Help! Nitrite spike - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Nitrite spike

Hi all,
We did a partial water change yesterday, added two plants, added 1 fish, removed (donated away) 30 baby plecos. The water looked fine but our ph was low last night. We added ph adjusting tabs and this morning the nitrites were up to 3ppm. We did a 50% water change and here are our numbers:
nitrates = 0
nitrite = 2ppm (normally at 0)
Gg = 70
Chlorine = 0
Kh = 120
Ph = 6.6 (normally keep at 7)

We have a pleco dad sitting on a nest of babies so I'm worried about the spike. None of the fish seem stressed but I can't see the babies in their cave.

We run a HOB with bio balls and filter floss (no charcoal). I have charcoal bags I can drop in if that would help.

Chemicals we use at water change:
PRIME
API stress coat
Tetra correct pH tablets (generally use 4-5 to adjust to pH of 7)
API aquarium salt (4 little chunks)

Thanks in advance for the advice.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 04:07 PM
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To counteract nitrite toxicity or Brown Blood Disease use sodium chloride ( aquarium salt or non-iodized table salt) a 10:1 dose (just 10mg/l of salt per 1mg/l nitrite).

Here is further information for you:
https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co....ons-on-nitrite

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 04:40 PM
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you can add a larger dose of Seachem Prime to bind (ammonia or) nitrite for up to 48 hours
link from Seachem help desk:
https://www.seachem.com/support/foru...=9376#post9376
https://www.seachem.com/support/foru...=4292#post4292
Live plants and beneficial bacteria can still consume the nitrite but it protects the fish from the harmful effects.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 04:54 PM
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I would make water changes/salt your prime defense against nitrite toxicity.
Your plant mass is extremely low and prime only detoxifies 1ppm of ammonia/nitrite for 24-48 hours.
Your residuals have far exceeded this number in a 24 hour period.
Keep doing water changes back to back until the nitrite levels are at "0". Then, you should be able to control the rise of nitrites with daily water changes.
Is this a newly established cycle ( has this tank been set up for less than 3 months) or is this an established cycle ( tank been running for more than 3 months)?

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for the quick reply. The tank has been heavily planted and cycling for 2 years now.

Couple more questions:
Water changes - daily or more than 1x per day?
Filter- should I drop a charcol filter in (pull my bioballs out and just float in tank while charcoal filter is in)?
You said add more PRIME. If I use more will the PRIME hurt the fish?
Should I add an air stone back in to agitate the water more?

For the past several months, our plecos and platty have been breeding very well. It has been great for my kids to learn about them and they do water testing every few days and take behavioral notes daily.
We donate the babies to Petco who adopts them back out (proceeds to PetCo charities).
We have been fine until last night. I did stir up the gravel more than normal when planting so I'm guessing that is what did it.

Current Tank mates:
7 neon tetras
2 adult dwarf Corey catfish
1 small adult male hifin platy
1 small adult male longfin sword

2 large adult platty female (1hifin, 1 regular) (babies from these moms below)
4 juvenal female hifin platy
1 small adult platty hifin female

2 adult bristle nose plecos (their babies
3 - 6mo baby bristle nose plecos
4 - 4mo baby bristle nose plecos
4 - 2 mo baby bristle nose plecos
4 - 1mo baby bristle nose plecos
? - daddy is guarding baby bristle nose plecos nest
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 06:06 PM
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What size tank is this?

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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30 gal tank (counting out space taken by gravel)

We use gravel about 2-4 inches deep. Had planned to move to sand but didn't want to throw off stable tank.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-21-2019 at 10:58 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 07:41 PM
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Today do water changes back to back until nitrite no longer registers- as many as needed to do so.
After this should be able to control how much rises within 24 hours by doing daily 50% water changes.
Since your bio-filter is established, you are just going through a mini-cycle and cycle should restore itself within 72-96 hours.

No, there is no need for charcoal here, there is more need to keep the bio-media in the filter itself where it has the highest contact with oxygen.

Use Prime only to detoxify the chlorine/chlorimine when do water changes. Do not add extra because you have fry in tank and Prime works as a reducer and can cause issue with oxygen intake. The best course here is water changes and, like I said, the addition of salt to counteract any problems that may have been due to nitrite exposure.

If you continue nbto have issues with ammonia or nitrite after the 96 hours it is because you have met the limit of your bio-filter for this size tank and will need to either get rid of some fish or get a bigger tank.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 07:54 PM
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I personally never use charcoal but that's because I have live plants and dose ferts. I qt separately for meds and use water changes to remove meds after treatment.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 09:49 PM
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> Test your source water.
> What is the pH of your source water? Rarely do we need to routinely add chems for pH.
> Stop using salt. Salt should rarely be used in a FW aquarium.

You need to understand the root cause of your high nitrites as this is not normal in an established aquarium.

Tank On, Mike-
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10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 10:14 PM
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Salt is for nitrite toxicity. It is the one confirmed treatment to ensure that fish exposed to high nitrite levels do not have lasting effects from exposure. "Brown Blood disease." This most certainly what the OP should be doing in this case.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2019, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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With the second water change the levels are at 0!!

I still do not know how it all happened after 2 years of a stable tank but everyone looks ok now.

Another question re tank size - when asked, I said my tank is 30 gallon. Do you generally report tank size by the size of the actual tank or by volume available to the fish? My tank is a 38 gallon but I think of it as a 30 gallon b/c the gravel and plants take up space.

When asked on the forum, should I call it a 38 gallon (actual tank size) or 30 gallon (volume of swim space)?
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-28-2019 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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