Nitrite Spike! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-08-2013, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
Exclamation Nitrite Spike!

I am currently in the process of fishless cycling my 10 gallon freshwater. Only 2 days ago I recorded my first nitrite readings (Ammonia actually didn't test too high compared to previous tests, 2.5 ppm, I think it had already spiked and was on the way down.) However, when I tested it today it skyrocketed off the charts! The purple was much darker than the darkest reading on the chart (5 ppm). I also tested Nitrates for the first time, 5ppm. Ammonia had dropped all the way down to 0.5 ppm. What caused this? I was expecting a Nitrite spike but not this big of a strike or this soon! It's only been two days! I thought that the Nitrite portion would take just as long if not longer than the Ammonia portion. If anyone knows what could have caused this please reply. Is there any cause for concern?

Thanks in advance!

ps. It's not really that urgent as I have no fish and I was expecting to still be cycling for the next 3 weeks. But I do have a single java fern, but I figured that would benefit from all the nutrients. I was just a bit shocked by the spike.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-08-2013, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by fish keeper 2013 View Post
I am currently in the process of fishless cycling my 10 gallon freshwater. Only 2 days ago I recorded my first nitrite readings (Ammonia actually didn't test too high compared to previous tests, 2.5 ppm, I think it had already spiked and was on the way down.) However, when I tested it today it skyrocketed off the charts! The purple was much darker than the darkest reading on the chart (5 ppm). I also tested Nitrates for the first time, 5ppm. Ammonia had dropped all the way down to 0.5 ppm. What caused this? I was expecting a Nitrite spike but not this big of a strike or this soon! It's only been two days! I thought that the Nitrite portion would take just as long if not longer than the Ammonia portion. If anyone knows what could have caused this please reply. Is there any cause for concern?

Thanks in advance!

ps. It's not really that urgent as I have no fish and I was expecting to still be cycling for the next 3 weeks. But I do have a single java fern, but I figured that would benefit from all the nutrients. I was just a bit shocked by the spike.
Humm. Maybe you had a bunch of ammonia processed and that is the result. Sounds like you're almost there! I never thought you could have nitrites if a tank was "cycled" but I learned you can. In a relatively new tank, everything is subject to swings.

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post #3 of 4 Old 03-09-2013, 08:50 AM
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How long has been been since the addition of water and ammonia source? If two weeks or so this isn't that unexpected.

Many try to keep the ammonia concentration high, above 3 or 4 ppm but this is counter productive to the second stage bacteria as it inhibits their growth, reproduction and consumption of nitrites, although it does work. If you kept a much lower concentration, under 1ppm, the nitrosomona begin producing low levels of nitrites and nitrospira start out almost immediately rather than waiting until the ammonia drops. The resulting nitrite spike could be over quicker and the indication of rising nitrates confirms this.... as long as the source water did not contain nitrates to skew the testing. The earlier you see nitrates in the process, the quicker the completion will happen.

Because of the reproduction methods of these bacteria and the difference in division time between the two types, it stands that the nitrite spike should be fast and furious as the nitrospira (previously thought to be nitrobacters) take a few days to catch up once the nitrosomona growth levels off when the ammonia drops.

Jeff.
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Total years fish keeping experience: 7 months, can't start counting in years for a while yet.

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Small scale nitrogen cycle with a jar, water and fish food; no substrate, filter etc
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-09-2013, 09:51 AM
First, if you didn't test your source water, it could very well (already) have nitrates as even municipal water supplies can have nitrates up to 20ppm (as I discovered testing area water supplies).

Second, ammonia gets oxidized into nitrites. In a new cycle, you have yet to develop sufficient nitrobacter bacteria to oxidize nitrites (with an 'I') into nitrates (with an 'A'). Slow down adding ammonia and perhaps do a partial water change and wait for nitrite levels to come down and nitrates to increase. Once this happens, you have cycled but will need a constant, albeit low ammonia level for a continuous N2 cycle.
Oh and remember that partial water changes reduce nitrates.

Also, conisider adding plants, even floating plants, that will indirectly keep tank nitrates low....and remember...
> don't over stock
> don't over feed
> DO weekly water changes to keep the fresh water fresh.

OH...and WELCOME to TFK!
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