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Vernon Saunders

Funky test results

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I have an issue that I cant seem to explain. I did my Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate tests this week and the results of the Nitrate seem to not coincide with the results of the other 2. I use the Red Sea pro test kits and the ammonia is reading .2 and the nitrite is reading 0 while nitrate is reading 50 (image included). Phosphate is reading ~1. Anyone able to explain these funky results?

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What are the readings from last week and the week before?  If this system is new I would expect nitrates to climb significantly as ammonia is being broken down.  Depending on what animals and how much algae you have ammonia and nitrate may move inverse of each other or both drop together or, and this is the least favorable possibility both increase together.  (FYI, nitrite is quickly converted to ammonia or nitrate and I stopped testing for it 15 years ago.)

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Not an expert by any means but here is a thought. Cycle = Ammonia to Nitrite to Nitrate. Perhaps you had a sudden up tick in Ammonia and now that is all converted to Nitrate. ???

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My readings were the same for ammonia and nitrite, nitrate was at 2. The only thing I have added to the tank in the past 3 weeks has been some chaeto and a urchin. As of right now nothing in the tank seem to be adversely affected by the high nitrate.  

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There is a lot of confusion about nitrate but depending on what animals you have 50 PPM probably isn't much of an issue for right now.  (I would suggest more frequent/larger water changes and adding easy animals like polyps to start feeding on the ammonia and nitrate to lower it.)   The confusion in part I think is because we can't test for organic nitrogen and have focused on just the inorganic forms we have tests for.  We do now have solid research done with corals maintained in a LNS system (Low Nutrient System) for years that shows the ratio of nitrogen to phosphate can be a problem.    I highly recommend getting Forest Rohwer's "Coral Reefs  in the Microbial Seas", it is an excellent and very redable introduction to more recent research on how reefs work and the antagonistic relationship between corals and macro/folacios algae and it has an excellent list of references if yo want to dig into it deeper.  Here's two videos other aquarists have found and posted you may find informative and the links to the research I mentioned:

http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Nutrient enrichment.pdf

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2015.00103/full

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X17301601?via%3Dihub

 

 

(As a final note you will often find "gurus" saying orthophosphate, aka P04 & inorganic phosphorus,  on reefs is .003 mg/l.  As near as I can tell it's based on research done in the early 1940s but haven't been able to find the research explicitly saying so.  Research done in the 1990s found the average PO4 on reefs is .13 mg/l.  Additionally most of the oceans are much higher, it's just around reefs it drops to low levels and upwelling can espose reefs to as much as 2.0 mg/l.)

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I will check out the video and article, always up for a good read. I decided to have my nitrate test done by someone else with their test... it came out at 2ppm at the same time mine came out at 50ppm. We tested his water with our kits and his test was 0ppm and mine was 50ppm. I'm now thinking its my test kit, honestly hadn't thought it might have been the kit till my friend suggested it. Honestly glad that the tank is ok and nothing funky going on. I do appreciate the help.

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I've noticed nitrate test kits in my work van start to go bad and read high after a while being constantly exposed to heat and cold.  I now replace them on a regular basis (6-8 months) and keep a nitrate standard on hand to verify them if needed.    But sounds like your's went bad in just a week.  Any idea why?  Was it maybe set on top or under a light where it could have been heated up?

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It was in under a tank stand, however we lost power and it got extremely cold for a couple of days (when it was in the 20s) I had battery back up for the tank in terms of filter and heat but nothing for the rest of the house except a small propane heater so that might have done it. 

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