Nitrite spike!!!
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Nitrite spike!!!

This is a discussion on Nitrite spike!!! within the Freshwater and Tropical Fish forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Ok so here is my dilemma. I have a very well planted 12gal tank that has been running along beautifully for a couple years. ...

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Old 05-27-2013, 12:57 PM   #1
 
Nitrite spike!!!

Ok so here is my dilemma. I have a very well planted 12gal tank that has been running along beautifully for a couple years. I upgraded my lighting to an ecoxotic Panorama Pro 12K and things looked awesome plants were bubbling and everything (since changed it to an 8K). I noticed a slight greening to my water (not sure time frame from adding lights) didn't thing much of it but then in what seems like a day I had pea soup. Talked the the shop I go to and they recommended turning on the lights only in the morning to feed the fish then shut them off and wrap the tank in a blanket or something to block the light. Do this for a while and for a while and the bloom should just disappear one day. After about a month and a half of this with only a little improvement I stopped wrapping the tank. This weekend at about the 2 month mark and two days ago I decided to do a 50% water change and change out the small filter I was using just to circulate the water for the most part. I added the Zoo Med Nano 501 canister filter. I didn't really think changing the filter would have much affect on the tank since it is so well established and planted. I also left in the charcoal bag since I was adding back in some wood pieces that I'd had in the tank perviously. I'd removed them before because I never had the clean clear tank it was always tea colored. I did boil them repeatedly making sure there was nothing in them that could cause a problem in my tank and to try and pull the tannins out. My thinking is that the charcoal may help keep the water clearer looking if there were any remaining tannins.
Well this morning when I turned on the light to feed them I find all my fish up on the surface sucking air and looking near death (did loose one neon). I immediately grabbed and old air pump and stone, rinsed the stone really well then dropped it in the tank. this is a pretty high volume pump and puts out a lot of air through the stone. I pulled some water and tested it to find my ammonia at 0, but my nitrites at over 5.0 ppm. By the time I finished testing the fish looked a lot better, full color and swimming around. I've read doing the 10% changes daily so I'll start that. But any ideas about where to go from here and do you see just needing the 10% changes being enough for the nitrites and what to do with the algae bloom. I intended to pull the charcoal bag later and just put white filter media in it's place hoping it would trap some of the algae bloom...
Thanks for any help!
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:00 PM   #2
 
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I would immediately do a major water change, 2/3 of the tank volume. Use a good conditioner.

Nitrate at 5ppm, if that was accurate, would have killed all the fish, so it seems the test may not have been completely accurate. But nitrite at any level is still going to harm fish. Won't wast your time on this now.

If you have a conditioner such as Prime or Ultimate, both of which detoxify nitrite, all the better. But no matter, do a major water change. Then come back and we can discuss further.

Byron.

P.S. Welcome to TFK forum.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:54 PM   #3
 
But I just did a 50% or more water change on Saturday and I just did a 10% again today. I'm using API test kits... What would you consider a major water change?
Like I said all my fish looked pretty rough this morning and I lost one. Adding the air stone seemed to help.
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:22 PM   #4
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You can't change too much water... except a few special circumstances I can think of. If a change is easy enough to do you could do 50% daily changes.... once you are doing 10% you've already done most of the work, the rest is just letting the water run longer.

Jeff.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:15 PM   #5
 
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Agree. You must get nitrates to zero, fast. The longer the fish are exposed to any nitrite, the more damage. If they are (or were) hanging at the surface, that is very dangerous. Are the gills reddish/brown?

Daily water changes of 1/2 to 2/3 of the tank volume. If you can use either of the conditioners I mentioned previously, these changes can be alternate days until nitrite is zero.

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Old 05-27-2013, 09:48 PM   #6
 
Thanks I'll do another water change.
What could have caused that spike??? and yes they were hanging at the surface this morning until I put the air stone in and then they returned to what seemed to be normal. can't really see the gills very well my water is still pretty green... I'm not using any conditioners due to I have a double filtration system I use for my water and the shop said my water was good to go as is.

Last edited by gersh10; 05-27-2013 at 09:51 PM..
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:15 PM   #7
 
Again I want to thank you guys for all your help!
I didn't realize you could make such large water changes that often without causing damage. I though it would wipe out your plants and wasn't good for the fish either.
Also what do you think about the air stone, run it or let the plants do their thing?
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:18 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gersh10 View Post
Thanks I'll do another water change.
What could have caused that spike??? and yes they were hanging at the surface this morning until I put the air stone in and then they returned to what seemed to be normal. can't really see the gills very well my water is still pretty green... I'm not using any conditioners due to I have a double filtration system I use for my water and the shop said my water was good to go as is.
It is possible the nitrite test was wrong, due to the green water? If the fish store said the water was OK. This might have been an oxygen shortage caused by the green water. Much less serious if it is.

This green water was sudden, and long lasting. What exactly are these new lights, and what was the former light? And did anything else change, anything ? Have you been doing regular weekl water changes? And how much?
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:46 PM   #9
 
Actually the pet shop said my tap water was good and didn't need conditioners. After the algae bloom they also said my water was good and all my fish, shrimp and snails seemed to be doing just fine. I was told the bloom would just run its course. and to try the lights out blanket thing.
The light I had on the tank before changing over was an 11" Marineland LED light. Then changed over to an Ecoxotic Panorama Pro 12K LED that was much brighter and looked amazing, I have since changed it to an 8K since I found out that fresh water plants like the lower K lights better, I've not had the 8K on this tank yet I changed back to the Marineland light while doing the blanket wrap technique. Though with the 12K all my plants where putting off bubbles, and I was told that just meant I had happy plants... Other than the light change (which was done at least a couple maybe even three weeks before the bloom) at that time I did clean my internal Aqueon QuietFlow Model AT10 and replace the filter cartridge, I remember doing the change because I thought the water was getting a bit green and I though the new cartridge would help clean it up. It was right after that change that the bloom really took off. This algae bloom just hung and is still hanging in there even with the new filter and the big water changes.
Also to clarify I haven't had my water tested at the shop yet since I found the fish at the surface this morning, they were closed today. I'm using my API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Nitrite NO2 Test Kit and that's where I'm getting the 5.0ppm reading. Same kit I've always used and was getting a 0ppm reading.
As for the water changes I was told that since I had a heavily planted tank I'd only need to do water changes once a month and that's all I've done for the last couple years, again this tank has been up for at least two years I'm thinking even longer now and I've never had a problem with any of my chemistry being off...

Last edited by gersh10; 05-27-2013 at 11:03 PM..
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:36 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gersh10 View Post
Actually the pet shop said my tap water was good and didn't need conditioners. After the algae bloom they also said my water was good and all my fish, shrimp and snails seemed to be doing just fine. I was told the bloom would just run its course. and to try the lights out blanket thing.
The light I had on the tank before changing over was an 11" Marineland LED light. Then changed over to an Ecoxotic Panorama Pro 12K LED that was much brighter and looked amazing, I have since changed it to an 8K since I found out that fresh water plants like the lower K lights better, I've not had the 8K on this tank yet I changed back to the Marineland light while doing the blanket wrap technique. Though with the 12K all my plants where putting off bubbles, and I was told that just meant I had happy plants... Other than the light change (which was done at least a couple maybe even three weeks before the bloom) at that time I did clean my internal Aqueon QuietFlow Model AT10 and replace the filter cartridge, I remember doing the change because I thought the water was getting a bit green and I though the new cartridge would help clean it up. It was right after that change that the bloom really took off. This algae bloom just hung and is still hanging in there even with the new filter and the big water changes.
Also to clarify I haven't had my water tested at the shop yet since I found the fish at the surface this morning, they were closed today. I'm using my API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Nitrite NO2 Test Kit and that's where I'm getting the 5.0ppm reading. Same kit I've always used and was getting a 0ppm reading.
As for the water changes I was told that since I had a heavily planted tank I'd only need to do water changes once a month and that's all I've done for the last couple years, again this tank has been up for at least two years I'm thinking even longer now and I've never had a problem with any of my chemistry being off...
It is interesting that this green water suddenly occurred, and is so bad. It can be one cause, or a combination. Changing light to something substantially different could trigger it, as could adding more fish or feeding more or fertilizing more. Here is one blurb on green water:
This is the most common problem if the cloudy situation extends beyond 10-14 days. Note that "green water" is not always green in appearance! Since green water is the most common problem and the most difficult to solve the answer needs to reflect several options. The situation that causes GW (Green Water) is usually a combination of high nitrates, phosphates, and mixed in some ammonia/ammonium. Substrate disturbance is usually the culprit. What happens is the algae (GW form) will flourish off of the ammonia/ammonium and phosphate, remembering that algae can consume phosphate easier than plants because of their thin cell walls, the algae uses up the ammonia/ammonium and phosphate, but it doesn't go away...because algae can quickly switch with nutrient it scavenges...it moves to nitrates. So you can see why water changes will not rid a tank of GW. Nutrients can be reduced very low in GW and fairly quickly by the GW algaes, but they can scavenge other nutrients...iron and trace elements. So, it's very common for the GW to solve the situation that causes it to begin with, but that won't eliminate the GW, for the reasons I've allude to. Five methods exist to eliminate GW. Blackout, Diatom Filtering, UV Sterilization, Live Daphnia, and Chemical algaecides/flocculents. The first four cause no harm to fish, the fifth one does.
Notwithstanding the solutions mentioned there, I prefer to restore the balance between light and organics/nutrients.

First, do a water change every week. I know many planted tank sources will say different, but in the 20+ years I have been doing 50% weekly water changes in my several heavily-planted tanks, I have never had problems. Algae is kept in more control with water changes, and green water is simp;ly unicellular algae feeding off of excess nutrients (organics).

The light change may have been a factor. It seems that you went to more blue wavelength light (the higher Kelvin number indicates more blue, less red) and this can sometimes allow algae to increase. I don't know the lights mentioned, if you can give me a link to some online data I will take a look.

The immediate issue is the gasping, which I am less inclined to think nitrites now, but that doesn't rule out the possibility. Keep the airstones running as this has helped the fish. Regardless of how the water looks, it is the fish's condition that is important first.

Byron.
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