test kit failure?

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test kit failure?

Hi All.
About five weeks ago, I moved my single goldfish from a ten gallon tank to a 29 gallon tank. It’s an Eclipse system with a bio wheel. Testing told me that both ammonia and nitrogen were at zero, so I felt safe to go and buy a second fish.
Within 24 hours, the new fish was acting stressed, hiding behind the filter system and tilted at a 45 degree angle. Tests still read perfect, but I changed about about 20% of the water to be safe. Next day, fish 2 was no better, and my first fish seemed a little agitated in his movements. I changed about another 30% of the water over a period of a number of hours.

Today things are much better. My original fish is behaving normally and the new guy is getting there.  I am going to just keep doing water changes every day. But this experience has me spooked. Both test kits (API brand) were purchased within the past six months from my local aquarium shop. Do these things sometimes just fail? It seems very clear to me that despite the readings, the water was not safe.


BTW, I removed the charcoal filter from the system a few days ago, as I remember reading here that these can sometimes seriously backfire.


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  1. Venus July 16, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    You had mentioned the fish was at a 45 degree angle? Maybe you mean the fish is tilting sideways? I appreciate your willingness to go to the extreme. As you obviously already know, excellent water makes the world of difference. Your fish appreciate it too

  2. Gweenie July 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Venus. Yes, I can and will get a test kit for PH , KH and GH. Will order online right away.
    I am very happy to know that there is a procedure that will let me know what the oxygen levels are.
    I can’t really say that I have noticed my first fish favoring any area of the tank. Maybe more bottom than top… he likes to cruise around there picking over the gravel.
    My second fish with the tilt doesn’t seem to have nose either up or down. I have been at work much of the day, so don’t know if things are improving.
    Yes, I use a water conditioner that removes chlorine and ammonia.
    I am not sure what floatie condition you refer to.
    Thanks so much. I will report back after I get the test kit and have a chance to use it.

  3. Venus July 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Well, it’s possible KH is dragging pH down,but there’s a way to find out

    Do this for me

    Test pH in tap water to compare to aquarium water. Is the tap water higher or the same? If higher, do the following

    Using a pitcher, push it deep into the aquarium water filling it. Bring it up and pour it back in. Repeat this action 10 to 15 times. Test pH. Is it higher than the 7

    If the number remains the same, we know oxygen levels are as good as they can be, but KH needs work. If the numbers jump higher, we know oxygen levels are low

  4. Gweenie July 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    It does have a hood, but I keep the back part uncovered for air flow.
    I did have a pump going in my smaller tank, but when I got this one and saw how much surface action tt creates, I felt like I could probably get away without one. . Water pours down from the top in two places, so there is pretty good movement. I vacuum from the bottom when I do my water changes. Do you think I still need a pump?

  5. Venus July 16, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Obviously mature enough at 2″. I’ve never been able to relate the 45 degree angle float to anything else, although, I should have asked if the nose was down or up? If impacted with eggs the nose is down

    A pH reading of 7. is extremely low. They say the comfort zone is 7. to 8. but 7 is too low for comfort. In order to fully understand pH, we must test KH first. KH (carbonate mineral) is a part of pH with oxygen being the other part. If we test KH, this gives us an idea of what the oxygen levels are in your fish house. You say your water is really hard, which indicated KH and GH are high. If this is the case, oxygen levels are low in the fish house water

    Is there any way I could convince you to pick up a KH, pH and GH test kit? These are the parameters that measure the value of water

    I think 20% is a safe amount to exchange daily. Are you using water treatment that eliminates chlorine?

    Are the floatie issues completely gone now? If not, is it possible to give us a video (utube is best)

    Also, your number one fish, where does it spend most of its time? Closer to the bottom or the top?

    It’s possible the issue is resolved, but no matter, let’s take a closer look at the quality of your water. Your fish are only as healthy as the water they live in

  6. Gweenie July 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Venus.The ammonia test is a strip. The other is nitrite 2, drops. I don’t have testers for the others, All I know is that our water here is pretty hard- it leaves deposits very readily. When I tested for PH years ago, it was 7. I don’t know whether the municipality keeps that steady…

    The new fish is under 3 inches. Both of them are about 2 inches, I would say.

    Would about a 20% a day water change be good? I SO want to gets things stable in there…!

  7. Venus July 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Forgot to address the charcoal backfire; good terminology. lol

    The industry has led us to believe we must filter our water, but have you ever wondered what we’re filtering? If your water is healthy, there’s nothing in it to remove. Free floating debris is the only reason to filter water, but charcoal or carbon doesn’t do that. The top loading filters being sold at pet shops as part of the aquarium set up have carbon filter pads included. We’re instructed to replace these pads every few weeks; how convenient for the industry. In the meantime, the filters slows and gets bogged down; they’re not designed to deal with waste

    Goldfish create a great deal of waste, and this is why the HOB, the canister or any other type of filtering system doesn’t work. If you’ve read around the site, I’m sure you’ve seen where I recommend pond pumps for all goldfish houses, big or small. They have sponges over the intake, that collect waste, and keep the water clear, and the pump as well

    The type of aquarium you have, does it have a hood? I’ll Google it, but it seems they’re open, and if this is the case, this is a step in the right direction, as every goldfish tank must be open so the surface is exposed to fresh air

    Let me know if you decide to make the switch or just include a pond pump in your set up, and I’ll guide you

  8. Venus July 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Gweenie, I love a good mystery. A few questions for you.

    What type of test kit are you using; drops or strips?

    You say you tested for ammonia and nitrogen; do you mean nitrites or nitrates or maybe both? You would want zero results for both ammonia and nitrites, but a low reading for nitrates; the third toxin to form in the cycle. This low reading 10 to 20 ppm indicates the cycle is in progress

    What size are these fish; new and old?

    What other parameters do you test? It’s true that in most cases of a fish acting off; the water quality is responsible, but there’s much more to water than ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. Does your test kit include KH, GH and pH? If not, I recommend picking up these testers. These parameters are best tested with drops, but strips work well for ammonia and nitrite if you don’t need complete accuracy, as any reading of these two toxins tell you the cycle is broken, and water treatment must be used. Strips are quite sensitive to them actually, so no matter what type of test you used, I would bet the ammonia and nitrite (if that’s what you tested for) is zero

    Fish poisoned by ammonia clamp their dorsal fins close to the body, and often sit and pout. Ammonia causes discomfort, burning the fish

    The 45 degree angle is a symptom of a female impacted with eggs. Their bottoms float a bit, due to the buoyancy of the eggs. If the fish is three inches or longer, this could be the case.

    Not to mention, being prey fish, some fish take a few to several days to feel comfortable in a new fish house, while some adjust immediately

    No matter, daily water changes never hurt if they’re not too large. If your cycle is in tact, you don’t want to risk a spike

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