk through quat ammonia so strong you better not inhale lol, and still coming out with listeria stuck to my soles. what it takes to unseat bacteria literally injected into a tank is beyond the scope of anyone's haphazard cycle attempt.

if you wet it, its going to cycle and do what those charts show.

You are ignoring very basic concepts of the nitrogen cycle, I’d encourage getting a chemistry or biology textbook. Undetectable nitrates do not equal no cycle...in fact may mean quite the opposite.

It’s absolutely not true that every body of water will follow the same timeline in nitrogen cycle. Even within the same body of water, nitrification can occur at a different pace due to various factors. This would likely apply to our tanks, there are zones which are probably not as colonized by the nitrogen fixing bacteria...

Nobody says you have to do anything but instead of relying on a chart which is likely built on observed averages you COULD test to make sure. We constantly improve on nature and one improvement is bacteria in a bottle which can speed up the cycle. So yes you may actually want to test if dosing bacteria as it could starve.

With respect, this thread appears to be structured as a solution in search of a problem. I still struggle to understand what’s the issue with testing vs. waiting and moreover how can you be so certain about using averaged charts, which is not something any scientist would do?!
 
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brandon429

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Please show us in those textbooks you mentioned where it says they vary, cycle param timelines

undetectable nitrates can still mean cycled, test accuracy varies for nitrate and at other times denitrification may be at play or uptake by other organisms like algae.

anyone typing against the grain about unreliable testing should want the counterpoints/ certainly don't want to exclude portions of the accepted nitrogen cycle.

I believe nitrate is being produced incrementally for each unit of ammonia oxidized. What's doubted is 20 people's ability to test and report back accurately that nitrate, because as stated above I have fifty ppm range off same sample test comparison threads, and because of denitrification variables that occur time to time etc

Why aren't you telling me about those variables to expect in cycling, things to expect


People who manage cycling threads pick up on misread tendencies and relay that consistently. They play up the reliability and timing of what bacteria do, over what the test kits show, because cycling threads show patterns in interesting ways


consider this:

going off those recurring pattern charts on cycle completion, ammonia complies by day 30-40 along with nitrite, across charts, right? Then you can solve for nitrite by simply knowing time+ammonia variables. We didn't actually -require- nitrite testing as stated, nor the nitrate testing either. We only need to know the time variable per the charts...the other three have repeating trajectory, map to map.
Let the record show no cycling chart ever allows ammonia to hover for days and months at 'some' after about day 20

The writers of the cycling charts didn't ask what brand of bottle bac was used, why is that? It's requisite diagnostic info for most, in today's stalled cycle threads
IMG_1801.GIF



https://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm

That link specifically calculates ppm ammonia in an aquarium knowing gallons and %solution



=We can cycle a dry substrate system without a single test if you have that chart, and a known submersion time...because the upper limits of lethal ammonia are accurately set by that volume math link. testless cycling has merit, a merit of total compliance we can test for, and report back here any future noncompliant tanks posted on any web board.


am not a reef anarchist-->just refocusing on the basics which most cycle threads seem to not adhere to, but they all do. I'll link more work, places where test kits do not line up with biology and we can make calls off the examples


Seneye umpires welcome to chime in any ole time...have you ever seen ammonia hover in the tenths daily after more than thirty days in any reef using live sand and rock? that's a universal no.


Nature even has us covered on the chart above if you get the dreaded, most feared happening ever, among cyclers of lore: the dead bottle of bottle bac. Fed ex guy left it in the sun, it died, you dosed it not knowing, along with ammonia, waited 30 days, and are getting the .25 and we know for sure this is the cause

:)

By waiting 30-40 days per the chart, and dosing ammonia at the start, simple contamination along the way seeded your system with sixty bucks worth of fritz, free. You are still cycled at day 30, doubly so if using a seneye monitor for ammonia, and your colorimetric test caused doubt where it was unwarranted.
 
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ReefOn55thDubai

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Why use bacteria at all if you plan on waiting 30 days anyways?

I’m on my 8th aquarium setup, and the last 4 have all been quick started without issues.

This newest one has been Seneye monitored from the second it got wet, using the bacteria starters I had the ammonia drop to below 20 ppb - not 20 ppm - 1000 times less within 24 hrs. API test kits agreed those results.
Nitrite undetectable after day 1.

People talk about live rock as the go to thing, but today’s ceramic media has more surface area by a multiple of 10 to 1000.

Start up for me was 8 Maxspect ceramic tiles, and 4 kilos of the same companies ceramic balls. Bacteria starter from Seachem and Fritz. That easily gives you surface area exceeding any bare bottom aquarium with hundreds of kilo live rock.

What is live rock even? Most places real ocean rock is illegal and carries a ton of unwanted critters.
Today a lot of live rock sold at your LFS is man-made cement rock that has been cured and cycled in the sump of their system.
Some LFS don’t have room for decent quarantines and even run medicines in their system.
How live is that rock and does it have copper in it now?

Personally I prefer dry rock/sand and ceramic media with bacteria starter.
 

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