Nitrate & Nitrite problems
I have a 29 gal that has been established for a little over a year now. At the moment I have one 3-in sword tail, a cory cat, & a 5-in pleco. I had more fish but I had a string of deaths. It turned out that my nitrate level was around 40. I did 4 20% water changes over the course of a lil over a week (using Prime water conditioner every time), had my water tested again & it was the same. I tested my tap water, & I have a trace amount of nitrate but higher levels of nitrite. The guy at the pet store suggested using bottled water or installing an RO system. The system would be ideal (because I plan on setting up a 75 gal ciclid tank soon) but a the cheapest I've found is about $250, which is out of my price range. Do you guys have any other suggestions or know where i can find an affordable RO system? Thank you!!
Hi, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
Well, RO would be one answer, but not the one I would suggest, not yet. I believe there is a better way to deal with this. But first, a couple comments on what has past.
Did you test the water after the first (and subsequent) deaths, and were the results generally the same with respect to ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH? And how frequent were the deaths, thinking within a couple days, or over a few weeks? And most importantly, what was your maintenance schedule, thinking of water changes--how often and how much?
To the future, first the nitrate test. Are you using the API liquid test kit, or something else? If API's, you need to shake the regent #2 for 2+ minutes, not the 30 seconds stated in the instructions. If you do, you will get a more accurate reading. With a 30-second shake of the second regent, test results are frequently much higher than they really are. If you have this kit and do this, let us know the results. [These kits also have a shelf life, I believe API say around 3 years for this one, but that is probably not the reason.]
I'll have more when you have answered the above questions and given the latest nitrate results.
Nitrites are your culprit, the only way to remove nitrates is through water changes, nitrites are much more lethal than nitrates but of course are converted into nitrates through biological filtration. But I'm wondering if you have ammonia in your tap water from the start which is then converted into higher nitrites by your biological filtration?
I had this problem with our local tap water. I ended up having a water pre-treatment container which I replace my tank water from with weekly water changes, I refill the container from the tap weekly after water changes, treat the water with Prime and run a submersible Fluval filter of zeolite in it throughout the week. I no longer have ammonia spikes with each weekly water change nor nitrite spikes later.
The first 2 deaths were about a month apart. I had my water tested after the second, the nitrates were slightly than they should have been (he didn't tell me ph, ammonia or anything, just said they were normal). We attributed that to my husband over feeding, cut back on feeding & I did 3 water changes (all 20%) over the course of the next week.
about a month after the second death, i lost 2 within a week. I had my water tested again, which is when he told me I was at 40. I don't have my own, but both nitrate tests he used a API liquid kit. He shook #2 longer than the 30 seconds, but I don't think it was a full 2 minutes. The nitrite test on my tap water was done with a quick strip.
Until this problem came up, I was doing weekly water changes of 20%, and I was adjatating the gravel everytime everywhere except for around the roots of the 2 plants in there. In the last 3 weeks, I've done 20% water changes every 2-3 days. I haven't had my water tested this week, but I'm heading over there tonight to have my tank water & tap water retested w/ the API. I'll update with the results when I get home.
Thank you guys so much for your help!!!
Ok, tested both my tank & tap water. Lets just say, I'd rather drink outta my tank right now. My nitrates dropped to around 10, p.H. is 7.6ish, & ammonia is 0. My tap water on the other hand, is awful. Nitrates are somewhere around 80, the p.H. I have no idea because it turned purple(I didn't know that was possible), & the ammonia was high too.
So, yay my tank is working itself out. I'm gonna switch to buying RO water for my tank changes, & I'm gonna start buying drinking water. lol :)
You mention plants in the tank, so my suggestion would be to do minimal water changes (the more plants, the less water needs to be changed provided you are moderately stocked with fish) and use Prime as your water conditioner. Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in tap water. This means when this water is added to the tank, it is not suddenly overloading it with ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, and the plants and bacteria should be able to handle it.
RO would also work, more expensive, and you need to work out a mix of RO with normal tap, since RO water on its own is too "nothing".
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