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Disappearing Nitrites and still no Nitrates, please help!

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Disappearing Nitrites and still no Nitrates, please help!
Old 04-19-2011, 03:47 PM   #11
 
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I can't say for sure that is what is happening, but that is what it sounds like, and yes, it is possible, I have seen it happen before and the info provided thus far is pointing in that direction.

I am still concerned here about the dropping pH. One of the few things that drops pH in situations like this is nitrate, and that is reading zero on the test kit.... which means either something is really "off" in the water chemistry regarding ammonia and nitrite, or there is something off with the test kit showing no nitrate. It is possible to get a bad test kit... and they do have limited shelf life, although API is one that has a longer shelf life than most. I have an API master kit here that is at least 4 yrs old and I am still getting accurate readings from it when I compare it to the new one.

There is still a piece missing to this puzzle, we just need to figure out what it is so we can help fix it.

Another concern I have is the use of the Prime. I know the company says it can't be overdosed, and I do know a few people who use it excessively without problems, but, with that said, I also know that overdosing any water conditioner opens the risk of it dropping the pH and making a mess of the water chemistry. This is one of those situations where we just have to keep checking everything, asking questions, and working on process of elimination until we find it.
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:55 AM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
I can't say for sure that is what is happening, but that is what it sounds like, and yes, it is possible, I have seen it happen before and the info provided thus far is pointing in that direction.

I am still concerned here about the dropping pH. One of the few things that drops pH in situations like this is nitrate, and that is reading zero on the test kit.... which means either something is really "off" in the water chemistry regarding ammonia and nitrite, or there is something off with the test kit showing no nitrate. It is possible to get a bad test kit... and they do have limited shelf life, although API is one that has a longer shelf life than most. I have an API master kit here that is at least 4 yrs old and I am still getting accurate readings from it when I compare it to the new one.

There is still a piece missing to this puzzle, we just need to figure out what it is so we can help fix it.

Another concern I have is the use of the Prime. I know the company says it can't be overdosed, and I do know a few people who use it excessively without problems, but, with that said, I also know that overdosing any water conditioner opens the risk of it dropping the pH and making a mess of the water chemistry. This is one of those situations where we just have to keep checking everything, asking questions, and working on process of elimination until we find it.
Could it be that I have soft water? Byron helped me out a lot with learning about that and has told me his tank is similar with trending towards low pH. I used to use Prime every day when the pH was 7.0 but since learning most ammonia is automatically converted to less toxic ammonium I have stopped using it and just use it for water changes. The fish are still doing great. I don't know what's going on and I joke a lot about draining the tank and getting a hamster But I will attempt the planted tank and just hope they don't die like they have in the past. I really dont' think the API kit is old because I bought it in a busy Petco. Oh and our tap water has ammonia in it like almost 1.0. I don't know if that says anything! And thank you for your info and help.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:56 PM   #13
 
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I will just toss out some thoughts on this.

The pH will lower over time in very soft water, but it will not fluctuate other than with a water change, and that will be minimal. These wild fluctuations are likely connected to the "chemicals" entering the tank, like Dawn said.

You should find out the hardness of your water; every aquarist should know what comes out of the tap. You needn't buy a test kit, you may only use it once. Contact your water supply people, many have websites with the water analysis posted, or if not they can tell you. Ask for GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness), and write down whatever numbers they have. If you can't make sense of data on their website, post the link and I will look at it. Hardness can be discerned from several things.

Prime should only be used at a water change, and the amount should be appropriate to the volume of water being changed. I believe it was previously being added daily to handle ammonia, etc., and that I think is dangerous. It is not meant as some form of "tonic" to fix things. You've stopped that now, so that's good.

Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. We know it does the first by changing ammonia to ammonium, which still reads on ammonia test kits. The binding of nitrite and nitrate--perhaps these substances no longer read as such with test kits? This would explain why both are zero now.

Byron.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:19 PM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I will just toss out some thoughts on this.

The pH will lower over time in very soft water, but it will not fluctuate other than with a water change, and that will be minimal. These wild fluctuations are likely connected to the "chemicals" entering the tank, like Dawn said.

You should find out the hardness of your water; every aquarist should know what comes out of the tap. You needn't buy a test kit, you may only use it once. Contact your water supply people, many have websites with the water analysis posted, or if not they can tell you. Ask for GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness), and write down whatever numbers they have. If you can't make sense of data on their website, post the link and I will look at it. Hardness can be discerned from several things.

Prime should only be used at a water change, and the amount should be appropriate to the volume of water being changed. I believe it was previously being added daily to handle ammonia, etc., and that I think is dangerous. It is not meant as some form of "tonic" to fix things. You've stopped that now, so that's good.

Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. We know it does the first by changing ammonia to ammonium, which still reads on ammonia test kits. The binding of nitrite and nitrate--perhaps these substances no longer read as such with test kits? This would explain why both are zero now.

Byron.
Oh I actually emailed Seachem's website and asked them if Prime effects the readings of nitrites and nitrates and they told me that whether Prime is currently in the water or not nitrates will still show up on the API test kit. I am going to test everything again today to see if there are any changes. I haven't checked them in a while.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:36 PM   #15
 
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Ok I checked the calendar and it's week 7 since I started fish-incycling

pH: 6.4
Ammonia: 2.0
Nitrites/Nitrates: 0
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:40 PM   #16
 
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Have you tried filtering the tap water using carbon instead of Prime to control the ammonia from the tap? This can be accomplished by putting tap water into a bucket or rubbermaid tub with a HOB filter with a cartridge containing carbon. Water changes are done after the water has filtered for 24 - 48 hrs. This will help to provide you with "clean" water going into the tank. PuraPad is a great media to use for this as it removes much more than carbon can and it is safe to use long term, and it lasts a long time so is not overly expensive.

This method would help to ensure that the ammonia you are detecting in the tank is coming from fish waste, food waste, plant waste, etc and not tap water, and would allow you to try a different water conditioner, such as Aquasafe, to treat for heavy metals, chlorine, and chloramines. Aquasafe is my favorite water conditioner over all others on the market. (do not overdose it and only add it to clean water that needs to be treated)

The other question I have... how are the fish reacting to ammonia levels of 2.0?
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:53 PM   #17
 
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The other question I have... how are the fish reacting to ammonia levels of 2.0?
They seem to be okay. Before the pH became acidic and before the Prime they were hiding and not eating for a while. Then I put in the first dose of Prime and the very next morning they were swimming around scavenging for food and finally eating. I've stopped using the Prime (except during water changes) and they are still doing really well.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:31 PM   #18
 
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Byron, while I can't say for sure that the binding is causing the reading of 0, it does appear that the nitrite is where the cycle is hanging up in this situation. My personal thoughts on it would be a little different than the way you describe it... let me explain.

When you chemically bind something you affect the normal/natural breakdown of it. Think in terms of algae removal products... when it binds the algae causing the green water, it does just that... but it isn't removing it. That algae can no longer go through its natural cycle of breakdown or growth at that point, so what happens to it?
Another example would be a product such as Easy Balance, which binds waste. When it first hit the market people went nuts thinking they no longer had to do water changes because they now had a chemical to get rid of it. This chemical doesn't remove it, it binds it... which can buy a bit of extra time between water changes if needed, but its all still there... and no longer breaking down in its natural process. So, without water changes, not only does the waste build, but it no longer breaks down to provide plant food, which is eventually expelled safely in a natural way if the environment is balanced.

Now, in this situation, if the nitrite is being bound by a chemical, halting its natural break down between water changes, that would certainly explain how ammonia goes to nitrite, nitrite goes up and then disappears, never getting to nitrate.

What I am suggesting here is that the whole process of handling the ammonia in the tap water be changed, eliminating a chemical that will bind anything... to see if that allows for nature to run its course normally. The only way for that to happen in the tank and keep it safe for the animals is to remove the ammonia going into the tank with each clean water change, but at the same time not adding anything to the water that may alter its process of natural break down. Carbon and PuraPad are the 2 options that I prefer. If ammonia fluctuates to real high levels in the tap water over the course of a yr, then PuraPad would be the way to go, filtering the water so its "clean" going into the tank with each water change.

So, the ultimate solution here may simply be to work with a different water conditioner and to pre filter tap water.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:13 PM   #19
 
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Thanks Dawn, that explains it more clearly. So how about this; if one has ammonia in the tap water, but nothing further, use a conditioner that handles ammonia only, not nitrite and nitrate. The ammonia is detoxified by changing it to ammonium so there is no immediate toxicity, and the bacteria and plants can use the ammonium so it is handled naturally. Is this plausible?

This I am only suggesting as an alternative to running buckets of tap water through carbon, etc. I would hate to have to do anything like this in my 115g and 90g etc. tanks every week. I don't have this problem by the way, my tap water has nothing in it except chlorine. No minerals, nothing.

And, I completely agree with you on those "miracle tank cleaner" products. Many a time I have recommended members to discontinue them because they mess up the natural biological processes and in my view make matters worse.

Last edited by Byron; 04-20-2011 at 07:16 PM..
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:34 PM   #20
 
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Byron, one of the reasons I suggested the pre filtering of the water is due to the size of the tank and the species of fish being kept. When working with goldfish in a small tank ammonia is going to build much more quickly than with fish that would call that size tank a permanent home. Ammonia converted to ammonium is still going to convert down to nitrate, but instead of the actual waste of the fish producing ammonia that gives an end result of nitrate at 20, add in the extra ammonia in the tap water converting to produce a nitrate of 40, 60... which then creates a new problem. I am trying to help avoid that new problem by eliminating the original problem. Ultimately it would be counter productive if all of the "clean" water contributed to a higher nitrate level.

Unfortunately, not everyone has tap water that is suitable for keeping an aquarium without some sort of human intervention. While it can be a pain/hassle to pre filter the water, many people do it, such as discus keepers and reef keepers who use RO water and/or must pre mix salt water. Sometimes that is just what comes along with wanting to keep what we desire, and if we're not willing to deal with the extra inconvenience, then we either need to change what we are keeping to eliminate those extra needs, or to find another type of pet to keep.

So yes, your idea could work to help complete the cycle, but it could also bring with it some heavy consequences.
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