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fish keeper 2013 03-28-2013 03:32 PM

During nitrite spike...
Should I continue to put in fish food during nitrite portion? Will the biological filter be killed off if there is a lack of ammonia? If so how long can they survive with no ammonia?

Also, how long is a nitrite spike supposed to last during initial cycling? BTW im doing fishless cycling.
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JDM 03-28-2013 04:09 PM

Keep feeding the tank right up until the nitrites drop and the nitrates start to appear. The assumption is that fish will be going in at that point and they will continue to feed the process.

The bio filter organisms are hardy and will not die off, they go dormant, but you want them to continue to produce nitrites so those nitrite eaters develop.

Nitrite spike duration may vary but it lasts until it's done.... I had one and it was only a few days. A fishless cycle might be up to a week as my best guess. Someone else might have a better answer.

How long did it take for the nitrites to appear?


fish keeper 2013 03-28-2013 07:16 PM

I don't really need more nitrites, I definitely have plenty. I'll keep feeding it so the ammonia consumers keep on multiplying (the more the better).

Nitrites first appeared on day 18. On day 20 nitrite spiked off the charts (5+ ppm) and nitrates appeared (5ppm)

A few days? A week? As of now the nitrite spike has lasted 19 days and counting... During the spike the nitrite has not come under 5 ppm... Getting tired of waiting...

Tazman 03-28-2013 07:34 PM

There is no set time for the Nitrite spike to last, it is also not always a good idea to test for nitrates until the Nitrites have peaked and begin to fall.

The presence of Nitrites can slew the Nitrate test.

Keep feeding the tank until the day before you are getting the fish / moving the fish. Perform a large water change to reduce the Nitrate level prior to adding fish.

AbbeysDad 03-29-2013 08:54 AM

Ammonia and nitrites are toxic not only to fish, but even to the beneficial organisms that oxidize them...believe it or not.

I would continue 'feeding' to produce ammonia, but I would do partial water changes as necessary to moderate the nitrite spike. Once the beneficial organisms begin to colonize the nitrites should drop like a rock as the nitrates increase.

Also, it's always a good idea to get a baseline on nitrates as very often, even with municipal water supplies (not to mention wells in the country like mine!) there are nitrates in the source water! Sometimes folks get confused because they test and see nitrates and assume the tank has cycled when in fact, the nitrates were there all along.

Good luck and keep us posted.

fish keeper 2013 03-29-2013 09:15 AM

I know that in large amounts ammonia will stall the nitrite consuming colonies. I also know that large amounts of nitrogen in general will displace oxygen and slow down the bacteria colonies. (Though I am not as sure for this fact, can you confirm it?)

I recently tested my source water and found I have 5ppm nitrate, which I guess could have caused the original reading but I do not find it possible it could have been responsible for my 20-40ppm nitrate right now.

Oh yeah I am doing 50% water changes every week (my source water has 0 ppm nitrite) last week when I did my 50% water change I tested right after and it was still off the charts, leading me to believe the nitrite is way up their.

JDM 03-29-2013 10:06 AM

Yes, huge ammonia will stall and not generally kill them, they're pretty hardy buggers. I read a research piece that was aimed at determining at what levels the process stalled. Anything over 1ppm ammonia (not a defined line but that was sort of the tipping point) stalled the nitrite organisms but they went dormant, not dead. I think they took it up to 10ppm, I'd have to re-read it to be sure. It pointed to using much lower ammonia concentrations being beneficial in the process as higher did not speed up the ammonia oxidizers but allowed the nitrite oxidizers to start right away. Super high nitrites will also stall the ammonia oxidizers but that that point they are mostly multiplied anyway.

No, your source could not have generated anything over the 5ppm. Chances are the cycle is just off balance... what are your ammonia readings now... did they go to zero?


fish keeper 2013 03-29-2013 11:53 AM

High nitrite will stall ammonia colonies? Now I finally know why ammonia always lingered for so long if I introduced more ammonia to the system. Last time I checked ammonia it was very close to 0, possibly 0.25. Maybe it is what tazman mentioned, the nitrite slewed the nitrate test.

fish keeper 2013 04-02-2013 09:26 PM

Yes! Just tested and nitrite has dropped back on the scale! Its 2 ppm now... When can I expect it to be 0?

JDM 04-03-2013 05:31 AM

Shouldn't be long, if it dropped from off the chart to 2 and you didn't do a water change to get it there... any day now.


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