Nitrite Issues - The Planted Tank Forum
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
Nitrite Issues

Hello everyone. I hope I am putting this in the right place, if not feel free to move it .

I'm having some problems cycling my tank. It's a 40g breeder that I'm fishless cycling. I'm using 100% pure ammonia. It does not foam when shook. It's the "professional" grade stuff from Ace Hardware. I've seen it recommended several times so I decided to go with it. I have live plants, Black Beauty blasting sand as the substrate. I'm keeping my water at 78F. More details on my setup can be seen here:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=187332

I would like to add that I have well water so I do not have to worry about chlorine. I do have co2 naturally in my water (I do not and will not inject co2 into the tank). It comes out of the tap as a 6.0 pH. After it sets up for a little while it creeps up to 6.8-7.2 pH (I have trouble telling the colors). A few weeks ago the final ph would be about 8.2. I don't know what has caused it to stay lower (this is both the tank readings and tap water that has set out over night). I also have natural nitrATES in my water. The reading seems to be 10-20ppm. I can't tell the difference in color on the card. No ammonia is present nor nitrITES in the tap water.

My issue is, my nitrITES are going to max in just a few hours. I started out using enough ammonia to get a 3-4ppm reading. It never went over 4ppm. When my ammonia started going to 0 in 24 hours or less, I would add more to keep it at 3ppm. My nitrites spiked. They've stayed at 5ppm+ for a little over a week now. I started reading and it seems with the nitrITES this high, it can stall the bacteria. I read some postings on various forums stating it's okay to do a 100% water change, just don't mess with the filter. I started off doing just a 50% change, then a 70%, it didn't help, so I did a 100%. NitrITES returned to 0. Added half the amount of ammonia I was adding. It got it up to 1ppm or so. The next day nitrITES were off the chart again. Did another 95% water change yesterday, nitrITES went down to .25ppm. Added just enough ammonia to get the slightest reading, .25ppm. Within three hours there was no ammonia detectable and nitrITES were back at 5ppm.

I decided to set up a test with the blasting sand to see if it was interfering somehow. I used a clean jar, added the sand and some tap water. I let it sit for two days. NitrITES have remained at 0.

I set up another test last night. I used three never used jars. One jar was filled with just tap water, the second filled with tap water and a rock (I didn't know if the rocks I added were reacting), the last was tap water and java moss that was rinsed for several minutes under tap water to make sure it was clean. This morning I tested all three. The first with only tap water had 0 nitrITES. The second with the rock had 0 nitrITES. The last with the java moss had a reading of 5ppm+ nitrITES.

Why are my plants causing my nitrITES to increase so much? This is ridiculous. I'm not sure what to do. I can't keep doing 100% water changes everyday. Will the beneficial bacteria eventually catch up, or are my readings too high for the bacteria to grow? I'd appreciate any insight on this.

Thank you,
Crystal

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 02:58 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
ngrubich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (25/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 1,097
Someone else more experienced than me can explain the nitrite issue, but as far as your low pH goes: the CO2 is insoluble in water, so it exists as carbonic acid, which lowers the pH. Try to aerate the tank more bring in more oxygen into the water column and push out the CO2.
Another thing could be the bacteria colony that is finally getting established is using the nutrients/respiring more, pushing CO2 into the water that way, also lowering the pH.
I do thing it's odd that the pH would jump that high a few weeks ago, though (if I am reading your post correctly). I also read up on CO2 in well water not too long ago and found this: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/201...ter/?mobile=nc

I'm not sure if you have read it, but it was posted from nearby Raleigh, which is kinda cool.
ngrubich is offline  
post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
Thank you ngrubich for the information on the pH. The pH is stabilizing the same inside and outside the aquarium, which is 6.8-7.2 (the test tubes side by side look identical, I just can't tell the exact reading on the color card).

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
 
post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:17 PM
Algae Grower
 
alkatraz's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 114
What's your KH? Are you using an alkaline buffer?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

Current Tank:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

[Buildup Questions
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
|
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
] |
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Previous Tank:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
alkatraz is offline  
post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
I don't have a KH test kit yet. Nothing is added to the water at all. It comes from the tap directly into the tank. I don't try to adjust the ph nor any other factors. I like to keep things natural because I don't want the headache of trying to keep the perimeters. The only filter I have for the tap water is for sediment. It doesn't alter the water in any way. I would expect that KH would not affect the nitrITE? I'm not worried about my pH nor nitrATE. I will be storing the water in a large trashcan for future water changes to prevent a pH fluctuation. I will either use live plants or maybe Purigen to remove the nitrATES that are in the water before adding it to the tank to prevent a jump in nitrATES. I just mentioned them in case they just happen to be affecting the nitrITE (though I don't see how).

This nitrITE issue is really stumping me. I don't understand why it is jumping to 5ppm in so little time and why it's looking like the plants are causing it. I don't know what I need to do to correct the issue or if my cycle will finish as is.

Crystal

***I'd like to add I'm not using any fertilizer either. No liquid ferts nor tablets of any kind.

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin

Last edited by Crissytal; 08-19-2012 at 03:51 PM. Reason: added information
Crissytal is offline  
post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 03:56 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (16/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 403
Plants don't create nitrites. They take in the ammonia directly and use it as a food source. It's the bacteria in the tank that convert ammonia to nitrites, and then to nitrates. Guess where that bacteria lives? On the plants, among other places. You're putting bacteria covered moss into the jar, and that's where the nitrites are coming from.
TwoTacoCombo is offline  
post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
That makes sense. There's no ammonia to convert into nitrITRES though. There was 0 ammonia in my test jar. The java moss was rinsed quite well in tap water. I should add that moss had been sitting in a container of water with no ammonia source, that clump never made it in the tank. It's been in the container for 4+ weeks sitting under my grow lights. Bacteria should be starved out I'd think? I only put .25ppm ammonia into the tank last night. .25ppm ammonia should not convert into 5ppm+ nitrites in just 3 hours?

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 04:54 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
HolyAngel's Avatar
 
PTrader: (24/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: springfield, IL
Posts: 2,801
Send a message via AIM to HolyAngel
I know it can take three weeks or so for the nitrosomanas to build up enough to handle all the nitrite. I'd just keep doing enough water changes to keep the nitrites under 5ppm and you should start seeing the nitrates go up a bunch.

SunSun Pimp # 42

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
HolyAngel is offline  
post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 05:38 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
 
PTrader: (16/100%)
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 403
How are you testing for nitrites? API test kit? Is it testing purple after 5 minutes? Have you tested your tap water for ammonia? You say you have well water, perhaps there's some fertilizer leeching into it? Nitrites don't just come out of nowhere.. there's got to be a source of ammonia somewhere. Is the java moss completely green, or are there some decaying brown spots on it? Decaying plant matter breaks down into ammonia, among other things...
TwoTacoCombo is offline  
post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-19-2012, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
I am using the API test kit. I forgot to mention that. I am waiting 5 minutes, it turns the bright purple indicating 5ppm. I have tested my tap water for ammonia as mentioned above. I've tested both right out of the tap and after a day of setting out. My tap water has 0ppm ammonia and 0ppm nitrites. The java moss looks healthy to me. It's nice and green.

HolyAngel, the problem is I'm having to do 100% water changes multiple times a day to keep it below 5ppm. Last night it went from .25ppm to 5ppm+ in just three hours. I can't keep this up. Something is causing the nitrites to spike and it's not the ammonia conversion process.

I'm going to do another experiment today. I'm going to do one last 100% water change. I am going to refill like I have been doing, directly from the tap. What I'm going to do differently is not add any ammonia. I'm going to let it sit an hour after filling up to let the heater adjust to the coolness (I refill with cold water since it's in the basement, I don't have an option for warm water) and turn the heat back on so it can heat back up to 78F. I'm going to test the water a few different times to see exactly how long it takes the nitrites to come back without ammonia. I wouldn't think the temperature different would cause any kind of false readings in nitrite.

Just curious, if it was decaying plant matter that was causing issues with nitrites, wouldn't that take time? I'd think it would take much longer for nitrites to appear from that, much longer than 3 hours going from 0ppm to 5ppm anyway.

Is it possible there is something interacting with the test kit giving me a false reading?

I will report back to let you know how the 100% water change goes with no ammonia added.

I'm open to more suggestions.

Crystal

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2012, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
Alright, I did my testing last night after doing a 100% water change. Nitrites dropped to 0, ammonia 0.

I kept testing last night, everything remained at 0. This morning ammonia and nitrites were still 0. This morning I added 5 drops of ammonia. That is correct, 5 DROPS. This is not enough to register on my test kit. I waited 20 minutes and tested, 0 ammonia. I went ahead and tested the nitrites, .25ppm. After another 20 or so minutes, ammonia was still 0, nitrites were between .50 and 1 ppm. I did NOT add any more ammonia. From my understanding the conversion process should be pretty much 1:1. Meaning that 1ppm ammonia should convert to about 1ppm nitrites. This isn't the case for me. I seem to be getting additional nitrite from somewhere.

Here is my log from testing today:

Tested at 8.40am
ph - 6.6
ammonia - 0
nitrite - 0
temperature - 78

5 Drops Ammonia added at 9.40am

Tested at 10:07am
ammonia - 0
nitrite - .25ppm

Tested 10:29am
ammonia - 0
nitrite .25ppm (slightly more purple than before, but not quite .50ppm)

Tested 11:40am
ammonia - 0
nitrite - .50 to 1.0ppm
ph - 6.6

When I first started cycling I started with the suggested 10 drops per gallon. I ended up having to add more than 40 drops to get an ammonia reading of 3ppm. At that time, I did NOT have problems with nitrites spiking like they are now. I did not have the tank completely set up at the time. Only the driftwood and blasting sand were in there. I have added plants, rocks, and a long clear plastic tube that's acting as a spray bar. I'm working on trying to narrow down what could be causing the issue. Any suggestions are still appreciated.

I'm soaking a rock in a jar of water with ammonia. I'm soaking a piece of the plastic tubing that I had left over in a jar with ammonia. I'll be testing these in a bit. Earlier today I let tap water sit with a bit of ammonia for several hours. No nitrites. Whatever is going on is not in the tap water.

No one has ever seen plants react somehow and cause nitrite spikes? I have only been able to replicate the issue using plants (so far). I understand there is supposed to be no way that aquatic plants should be causing this issue, especially if they are healthy and not rotting. If the rock and tube test come back negative, it looks like all the plants will have to go until the tank cycles. If 5 drops of ammonia in a 40g tank is causing nitrites to spike between .5 and 1.0 ppm, it will be impossible for me to cycle the tank as I cannot continue to do 100% water changes every day. I have to do something, or I am going to end up starving what bacteria I have managed to grow. If anyone thinks of anything else that I can test, please let me know. I'm running out of ideas.

Crystal

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 12:56 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: DC area
Posts: 3,056
Can you test the ammonia to see if there is nitrites in it? Sounds dumb when I say it out loud, but if all you are adding is the bottled ammonia then it does seem odd. Or maybe try another ammonia source, like fish food, and see if you get the same results.

Altho the test with the java moss is quite baffling.

To be honest when I did my cycles I never worried about nitrites being too high and messing with the bacteria - I never even heard of that until a few months ago.
wendyjo is offline  
post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Crissytal's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western NC
Posts: 17
Hi wendyjo,

I've added the ammonia to tap water and then tested it for nitrites. There are none. It's not the ammonia source and it's not my tap water. Something is going on inside the tank that isn't quite right. When I add enough ammonia to keep the bacteria from starving (1ppm or so), the nitrites go so far off the chart that a 50% water change isn't enough to get it below 5ppm. I honestly don't know if the nitrite bacteria can grow in those kinds of conditions. If they can, I'm all for leaving it alone.

I tested the jars with the rock and the jar with the tube. It's been a few hours and nitrites are 0 on both. I should add that the rock has never been in the tank, though it is identical to the rest.

I have no idea what's going on. I've cycled plenty of tanks before and have never had problems. Though I had water then that was liquid rock and full of sulfur and chlorine. Figures that the nice, chemical free, mountain water would give me all kinds of problems.

Crystal

And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter
--Led Zeppelin
Crissytal is offline  
post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 01:27 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Posts: 11,721
Nitrospira is the species of bacteria that turn nitrite into nitrate. They are slow growing, but there sure does seem to be something else going on here.

You have tested everything in the tank, and only the plants seem to cause the rising nitrite.
Everything else, even with ammonia in the test jar does not cause nitrite to spike.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Try this:
Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 10 gallons of water.
Add only those few drops of ammonia.
Test ammonia, nitrite and nitrate daily.

What I think is going on: Your water changes pH so easily that I suspect there is not enough carbonate to keep the bacteria going. They get their carbon from carbonate.

If you do not want to add baking soda, try some coral sand, limestone sand or oystershell grit. These will take longer to break down, but they will start adding some minerals to the water.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
If that does not work, then I would go buy some Nitrospira. Read the label and make sure you get the right product. Most 'cycle in a bottle' products contain the wrong species of bacteria.
Diana is offline  
post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 06:35 AM
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Dubai
Posts: 22
I'm no expert but from what i've read 3 to 4 ppm of Ammonia in a 40g is a lot. I've seen people recommend 1 to 2 ppm. Could it be that the filter is too full or nitrIte bacteria that it cannot now grow nitrAte bacteria?

If this is true then could replacing a third or half of the filter material (with new) be a solution?

I agree that a KH test kit might be helpful.

We have a product here called JBL Denitrol (http://www.jbl.de/en/aquatics-freshw...0/jbl-denitrol). If I was at your point i'd be trying this now to finish the cycle.
Stitchwod is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome