High Nitrate Problem
I have a 20 gallon that I had stocked with about 10 Tetras, 2 Rams., and 2 Cory cats. About two months ago I suddenly had an Ick outbreak. Even though I tried everything I could think of all but two of my fish died. I now just have a Black Skirt Tetra and a Cory catfish left. After all the fish deaths I took all rocks out of the tank and did a 50% water change and vacuumed the sand. When I did a nitrate test it was at 80ppm. I waited two weeks and it was still at 80. I did another 50% water change. After a week I did another test and it was still at 80. I did another 50% change and waited a week. Again it was at 80. I don't know what to try at this point to lower the nitrate. I still only have two fish.
I'd check the test kit, you shouldn't have that type of nitrate with the number of water changes and the minimal stock.
If you are in a club, have someone in the club test the water with their kit or take it too a Local Fish Store for testing.
What are your other parameters?
Just doesn't sound like you should have such high readings.
Sorry to hear of your losses, but don't give up.
ALSO: welcome to the forum....
Thanks Tracy. You're right, it may be bad readings. I will take a sample to the LFS. All my other readings, ammonia and nitrite, are zero. So I am good there. Thanks again.
Did ya take the water to have it tested at the fish store? Before the ich treatments what was your nitrate readings?
high nitrates ?
normal process is things break down into ammonia (decomposion & rot)
PH may convert ammonia into ammonium (under 6.5 it's almost all ammonium, and untestable)
ammonia is converted to nitrite
nitrite is converted to nitrate
plants can take in (in order of preference) ammonium, nitrate, ... then they have to work hard to take in anything else.
do you have plants ?
plants apparently are happy at about 40
(i don't care about most test kits so i'm going on what i've heard)
a little more important, ... are your nitrates really at 80 ?,
check your lighting.
doublecheck your kit,
-it would really suck to find your nitrate test kit is thrown off by the color of your lights as you measure
as for ammonium, ... that's a fun one, ... our test kits don't test for ammonium, and it freely changes back and forth between ammonia & ammonium, your only ever going to read a percentage of the tanks ammonia/ammonium in the tank, again, less than ph 6.5, your % will read zero no matter how much much ammonium is in the water, ... a PH change then is the scariest thing in the world.
it isn't till about a PH of 9.5 that things are 50/50, ... not realistic for any tank
ammonium on the other hand, ...
bacteria is required to break down ammonia to nitrites to follow that direction on the simplified nitrogen cycle
the simplified nitrogen cycle doesn't include ammonium
and one kind of bacteria can convert nitrites to nitrates, and another kind of bacteria could convert it to ammonia (an option in the world of possiblities), ... as well as having various other amounts of many different Nitrogen compounds, (Nitrous Oxide, N2O, Laughing gas - same chemical) may not be realistic to have happening in our tanks, but in the world of possibilities, welcome to what really happens in the processing of nitrogen by bacterial activity, ... well only half the cycle, ... because there are other bacteria that will take N2 and without anything breaking down, start the nitrogen cycle
so far i've only head of cyanobacteria,
i don't know what medications you used for your ick, ...
for myself, never again, i will never use medications for ick, ... they're not effective, they're toxic and dangerous.
i add some salt, raise the temperature, ... the raised temperature increases the ick metabolism, the raised salt kills the ick when it's sensitive to it
medications can be either strictly toxic (in the hope of killing the disease before it kills what is valued
or they can be gram positive or gram negative, ... and these work by killing one type of infection OR the other, ... think anti-biotics & pro-biotics.
now, ... do you know what's happening in your tank ?
Nitrates are normal and the end process of the cycle... Only way to help control them with THAT many fish in your 20g is to get a lot of fast growing plants in there and do more water changes, and feed the fish way less.. You should also be vacuuming the gravel as often as you can. Or cleaning the top layer of sand I think you said you have sand right ?
The only times I have had nitrates that wouldn't go down like that is when my gravel was really dirty and I had a lot of waste under my under gravel filter that a vacuum couldn't get too.. Once I cleaned the waste up over a period of vacuuming the rocks for 3 days and changing 50% of the water every day for 3-4 days then the nitrates came down to 10ppm and was manageable with a 50% water change every week. I too have my 27g stocked with a lot of fish.. I have about 30 in there mostly small like neon and other tetra's but because I have so many fish the nitrates go high really quickly. So I did what I mentioned above and problem solved.
Your doing it all wrong if you have high nitrates like that then you need to be doing water changes and vacuuming every day until they drop. Also feed the fish less then what you are doing
Ich medicine can throw off your readings
The chemical in the #2 Nitrate bottle (API) separates and needs to be shaken. But you can never really shake it enough. In my experience this causes a high nitrate reading.
You can remove the dropper part iof the #2 nitrate bottle (carefully, with pliers) and insert a small bead or pebble. This turns it into a "rattle-can" for more thorough mixing.
The stocking you had on your 20 gallon should not spike you to 80ppm Nitrate with proper care. No way no how...that is not a lot of fish in a 20 gallon. Those are all pretty much Nano fish.
It sounds to me like overfeeding and not enough tank maintenance. Water should be changed once a week with deep gravel vacs if you want to keep a healthy tank. You can not clean like this and let it go- but you will have issues.
I would do water changes and gravel vacs every day until your nitrates go down and feed your fish less in the future.
Did you test your tap water for nitrates? With only 2 fish left in the tank your nitrates should stay low. I would do a 50% water change being sure to vacuum the gravel real good. The next day day do another 50% water change and then test your nitrates reading. Don't wait a week to test because your nitrates will rise anyway over the course of the week. If they're still high do another water change/gravel vac until you get your readings down.
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