Seachem Ferts keep making nitrite spike - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-01-2013, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Seachem Ferts keep making nitrite spike

*Tank has been cycled for about 2 months*

Three weeks ago all the water parameters were good, added some ferts and hours later fish were going crazy. Ammonia was at 0, but nitrite had spiked to close to 4. I did some water changes & added prime. I figured it was this new bacteria I was adding to the filter called Microlift Therap so I stopped using it.

Later in the week I added some more ferts and hours later fish started acting crazy. Did a check and ammonia at 0, nitrite was around 2. I did some water changes & added prime. I thought it was the excel I was using. I've been battling bba and just started using diluted metricide 14 as a excel replacement. So I did some water changes and stopped using the metricide.

Later in the week I added some more ferts and hours later fish were going crazy. Checked water and ammonia was 0 and nitrite at 2. I did some water changes & added prime. I didn't know what it was so I stopped adding ferts for about a week. No ammonia, No nitrite, nitrate slowly raised to 3 by the end of the week.

I started documenting what I was adding and on what days to try to narrow down what was causing the nitrite spike. Here are my results until I experienced another spike:

*Friday- ammonia .25 & nitrite @ 0,
added 8ml seachem potassium, 5ml seachem prime
6 hours later ammonia & nitrite at 0, nitrate at 2

*Sunday- ammonia .25 & nitrite @ 0, nitrate at 3
added 5ml seachem nitrogen, 4ml seachem flourish, 8ml seachem potassium
6 hours later ammonia & nitrite at 0

*Sunday night- did 50% water change added prime to tap water as recommended

*Monday- ammonia .25 & nitrite @ 0, nitrate at 1-2
added 12.5ml seachem trace
6 hours later ammonia & nitrite @ 0

*Tuesday- ammonia .25 & nitrite @ 0, Nitrate @ 2-3
added 5ml seachem nitrogen, 8ml seachem potassium, 3ml seachem phosphorous , 5ml seachem prime
6 hours later ammonia @0, nitrite @ 1


So I've narrowed it down to phosphorous, but I don't know if it is the phosphorous by its self or mixed with the potassium, or mixed with the nitrogen, or mixed with prime, or if its the four mixed together.

I tried experimenting with tap water but everything shows 0 nitrite, so its somehow doing something to the bacteria. Maybe keeping the nitrifying bacteria from working...I'm not really sure.

I'm hoping for some insight from people who know what is going on here.


(Sorry for the long post)

Last edited by kyleax1; 01-01-2013 at 09:44 PM. Reason: added info
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-02-2013, 12:43 AM
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So...

If you add any one of those materials to tap water, then you only see a rise in the thing you added. Ie: If you add nitrate, the only thing that rises is nitrate.

Do you have tests for other things like P, Fe or other plant nutrients?

The next thing I would do is to take some cycled filter media out of the filter and put it in a glass of water with just dechlor, and in separate glasses with dechlor and add ONE of the other materials to each glass.
So you will have the following 6 glasses:
1) Dechlor
2) Dechlor + Seachem Nitrogen
3) Dechlor + Seachem Phosphorus
4) Dechlor + Seachem Potassium
5) Dechlor + Seachem Trace (Comprehensive? This one has a little bit of N-P-K, I think, the older Trace was just trace minerals)
6) Dechlor + Metricide
Then follow up with tests at 24-48 hours.
This will eliminate any possibility of interaction between the fertilizers.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-02-2013, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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I don't have any test for nutrients.


So basically I should take some of my matrix rocks out, put a couple in each of the 6 glasses. Put different things in each glass and see which one gets a reaction?

Any reason why I wouldn't fill the glasses up with tank water?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 03:25 AM
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I am trying to isolate each fertilizer by itself, without the complexity of the whole tank chemistry. Trying to see if it really can be determined that one specific bottle of fertilizer is causing the problem. So I don't want tank water with all its complexity.
If one by itself if not, the next step is to look into combinations taken 2 at a time.

If one of the bottles has ammonia (by accident, not on the label) then your nitrifying bacteria act pretty fast on the ammonia, but are slower to respond to the excess nitrite, so that might be one cause. The bacteria would turn it into nitrate, probably by the next day, though. You would probably see the nitrite spike.

If one of the bottles has nitrite (again, hidden, a problem, not intentional) that would show up as nitrite for a short time, then the bacteria would get going on it and turn it into nitrate.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-03-2013, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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After I do the large water change there is always .25 or .5 nitrite left, but by the next morning it reads 0.

I will try all this Saturday when I have time.

I will post the results
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 03:48 AM Thread Starter
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Did test with tap and tank water 8 different combinations. 2 matrix rocks per cup. No nitrite in any cups after 2,4, & 6 hours.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 06:45 PM
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Well, with no nitrite showing up in any of the treatments, I could see either of 3 options:

1) The fertilizers are not, by themselves, adding nitrite.
2) The nitrifying bacteria is SO fast at removing it that you did not happen to test in those fleeting minutes when nitrite was there.
3) If it is the fertilizers it is a combination, 2 at a time, not singles.

Option 1) Suggests that there is something going on in the tank. Not ruling out the fertilizers totally, but if the nitrite is triggered by the fertilizer it is a more complex reaction that just "add ferts; get nitrite"

Option 2) does not seem likely. How come it shows up in the tank for a while (long enough to show up when you test) but would be removed so fast from the samples?

Option 3) Can be tested in the same jars as before. Look at the previous tests and see if any two ferts seem to be used together before the nitrite shows up. Set up those combinations in the jars.
If you still have the jars set up, I would add a bit of ammonia overnight to feed the bacteria, then rinse them out before staring the second round of tests.

How has the tank been lately? What have you added? Have you seen any nitrites?

Maybe now carry the testing to the tank.
Any one AM add ONE fertilizer.
Test right away (within an hour) then test in the late afternoon.
If there is nitrite showing, test again the next morning before adding anything else. Do water changes as needed, but do not add any fertilizers for 24 hours after a water change. Test the tank after a water change to see if the dechlor is contributing to the problem.
Each day add a different fertilizer, except on a day when you do a water change. Then the dechlor is the material being tested.

Goal: Since no one fert by itself (with just dechlor), or dechlor by itself created the problem, the next test is to isolate each fertilizer from each other, but put it in the complex chemistry of the aquarium. Maybe there is something in the tank, reacting with one of the fertilizers and generating nitrite.

Other Goal: Testing the ferts two-at-a-time to see if it is a combination, but not adding the complexity of the tank.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Cups I had set up

1) tap+declor
2) tap+declor+phosphate
3)tap+declor+potassium
4) tap+declor+nitrogen
5) tap+declor+excel
6) tank water+phosphate+potassium+nitrogen+excel+prime+mel afix+the rap
7) tank water+prime+phosphate
8) tank water+prime+phosphate+nitrogen

No nitrite at all


This morning added melafix and phosphate to the aquarium, tested every 2 hours for past 10 hours. No nitrite no ammonia increase either.

Last edited by kyleax1; 01-05-2013 at 09:58 PM. Reason: clarification
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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I finally got a reaction.

Tank water + everything + 10 matrix rocks. 6 hours later I had .25-.50 nitrite

I guess 1 or 2 rocks was not enough to do anything.

Now I am going to try to narrow it down.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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It was the nitrogen. Seachem was helpful and informative when I called them.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 05:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyleax1 View Post
It was the nitrogen. Seachem was helpful and informative when I called them.
What was happening?

Anthony


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Well Elizabeth was the rep at Seachem helping me. She talked to their chemist and he said something along the lines of...Their is X in the nitrogen and the nitrite test reactions to X. So if you overdose the nitrogen then a nitrite test will give a false reading because of the excess amount of X being in the water. I think the X was zinc, but I can't be certain.

I however, do not feel this is what was happening because when I put conditioned tap water with bacteria in a cup & added bacteria and tested for nitrite I got a 0 reading, no matter how much nitrogen I added.

But when I put tank water in a cup with bacteria & added nitrogen I got a nitrite reading of about .25

During all occurrences that I got a nitrite in the tank my fast were acting crazy which is what prompted me to test the water parameters, so I really don't feel that it was a false reading.

After talking to Elizabeth more about it she didn't know what was causing it, she offered to replace the bottle or send me another product instead if I didn't want the nitrogen.

It is like the nitrogen is paralyzing the bacteria that changes nitrite to nitrate, because the tank water started with .25 ammonia & as I tested the cup of tank water I noticed as ammonia went down nitrite went up by about the same amount but then it never went to nitrate. Now, it may have finally changed to nitrate after a longer period of time, but I didn't wait that long.
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