Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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jaimiemay 09-12-2010 12:32 PM

high nitrite levels...
Hey everyone, I am posting this for my friend. He recently set up a 26 gallon tank and decided to cycle it with's been over a month now and he's having problems with high nitrite still.
A few weeks after starting up the tank he put in some of that cycling stuff and we believe it has ruined the cycle..
His reading are: 0 ammonia, nitrite 2.0 (might be a bit higher, difficult to tell but it's in the 2.0-5.0 range :()
nitrate 30mg ph 7.5
only a few fish are present and they were not added all at once.
he had been doing water changes every few days but the nitrite has remained the same.
he's now doing 20-35% water changes every other day...
my question is....are the water changes helping or has the tank started a newcycle/recycling?
I was thinking of giving him some of substrate to add to his aquarium to help speed up the process as my parameters are good.
any advice is appreciated.

Romad 09-12-2010 12:42 PM

It seems a bit odd to have nitrates when nitrites are that high. What test kit is he using? If he's using those dip strips, tell him to scrap them and get a liquid test kit (API freshwater master kit is the best imo).

If he's already using the liquid kit, you need to shake the bejeezus out of the nitrate bottle #2 and test tube after drops have been added to get an accurate reading (two minutes).

And what kind of filter are YOU using? If possible, give him a piece of sponge medium or other medium that he can throw in his filter to get his cycle kick started (assuming you have a healthy tank).

It does sound like he's midway through the cycle with nitrites tho.

jaimiemay 09-12-2010 12:48 PM

Thanks for the quick reply.
He does have a liquid test kit and I thought it was odd to have nitrates with such a high nitrite reading as well, which was why I came here/assumed the cycling restarted or something due to that cycling stuff he put in the tank.

Our filters are different but I do believe I can cut a piece of the sponge out and put it into his.

Romad 09-12-2010 06:47 PM

The nitrite spike makes sense somewhat if the stuff he added to the tank kicked the cycle up a notch.

I'd also have him re-do the nitrAte test with the two minute shake for a better reading.

Byron 09-12-2010 07:05 PM

I suspect something is amiss with the nitrite testing. If the level really is 2 or higher, the fish would be dead after several days of this. That is very high.

A nitrite reading of .25 or higher is cause for a 50% water change, and every day until the nitrite drops. But as I can't imagine this being accurate, I would only do this if the fish appear to need it. Abnormal respiration, hanging at the surface, lethargy can all be symptoms of ammonia/nitrite poisoning.

Using Prime water conditioner is good in new tanks as it detoxifies nitrite and nitrate (for 24 hours), and is the only conditioner I know of that does this.

Don't know what "cycling stuff" you/he used, but Tetra's SafeStart and Seachem's Stability are both 100% bacteria that will seed the nitrification bacteria. I would suggest using one of these even if just to be safe.


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