Nitrite spike & Hypoxia - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrite spike & Hypoxia

I thought I would start with my questions and you can decide what info is helpful.

Any idea why there was a sudden drop in O2?
Did I trigger a Nitrogen cycle? If so, why didn't the Ammonia spike?
Fish are doing well, but I'm worried about a Nitrate spike.

Setup low-tech tank 3 months ago. Heavily planted, no fish, no co2
65 gallon
4" eco-complete

Prior to adding fish
No fish food
6-8 hours of light
Excel
No algae problem
Ammonia 0-.25 (usually 0)
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
GH and KH both steady at 6-7
pH 7.4-7.6
Plants growing and dying. Tank moderately planted now.
Dead plant material high.

Added 10 cardinal tetras, 2 corys about 6 weeks ago and 2 clown loaches about 1 week ago
Added fish food
Stopped Exel
Increased light to 10 hours
Algae started to grow
Ammonia 0-.25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0-5
GH and KH both steady at 6-7
pH went up to 8.0-8.2
Dead plant material greatly reduced by bottom feeders.

Increased algae makes sense but unfortunately it increased leaf death.
Added back Excel and reduced light back to 6-8 hours.
Added Potassium
Algae growth under control and plant growth is back

2 days ago. Cleaned up green algae on glass sides and driftwood and brown algae on leaves.
Note: there was very little green algae. Mostly brown algae on the leaves.
50-60% water change
Some pruning but almost no disruption of the substrate.
Filled with tap water treated for chlorine.

1 day ago. Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate; .25, 0, 0 5 ppm
pH 7.6 & high pH ? test was yellow which is not on the chart.
gh 0, kh 4

Last night the fish were clearly suffering from Hypoxia. Several looked like they wouldn't make it.
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate; .25, 0, 0 Same readings in the morning.
pH 7.6 & high pH ? test was yellow which is not on the chart.
gh 0, kh 4
Added O2 via bubbles and this morning all fish survived and doing well.

This morning
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate; 0, 2-5 ppm (purple), 5
pH 7.6 & high pH ? test was yellow which is not on the chart.
gh 4, kh 3

Any idea why there was a sudden drop in O2?
Did I trigger a Nitrogen cycle? If so, why didn't the Ammonia spike?
Fish are doing well, but I'm worried about a Nitrate spike.

Thanks for your help
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 12:22 PM
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With your ammonia reading .25 for so long I would think that your tank has not fully cycled. A nitrate spike would be much higher than 5. I think this issue is more related to the ammonia. My tank always reads 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and about 20 nitrate.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 02:31 PM
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It's my understanding that you don't need to worry much about a nitrate spike. Nitrate is only toxic at levels much higher than we ever see in our aquariums, and it tends to work slowly over time. A nitrite spike is much more worrisome, as fish are a lot more sensitive to it than nitrate.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 02:47 PM
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If your Nitrite test is showing purple- anything above zero- that's toxic to the fish, I would immediately do a water change. Sounds like it is doing a mini-cycle. Maybe you have enough of the bacteria that process Ammonia to not see much of an ammonia spike but now you have high Nitrite and not much Nitrate yet. Keep testing and change some water daily until you're getting zero for both Ammonia and Nitrite and have some Nitrates. Like FLOutlander pointed out, some Nitrates is normal- and beneficial for the plants- it's when that gets above 40ppm that I start to worry.

As I was just reminded recently when got I frustrated with a cycle taking weeks to complete, the bacteria that use Nitrite take longer to grow to a good population than the ones that eat Ammonia. So don't be surprised if you see Nitrite continuing high levels for several days before they drop and you get the Nitrates reading.


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 02:58 PM
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a tea spoon of salt per gallon added slowly will help with the effect of nitrite on the fish,as others have said,a water change is called for.

You could try adding some prime as well,to help detoxify the nitrite.The nitrite is toxic.

It sounds like it could be a combination of stocking,fish food,and the dying plant matter triggering a cycle,and the bio filter just wasn't up to it.the .25 of ammonia will turn into a lot of nitrite,and the bacteria that convert nitrite into nitrate are much slower growing then the nitrifying.

I had the same issue when I added 6 platys to a 55 that was fairly new.

MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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