how to nitrates and water testing
1) On how to test my water:
Someone said that test strips are worthless. Do I really need to use a kit with all the test tubes and mixing?
2) how patient do I have to be on my nitrates?
I have a 55 gallon tank that I combined my 30 and 25? gallon tanks into. It has been up for at least 10 days now.
I made the mistake of using my old water instead of filling with fresh water.
I have all of my previosuly used decor with bacteria colonies. I run both filters from my other 2 tanks- a penguin 200 filter and a topfin 40. I think I am guilty of having "old tank syndrome" on the 2 tanks I combined.
I keep the reccomended amt of aquarium salt in my water. I treat my tapwater. The waters about 80 degrees. I have just added a few plants to see if they help reduce the nitrates- hoping my flourescent lights are good enough for them.
I checked my nitrates with a strip and they were as high as the strip reads. I did 20 to 30 % water changes for 3 days and vaccumed my gravel.
I still have no change on my nitrates.
My ammonia and nitrite levels were ok according to the test strips.
2 of my swordtails, 1 ballon belly, and 1 lampeye killi and 1 blue ram have died. :-(
My remaining fish seem ok:
1 green spotted puffer
2 long finned rosy barbs
3 rainbow fish
4 ballon bellys
1 lampeye killi
4 neon tetras
3 purple tetras
1 blue german ram
1 red wag platy
Anything else I should do??
The reason test strips are inaccurate is, that as soon as they are exposed to air, humidity causes them to deteriate very quickly. They are the least reliable test system there is. I wouldn't bet my fishes' lives on them.
Regeant-based kits (the test tubes) are much more accurate, though the regeants have a limited shelf life. You should at least have pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate (usually all three in one kit). General hardness and Carbonate hardness tests can be usefull as well, especially if you keep fish which need particular water conditions, like soft water tetras and hard water African Cichlids.
Your puffer is perfectly capable of taking chunks out of tankmates. He may do it tomorrow, next week or next month, but he will do it. Puffers are best kept alone or with their own species.
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I'd definatly invest in a kit with reagent and test tubes. They're a little bit more trouble, but a lot more accurate.
As for the fish dying, do you have any symptoms? Any idea what caused them to die?
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A bad test strip kit will quite often either read completely opposite from reality - than can read absolutely nothing in a high concentration or "detect" things that aren't in the water at all.
Like Dave66 said as soon as you open the bottle they start losing their viability.
If you are losing fish I would take the test kits word for it though. Try another large water change and see if it helps. You can also test your tap water for nitrates JIC. It is rare - but some posters have reported nitrate coming right out of their taps.
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I would go so far as making daily 50% water changes until your nitrates come down. They will come down if you use this method, it's only a matter of time. After that I'd make at a minimum a weekly 30% change. Larger water changes, or 30% changes done more often would be better.
I'd also return the puffer to your local fish store. The store credit you get for such an expensive fish may well pay for your new test kit, and it's an incompatible fish for your set-up anyway.
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Well the swordtails are VERY sensative to water and easily can contract deseises (sp?) and well i have just had good luck with them. (like yesterday one gave birth). So yeah i would do like all of the above people said. lol
I had very bad luck with the test strips, so from that experience I highly and I do mean Highly recommend getting the liquid kits. I lost 3 platy's from my strips telling me my ammonia was close to none......well it was the exact opposite...it was practically off the charts. No matter how expensive they are, they are worth every penny when it comes to holding the lives of your fish in its "hands".
With that said, I agree with everyone else...your puffer is not a good tank mate and recommend taking it back before it hurts your other fish.
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Megan.... ....you pretty well just said it all. Good job. You are good at explaining things...thats why i gave you 2 thumbs up!!!!!
Vacuuming your tank and changing the water every day isn't speeding up the cycle either....but because you have fish you must stick to this routine in order to keep them alive. It will probably take a few more weeks.