Very High Nitrite - Help!
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:23 PM   #1
Neptoon'd
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Very High Nitrite - Help!


I have a 5g shrimp only tank. I've been fighting a nitrite spike for the past several days without much luck. What do I need to do? I've been changing the water every day (1-2gal) since this started about 5 days ago and the nitrites haven't decreased? Why?

The basic water params are:

ammonia - 0
NITRITE - 5 (very purple!)
nitrate - 10-20

The tank was stable before this. I don't have any floating plants yet, but will by this weekend when an order arrives. I do have anachris, anubias, java fern, marimo and bacopa in there. I did put in 1 or 2 Flourish root tabs last week. I found one and pulled it out last night. I can't remember if there is a second one, but I'll look again during todays water change. Could they cause this? I put them in my 14g at the same time and the water in that tank is giving perfect readings.

I've had a few shrimp die during this spike. One even died while molting, I found it with it's tail out but the rest of it's body still in the old shell. Please help cuz I don't want to loose all my shrimp. I only have a small colony to start with.

TIA
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Old 05-02-2013, 09:21 PM   #2
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I also bought a GH/KH kit and just ran my first test. I don't have a TDS meter yet, but ordered one from amazon yesterday, so I will have one soon.

It took 2 drops of KH and 4 of GH. Where can I find info about what that really means?
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:03 PM   #3
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The gh and kh tests mean exactly that, your kh is 2 and your gh is 4. If they are cherries, those numbers are ok, although a gh of 6-8 is ideal. If they are cardina(crs or cbs) the kh should ideally be 0 and gh of 6. As far as the nitrites are concerned, id do 50% wc's daily until it is at 0. Nitrites are far more harmful than large water changes. The floaters will help once they come in. Hang in there.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:37 PM   #4
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Thanks 82nd. Yes, they are cherries. Do I need to do anything to raise my gh?

I did do a 2-2.5 gal water change last night as a desperate measure. And I just did another one of that size. While doing that, I found another dying shrimp. Not molting, just laying on it's side. I pulled it out of the tank and put it in a small glass with water from a tank with good water. I know thats not ideal, but the little sucker is dying and I guess I hoped it would help. I know it probably shocked the little guy. I just feel so bad for it since this nitrite spiked.

In the past 12ish hours I've done 2 2-2.5 gal water changes. I just tested the water again and I have gotten the nitrites down to a 1 or there about. At least it is no longer an insane deep purple. I also did a good gravel vacuum with these. I'm guessing maybe another 2ish gal water change tonight? When doing a smaller pwc every 24hrs I was simply maintaining the same level of nitrite, which wasn't what I wanted AT ALL! I want to knock this issue out quickly. Grrrr....

And OT, but it's my thread....

I used to be stationed @ Bragg many years ago. So whenever I see your username 82nd, I always think of my time there.

Ok...back to saving shrimp!
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:19 PM   #5
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Is this a newly established tank? It sounds as though it is still cycling. One thing you need to not do again is vacuum the gravel. That will increase the ammonia and nitrites. DO the 50% water changes and try not to disturb the substrate.
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:03 AM   #6
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zorfox - Thank you for the response. Yes, the tank is still new, but it was giving good readings as if the cycle was fully done for a few weeks before this occurrence.

I wont vacuum the gravel again for a bit. It's a good thing it's a small tank. I can only vacuum 2-3 spots for each water change. I know that's where the good bacteria lives, but so much stuff floats out during water changes, so I felt it might help. I wasn't vacuuming the gravel before the nitrite spiked.

I actually spend several minutes after water changes chasing floaters with a small net. Of course lots of stuff is too fine, but it makes me feel good to collect what I can and get it out of the tank.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:12 PM   #7
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Yesterday evening, as a desperate measure, I bought a box of API Nitra-zorb. It says it will absorb nitrites, as well as ammonia and nitrate. It has been in the tank for about 18hrs now. I just ran another water test and boy am I frustrated!

ammonia - 0
NITRITE - 2-5? (still purple anyways)
nitrate - 5-10

It's just a 5gal tank and I used one whole flow through packet! What the heck?! It's ugly (but full of wonderful surface area) but I figured if it helped and saved some shrimp it would be completely worth it.

I guess I'm off to do another 50% pwc. I don't mind the work to save the shrimp, but a product that doesn't do what it said it would...that bothers me. I was hoping I could use it as a band-aid, just to get through this nitrite spike, and then once the water seemed normalized again I wanted to take it out. Now I'm not sure if I should take it out cuz it didn't make a difference. Or if it needs more time to work? Aaaaarrgggghhh! Frustration!

If I'm lucky my floating plants will come tomorrow. I wanted to quarantine them, but now I'm not so sure if I can take that kind of time. I'm thinking I'll just look them over really good for critters/eggs and algae then toss them in with the shrimp.

Comments? Suggestions? Encouragement?
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:58 PM   #8
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I did a 2ish gal water change. I waited and just finished testing the water again.

ammonia - 0
Nitrites - 2-5 (lighter purple than before pwc)
Nitrates - 5

How soon can i do another pwc, probably of the 2gal size? I don't want to shock my shrimp too badly, yet I know the nitrites are so bad for them. I saw someone say that 4-6hrs is enough time between pwc. But is that OK for shrimp?
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:54 PM   #9
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Have you changed filter media recently? Sometimes it can take a while for a tank to become stable, I know the last ten gallon I did it looked stable and then I went through another mini cycle for a week when I changed the filter media, I guess it wasn't as fully established as I thought...
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:02 PM   #10
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Thank you drew. No, I haven't changed out my filter media. I've thought of it, but then this spiked and I didn't think it would be such a good idea at this moment. I'm using a sponge filter that has a carbon cartridge. I ordered some purigen, when that comes in I was going to exchange it with the carbon and then squeeze out the sponge in some old tank water. The purigen won't arrive till early next week. Hopefully by then I will have changed the water enough times that this spike will be done with. I don't know what is keeping the nitrites so freakishly high.

Yeah, I guess this tank wasn't as fully established as i thought too. So far no shrimp deaths today. I'm really annoyed at this Nitra-zorb pack! It's only 5gal, why isn't it sucking up this excess nitrite? I wouldn't have purchased it if it wasn't an urgent situation. I'm very tempted to contact API about this. And to return it to the store cuz I want my money back based on it's performance so far.
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:57 AM   #11
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First thing I would do is take a deep breath. The nitrites are not going to magically disappear overnight. You are close since you have no ammonia. The worst things you can do is vacuum gravel, change filter media and disturb what is already there. It is what it is... just change the water frequently. A water change is far less stressful than nitrites. Many shrimp are pretty resilient and can deal with the changes. Doing too much by adding chemicals, pulling hardscape, changing filter media etc. will worsen the problem. The media added may help, just leave it for now. Just do water changes and hope for the best. I think you'll be okay by the end of the week.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorfox View Post
First thing I would do is take a deep breath. The nitrites are not going to magically disappear overnight. You are close since you have no ammonia. The worst things you can do is vacuum gravel, change filter media and disturb what is already there. It is what it is... just change the water frequently. A water change is far less stressful than nitrites. Many shrimp are pretty resilient and can deal with the changes. Doing too much by adding chemicals, pulling hardscape, changing filter media etc. will worsen the problem. The media added may help, just leave it for now. Just do water changes and hope for the best. I think you'll be okay by the end of the week.
<deep breath>

Thanks zorfox. Just a short time ago I had no ammonia and no nitrites. This is so confusing. I really really hope this will be over soon. I guess I thought the Nitra-zorb would magically absorb the nitrites overnight. In my situation I thought it might be possible, why else would people buy such a product? There isn't any sort of indication with the product that says how quickly it works, only how long it will last.

I've gone back to doing my water changes from the top of the tank rather than siphoning off the gravel. The only thing I've changed is adding the Nitra-zorb yesterday. I'm hoping that some floaters will arrive in tomorrows mail and I'll drop them in there after a short inspection and "quarantine" float. I wanted to float them alone for a few days...but since the nitrites are staying so high I'm thinking sooner may be better.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:03 PM   #13
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My floaters arrived today. My mailman is so kind. It's quite warm here today, so he brought it to my door instead of leaving it in my box.

I bought asian watermoss or salvinia cucullata. I didn't want something with long roots because this is a small tank that I enjoy looking into. And the plants are large enough that I can easily pull them out for ROAK when they crowd the tank surface. I'm guessing I'll not see any significant or measurable changes in my nitrites from the plants right away? The nitra-zorb isn't making a difference either. Although, maybe it is somehow, I haven't had any shrimp losses since I put it in.

Last night I was exhausted and fell asleep before I could do my second pwc for the day. The nitrites were of course elevated this morning. I changed the water @ 50% and got it down to a 2-5 level. Still not good. But maybe the continuous water changes are keeping the shrimp alive despite the less than ideal conditions. Planning for a second 50% pwc this evening. And crossing my fingers that the salvinia is hungry and makes a measurable difference in the nitrites in the next few days. Is that an unreasonable expectation?
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:43 PM   #14
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You'll get there. The floaters may help. Just keep up the large daily water changes. It'll turn around. The only thing you need now is patience and water changes. By this time next week you should be good to go.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:01 AM   #15
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+1 patience
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