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  1. #1

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    Default Careful when using API nitrite test during cycling


    7 Not allowed!
    I don't know if this is common knowledge, but I just learned this while cycling my QT.

    When you test for nitrites using the API test, the instructions say to wait 5 minutes before reading the result. A few days ago I was testing my QT for nitrites, and just as I had finished adding the reagent to the test tube and shaking for 5 seconds, my door bell rang. I quickly set the vial down, looked at my watch to note the time and went to answer the door. When 5 minutes had elapsed I came back and the vial was sky blue, suggesting no nitrites. The problem was that it was too soon for me to have zero nitrites -- I had just gotten my first zero ammonia reading.

    So, I decided to redo the test. This time, however, I stayed in the room the entire 5 minutes. I watched the vial turn purple at first, so I figured I had screwed up the first test... but a few minutes later the vial turned back to sky blue! So, at the 5 minute mark, the vial was sky blue, suggesting zero nitrites, which my gut told me could not be right.

    So, some googling later I learned that if the nitrite level in the water is above 5 ppm, the test will do exactly what I saw: turn purple at first, and then back to sky blue within the first 5 minutes. The higher the amount of nitrites, the faster the test will turn back to sky blue -- at 50 ppm, for instance, it can turn back to sky blue in about 2 minutes. API's answer is that the nitrite test is designed for "normal" aquarium conditions where nitrites will normally never exceed 5 ppm, and is not designed to measure the high nitrite levels you may encounter during fishless cycling.

    So, to make sure you have zero nitrites, it's not enough to check the color after 5 minutes: your vial has to stay sky blue the entire 5 minutes, starting when you add the reagent to the test tube. If it turns purple at all, even for a short bit, you have nitrites, even if the vial is sky blue at the 5 minute mark.

  2. #2

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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    Wow, that's not cool at all. Thanks for the tip, Gold. Would've never guessed.

  3. #3

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    Default


    4 Not allowed!
    Well, that almost defeats the purpose of the test, then (?)

    If you are to wait a full, exact 5 minutes before reading results, then whatever color it changes to in the meantime should be meaningless.
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  4. #4

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    Default


    3 Not allowed!
    Interesting. Anyway if you really wanted to know the nitrite concentration when it's off the scale, you could dilute your sample with distilled water until results are readable. Then multiply by (total volume of diluted sample)/(volume of sample before dilution).

  5. #5

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    Default


    3 Not allowed!
    that's very interesting. When I was doing a fishless cycle a few years ago, my nitrites got sky-high before they finally started dropping. 50ppm+. I did not observe the phenomenon that you are describing. I wonder if they've changed the fomula of their testing chemicals since then.
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  6. #6

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    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Brhino View Post
    that's very interesting. When I was doing a fishless cycle a few years ago, my nitrites got sky-high before they finally started dropping. 50ppm+. I did not observe the phenomenon that you are describing. I wonder if they've changed the fomula of their testing chemicals since then.
    What test did you use to get a reading of 50ppm on nitrites?

  7. #7

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Brhino View Post
    I wonder if they've changed the fomula of their testing chemicals since then.
    Good call, that would explain it....maybe
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  8. #8

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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Slaphppy7 View Post
    Well, that almost defeats the purpose of the test, then (?)

    If you are to wait a full, exact 5 minutes before reading results, then whatever color it changes to in the meantime should be meaningless.
    Within the first minute it will no longer be a sky blue, possibly a dark blue close to 0.25ppm. In 1-2 minutes, it will be going to a light purple. This is enough to tell you that there are nitrites present during a fishless cycle. For only cycling purposes, you don't have to wait for 5 minutes.
    Last edited by Rocksor; 10-01-2015 at 04:48 PM.

  9. #9

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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Slaphppy7 View Post
    Good call, that would explain it....maybe
    Nah, here's from 2009 showing the same purple to blue phenomenon.



    http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/v...c.php?t=202860

  10. #10

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    3 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocksor View Post
    What test did you use to get a reading of 50ppm on nitrites?
    I diluted samples from my tank with tap water until I was able to get a measurable reading, and then multiplied that reading by the dilution factor. Same thing BIO-Linist is suggesting. I just checked my notes from back then. It wasn't 50ppm, it was 20+ppm. Specifically:

    I had been getting nothing but the deepest purple (5+ppm) nitrite for several days.
    I took a sample of 50% tank water, 50% dechlorinated tap water. Still 5+ppm meaning 10+ppm in the tank.
    I took a sample of 25% tank water, 75% dechlorinated tap water. Still 5+ppm meaning 20+ppm in the tank.



    This was done in 2011. I can't say exactly how long these samples sat before the photo was taken, but I've always treated "wait five minutes" as "wait a minimum of five minutes" so I'm sure it would have been longer than that. 5 minutes minimum to wait, then time to set them up for a photo, take picture, etc, and then however long it sat around before I got around to rinsing out the vials.

    I'm not trying to be contrary or anything. Just wondering why it worked out differently for me.
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