Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Nitrite Spike (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/nitrite-spike-40187/)

Promelas 03-30-2010 09:01 PM

Nitrite Spike
 
I just tested my water and noticed I have a nitrite reading of about.5ppm. I was a little surprised since I haven't ever had a nitrite reading of anything since the tank cycled 3 or so months ago. It's moderate/heavy planted and it's 29g.

I recently did a 15% change on the water and swapped out the foam prefilter on my powerhead with my spare. I had previously been using only one, and rinsing it in a bucket of tank water to clean it off. I received some advice on a different thread saying it's fine to rinse it under the sink, so I have been doing that and swapping filters every 2 weeks or so.

Could that possibly be the cause of the spike? I am probably going to do a water change tomorrow, how much should I do?

Thanks for the help, I don't wanna start losing fish!

bettababy 03-31-2010 12:56 AM

It is not ok to be rinsing the filter media under the tap, especially if you have municipal water supply. Chlorine will kill nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria on contact. So, first thing, go back to rinsing them in dirty tank water.

That change is likely what caused your spike, and you very likely missed the ammonia spike that would have preceded it. If the fish are not showing any signs of being affected, don't panic. A small water change of 10% should relieve any problems the fish may be having while not interrupting the completion of the mini cycle. If you have the ability to add a bit of fresh carbon to the filter, alongside of what is currently there, that will help absorb what is left of the nitrite level as the remaining bacteria break the rest of it down. This will also help to avoid a nitrate spike from excess amount of nitrite breakdown.

Do you have an ammonia reading at present? If you do, that means you will need to watch for nitrites to increase further before the cycle is done. If not, then continue to test nitrite and nitrate to track the spikes... and relieve them with small (10%) daily water changes.

I would expect if the tank was already somewhat established, it should catch up and level off pretty quickly if you don't make a lot of changes in it. If you stop rinsing your filter media in the sink you won't risk depleting the bacteria culture further and it should repopulate quickly.

In the future, if you ever find a real need to use clean water to clean your filter media... be sure it is first treated with water conditioner, mixed really well, and left to stand for at least 5 - 10 minutes before using it. If you use tank water that isn't taken from the gravel bed, it should always be clean enough to rinse filter media effectively.

stephanieleah 03-31-2010 12:57 AM

+1 on what dawn said...she's always spot on : )

i bet with regular water changes you get caught up in a week.

Promelas 03-31-2010 09:30 AM

Awesome thanks for the tips, I'll go back to rinsing it off in a bucket of aquarium water. I wasn't 100% sure about rinsing it off in tap water, but the advice was from one of the main informers on here so that's why I went with it! Here's the original post...page 2 is where I got the advice.
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...e-38572/page2/

I don't have an ammonia reading, so hopefully everything will be back to normal again soon with some PWC's!

Byron 03-31-2010 12:03 PM

Since I was the member giving the previous advice, I will comment for the record. I certainly do not disagree with Dawn's advice; but any advice can't be taken out of context.

In a well-planted tank there is minimal nitrification bacteria because the plants use the majority of the ammonia produced by the fish--and provided the fish load is not greater than what the plants can support. There is in any event considerably more nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria in the aquarium than in the filter. The fact that many planted tank aquarists do not even use a filter supports this reasoning.

If the removal of the filter bacteria caused the nitrite spike, then there is something seriously wrong in the aquarium. I have maintained heavily-stocked large aquaria for 20 years and I have always rinsed filter media in very hot tap water and I have never had ammonia or nitrite above zero, ever.

I would never counsel this approach in non-planted aquaria, for obvious reasons. Plants do a tremendous job of filtration; they don't need help.

Assuming your tank is well-planted and the plants are healthy, have you tested the tap water for nitrite? Testing the aquarium water after a partial water change and finding traces of nitrite suggests to me that it is in the tap water and the biological processes in the aquarium have not yet taken care of it, as they will if the aquarium is balanced.

Another issue: why are you "swapping filters" every two weeks? Most of us with planted aquaria that have filters only rinse the media every few months. I never replace it unless the pads are literally falling apart. The only reason for a filter in a planted tank is to clear (not clean) the water of suspended particulate matter. The plants do the cleaning part.

Byron.

Promelas 03-31-2010 02:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 354515)

Assuming your tank is well-planted and the plants are healthy, have you tested the tap water for nitrite? Testing the aquarium water after a partial water change and finding traces of nitrite suggests to me that it is in the tap water and the biological processes in the aquarium have not yet taken care of it, as they will if the aquarium is balanced.

Another issue: why are you "swapping filters" every two weeks? Most of us with planted aquaria that have filters only rinse the media every few months. I never replace it unless the pads are literally falling apart. The only reason for a filter in a planted tank is to clear (not clean) the water of suspended particulate matter. The plants do the cleaning part.

Byron.

I have just been swapping the filters once they need a rinse, to remove the suspended materials they have collected. I just mentioned two weeks since that was about how long it has been since I have done that. I am not buying new filters each time, just rinsing one off and allowing it to dry while the other is in the tank. Just doing it for convenience sake as opposed to just one. I just swap them and clean them when they look dirty, and the last time I did was the first time I used the one that had been rinsed in the sink. I realize that the prefilter is just collecting the floating debris, and not physically cleaning the tank, unless there is bacteria present in the sponge.

My tap water is good, 0 ammonia 0 nitrite so the spike doesn't seem to have come from the water change. All the plants I have in the tank are quite green and healthy, and this is the first time since the tank cycled I have ever seen any amount of nitrite. I have just been trying to think back at anything that may have changed in the last few weeks to cause it, and the sponge prefilter was all I could think of.

Byron 03-31-2010 03:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Promelas (Post 354571)
I have just been swapping the filters once they need a rinse, to remove the suspended materials they have collected. I just mentioned two weeks since that was about how long it has been since I have done that. I am not buying new filters each time, just rinsing one off and allowing it to dry while the other is in the tank. Just doing it for convenience sake as opposed to just one. I just swap them and clean them when they look dirty, and the last time I did was the first time I used the one that had been rinsed in the sink. I realize that the prefilter is just collecting the floating debris, and not physically cleaning the tank, unless there is bacteria present in the sponge.

My tap water is good, 0 ammonia 0 nitrite so the spike doesn't seem to have come from the water change. All the plants I have in the tank are quite green and healthy, and this is the first time since the tank cycled I have ever seen any amount of nitrite. I have just been trying to think back at anything that may have changed in the last few weeks to cause it, and the sponge prefilter was all I could think of.

If the filter media is being allowed to dry, that kills any bacteria, regardless of what water you use to rinse it; the nitrification bacteria must be in water, or at least "wet," and they must have a supply of oxygen (for example, shutting off a canister filter for several hours would kill the bacteria in the filter) and of course ammonia and nitrite for the respective bacteria species. Assuming this practice has been on-going, I'm sure you would have seen signs of trouble before now from the fish.

Is your test kit reliable? They have a shelf life, not sure how long but if you are getting nitrite readings but there are, as was mentioned, no signs of stress with the fish, the reading may not be accurate.

Are you getting any ammonia readings?

Promelas 03-31-2010 04:54 PM

That's another point that just confounds the problem. I have done the swap with the prefilter one other time, and didn't have a spike then. The liquid test kit is only about 3 months old, so I would think it should still be OK. It's probably been a week or two since my last test, but haven't ever had any ammonia readings since the original cycle. I'm going to have to test my tap water again as well, I live in Minnesota so everything is finally thawed out, and this time of year our water always smells like river water...no idea if the spring thaw would affect any actual levels in the tap water but I need to start checking every angle.

karjean 03-31-2010 09:38 PM

If the water has a smell, i would think it might have an affect onthe spike for some reason. The city is probably increasing or adding to their chemical mixtures to compensate the weather and water parameter changes.

Promelas 04-01-2010 10:10 AM

Well I checked my tap water and it's coming up with all 0s for the tests... I'm going to continue to do 10% water changes daily and hopefully the nitrite level will start to go down. In your experience how long does it generally take? I can't see any problems with my fish yet so that's good at least.

I also have prime that I condition my water with, but have never used it it detoxify nitrite. Anyone have any suggestions on how much to add to 29g, and how often? Thanks again!


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