55 Gallon Tank Cycled tank has high nitrites. Fish seems fine.

Websteria
Member
I have a 55 gallon tank I bought from Craigslist and cycled it. The ph is around 6.6, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates, but my nitrites are around 80ppm. I've done a thorough cleaning of the tank and gravel. I've done a lot of water changes as well but I can't seem to get the nitrites down. Any advice? Are my fish in danger?

Thanks!
Jeff


 
EricV
Member
I think you have nitrites and nitrates confused. At 80ppm nitrites would be well beyond the lethal range.

So assuming you meant nitrates you're still really high. How often are you doing water changes and how large are they? How is your tank stocked? Have you tested your source water?
 
Adam55
Member
Whoa! I would agree that nitrites and nitrates are getting crossed up here. 80ppm nitrite would kill fish that just looked at the tank. A WC should knock the nitrates down. 80ppm won't kill fish right away, but it will kill them if it stays there. Did the nitrates suddenly spike? Where are they normally?
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
Since I've been testing them they've been around 80. The weird part is that pretty quickly after a water change the levels rise up again. Even though the ammonia and nitrites are at 0. It could be 60. Hard to tell with the color used.


 
EricV
Member
Sounds to me like your tank might be overstocked. Assuming your source water doesn't contain a ton of nitrates already and you're following a regular maintenance schedule I would be very surprised to see such high levels unless there are a bunch of fish producing a ton of waste..
 
Thai Aquarium owner
Member
I would tend to agree with Eric.
You would appear to have a very overstocked tank.
The Nitrates can only be reduced by a series of large ( 50% ) water changes, that are to be performed back to back, and then a regime that controls fully the Nitrate levels.
This may mean several large water changes every week unless the stock are reduced.
 
Rivieraneo
Member
Websteria, what type of filtration are you using? With you're lowered PH, it is my opinion that you may be suffering from "old tank syndrome." Can you please test your water source for PH, ammon, nitri, and nitrate and post those readings. This should give you a baseline as to what is being added into your tank when you do a water change.
 
ricmcc
Member
Just a couple of very basic suggestions.
Assuming that your source water is good, (I ammonia thinking of no ammonia and the compounds that it reduces to) it is hard to overemphasize the importance of frequent water changes. As well, it is very important to insure that you clean your gravel while doing W/C.s, perhaps doing different areas on a rotating basis.
If the new 55gal is a big upgrade for you, and if it is as well planted as the one shown in your post, it can be easy to miss it when fish go missing. Both nutrient rich substrate and decaying fish or, often, snails, really add a lot to your bioload and therefore to your eventual nitrate levels. So get in the habit of checking that all fish that are supposed to be there actually are there, checking perhaps at feeding times. All the best, rick
 
lorianne621
Member
Here are some other things to do and or check.

You said you bought this tank off of Craigslist, but you did not say if it was up and running when you bought it or if it was empty and you set it up. If it was up and running and you simply moved it, fish and all, it may simply need a good cleaning. I have purchased tanks this way.
If this is the case, give the gravel a good vacuum. The gunk (fish poop, old food, etc.) that gets down in the gravel and decays will eventually become nitrates in a cycled tank.
Then remove any dead or dying plants, trI'm dead leaves, etc.
Search out and remove any dead fish or snails.
I agree with the others that daily water changes of 30 to 50 percent are a good idea until the nitrates are under control. Then maintenance changes of 25-30 percent twice weekly.

Good luck

Lorianne
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
When I bought the tank it had a rope fish and a Pleco in it. It was definitely very dirty and I've vacuumed a lot of crud from the gravel. My tap has ph 7.6, 0 ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. It had high nitrates even with just those 2 in it, but now it's got a total of 8 fish. I may have stocked too quickly but it's not increasing the nitrates. I'll do 50% water changes each day until it goes down.

Also for filtration I have an under gravel filter and a marine land magnum 350 canister filter.

 
Adam55
Member
You have an undergravel. Did it come with the tank? If so, do you know when it was last maintained before you got it? Those UGFs collect a ton of waste and do best when they're mated to powerheads with reverse flow ability.
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
The under gravel came with the tank. I have no idea when it was last maintained.


 
Rivieraneo
Member
Websteria said:
The under gravel came with the tank. I have no idea when it was last maintained.
UGF become nitrate factories if not maintained often. The downside to UGF is having to break your tank down to clean the grates effectively. Although some fishkeepers still use UGF, I would recommend replacing it with a second canister or large HOB. How thick of a gravel bed do you have currently?
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
One other thing. My canister filter just has carbon in it right now. Does it need something more?




The gravel bed is about 3 inches deep right now.




Also what is an hob?


 
Adam55
Member
Hang on Back filter. It's also called a power filter. It's the one you see sitting on the back on the tank.

Websteria said:
One other thing. My canister filter just has carbon in it right now. Does it need something more?
Yes. You need some sort of biological media in there. Are you sure it's not in there now? That's the most important stage.
 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
Canister filters usually give you a lot of flexibility on what media you want to put in it. I would venture to guess that most canisters are set up like mine with some kind of sponge filter to filter out the large debris, carbon to remove impurites from the water and (usually) ceramic media for the bacteria that cycles your tank to grow on.

Then on a regular basis (for me monthly) I change the carbon out (since it only workes for about 4 weeks) and squeeze out the sponges in dirty tank water. The ceramic rings just get left alone since they last forever (or maybe a little bit longer)
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
I just added some Eheim Substrate Pro to the canister filter on top of the carbon. Hopefully that'll help as well.


 
Adam55
Member
It definitely will. That's a strong product. What sort of canister is it? You can load up with a lot of media if you have room left over.
Do you have a mechanical stage? Like jdhef said in his post, the big sponge (mechanical) will catch large physical debris, the Eheim Substrat Pro (biological) consumes the ammonia and nitrites, and the carbon (chemical) strains out impurities and removes odors and colors from your water while also polishing the water.
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
There's a big blue sponge around the filter inside the canister. I think that's my mechanical phase.


 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
Websteria said:
There's a big blue sponge around the filter inside the canister. I think that's my mechanical phase.
Most likely it is.
 
  • Thread Starter
Websteria
Member
Here are my results after 1 day and a 50% water change. It's been 24 hours. Ph is low so I added baking soda. Nitrates still seem a bit high. Do I need to do ANOTHER 50% water change today?
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1401900656.385504.jpg





When I look at the nitrates in the light they look much lower than when they're on the paper. Which is the right way?


 
  • Moderator
jdhef
Moderator
Member
You are supposed to view against a white background
 
Thai Aquarium owner
Member
Another thing you may wish to try, is to reduce the depth of substrate from the current 3" to more like 1-3/4" / 2" depth.
Any more than 2" of substrate will encourage the growth of bad bacteria and microbes within the substrate.
As Riv stated in his post *7 you are indeed suffering from " old tank syndrome " caused by this build up of filth over a period of time in the tank, which you have already stated was in an awful condition when you acquired it..
 

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