Lowering nitrite in tropical freshwater aquariums? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-08-2007, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD loves fish so we got her an aquarium for Christmas... It is about 3 weeks old and has horrible nitrite levels. We've down a partial 25% water change to no avail. It is 29 gallons and has 12 fish (zebras, tiger barbs, and white skirt tetras). They seem to be fine though. We've put in a whole bottle of Cycle to try to curb the nitrite build-up too - over time of course... Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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Old 01-08-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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DD loves fish so we got her an aquarium for Christmas... It is about 3 weeks old and has horrible nitrite levels. We've down a partial 25% water change to no avail. It is 29 gallons and has 12 fish (zebras, tiger barbs, and white skirt tetras). They seem to be fine though. We've put in a whole bottle of Cycle to try to curb the nitrite build-up too - over time of course... Any other suggestions? Thanks!
Its still in its cycle......it will take a few more weeks to balance out.
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Old 01-09-2007, 01:54 AM
 
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How high are the nitrites? If they are too high they will prevent the bacteria that consumes them from growing. I would keep them below 1-2 ppm (mg/L) with water changes. Feed only once every other to every third day. And add some Rock salt to the aquarium if you haven't already. The chloride ion in the salt will help prevent nitrite poisoning.
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Old 01-09-2007, 02:02 AM
 
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How high are the nitrites? If they are too high they will prevent the bacteria that consumes them from growing. I would keep them below 1-2 ppm (mg/L) with water changes. Feed only once every other to every third day. And add some Rock salt to the aquarium if you haven't already. The chloride ion in the salt will help prevent nitrite poisoning.
Depending on what's in the tank.......scaleless fish and corydoras do not tolerate salt.
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Old 01-09-2007, 03:28 AM
 
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Its still in its cycle......it will take a few more weeks to balance out.
:
In case no one has explained the cycle to you, when you get a new tank, there's no bacteria in it. You can add it with the bottled stuff like cycle, but the bottled bacteria is not terribly active and takes some time to establish itself.

When you first add fish, the waste they produce contain ammonia and cause certain strains of bacteria to grow that will consume the fish waste and food refuse and turn the ammonia into nitrites. When you get an ammonia spike, this means that there isn't enough of the type of bacteria that consumes ammonia to process the waste being generated by your fish. Eventually, the presence of ammonia causes the bacteria to grow and it catches up with the ammonia and turns it all into nitrites.

Other bacteria will consume nitrites and turn it to nitrates. However, they will not begin to start to colonize until nitrites are present. This is why you get a nitrite spike.

To minimize the effects of ammonia and nitrite spikes, it is usually recommended that you add only a couple of fish to a new tank. After the tank appears to have cycled effectively, then you slowly introduce more fish, like a couple at a time per week. This ensures that the bacteria levels catches up with the fish.

Since you got your tank during Christmas and already have 12 fish, I'm guessing the tank has not had enough time to establish the colonies of bacteria you need. As pp suggested, feeding them less will lessen the ammonia loads, thereby lessening the nitrite loads. Other than water changes, and adding live bacteria, there's not much else you can do except wait it out for the bacteria colonies to establish themselves.
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Old 01-09-2007, 04:57 AM
 
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Well, you might have too many fish to stay stable, but it could work. You should change out a little water every single day - a gallon's worth would be a good amount, that's 25% in a week.
If you're still in the cycle, the next thing you'll see is probably algae, because nitrites becomes nitrates and plants like nitrates. Algae is a plant, too.
I might suggest plants, but only if you have lots of oxygen being added to tank (most plants rob oxygen from the water at night) and good natural light.
Without plants, you can add small amounts of salt to keep the fish less-stressed. For ease of use, I might suggest using a commercial product like stress-zyme or stress-cote to help the fish out. I assume you're dechlorinating your water?

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Old 01-09-2007, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I kept an aquarium with my dad early in my life and I remember some things, but not all. Thanks for the help. The Pet store owner said the amount we have would be fine, but I don't think he was accurate. I have a combo of tiger barbs (4), zebra danios(5), and white skirt tetras (3). Everyone seems fine. I'm not noticing shaking or gasping or anything. The nitrite level is 10.0ppm. I am dechlorinating, adding cycle, I've done 2 water changes (partial), and the dechlorinator also has a stress-coat and bacteria. I've never heard of adding salt. Would a pet store owner be able help me I suppose? Again, thanks so much... Oh, how long should it take to cycle?

I feed them once a day very very little... I've been wondering if I'm starving them...

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Old 01-09-2007, 05:04 PM
 
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Those fish would all be fine with some salt. NOT table salt, it should be non iodized. You can do kosher salt as well. Basically salt helps them with stress........I THINK its a tablespoon per 10 gallons of water but I'm not sure so you'd want to look that up.

Personally, I'd continue with partial water changes. While the tank is cycling though, you don't want to be cleaning your gravel too much, you want the bacteria to establish. Also, you aren't changing your filter right? Just rinse it if it gets too dirty and remove any carbon filters (they aren't necessary). When you rinse your filter sponge, rinse it in the DIRTY water that you remove. You want the bacteria to stay, just any big gunkies to come off. I'd wait on doing that too though, till the tank is completely cycled.
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Old 01-09-2007, 05:48 PM
 
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If your dechlor has de-stress stuff, the salt is optional. A very small concentration of salt helps fish deal with stress, but plants don't like salt water. It sounds like you've already got stuff covered. Good luck.

If you continue to have problems, you can fast cycle with filter squeezin's from someone with a healthy tank. I wouldn't recommend that except as a last resort because your fish are stressed and shouldn't have to deal with new bacteria from other fish, too.

The biggest change since we were kids is that you have to use a declorinating agent because most municipalities use chloramine now instead of elemental chlorine (we used to be able to set water out for 24 hours and most of the chlorine would evaporate off). Otherwise, you'll pick it up quickly again.

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Old 01-09-2007, 10:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by rowansmomma View Post
Depending on what's in the tank.......scaleless fish and corydoras do not tolerate salt.
Cories and scaleless fish tolerate salt at low levels but not as high as other fish. I have worked for over 8 years at a pet store and over 2 years at a Aquarium Chemical manufacturer. When dealing with high nitrites which will cause brown blood disease I would would be salting the tank regardless of the fish in the aquarium. I would take my chances with salt over nitrites.

With the fish you have they will be fine with the addition of up to one teaspoon of salt per gallon. Don't add it all at once, over 3-4 days is better. Use non-iodized salt like rock salt or kosher salt. You can even buy salt for freshwater aquariums, it is just overpriced rock salt. When changing the water add only enough salt for the water that was removed. If water evaporates than do not add salt to the replacement water.

Most dechlorinators (in particular Stress Coat) have PVP as their slime coat. This is an irritant. It irritates them into producing a slime coat. I do not recommend those dechlorinators. Some dechlorinators will temporarilly reduce the toxcicity of nitrites. It will say it on the label. What it doesn't say is that it only works for about 24 hours. So you will need to add the full aquarium dosage every 24 hours.

Some pet stores have knowledgable staff but most do not.

Do you have any ammonia or nitrAtes in the tank? If so, what are the levels? This will give us an idea of how far you are into the cycle.
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Old 01-10-2007, 01:28 AM
 
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Cories and scaleless fish tolerate salt at low levels but not as high as other fish. I have worked for over 8 years at a pet store and over 2 years at a Aquarium Chemical manufacturer. When dealing with high nitrites which will cause brown blood disease I would would be salting the tank regardless of the fish in the aquarium. I would take my chances with salt over nitrites.
I respectfully disagree. If you wish to add salt to a tank with scaleless fish, go ahead. I won't do it and I won't recommend it to anyone either. Not trying to fight with you.
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Old 01-10-2007, 03:13 AM
 
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Just to throw my 2 cents in here about the salt: I've sucessfully used a salt treatment for ich with cories and plants in the tank with absolutely no problems. I went up pretty close to 2 teaspoons per gallon, and kept it there for a couple of weeks, doing frequent water changes all the while. And while its a whole 'nother issue, table salt (iodized) is fine to use in your tank....but that I know will be debated endlessly by fishy-folk!
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Old 01-10-2007, 03:53 AM
 
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Before I knew what I know now, I used salt to treat ich. I had 4 cories.....their eyes bulged almost out of their heads from the osmotic pressure of the saltyish water.......... (I know this is what caused it, I'm not grasping at straws here).

I just won't ever do it again. I'd LOVE if I could, I wish I trusted it because salt is practically a miracle cure......... but, nope.
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:15 PM
 
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I didn't see anyone post about Java moss. It does sound like your still cycling, but I've read java moss helps with nitrates. I have some in my 29g growout tank, and about to put some in my betta tanks. Good luck! I lost 15 babies (africans - red zebras) to a nitrate spike.

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Old 08-08-2014, 07:19 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?
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