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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I have a 10 gallon tank with fish that was fully cycled for about 7 days all on its own:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20

I have been doing every other day tests of the water.

Suddenly on day 7 I see the nitrite level shot through the roof:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 8

Nothing new was added or removed from the tank during this time except for daily light feeding.

Any idea what would cause the nitrogen to spike without the ammonia going up?

Did my bacteria that change nitrite to nitrate suddenly all die off?
Did I miss an ammonia spike that went away?
Is there something in the tanks that can cause nitrite directly without having to first create ammonia?
(Is there a relationship between how high the ammonia level goes up and how high the nitrite goes up? Like can an ammonia spike of 0.25 that might have been missed, cause a nitrite spike of 8?)

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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Hi,

I have a 10 gallon tank with fish that was fully cycled for about 7 days all on its own:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20

I have been doing every other day tests of the water.

Suddenly on day 7 I see the nitrite level shot through the roof:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 8

Nothing new was added or removed from the tank during this time except for daily light feeding.

Any idea what would cause the nitrogen to spike without the ammonia going up?

Did my bacteria that change nitrite to nitrate suddenly all die off?
Did I miss an ammonia spike that went away?
Is there something in the tanks that can cause nitrite directly without having to first create ammonia?
(Is there a relationship between how high the ammonia level goes up and how high the nitrite goes up? Like can an ammonia spike of 0.25 that might have been missed, cause a nitrite spike of 8?)

Thanks!
Juggernaut
I don't have specific answers for your questions but I know that sometimes nitrite can spike like that, especially in an newly cycled, unstable tank. It shouldn't last long, just change water if you have fish in. Nitrites spike high and can come from smaller amounts of ammonia.
It happens in mature tanks also but a mature tank will deal with it quicker, hence the need for regular testing.
 

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P.S. Some say once a tank cycles , go to weekly water changes. I think you should go to every 3rd or 4th day changes for 2 weeks or so just for spikes like this as the tank settles in to its cycle. Or do daily water testing for a few weeks, which ever is easier.
 

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Hi,

I have a 10 gallon tank with fish that was fully cycled for about 7 days all on its own:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20

I have been doing every other day tests of the water.

Suddenly on day 7 I see the nitrite level shot through the roof:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 8

Nothing new was added or removed from the tank during this time except for daily light feeding.

Any idea what would cause the nitrogen to spike without the ammonia going up?

Did my bacteria that change nitrite to nitrate suddenly all die off?
Did I miss an ammonia spike that went away?
Is there something in the tanks that can cause nitrite directly without having to first create ammonia?
(Is there a relationship between how high the ammonia level goes up and how high the nitrite goes up? Like can an ammonia spike of 0.25 that might have been missed, cause a nitrite spike of 8?)

Thanks!
Juggernaut
Hi it sounds like your tank has not cycled yet :( It takes time and it's just one of those things that we have to wait for the bacteria to colonize to where they can control those spikes of ammonia and nitrites. Check out my video below on the nitrogen cycle and see if that helps at all. Best of luck with your tank!

 

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Hi,

I have a 10 gallon tank with fish that was fully cycled for about 7 days all on its own:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20

I have been doing every other day tests of the water.

Suddenly on day 7 I see the nitrite level shot through the roof:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 8

Nothing new was added or removed from the tank during this time except for daily light feeding.

Any idea what would cause the nitrogen to spike without the ammonia going up?

Did my bacteria that change nitrite to nitrate suddenly all die off?
Did I miss an ammonia spike that went away?
Is there something in the tanks that can cause nitrite directly without having to first create ammonia?
(Is there a relationship between how high the ammonia level goes up and how high the nitrite goes up? Like can an ammonia spike of 0.25 that might have been missed, cause a nitrite spike of 8?)

Thanks!
Juggernaut
You used bacteria in a bottle to try to speed things up right? Safe Start?
 

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Hi it sounds like your tank has not cycled yet :( It takes time and it's just one of those things that we have to wait for the bacteria to colonize to where they can control those spikes of ammonia and nitrites. Check out my video below on the nitrogen cycle and see if that helps at all. Best of luck with your tank!

The Nitrogen Cycle - YouTube
Going by his testing-Ammonia-0, Nitrites-0, Nitrates-20, unless his source water has 20ppm nitrates, that's the definition of cycled.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You used bacteria in a bottle to try to speed things up right? Safe Start?
Hi,

Correct - that was about 2 months ago...

The tank was already cycled before putting fish in it (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), then I had a spike of nitrites a few weeks ago after adding additional fish, which went away (back to ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), and now nitrites spiking again....

Juggernaut
 

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Hi,

Correct - that was about 2 months ago...

The tank was already cycled before putting fish in it (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), then I had a spike of nitrites a few weeks ago after adding additional fish, which went away (back to ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), and now nitrites spiking again....

Juggernaut
Have you added more fish or increased feeding before this last spike? It will pass in a few days, keep testing and changing. Your spike is coming from increases in ammonia. As your tank matures they'll stop. Just increase feed and fish very lightly.
 

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Hi,

Correct - that was about 2 months ago...

The tank was already cycled before putting fish in it (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), then I had a spike of nitrites a few weeks ago after adding additional fish, which went away (back to ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20), and now nitrites spiking again....

Juggernaut
I know nothing about that stuff, only asked for someone else that does and in case it is important.

Fill me in on the whole timeline, cause I'm slightly confused.

Are you using strips? Something is off here and I don't know for sure yet what it is. If the nitrites were that high you should be seeing symptoms in the fish as you are really close to lethal levels.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I know nothing about that stuff, only asked for someone else that does and in case it is important.

Fill me in on the whole timeline, cause I'm slightly confused.

Are you using strips? Something is off here and I don't know for sure yet what it is. If the nitrites were that high you should be seeing symptoms in the fish as you are really close to lethal levels.
oh, no problem. I thought that there might be an issue with the safe-start.

The fish seem fine - they are acting normally. Some people have told me there can be contamination of the vials for the API master kit but everything seemed ok until a few days ago....

time line:
1) 2 months ago, did a fishless cycle - ammonia up to 8 by using food, then added safe-start, then ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20.

2) added the 2 mollys (as you know). tank stayed ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20

3) added the 3 glofish and ammonia 0.25, nitrite 8

4) water changes and more safe-start added, then back to ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20

5) everything stable for like a week (actually, it was 2 weeks) ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20, then suddenly current readings of ammonia 0, nitrite 8, nitrates 20. No new fish in the past 2 weeks.

Thanks,
Juggernaut.
 

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oh, no problem. I thought that there might be an issue with the safe-start.

The fish seem fine - they are acting normally. Some people have told me there can be contamination of the vials for the API master kit but everything seemed ok until a few days ago....

time line:
1) 2 months ago, did a fishless cycle - ammonia up to 8 by using food, then added safe-start, then ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20.

2) added the 2 mollys (as you know). tank stayed ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20

3) added the 3 glofish and ammonia 0.25, nitrite 8

4) water changes and more safe-start added, then back to ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20

5) everything stable for like a week (actually, it was 2 weeks) ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 20, then suddenly current readings of ammonia 0, nitrite 8, nitrates 20. No new fish in the past 2 weeks.

Thanks,
Juggernaut.
Hopefully someone that knows the Safe Start will be able to comment. I think I've seen Hallyx mention it recently.

Are you using strips or a liquid test? Liquid tests are more accurate.

You must have had to use a bunch of food to get up to 8ppm. That was a couple months ago, but still the bacteria double in about 24 hours so there should be enough to after 2 weeks to cover the added bioload for three glofish.

My issue with your fish is more one of room, not bioload so this is separate. The tank should be able to handle the bioload. The bottled bacteria is just a total unknown to me. For now I'd just do water changes to bring it down and dose with Prime to help neutralize it. Sorry, best I can offer at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I know nothing about that stuff, only asked for someone else that does and in case it is important.

Fill me in on the whole timeline, cause I'm slightly confused.

Are you using strips? Something is off here and I don't know for sure yet what it is. If the nitrites were that high you should be seeing symptoms in the fish as you are really close to lethal levels.
A little update - I tested the tap water and it came back positive for nitrites of 1.0.
-so either my tap water has nitrites or my vials are contaminated - I will clean them out better and try again. Yet I am not sure this explains everything since the reading of the tap water was not 5.

-Also, wanted to clarify that the nitrites from the tank were 5 (not 8) - it was the max on the test which is 5 (8 is for the ammonia - I got the numbers mixed up).
I am using the API fresh water master test kit.

Thanks,
Juggernaut
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi,

I am now noticing that the plastic plants and 1 side of the glass of the tank has black build-up - which I presume is algae...

Can that cause the nitrite spike?
Any effect of algae on the cycle?

What is the proper way to clean the algae and prevent it from recurring?

Thank you!
Juggernaut
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi,

I am now noticing that the plastic plants and 1 side of the glass of the tank has black build-up - which I presume is algae...

Can that cause the nitrite spike?
Any effect of algae on the cycle?

What is the proper way to clean the algae and prevent it from recurring?

Thank you!
Juggernaut
I brought some water to Petsmart - both the tank and the tap water.

Ends up the tank water nitrite was down to 1.5 BUT the tap water nitrite level was 2.

I will have to check but I don't remember my tap water having nitrites in it previously (using city water).

The nitrites are now down to 0.25 today. I wonder if the water changes were causing the level to be elevated since apparently the nitrites are in the water now....no water changes in the past few days and the levels are getting better....

Also my algae seem to have spontaneously gone away....

Juggernaut
 

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I brought some water to Petsmart - both the tank and the tap water.

Ends up the tank water nitrite was down to 1.5 BUT the tap water nitrite level was 2.

I will have to check but I don't remember my tap water having nitrites in it previously (using city water).

The nitrites are now down to 0.25 today. I wonder if the water changes were causing the level to be elevated since apparently the nitrites are in the water now....no water changes in the past few days and the levels are getting better....

Also my algae seem to have spontaneously gone away....

Juggernaut
It looks like the nitrites are being consumed by the cycle. Question is - how long is it taking to consume the nitrites. If its 30 hours or less, Prime during a water change will detoxify it long enough for it to be consumed. If not, and the tap nitrites are permanent , you might need a new water source. Or a lot of fast plants may help.
 

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Yep. nitrIte spike that maxes out the nitrIte test kits are common.

Stop adding food until it goes down.



my .02
 

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Was the algae brown diatoms? Those are common in new tanks (new, new tanks not used ones that are newly setup). The feed on silicates so if you don't have any in your water they will go away on their own.
 

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+1 to beaslbob (or maybe .02)

I've talked to a lot of people and read as much as I can about bottled-bacteria. Nobody I know has written about anything like large ammonia or nitrite spikes. Just the typical mini-cycle when adding stock or a little from overfeeding or not vacuuming. And certainly nothing 2 months after dosing.

I don't know of any way to produce nitrite without oxidizing ammonia. Can't imagine how it gets in your tapwater.(Deja vu---have we covered this on another thread?).

Double- or triple-dosing Prime is supposed to detoxify nitrite, according to Seachem. I can't see how, though. And they can't explain it to my satisfaction..
 
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