Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Psychotic Parakeet 12-10-2008 01:48 PM

Nitrite & Nitrate Overbloom Problem
I have been battling a very large nitrate and nitrite problem for close to a week. The last water testing done this morning was this:

Ammonia (NH3/NH4) = 0.25 ppm
Nitrate (NO3) = 40 ppm
Nitrite (NO2) = 1.00 ppm
pH = 6.4
Specific Gravity = 1.009
PPT = 12 to 13
Temperature = Ranges from 78.1 to 80.0 degrees Farenheit

The aquarium set-up:

UV Sterilizer
ViaAqua 750 Professional Canister filter with a fine and a coarse pad with lava rock media
300 Watt Heater
2 Major bubblers

The aquarium I have at my work that is a 55 to 60 gallon Jebo corner tank. I set it up 5 weeks ago to be an eventual brackish tank. So far, I have five female mollies and approximately 20 fry in a floating pen.

I have had issues for the last 3 weeks trying to get the water to clear up in the tank so I have been using the water clarifiers and doing small water changes. My pH used to be in the 7.0 area and it dropped down to 6.0. I have used crushed coral, pH buffers and all that jazz and nothing will bring up the pH until I did a 25% water change just 3 days ago.

I gently rinsed shook the pads from the filter for the first time last week in the very same aquarium water and did the same to the lava rocks to get any crud off of them. Ever since that incident, my nitrates and nitrites went sky high. I did a 15% water change 6 days ago followed up by a 25% just 3 days ago, used Prime to no avail and lightly vacuummed the gravel yesterday (took out about 8 gallons). I also cut back to feeding the fish to once a day with the exception of the fry getting yolk drops about three times a day with the occassional flake or so to munch on.

None of my fish have died, thankfully. However, the water clarity issue is the second annoyance aside from the high nits problem. I did test our tap water and it has zero for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia with a hardy pH of 7.6.

Should I do a larger water change at this point or what? Any suggestions at this point are gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

Tyyrlym 12-11-2008 08:22 AM

Until your tank is cycled, and the presence of ammonia and nitrite point to it not being or at least undergoing a mini-cycle. First off, what had your water parameters been testing out as prior to the rinse? Second how are you testing, strips or liquid test kit? I suspect that either you rinsed everything just as the nitrite portion of the cycle was starting or your rinse knocked enough junk off into the tank to speed up its decomp and send your tank into a mini-cycle. Some water test results pre and post rinse would help to get a better feel for what likely happened.

Cloudy water, don't worry about it. Your tank is cycling, bacterial blooms can happen during this and its nothing to be alarmed about. It will clear eventually. I don't have any experience using clarifiers so I can't speak to their effectiveness. What I do know is that I have never added anything to clarify my own water and its crystal clear. I wouldn't bother with the clarifiers. The two main causes of cloudy water, well three actually are: 1) Bacterial bloom, usually caused by excessive nutrients (ammonia from decaying biological matter) in the water. It clears up once your biological filter grows enough to use the nutrients up. 2) Green algae in the water, a nutrient imbalance plus direct sunlight or excessive light use can cause this. The best cure for it is a blackout and a way to reduce the sunlight the tank receives. 3) Inadequate mechanical filtration and poor maintenance but from the sound of things this isn't what's going on in your tank. I suspect its a bacterial bloom and the best thing you can do is just ride it out.

Right now focus on your fish's health. Both ammonia and nitrites need to be kept below 0.25 ppm and nitrates should be kept below 80 pmm. Do a water change 25 to 50% any time you see any of these exceed those values. Just keep doing this and testing your water daily until ammonia and nitrites both read zero. Once that happens your tank is cycled and I'd bet your water will clear up significantly as well.

pino 12-11-2008 08:34 AM

I have to agree with Tyyrlym. Don't worry and forget about that clarifier.

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