Nitrites in fish tank- please help - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 07-22-2011, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, here goes. I have a 10gal freshwater tank up and running for about 2 months now. All my water levels have been great until about a week ago. I have 5 small Mollie fish since we started. For the last week I noticed that my nitrite levels spiked and NOTHING seems to help. I have performed weekly water changes and cleaned (2 grow to be 1.5", the other 3 grow to be 2") the tank glass and gravel. When the levels spiked I researched what to do and this is what I found and did. I am afraid I did 2 things wrong in the above time frame (1) rinsed the nasty black sponge in 1st filter and (2) my son and I accidentally both fed them days in a row so they got more food than normal.

1) 20% water change and tank was clean on day 1, 2, 4 and 45% change late on Day 6 (today) as per pet store advice

2) added and extra air pump and air stone

3) added Aq salt

4) tried Prime

5) I changed the filter to a 4 stage filter instead of a 2 on day 5

6) added some bacteria (bottle form) today



All levels still show in safe ranges except the Nitrites. The Nitrites are coming down after today's change but are still in stress area at about 3. What can I do or what am I doing wrong. Can someone help me?

The pet store said the nitrite issues the fish could be fine one day and be dead the next without any signs or symptoms. Is this true?


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#2 of 6 Old 07-25-2011, 12:40 PM
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First of all, good for you for checking your water quality!


It sounds like you're doing everything right, so I have two possibilities. First, are you feeding them too much? Uneaten food pollutes the water as much as poo. Second, is your nitrite test out of date? It's possible your test kit is bad - maybe it was on the shelf for years at the pet store (since most people don't use them).


Is there gravel in the tank? If so, there will be good bacteria living in it, even if you wash out the filter. Try to vacuum just a portion of the gravel with each water change.


Any chance you can add live plants? Java fern is pretty foolproof, and will grow without a lot of light (though you shuold probably put the aquarium light on a timer). The plants will take up the nitrite, adding a margin of error in the system. You still need to do regular partial water changes, of course, but the plants will help keep things stable - and the mollies will love them!

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#3 of 6 Old 08-11-2011, 06:58 PM
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What sort of test kit are you using?  Test strips are notoriously inaccurate.  I think one of the most accurate ways to test water is with the API liquid test kit.

I have found really fabulous aquarium advice on the online forum  They have a newbie forum and you can read there for days and really learn a lot.  There are very passionate hobbyists there and you will definitely get good help.



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#4 of 6 Old 08-12-2011, 12:25 PM
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do you have a friend with an established aquarium you can steal rocks from for bacteria? 



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#5 of 6 Old 08-08-2014, 06:23 AM
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nitrites are driving me crazy

I have a 3 gallon tank with 1 beta, a snail, a dwarf cat fish and a few ghost shrimp. I have 2 plants and recently introduces a "faux" fluval moss ball that is supposed to help with reducing nitrites and other nasties like phosphates (it got really good reviews on Amazon). My filter contains a aqua clear foam filter, diamond blend activated carbon/ammonia neutralizing crystals and biomax so I can sustain my bacteria colony. I have been testing my water daily and I see that I have no levels of ammonia but the nitrites are approaching 5 ppm! I have been doing daily water changes at around 30%, using the appropriate level of aquarium salt with each change. I recently started also dosing with Seachem Prime which gets RAVE reviews on Amazon to assist with the nitrite reduction - this is also a declorinator, removes ammonia, replenishes the stress coat, just an all around great product. I am still testing daily but I do not see any reduction in my nitrite levels - I seem to notice that the nitrates are creeping up which indicates that I am about half way through my cycle. None of my little fishy friends seem to be negatively impacted by these high nitrite levels but I am still concerned. The tank has been up for about a month, so I am sure I am still cycling. That being said, I have read that some people find it difficult to fully cycle such a small tank so I am not sure what my next steps are. Any ideas? I am using test strips so that may be part of the issue and I need to upgrade to the API kit. I also tested my tap water after 24 hours of sitting out and it showed no signs of ammonia, nitrites or nitrates so this is clearly a tank issue. (I also have horribly hard water and I am not so sure what I can do about that).
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#6 of 6 Old 10-10-2014, 02:27 AM
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My thoughts are:
1. Change 50% of the water in 2 sessions. First, boil all the water you want to add to the tank, then leave it for 3 days, and only then change it.
2. Considering your tank is 10gals, add 3 medium sized plants. For the 3gal tank, add a medium sized plant.
3. Feed them less.
4. Depending on your tank composition, vacuum the ground debris with a tube.
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