Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels
Tropical Fish

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources » Freshwater Fish and Aquariums » Beginner Freshwater Aquarium » Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels

Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels

This is a discussion on Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> First and foremost, thanks for looking at my post. I am new to the aquarium world, and read everything I could before starting a ...

Check out these freshwater fish profiles
Electric Yellow Cichlids
Electric Yellow Cichlids
Julii Cory
Julii Cory
Reply
LinkBack Thread Tools vBmenu Seperating Image Search this Thread vBmenu Seperating Image
Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels
Old 04-22-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
 
Sustained Elevated Nitrite Levels

First and foremost, thanks for looking at my post. I am new to the aquarium world, and read everything I could before starting a tank. Things had been going so good, and all of a sudden, not. I am pretty sure I've nailed down my mistake, but that does not help solve the problem.

I have a 29gal aquarium with an undergravel filter and a mechanical (over the back) filter. After so much reading, hearing this person bash that and that person bash this, I went with both. After all, no one said they couldn't both be used at the same time. So, if you have a problem with one or the other, save the lecture of which is better.

I set the tank up, both filters, gravel, heater thermometer, etc, and let it run for about a week with nothing in it. Then I added 4 fish: Silver Mollie, Harloquin Rasbora, Red Velvet Swordtail, and a Bumblebee Platy. I did nothing but feed them and monitor the water (tests, partial changes, etc) for 2 months. Everything went the way it was supposed to based on what I read of the nitrogen cycle. Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, and the like. After two months, i added 3 more fish: Angel Fish, Swordtail, and a Otocinclus Catfish. Waited about another two months, and was going to add some more fish.

Two days before I was going to add more fish, I couldn't find my mollie. She was decently sized, so it was not likely that she had found a hiding place where I couldn't find her, but figured she would be out in the morning. I still couldn't find her the next morning, so I decided to pick up the one big rock I have that the fish can swim in and out of. Low and behold, she was laying on the bottom under the rock, dead. I fished her out, and did a partial water change while vacuuming around where I found her. I was planning on getting more fish the next day, anyway, so I figured I would just replace her at the same time.

I went to the pet store and bought 3 serpae tetras, 3 tiger barbs, and one mollie. Did the whole process of acclamating them to the tank water, and put them in. The next day, i had a dead tiger barb. Pet store offers a 15 day replacement, so i took the dead fish back along with a sample of my water. They tested the water and said the nitrites were extremely high, and wouldn't replace the fish until my levels were normal, but refunded my money.

I went home and tested my tank water, and my nitrite levels were through the roof. I immediately started researching nitrite poisoning, and what I could do. This all started this past Saturday, so since then I've lost the other two tiger barbs, and the new mollie. I stopped feeding the fish for three days, and have been doing 10-15% water changes twice a day. I have no ambition to add chemicals to the tank. Is there anything else I can do? Nitrite levels are still up around .3 on the quik dip test. As much as I hate the thought of my fish dying, I don't want to completely disrupt the nitrogen cycle as that will only temporarily fix the problem. Do I just hope my fish make it through and replace them if they don't? They are not at the surface gasping for air, not hanging around the under gravel tubes, not constantly flapping their gills, or any of that. The fish that are left look perfectly normal, but I know this can't be healthy. What are your thoughts?
caplan1269 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-22-2010, 06:32 PM   #2
 
Byron's Avatar
 
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping.

Your daily partial water changes are saving your fish. I know of no other solution, but they should be increased to 50% of the tank volume. I would also recommend that you use Prime as the water conditioner if not already using this. Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate so it will help. You still need daily pwc of 50% of the volume since Prime only works for about 24 hours according to what Seachem's people told me directly.

The nitrification cycle takes from 2-8 weeks to establish itself; when you say it went as it should have, had you been testing regularly for ammonia and nitrite, and observed the spike first in ammonia and then nitrite? If yes, did you do anything at the time, such as daily water changes? Mollies are highly sensitive to ammonia, and are not the best fish to put in new tanks; they should be added only after the tank is well established.

Depending upon your answer to the above question, either the tank is only now actually cycling, or it had cycled but went into a mini-cycle recently. I wouldn't have thought that one dead fish could do this, but of course this was a new tank and the initial cycle was undoubtedly not settled and thus more susceptible to influence; and similarly with six relatively small fish (assuming they were young fish and not fully grown). And, all aquaria are different; we know how these cycles work, but they can work differently depending upon specific things in this or that aquarium; water parameters (pH, hardness, temperature) have an influence, as do the type of fish and numbers, plants if any, fish foods used and amount, etc.

Last I'll offer some comments on your fish selection. Serpae tetra and Tiger Barbs are two of the most unpredictable small fish. Both have a well-deserved reputation for being aggressive, first among themselves, but also with any other fish that strikes their fancy. Think of them as true bullies of the fish world. This behaviour is sometimes latent for a while, sometimes minimal when it appears, and at other times very strong. The larger the aquarium the better, because that allows you to have more fish in their group. And both species are shoaling fish that need large groups, of say 8 or more fish. In such a shoal, their aggression is sometimes weaker to their own kind, and non-existent to other fish. But not always. It is a certainty that when kept in small numbers, they can be very pugnacious. Have a look at our profiles of both fish; the shaded links will take you there.

Let me say that I realize you may intend to increase the number of these fish, and are starting with only three, and that is wise thinking. But I am of the view that a 29g is the minimum tank size for either of these fish on their own, but I would not keep them in the same tank. And certainly not with any slow, sedate or long-fin fish (gourami, angels, slower tetra, etc). Those would be easy targets.

And a 29g is too small for angelfish. This fish grows to 6 inches and it needs space when doing so. Fish that are potentially large should not be kept in small (relatively speaking) tanks; it is a matter of space but more importantly water quality. Fish excrete substances into the water constantly, and not just urine and waste, and some of these impact on other fish. The relatively confined space adds considerable stress to those fish, and that means difficulties internally with organ development and their immune system. Sometimes this doesn't make itself obvious for weeks or even months, then suddenly the fish dies and we wonder why; but the damage was done right from the start.

Please take my comments as constructive, not derisive; the health of your fish is my concern as it is certainly yours, and there is a lot for all of us to learn as we go through this hobby. Your desire to research beforehand is good, and I hope you continue along that path because you will be more successful even with occasional slips.
Byron is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Byron For This Useful Post:
caplan1269 (04-23-2010)
Old 04-22-2010, 07:01 PM   #3
 
Romad's Avatar
 
Seachem Prime water conditioner is the only one I know of that makes the Nitrite harmless to fish and does not destroy your cycle. Maybe give that a try with each water change and keep up with the frequency until your tank levels out.

Good luck.
Romad is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Romad For This Useful Post:
caplan1269 (04-23-2010)
Old 04-23-2010, 08:34 AM   #4
 
Thank you for the information. I was hesitant to do larger water changes becuase of negatively affecting the nitrogen cycle. I was hoping that by doing the smaller water changes, I would minimize the risk of having another mini nitrogen cycle later, and keep the fish alive. My thought was that if I did large water changes I would diminish the amount of nitrtites too much, which would not allow the creation of enough nitrates to sustain the current number of fish I have. As much as I don't want this to happen, the fish might be sacrificed for the good of the tank in the long run.

I was monitoring the water through the first cycle. I did an ammonia dip test, and then the quik dip test for nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, et al every other day at the beginning, and then every 3 or 4 days as time went on. I saw the spikes I was supposed to see. I did not do daily water changes, more like weekly partial water changes.

The information you gave on the fish was awesome. I don't know what I was thinking. Who would expect people at a pet store chain would give you the right information. Believe me, I told them what size tank I have, and asked for suggestions. I will be going to a more specialized fish pet store to buy my fish from now on. Hopefully I won't have to buy too many, as I was going to stick with about 12-13 in my tank. I definitely won't be adding any until my tank is settled.

Thanks again for the info.
caplan1269 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2010, 08:36 AM   #5
 
I am trying to get through this without adding any chemicals and or supplements to the tank, but thank you for the suggestion. I know the nitrogen cycle is part of nature, and don't want to alter the process.
caplan1269 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2010, 09:18 AM   #6
 
Romad's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by caplan1269 View Post
I am trying to get through this without adding any chemicals and or supplements to the tank, but thank you for the suggestion. I know the nitrogen cycle is part of nature, and don't want to alter the process.
Yup. Good decision. You'll find that 90% of people who have kept healthy fish for a long time never add any chemicals to the water. If you have time and patience and keep up with the necessary maintenance - your fish will thrive.
Romad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2010, 01:48 PM   #7
 
Byron's Avatar
 
I totally agree on not putting chemicals into a fish tank--unless absolutely essential. But I'm not sure you suggested any; neither Romad nor I have. Prime is a water conditioner, we all see the need to use a water conditioner. Prime is the best in your situation.

The thinking is understandable but in fact larger water changes do not negatively affect the cycling process. The bacteria take time to multiply once they appear; nitrosomonas about 9 hours under optimum water conditions (temp, pH and hardness), nitrospira (the second bacteria) about 23 hours under optimum conditions. Both multiply by binary division, splitting into two. But as you can see, this takes about a full day/night to happen, and in the meantime the fish are exposed to high ammonia and nitrite. Ammonia burns the gills and can cause internal issues that may surface much later. Nitrite affects the blood, causing it less capable of carrying oxygen, so the fish literally suffocates. This also can cause death or sometimes death several weeks later. There is no detrimental effect from large water changes during cycling, provided the water parameters between tank and tap (pH and hardness and temp) are reasonably close. Just use a good conditioner like Prime.
Byron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2010, 03:20 PM   #8
 
You two have been a big help, so thanks again. I hope the remaining fish can make it the rest of the way, but if nothing else, the tank will be cycled properly, and it will only get better from here.
caplan1269 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-23-2010, 08:52 PM   #9
 
I don't like chemicals however keep it up you'll get it going.

Also if you don't have live plants I'd highly suggest upgrading to them... they naturally help balance everything.

You don't have to pick CO2 needy plants unless you want to add the CO2 system. As well new lights for plants.
AaronCombs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2010, 09:28 AM   #10
 
It finally appears to be over. My quik-dip test is registering nitrites as 0. In all, I lost a total of 9 fish, but I have 4 that made it. I think I will be sticking with these four for atleast a little while. Hopefully my tank is completely finished cycling now. Thanks for all of the help!
caplan1269 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
ammonia and nitrite levels SiennaSkye Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 3 08-11-2009 02:44 AM
High Nitrite levels.. trevorlay Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 19 11-05-2008 02:22 AM
High Nitrite Levels ttiger72 Tropical Fish Diseases 36 02-06-2007 12:50 PM
High Nitrite levels Hazarrd Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 1 01-14-2007 02:03 PM
How to control the pH, Nitrate and Nitrite levels le9569 Water Chemistry 10 09-02-2006 02:17 PM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:21 PM.