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I'm struggling to lower the nitrite levels in my fresh water aquarium (20 gallons). I've done several water changes (about %40) ever other day and the nitrite levels do not go down. I use Tetra Easy Strips to test the water (Nitrates, Nitrites, Hardiness, Chlorine, Alkalinity and pH). I've have a total of 9 fish in my tank (one just died). With the exception of the bottom feeders, the other fish stay at the top of the tank near the filter. They don't swim around and appear lethargic. I'm sure it has to do with the high nitrite levels in the water. When I do the water changes, I ensure that there is no chlorine in the water. I use the test strips on the water and the water appears perfect, but when I add it to my tank, nothing changes. I've added Prime as well. Nitrite levels are still high, water is acidic and pH levels are low. I feel that the constant water changes are stressing the fish out. I've talked to several people as Petsmart and I get contradicting opinions about what to do; I always end up buying some other chemical that is suppose to help, but it doesn't. Even chemicals that are suppose to contain bacteria (API Quick Start) and chemicals that are suppose to decrease nitrite toxicity (Nite-Out II) don't appear to work. Should I just do nothing and wait? Should I do another water replacement (maybe 60% this time)? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Eric
Fairfax, VA
 

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I'm struggling to lower the nitrite levels in my fresh water aquarium (20 gallons). I've done several water changes (about %40) ever other day and the nitrite levels do not go down. I use Tetra Easy Strips to test the water (Nitrates, Nitrites, Hardiness, Chlorine, Alkalinity and pH). I've have a total of 9 fish in my tank (one just died). With the exception of the bottom feeders, the other fish stay at the top of the tank near the filter. They don't swim around and appear lethargic. I'm sure it has to do with the high nitrite levels in the water. When I do the water changes, I ensure that there is no chlorine in the water. I use the test strips on the water and the water appears perfect, but when I add it to my tank, nothing changes. I've added Prime as well. Nitrite levels are still high, water is acidic and pH levels are low. I feel that the constant water changes are stressing the fish out. I've talked to several people as Petsmart and I get contradicting opinions about what to do; I always end up buying some other chemical that is suppose to help, but it doesn't. Even chemicals that are suppose to contain bacteria (API Quick Start) and chemicals that are suppose to decrease nitrite toxicity (Nite-Out II) don't appear to work. Should I just do nothing and wait? Should I do another water replacement (maybe 60% this time)? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Eric
Fairfax, VA
Twenty gallon is not that big,So 50% water changes each day (with fish in the tank) with PRIME,, which can be used at twice the strength should lower the nitrites,and not be too big a task, assuming the tank is not overstocked with large fish or overfeeding is taking place.
Are you certain you are reading nitrites with an I and not nitrAtes with an A?
Test strips are notoriously inaccurate so level's could be more,,or less. However water changes don't lie and are quickest way to lower toxins .
If this is new tank ,and has not cycled,, then daily 50 % water changes with PRIME will be needed for next three to four weeks along with very tiny amount of food every other day or every two day's.
Otherwise fishes will be poisoned by their own waste and excess food bit's.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Twenty gallon is not that big,So 50% water changes each day (with fish in the tank) with PRIME,, which can be used at twice the strength should lower the nitrites,and not be too big a task, assuming the tank is not overstocked with large fish or overfeeding is taking place.
Are you certain you are reading nitrites with an I and not nitrAtes with an A?
Test strips are notoriously inaccurate so level's could be more,,or less. However water changes don't lie and are quickest way to lower toxins .
If this is new tank ,and has not cycled,, then daily 50 % water changes with PRIME will be needed for next three to four weeks along with very tiny amount of food every other day or every two day's.
Otherwise fishes will be poisoned by their own waste and excess food bit's.
Thank you for sharing. It is Nitrites and not Nitrates. I will do a 50% water change (with Prime) each day until the Nitrite levels go down. I'm also going to find another test kit as well. Mine doesn't test for ammonia unless that falls into another category.
 

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Thank you for sharing. It is Nitrites and not Nitrates. I will do a 50% water change (with Prime) each day until the Nitrite levels go down. I'm also going to find another test kit as well. Mine doesn't test for ammonia unless that falls into another category.
API freshwater Master kit is used by many/most.
Most tapwater nowday's is treated with chloramine which is combination of chlorine/ammonia.
Prime will detoxify ammonia and chlorine and would be my choice.
If it don't clearly say on bottle that conditioner treat's ammonia,,then it dont.
 

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1077 is correct, the liquid API Freshwater Master kit is much more accurate than strips.

Nitrites are very toxic. At high levels, even toxic enough to inhibit the growth of the nitrobacter bacteria that convert it to nitrAtes. So even using QuickStart, the colony growth can be inhibited. Again, as 1077 suggests, water changes to get the levels down is required. Prime does detoxify nitrites, but only for 24-48 hours, so adjust your water changes as required.

Also, although probably not a factor, but once you get the liquid test kit, test your tap/source water as well for a base line as it can sometimes be very revealing.

Keep us posted.

AD
 

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1077 is correct, the liquid API Freshwater Master kit is much more accurate than strips.

Nitrites are very toxic. At high levels, even toxic enough to inhibit the growth of the nitrobacter bacteria that convert it to nitrAtes. So even using QuickStart, the colony growth can be inhibited. Again, as 1077 suggests, water changes to get the levels down is required. Prime does detoxify nitrites, but only for 24-48 hours, so adjust your water changes as required.

Also, although probably not a factor, but once you get the liquid test kit, test your tap/source water as well for a base line as it can sometimes be very revealing.

Keep us posted.

AD
Thank you 1077 and AbbeysDad. I just purchased the API Freshwater Master Kit and testing my aquarium water as we speak. I will also test my tap water. I'll be doing a 50% water change later on this afternoon and see how things develop.

Eric
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nitrite Levels Too High Again

Hello again,

Today will be my 5th consecutive day of completing a 50% water change on my 20 gallon fresh water tank. The nitrite levels are not going down, even with the addition of Prime and API Stress Zyme+. You would think after so many water changes the Nitrite levels would become diluted (the water is acidic as well). One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is that one fish had babies (orange body with back tail). I counted about 20 so far. They are not being eaten by any of the other fish which has me concerned that if they grown my tank will become overcrowded. Are they the cause of the problem? I'm at a loss. Should I continue with the water changes or just stop and let nature takes its course?

Thanks,
Eric in Fairfax, VA
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nitrite Levels Still Too High

Hello again,

Today will be my 5th consecutive day of completing a 50% water change on my 20 gallon fresh water tank. The nitrite levels are not going down, even with the addition of Prime and API Stress Zyme+. You would think after so many water changes the Nitrite levels would become diluted (the water is acidic as well). One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is that one fish had about 15 - 20 babies (orange body with back tail). They are not being eaten by any of the other fish which has me concerned that if they grown my tank will become overcrowded. Are they the cause of the high nitrite problem? I'm at a loss. Should I continue with the water changes or just stop and let nature takes its course? Should I get rid of the babies?

Thanks,
Eric in Fairfax, VA

 

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How long has the tank been established? If it is less than two months old, it is probably still in its nitrite phase, soon to be rendered harmless by bacteria cultures that will convert nitrite to nitrate. Nitrate is harmless at low levels. But what is happening now, even though you are diluting the nitrite daily, is that ammonia (fish waste. decomposing flake food) is being converted by bacteria into more nitrite. Until sufficient bacteria colonies are in place, to complete the cycle, the nitrite will remain. At least your water changes are preventing it from spiking to even more dangerous levels. I would continue.

No. The Baby platies are not to blame (probably they are red or marigold wagtail platies). Yes, they should be grown out in another tank or allowed simply to remain, where the parents will thin them out. Baby fish are more sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so you could net them and give them to a LFS. One of my LFSs has a planted tank that is swimming with donated fry of livebearers.

Water for platies should not be acidic. Neutral to slightly alkaline water would be better for them (pH 7.2-7.8 or so). You must be in one of the few places in the country where the water is great for Amazonian fish. All the rest of us have to cope with hard alkaline water. I would try to bring the pH up slowly by using a buffer. It's definitely easier to raise pH than lower it.
 

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Have you tested the tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate (all three are good to know) now that you have the API liquid kit?

Is ammonia showing with the API liquid test (in the tank water here)?

What is the tank pH, and what is the tap water pH for comparison? When testing the tap water, put some in a jar with a lid and shake it briskly for several moments to out-gas the CO2.

What are the fish in the tank? How often are they fed? What is the temperature?

Byron.

Edit: I came across another new thread on this same issue and merged it into this one. It is better to keep a topic in one thread. B.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Have you tested the tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate (all three are good to know) now that you have the API liquid kit?

Is ammonia showing with the API liquid test (in the tank water here)?

What is the tank pH, and what is the tap water pH for comparison? When testing the tap water, put some in a jar with a lid and shake it briskly for several moments to out-gas the CO2.

What are the fish in the tank? How often are they fed? What is the temperature?

Byron.

Edit: I came across another new thread on this same issue and merged it into this one. It is better to keep a topic in one thread. B.
Hi Byron,

I'm using the API liquid test kit.
No ammonia in the water.
Tank pH is 6.0. Tap water pH is 7.6. Why the big difference? I assume I need to get the pH levels up. How do I do that?
Temp is in tank is about 76 degrees.
I used to feed them twice a day; now it's just once a day.
I have 3 fish that are orange with black tails (one of them had a bunch of babies). I have two cat fish that are small and white. I have another two cat fish that have long whiskers and they have white bellies with black spots on the top. Sorry I don't know what they are called.

Thanks for your help.
Eric in Fairfax, VA
 

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I'm not sure where the nitrite is coming from. Ammonia can inhibit Nitrospira bacteria (the ones that handle nitrite) but ammonia is zero. I would continue with the alternate day water changes using Prime as previous members suggested, until this nitrite is zero.

Some live plants would not hurt, something simple like stem plants or floating. This would (or should) get the biology settled faster.

Keep feedings minimal, once a day is plenty, and not too much. Missing a day (like water change days) won't hurt as well.

On the pH, that is quite a drop, which probably means you have little or no carbonate hardness (KH or Alkalinity) in the tap water, as this buffers pH. I would leave it alone until the nitrite is resolved, otherwise it is just going to add more stress if the pH starts fluctuating. Looking ahead, to raise it, we need to know the GH and KH of the tap water; you can get this from the water supply folks, they probably have a website.

You should try to identify the fish; we have profiles with photos, check the catfish for the spotted (I'm wondering maybe a Pictus Catfish?). The white is likely an albino cory, which would be the albino form of Corydoras aeneus or Corydoras paleatus, more likely the former species. [Clicking shaded names brings up that profile.] The orange fish sound like platy.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi Byron,

I did another 50% water change last night (6th day in a row). Tetra Easy Strips indicate that nitrite levels are going down (from "danger" to "stress"). The API Liquid test kit indicates nitrite levels are still at 5.0 ppm. The only positive thing I can say is the the water is incredibly crystal clear and the fish appear to be a bit more active. I also have good water circulation. I am going to continue with the water changes (I think I've become obsessed with this) and will see about getting some plants. I will keep you posted.

Thanks,
Eric in Fairfax, VA
"No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise"
 
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