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Chris7 01-02-2012 07:24 PM

Can't get Nitrite levels down??
I'am new to this site and fairly new to the hobby. I have a 25 gallon aquarium, and I can't get the Nitrite levels down. I've had the tank going for 9 weeks now. I have 2 Balloon Mollys, 3 Glow Light Tetras, and 2 Fancey tailed Guppys, I also losted 5 fish in the first 5 weeks. I now know I added to many fish to fast, but have'nt added any fish for about 5 weeks now.

I've been doing my daily water changes and cleaning the gravel at the same time I'am taking the old water out.I added 4 live plants about a week ago, I read they can get nitrite levels down plus they look good in the tank. Today I switched to Prime water conditioner from Nutrafin Aqua Plus. The level was at 1.6 ppm today, Help please.

Byron 01-03-2012 12:24 PM

First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined us.

It would help to know your ammonia reading, and nitrate. As you probably now understand, nitrite is the second of the three stages in the nitrification cycle. And I would surmise that you are stuck in the second stage.

Frequent partial water changes with Prime is the best treatment. Live plants will certainly help, as they assimilate and take up a lot of ammonia/ammonium which means less nitrite and nitrate following. You might find some useful info here:

Also recognize that even with Prime, nitrite will still show in tests. Seachem themselves are not certain how Prime actually works with respect to nitrite and nitrate, but it usually detoxifies them by binding them somehow. But a nitrite test will still show "nitrite" at this "detoxified" stage. Prime is effective for 36-48 hours max, so if nitrite is still showing two days after using Prime, another water change with Prime should be carried out, and so on, until nitrite drops to zero. A 50% water change (half the tank volume) should be done at each change; presumably the parameters between tap and tank water are close (hardness, pH, temp) so this will not cause further problems.

Do not vacuum the substrate, as this might remove some bacteria. This is a debatable point, but I think it is still wise to leave the substrate alone. Just siphon out water and replace it with fresh treated with Prime. Double the recommended dose is usually suggested.

Obviously, do not add more fish until this is resolved, as that will only upset the balance more.


Chris7 01-05-2012 02:09 AM

Thanx for trying to help Byron, my ammonia level is about 0.6 and the nitites is at 1.6 ppm! Just did another test tonight, I did a 40% water change after the test with the Prime conditioner. All my fish look good exceped for one Guppy, he has mangeled fins and dose'nt move to much? I don't understand how my tank could get stuck in the second stage?? Is it cause I put to many fish in to fast??? You say I should be doing Frequent partial water changes??? How frequent, Once a day or how much?? Right now I'am doing them about once every 2 days and only 20 %, Other then tonight where I did about a 40 % change. I trust your word so please help, because I'am a little lost!!! After 9 weeks I thought things would be setteled down by now???

Byron 01-05-2012 01:10 PM

There are several factors at work in an aquarium. Normally the nitrification cycle works through in anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks depending upon any of these factors. When it goes longer, it likely means that something has interfered, and here again there are several possibilities. Scientific tests beyond the capability of most all of us would be needed to sort this out, so we instead follow methods that have worked.

If you read that article I linked, you will have seen that the Nitrospira bacteria that takes up nitrite can be hindered by temperature, pH and the presence of ammonia. Just one example.

The best action is maintain regular partial water changes. But I would do half the tank. Alternate days until ammonia and nitrite are zero.

Live plants will help in this, because they assimilate ammonia. I always have live plants in my tanks, so whenever I set up a new tank, or reset an existing tank, I never see ammonia or nitrite above zero because the plants readily grab the ammonia. Provided I don't overload the fish. Getting a fast growing plant, even floating, would help.


Chris7 01-23-2012 01:46 PM

FINALLY!!! I think my tank has cycled, tested the water today and the ammonia is at 0, and the Nitrites are also finally at 0. All it took was alot of patience and lots of water changes and some research! thanx Byron!

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