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Post  Akasha Mon 22 Sep 2014, 16:22

After years of using the API masterkit I thought I'd try something new. I'd heard good things about the JBL test kit and seen as both my external filters running on my Rio 240 are by JBL I knew the brand was a good one. I thought I'd risk paying a bit more and try their water test kit.
The kit arrived this morning and so after reading some of the bumf I thought I'd better try it out and get the know it.

According to my API test kit my Ph is 6, ammonia 0, nitrite 0 and my nitrate around 20. There's been much talk (on other fish forums) of the nitrate test being unreliable so I try not to take much stock in that reading.

So I set to work testing both tanks with the JBL kit and according to that my Ph is between 5.5 and 6 on both tanks. There's no ammonia in either, the Nitrates are 40 though and the nitrite test had a tinge of pink to it pale ... yep the smilie says it all! I started to worry.

Then once I'd allowed some breathing time I set to thinking ... my 240 had a water change of 20% a week ago and it's crambed with plants and the other tank with my breeding pair of angels in has only been running less than 2 weeks! How the heck can they both have a reading of 40 for Nitrate!

As for the Nitrite reading having a tinge of pink ... well I can't work that out but both tanks tested the same. The 240 has been running for a little over a year but the filters were moved from my old Rio 180 that had also run for a year before that so they are both well established filters. And the other tank ... well there's only a pair of angels in there (and a load of eggs but they arn't even hatched yet so no bio-load coming from them) and I'm not over feeding them ... hmm scratch

So I got out my API kit and retested for Nitrite on both tanks ... result? zero scratch

So, now I'm wondering if it's £40 well spent or an expensive stress out session! Perhaps I should have stuck with API or even tried Tetra ...
Has anyone else got the JBL kit? How do you find it if you have? Am I just in need of a learning curve and reading the results wrong? OR should I have tried something else? lol!

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Post  bridgegirl99 Mon 22 Sep 2014, 17:41

My tap water has a Nitrate reading of 40


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Post  Akasha Mon 22 Sep 2014, 17:54

wow, that's high! come to think of it, I've never actually tested my tap water for nitrate ... perhaps I should scratch

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Post  Pterophyllum Mon 22 Sep 2014, 20:47

The legal limit for tap water is 50ppm Nitrate.
Personally I think that people worry unduly about nitrate. I know many state that the maximum safe level is 20ppm, but I'd be very interest to know the scientific basis for that claim....

I know the LD50 dose (the level that will kill 50% of fish exposed to it in 24 hours) for Trout is in the region of 10,000ppm. Admittedly we want to keep fish healthy for the long term, not just for a week or so, but my personal experience is that any level below about 100ppm is unlikely to cause harm to all but the most sensitive of species.

I suspect this idea of 20ppm comes from a book written about 40 years ago on keeping corals by a chap called Steven Spotte. In it he suggested keeping nitrate levels below 20ppm nitrate nitrogen This very influential book was copied & quoted from by various authors and somewhere along the way the "nitrate nitrogen" part got lost, and the 20ppm figure seems to have entered fish keeping mythology.

The key point here, if I were to tell you that I was driving along at 50, that information is useless, unless I make clear the units I'm using, 50 miles per hour, or 50 kilometers an hour, or 50 metres per second. 20 ppm nitrate nitrogen is equal to roughly 90ppm total nitrate, which is what most tests, such as the API & I suspect JBL test kits are calibrated in.

Personally I don't like API tests, I tend to use Tetra kits, but maybe that's simply because those are the ones I grew up using. For nitrate I use the Dennerle dip test, this covers, IMO, a more useful range, from 0 - 500ppm. Over the years I've seen lots of tanks, with seemingly healthy fish, where the readings are off the scale. Nitrates this high usually result from a long term failure to do regular water changes, when problems are encountered in these cases, it usually as a result of a pH crash rather than the nitrates. Although I should emphasise that levels this high can cause long term harm, will probably kill newly introduced fish, and will usually result in excessive algae growth.

With regard to the nitrite, how long after feeding did you test? it's quite common to see a slight spike an hour or so after feeding, even in well managed, mature aquariums.

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Post  Akasha Mon 22 Sep 2014, 21:00

hi and thanks for the explaination ... I'll not worry about Nitrates again!

As for the Nitrite, I fed them about 9am and tested about 1pm ish so it shouldn't be down to feeding. To be honest I'm almost certain now that I need to get used to the test and different colouration. I've been using API for about 4 years so I'm confident with it. The JBL is different, the API Nitrite turns purple if there's any present but stays pale blue if it's zero, where-as the JBL turns bright shocking pink if there's nitrite there but there's a sliding scale of a creamy colour through to this shocking pink. The result on my test just had a slight tinge of pink and according to the sliding scale it was still in the 'ok' section. I guess you'd need to see the test to understand what I'm trying to explain.

I guess I need some reassurance from someone with a JBL kit that the reading I got was fine. When I retested with the API it came out as zero so I'm probably worrying for no reason

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