HELP! Super nitrite spikes, worried fish won't make the night - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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HELP! Super nitrite spikes, worried fish won't make the night

I've got a 20g set up 7 days ago, and being impatient, I've filled it with 6 small neon tetras (around 1.5cm), 9 other unknown tetras (1cm long), 4 endlers and a small albino pleco (1.5cm). Also popped around 55 shrimps in there (rcs, chocolates).

I am using a Eden 511 canister filter (rated for 160 gallons per hour for my 20 gallon tank, or 8 times water turnover per hour) that has 3 compartments, 2 are sponges and 1 is ceramic ring. I have a cycled 10g, and I swapped all the ceramic rings from my 10g into the 20g filter. I thought that it would be enough to give my new 20g a jump start to cycling.

I bought the API test strips and have been using them to test the nitrites and nitrates (the 5 in 1 test strips doesn't test ammonia). For the past 3 days, I was getting some slight nitrite readings, and some heavier nitrate readings. The test strip colors aren't that clear, but I felt that the nitrite levels are acceptable as I have been doing a daily 30-35% water change with water conditioner. The presence of nitrates also assured me that the nitrobacter was doing it's job converting nitrites to nitrates.

This morning, I used my last API test strip, as usual, lowish nitrites (.5-1ppm) and some nitrates (20-40ppm). I did my 30% water change and headed out to the fish shop to get the liquid test.

I bought the API liquid nitrite test, and tested the water 4 hours after my morning water change. Nitrite levels were at 2-3ppm. I went into emergency mode and did a HUGE water change, maybe 80%. Subsequent testing showed 0.25 nitrite levels.

7 hours later, at 9pm, I did another water test, and it showed nitrite ppm at 2 again. I did another huge 70% water change and got it down to 0.25-0.5 ppm.

Is there anything I can do except for water changes? I've moved the pleco from the 20g to 10g to spread the bioload, and moved some rocks from 10g to the 20g. Would leaving the LED lights (no UV) on help in any way? Would adding an air pump bubbler work? I heard that a richer oxygen environment helps bacteria grow faster, I know the air bubbles have very little contact time with the water column, but would it help even just a tiny bit?

The tank is around medium-low planted, I'll attach a picture if that helps.


Last edited by fishiez; 10-07-2016 at 02:21 PM. Reason: adding more details
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 05:57 PM
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So, you haven't cycled this tank?

You really need the liquid ammonia test too. That's a huge bio-load for an uncycled tank and I believe your fish/shrimp are going to suffer a lot. Daily (if not 2X daily) water changes along with constant testing of ammonia and nitrites is required if anything is going to make it.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 06:46 PM
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Get some Seachem Prime. Will detoxify the nitrites.......................

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-07-2016, 07:22 PM
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+1 On getting Seachem Prime!!!
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-08-2016, 04:45 AM Thread Starter
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Heading out to get prime now! nitrite this morning was between 2-5ppm! I'll be doing 3 70% water change per day =( Won't be making this mistake again
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2016, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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It has been around 30 hours since I've used Prime and dosing 5x as recommended. Doing a 30% water change in the morning, then a 15% in the evening. Nitrite readings are still off the scale 2-5ppm, and there has so far been 1 cherry shrimp death. I can definitely see the slime coat working, some of the tiny bits of food are stuck to the fish! Is this ok?

Also, does anyone know if nitrifying bacteria live on plants? Specifically marimo balls? I've got 10 in my cycled tank, if they do help, even in a tiny way, should I transfer them over?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2016, 08:26 PM
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If you have a cycled tank, are you using a filter that you could also use on the new tank? One of the best ways to seed a tank is to use the media from the cycled tank filter. For a cheap fix, you could get a couple of sponge filters and run one in the cycled tank to get some beneficial bacteria. You can also transfer some of the substrate from the cycled tank into the new one.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-11-2016, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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I've seeded the new tank's filter with the ceramic rings from my cycled canister filter. There has been no fish deaths, but nitrite ppm is still around 5 before water changes.

I'm going to continue dosing 5x prime, which I think really works, and hopefully see nitrites come down in a few days.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-14-2016, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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OMG, nitrites are finally down to 0.1ppm, thank you for those suggesting prime. Hopefully the fishes can pull through and recover from the stress!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-14-2016, 09:19 AM
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I wouldn't stop doing big water changes just because you're dosing Prime. I think constantly overdosing Prime and not doing occasional large water changes (maybe like one every couple of days) will raise the TDS a BUNCH which will also stress out your livestock and might be hard to correct after the fact.

By the by, I hope you know that your cherry and chocolate shrimp will interbreed and the coloration quality of both types will eventually fall.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-14-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Yup, I'm still doing a 15% water change every day and dosing Prime per instructions (not overdosing).

And thanks for the tip about interbreeding. I know my cherries, chocolates, and blue velvets will interbreed, but they are all so pretty (for now).

A berried cherry just gave birth, counted 4 tiny babies so far, super cute! Wonder how long it will take for their coloration to kick in?
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