Nitrite level spike, have no idea why. Plz help.
I am getting so frustrated.
I have a 20 gallon tank with 3 white-skirt tetras, 3 black skirt tetras, 5 orange von rios, and 5 ghost shrimp. It's a fully planted tank, with lots of different kinds of live plants. To clarify before I begin, all of my fish and shrimp are showing no signs of stress, and I haven't lost anyone during this hectic week. Alright now.
About a week ago one of my black skirt tetras was found with a couple of ich spots on his tail. I turned up the temperate in the tank to about 81, and put a bit of salt in the tank. I was told by several people who knew from experience, that if my fish are fine, water quality is good and it's only a couple of spots, the fish should be able to fight the ich off on their own. It's been a week, and although a couple of spots will come and go, it does look like they're fighting it off.
I did a 25% water change last night. I mostly wanted to start getting the salt out of there. Again, nothing out of the ordinary.
I check my water almost every day, and so when I checked my water today, it showed that the nitrites in my tank are quite high. This took me off guard, because I did nothing unusual during my water change other than change the cartridge in my filter, which I rinsed off very well in the sink before sticking it in my filter. (It does have carbon in it.)
What did I do wrong? And more importantly, what can I do to get those nitrites down at the moment? Should I put some more conditioner in the tank? (I use AquaSafe)
Please help... I'm getting pretty fed up with this tank.
First off, I would say ick spots are a very visible sign of stress even if they appear to be acting normally. How often do you check your water params? there must have been an ammonia spike before this. Had your tank been cycled? How long has this tank been set up? For now I'd check your water daily and do wc when ammonia and nitrite levels are high (I would say above .25ppm, others might say even at .25ppm a wc is in order). I'm glad you are trying to deal with it without medicating for the ick as this could lead to other complications like your tank having to re-cycle.
When you rinsed your filter cartridge off in the sink, did you use tap water? I believe that you should always use old tank water to clean your filter cartridges. If you used tap water, there is a definite possibility that the bacteria on the cartridge was destroyed.
You completely replaced the filter cartridge? I would say that's the culprit. A large number of beneficial bacteria inhabit your filter media so replacing it altogether effectively removes all of these bacteria from your tank. There's no need to replace the cartridge unless it's physically falling apart. If it gets gunked up, just swish it around in old tank water and put it back. For now, just do water changes to keep the nitrite down until your bacteria can repopulate and handle the nitrite.
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