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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 04-20-2011, 07:52 PM   #21
 
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I wish we had chlorine in our tap water instead of chloramine. We used to but about 7 years ago the city converted it to chloramine and there was this big hassle at the pet store about the change and that the current version of Start Right would no longer work. Well prior to that, when it was chlorine in the water, I had a beautiful 55 gallon tank and NEVER had the problems I'm having now. I would love to be able to filter tap water but just don't have the time or room to do it. I was hoping that the ammonia in the tap water wouldn't be a problem in the future due to the established cycle but, well, that was just wishful thinking I guess lol

So would plants solve this whole fiasco? Because when you have a heavily planted tank the plants absorb the ammonia/ammonium and so they never convert to nitrites and nitrates. Given my situation, do you think that'd be the only route I can go at this point?
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Old 04-20-2011, 08:03 PM   #22
 
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Originally Posted by whitecloud34 View Post
I wish we had chlorine in our tap water instead of chloramine. We used to but about 7 years ago the city converted it to chloramine and there was this big hassle at the pet store about the change and that the current version of Start Right would no longer work. Well prior to that, when it was chlorine in the water, I had a beautiful 55 gallon tank and NEVER had the problems I'm having now. I would love to be able to filter tap water but just don't have the time or room to do it. I was hoping that the ammonia in the tap water wouldn't be a problem in the future due to the established cycle but, well, that was just wishful thinking I guess lol

So would plants solve this whole fiasco? Because when you have a heavily planted tank the plants absorb the ammonia/ammonium and so they never convert to nitrites and nitrates. Given my situation, do you think that'd be the only route I can go at this point?
Yes on the plant question. Plants assimilate a fair amount of ammonium directly as ammonium if present or as ammonia which they convert into ammonium. This solves the nitrate end issue Dawn mentioned. Most planted tanks have very low nitrates, due to the plants not the bacteria.
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:07 PM   #23
 
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My husband helped me to find another possibility for what is causing the problem. I need to do some research into Prime before I know if his concept would apply or not. Does anyone have a list of ingredients for Prime? If not I will see if I can locate the msds sheet on it. If he is right we aren't too far off, and the problem still goes back to the basic of using the Prime water conditioner.

In regards to the plant question for using up the ammonia, ammonium, and nitrate... yes and no. Its not impossible to use plants to find a balance in water chemistry, however... in a 20 gallon tank with 2 very small/young goldfish and paradise fish, its not going to be that simple of a fix either. Goldfish are vegetarian and will eat most species of aquatic plants, which makes quite a mess and creates a lot of plant debris. Plant debris breaks down and becomes ammonia... Paradise fish will also chew on and eat some species of live plants, so same problem. The other problem is that it takes a large amount of plants to use a small amount of fish waste. This is why in a "natural aquarium", to find balance, it requires a mass amount of plant life with very few fish. This situation doesn't accommodate those things to create the kind of balance Byron mentions.

Goldfish grow extremely fast and are one of the dirtiest fish there are. Even starting with a pair of 1 inch goldfish, if healthy, they should outgrow that tank in a matter of 6 - 8 months (or less). The bigger the fish get the more waste output is going into the water.

Now, if this were a 90 gallon fully planted tank, then for the first yr or 2, yes, this could be accomplished using plants. I hope that makes sense? If not, let me know and I will break it down and try to clarify better.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:47 AM   #24
 
This is a fascinating discussion. I thought (have read elsewhere on the internet and in aquarium books) that plants absorbed the nitrates. I've never before heard of plants helping to absorb the ammonia or ammonium directly.

As for prefiltering water - I was doing that for several months for my neon tetras and bettas, because my tap water is about 7.6 to 7.8, and I know that, while they can adapt if necessary, both neon tetras and bettas prefer a lower pH, as well as softer water. I discovered by accident that the water coming out of my Pur pitchers had a pH of about 6.6 - 6.8, and was in the "very soft" range as opposed to the moderately soft range before filtering. Since my Pur pitchers only hold 7 cups at a time, and I have two bettas in a divided 10g and a school of neon tetras in a 14g, that was a lot of filtering. I recently discovered that the water I had just removed from my betta's tank had a higher pH than the regular tap water. I have no idea why, but I decided that if the lowered pH from filtering wasn't lasting I was wasting my time doing the prefiltering. I started gradually adding a higher percentage of tap water (conditioned to remove chlorine, chloramine, and other heavy metals) during water changes, and am now using all tap water, without prefiltering. Everybody seems fine.

To bring this back around to the issue in this thread, I was wondering is if the type of filtering used by Pur, or the other big names for filtered drinking water would remove ammonia, and if so, if someone with ammonia at a toxic level for fish in their tap water might want to invest in a filter on their sink, so that all the water coming out of the filter has already had the ammonia removed. This would make prefiltering a lot easier. Would it work?
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:52 AM   #25
 
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
My husband helped me to find another possibility for what is causing the problem. I need to do some research into Prime before I know if his concept would apply or not. Does anyone have a list of ingredients for Prime? If not I will see if I can locate the msds sheet on it. If he is right we aren't too far off, and the problem still goes back to the basic of using the Prime water conditioner.

In regards to the plant question for using up the ammonia, ammonium, and nitrate... yes and no. Its not impossible to use plants to find a balance in water chemistry, however... in a 20 gallon tank with 2 very small/young goldfish and paradise fish, its not going to be that simple of a fix either. Goldfish are vegetarian and will eat most species of aquatic plants, which makes quite a mess and creates a lot of plant debris. Plant debris breaks down and becomes ammonia... Paradise fish will also chew on and eat some species of live plants, so same problem. The other problem is that it takes a large amount of plants to use a small amount of fish waste. This is why in a "natural aquarium", to find balance, it requires a mass amount of plant life with very few fish. This situation doesn't accommodate those things to create the kind of balance Byron mentions.

Goldfish grow extremely fast and are one of the dirtiest fish there are. Even starting with a pair of 1 inch goldfish, if healthy, they should outgrow that tank in a matter of 6 - 8 months (or less). The bigger the fish get the more waste output is going into the water.

Now, if this were a 90 gallon fully planted tank, then for the first yr or 2, yes, this could be accomplished using plants. I hope that makes sense? If not, let me know and I will break it down and try to clarify better.
Yeah that makes sense. I'm not sure what to do now. It sort of seems like maybe it's the hardness of the water. I've read different threads here and there about "buffering" and crushed coral and I am not sure at all what that means. Something about adjusting the hardness? I don't know if there is something I can buy from the pet store that I can add to my water or filter to change the hardness so perhaps I can get my pH a little less acidic and maybe the cycle will finish.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:01 AM   #26
 
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There's no simple harmless compound related to nitrite... Could the Prime be converting the nitrite back into ammonium to make it harmless?
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:51 AM   #27
 
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There's no simple harmless compound related to nitrite... Could the Prime be converting the nitrite back into ammonium to make it harmless?
Well I emailed them about this whole thing. I asked if Prime affects the readings of nitrites and nitrates and this is what they said:

Thank you for your question and for using Prime. Though Prime will not halt your cycle in any way, it can yield a false positive result on a nitrite/nitrate test kit, as it binds to these things. When bound to nitrites and nitrates, Prime makes them non-toxic and therefore unavailable to harm your fish. When this occurs, you will get a reading on your test kit for nitrites and/or nitrates if they are indeed present in the tank. In any case, when you get a reading for nitrate, irregardless of whether or not Prime is on the system, you can safely assume that the tank has fully cycled. This time is quite variable, though adding a bacterial supplement, such as Stability, will expedite the process. I hope this helps and that you have a wonderful evening!
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:36 AM   #28
 
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Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
My husband helped me to find another possibility for what is causing the problem. I need to do some research into Prime before I know if his concept would apply or not. Does anyone have a list of ingredients for Prime? If not I will see if I can locate the msds sheet on it. If he is right we aren't too far off, and the problem still goes back to the basic of using the Prime water conditioner.

In regards to the plant question for using up the ammonia, ammonium, and nitrate... yes and no. Its not impossible to use plants to find a balance in water chemistry, however... in a 20 gallon tank with 2 very small/young goldfish and paradise fish, its not going to be that simple of a fix either. Goldfish are vegetarian and will eat most species of aquatic plants, which makes quite a mess and creates a lot of plant debris. Plant debris breaks down and becomes ammonia... Paradise fish will also chew on and eat some species of live plants, so same problem. The other problem is that it takes a large amount of plants to use a small amount of fish waste. This is why in a "natural aquarium", to find balance, it requires a mass amount of plant life with very few fish. This situation doesn't accommodate those things to create the kind of balance Byron mentions.

Goldfish grow extremely fast and are one of the dirtiest fish there are. Even starting with a pair of 1 inch goldfish, if healthy, they should outgrow that tank in a matter of 6 - 8 months (or less). The bigger the fish get the more waste output is going into the water.

Now, if this were a 90 gallon fully planted tank, then for the first yr or 2, yes, this could be accomplished using plants. I hope that makes sense? If not, let me know and I will break it down and try to clarify better.
I concur. I had forgotten the fish species in this specific tank, and I agree that this is going to offset the balance. My fault, and apology whitecloud for missing this. As I am (I hope) always careful to point out in my remarks on live plants and cycling, the balance must be weighted on the plants with few fish. I have done this dozens of times so I do know it works, but one cannot overbalance nature and expect it to be OK.

Byron.
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:38 AM   #29
 
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Yeah that makes sense. I'm not sure what to do now. It sort of seems like maybe it's the hardness of the water. I've read different threads here and there about "buffering" and crushed coral and I am not sure at all what that means. Something about adjusting the hardness? I don't know if there is something I can buy from the pet store that I can add to my water or filter to change the hardness so perhaps I can get my pH a little less acidic and maybe the cycle will finish.
Do not start messing with buffering. That is entering a whole new area, and as one who has done it I caution you. Once the tank is cycled and established, any adjustment of water hardness can be reviewed. This at any rate is my suggestion.

The subsequent post with the response from Seachem is worth bearing in mind.

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Old 04-21-2011, 02:12 PM   #30
 
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Redchigh, this is what I am looking into at present. I first need to know the ingredients list for Prime, as whether or not this will happen depends on the mixture of ingredients. If this is what is happening then we were not too far off the mark that the nitrite is prevented from being converted to nitrate.

I also have to agree here with Byron about messing with the buffering capacity of the water, especially until we figure out why the tank is taking so long or is unable to complete the cycle. There is something "off" in the water chemistry and the more changes you make the harder it will be to find out the actual problem and fix it. If pH is fluctuating from tank to tap then there is a cause and that needs to be resolved. Altering the pH artificially at this point would simply cover up the problem and likely cause more, and more dangerous problems later.

In regards to the sink filtration, I would have to look into what method these filters use to filter the water. I know that not all home water filters are safe for aquariums/fish due to the chemicals they use for the filtration process, I just don't know the details of each filtering unit.

I guess I am a little baffled at the difficulty of prefiltering the water using filter media and a small HOB filter. Because this is only a 20 gallon tank, a bucket or small rubbermaid tub would be plenty to filter 6 - 10 gallons of water at a time. A 7 gallon bucket would work nicely. Walmart sells cheap HOB filters that would hang on the side of a bucket or easier on a small rubbermaid tub. When preparing for a water change, simply use water from the bucket/tub to do the water change. 30% of 20 gallons is just over 6 gallons. There should be no reason to do a larger change than that at a time. Once the change is done on the tank, simply fill the bucket/tub back up and walk away, letting it filter until you need it again. PuraPad is also quite cheap because it lasts a long time/goes a long way. It comes in pad form and you simply cut a piece and stick it into the filter alongside of or in place of the regular media cartridge. Because there won't be much for it to remove, it would only need to be changed every 4 - 6 wks.

My method is meant to be temporary, to help figure out what is going on in water that we do not have access to for our own testing. I have used this method myself many times over the years for various reasons, including research and testing. This is the easiest, least expensive method I know to obtain the results needed for a situation such as this. Using the prefiltering method would allow the stop to using Prime, which, if either of the 2 things that appear to be going on here are the problem, it would resolve quickly and the tank would quickly complete its cycling phase. Once we know for sure what is causing the actual problem then other safe methods can be discussed if needed. If prefiltering the water does not fix the problem, then we need to continue working at this to find out what is going on so we can get it fixed. Left alone to run like this long term could be dangerous to the fish, frustrating for the fish keeper, and could further contribute to the problem. Adding chemicals is not often the solution to a water chemistry problem in an aquarium, and any chemicals should be kept to a bare minimum (for the health of the fish and the wallet of the fish keeper).
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