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Nitrite Spike

This is a discussion on Nitrite Spike within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Promelas Well I checked my tap water and it's coming up with all 0s for the tests... I'm going to continue ...

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Old 04-01-2010, 12:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Promelas View Post
Well I checked my tap water and it's coming up with all 0s for the tests... I'm going to continue to do 10% water changes daily and hopefully the nitrite level will start to go down. In your experience how long does it generally take? I can't see any problems with my fish yet so that's good at least.

I also have prime that I condition my water with, but have never used it it detoxify nitrite. Anyone have any suggestions on how much to add to 29g, and how often? Thanks again!
Water conditioner should only be added in an appropriate amount for the new water at a water change. It is not a "cure all" to add to an aquarium, as manufacturers like Seachem will tell you. When you change the water, add sufficient Prime for the amount of water changed; a slight increase won't hurt. But these claims of "can't overdose" should not be trusted. These are chemicals, and they are bound to affect fish, so they should be minimal. Also, Prime only works for 24 hours [Seachem stated this directly to me], which means you would be using it every day which increases the chemical buildup further.

Prime will detoxify ammonia and nitrite, so I would use it in your case, but on ly as mentioned above. I got Seachem to explain how this works, but it is terribly complicated and I am not a chemist. Particles bind together and so forth, and I kunderstand the ammonia is changed to harmless ammonium. Bacteria and plants can still use the end products so no harm there.

As for how long, it depends upon where this nitrite is coming from. If the source is being renewed, it will continue, but if it was a one-time spike, it will disappear as soon as the bacteria multiply accordingly.
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:00 PM   #12
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OK thanks. I'm going to keep up with the 10% WC's and hopefully the nitrite will start to drop...I really have no idea where it's coming from
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:00 PM   #13
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AAAARRRHHH...OK well today I decided to test the levels of my tap water again, and now I'm getting a reading of about 1ppm ammonia. I'm guessing that has to be the reason for the spike...I've done two 10% water changes with this now I don't know what to do next. How am I supposed to help the levels lower in the tank now that there's currently ammonia in my tap water?
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:54 PM   #14
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Ammonia in tap water is somewhat common around NA. Just use a good conditioner like Prime (one that detoxifies ammonia) with each partial water change. The ammonia converts to ammonium, which the plants and nitrosomonas bacteria will use equally, so the fish will have no ill effects. Given the plants, I would not expe3ct nitrite to result, but if it does, the nitrospira bacteria should handle it. In all this, use your fish as monitors; if they are behaving normally, then the "rise" in ammonia or nitrite is obviously not stressing them.
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Old 04-01-2010, 04:28 PM   #15
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Thanks, hopefully it all works out with no lost fish. I guess problems were bound to happen eventually!
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Old 04-02-2010, 02:06 AM   #16
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It's an inescapable part of the hobby, pretty much. We do what we can to prevent problems but you can never make your fish tank 100% problem-immune.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:07 AM   #17
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I bet your nitrites go down soon. Those bacteria tend to multiply slower (I believe I've read this) but you probably already have them in your tank so they just have to catch back up to the new supply of ammonia. Prime does claim to detoxify nitrite when adding, like, ten times the dose, but like Byron said, and with how horrible that stuff smells, you won't see me adding ten times the amount it recommends. I just had a tank re-cycle and the nitrite spike lasted about a week. Just do the water changes like you're doing (I was doing 40-50% water changes every other day)
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:55 AM   #18
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There are a lot of possibilities here, and the tap water may be just 1 of them. As was mentioned, change of season, weather, and even temperature changes will affect the tap water anywhere. Changes in water chemistry are nearly constant to some degree or other. If you take water from your tank and run it through a thorough list of tests (not just the basic 4), then let that same water sample sit out in a zip lock baggie for an hour, test it again, and then wait another hour and test it again... you can come up with 3 different readings from the same water sample. With the right tests, you would see changes in a matter of minutes with each test.

Where the spike came from is something you may never figure out. At this stage, since everything is testing as it is, the best thing is to focus on the solution for the safety of the fish.

While I will not disagree with the things Byron has said about well planted tanks, what I will somewhat disagree with is the amount of plants it takes to find the balance he speaks of. What 1 person may consider a heavily planted tank, another may see that as quite bare. The other determining factor involved is the type of plants you are working with. Some plants consume a heavier nutrient level than others, plants feed in various different ways, and some have preferences for food (for lack of a better way to term it). Some plants will feed heavier on ammonia while others will feed heavier on nitrite, etc.

A 3 month old tank, in my opinion, no matter how well it is planted, cannot be considered stable enough to have reached that perfect balance. An aquarium typically takes about 1 yr to be considered mature and established.

Now, I am about to put my foot in my mouth... at least my toes... because, like Byron, I do also rinse my filter media in tap water. This is one of those do as I say not as I do type situations. But... I don't do this with a "new" aquarium. While Byron is correct in stating that the bacteria culture in the filter media is just a very small portion of what is in any aquarium... again we have to look at the age of the aquarium. In a newer set up, it is quite easy to deplete just enough bacteria via filter media to cause a small cycle to happen. This is also true of over stocked tanks where every last little bit of bacteria makes all the difference to the balance in that system.

So who's right and who's wrong? Basically, we both are, its a matter of how you look at the situation and how you define "well planted" and "established".

For future reference, I still don't advise rinsing filter media via tap water, but in your situation where you are drying out the media between changes, Byron's point of how that will also kill the bacteria is valid. Rapid temp changes can also kill the bacteria we are discussing.

If its of any help to you, when I am working with a new tank set up, I tend to keep a water bucket with tank water and a few snails... and a heater to match the temp of the tank, always on hand and left standing. When I see filter media that needs cleaning its then easy to clean it in the bucket water and just let it settle, emptying and refilling the bucket with tank water when it is too dirty to clean more filter media decent.

One thing I am curious about... a 3 month old tank that has dirty enough filter media to need such changes... something sounds "off" there. Maybe its time to examine population, feeding schedules, etc. to determine why the filter media is in need of such a cleaning so soon? That may lend answers to the immediate problem and questions at hand.
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