I'm At A Loss On Nitrite Level

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by missa124816, Apr 20, 2018.

  1. missa124816New MemberMember

    I recently got a Betta about three weeks ago and have done a water change before with no problem. I just did another 15% water change, which I'm doing weekly. I also cleaned the gravel which let a lot of waste/debris fly into the air. I have one real plant in the tank, and I also changed my filter cartridge today because it was making some strange noises.
    I noticed when I got home that the water is a bit cloudy, which I looked up and many said it'd disappear in a few days. However, my nitrite level is at a 5 and I'm really unsure how to handle it. Nitrate is at 20 ppm which is good for freshwater fish. pH is at 6.5-7, the KH and GH are both good as well. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to get that Nitrite to go down though, and I'm really worried my fish is suffering because of it.
    I've heard of "Prime" but everywhere I looked didn't give me much information so I'm here asking for help. Please give me some answers, I don't want my fish to be suffering!

    Sorry, I should also mention that he's swimming around normally. He likes to swim around when I sit in front of the tank, but when I'm not around or on the other side of the room he's more laid back and likes to relax by a plant or the filter. He hides behind the filter but I added a pantie hose so he wouldn't get stuck. He doesn't get stuck, he just likes to hide behind there to sleep and such. I'm not sure if that's important but I decided I should mention it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2018
  2. Kyleena696Valued MemberMember

    You said you changed the filter cartridge? Did you happen to leave any of the old filter media in the filter, or is it all new media? If you changed it all then you most likely re-started your cycle from throwing away most of the beneficial bacteria. The cloudyness in your tank is probably a bacterial bloom, AKA your new cycle.

    What is your ammonia at?
    Edit: Is your nitrite 0.5 PPM or 5.0 PPM?

    Prime is a water conditioner. It detoxifies ammonia and nitrite up to 1.0 PPM for 24-28 hours.

  3. Rohit messValued MemberMember

    Is the tank cycled? You got betta 3weeks ago, so how long was the tank set up before adding betta?
    What is ammonia reading?
    The cloudy water can be avoided with gravel vacuuming (i do it)
    My cloudy water settled in around 5 days for which i did small 10% water changes twice daily.

  4. missa124816New MemberMember

    To be honest, I don't have anything that tests what the ammonia is at which I know is bad. And I'm pretty sure it's at a 5.0 ppm. Yes, I changed the whole thing because the filter kept making strange noises and stopped once I changed the cartridge. Maybe I need a better filter, because every time I do a water change it makes these awful noises, but they usually stop after I play around with it. Last time it was because I didn't fill the water high enough so I was able to fix that easily. I don't know what is was this time because I changed the water and it was fine, but then it woke me up at 5 in the morning because it was making noises. I know I shouldn't have, but I unplugged the filter just for 45 mins so I could go back to sleep. I didn't think it'd cause any damage, and it was making the same noises a few minutes after I plugged it back in. I have a water conditioner from Tetra that I use when changing the water

    I know this sounds bad, but I put the Betta in 24 hours after setting up the tank. I read on multiple sites that it's okay as long as it's been 24 hours and he's been fine! So, will the cloudy water just clear up on its own? I have to buy a siphon, so I should do that really soon so the next time I clean his tank it'll be easier.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2018
  5. Kyleena696Valued MemberMember

    If it's at 5 PPM you're going to want to do a few water changes back-to-back to get it down to a reasonable level. Since you're not using prime (and I'm not familiar with what your water conditioner does) I'm not too sure what that would be. Hopefully someone else can help you out with this

    What filter do you currently have? A better one might be a good idea. I had a topfin and tetra filter and they both started making some awful noises. Turns out I didn't have the filter intakes pushed down far enough.

    Your filter media could also have been dirty and just needed a good rinsing in some tank water during a water change. My aquaclears get a little slow and sometimes make enough noise that I'll do a water change right now so that I can clean the filter media.
  6. Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    I strongly suspect your filter is making noises because you're leaving it running when the water level is below where the filter can safely run. like during water changes or the waster level drops due to evaporation. that will likely strip your filter bearings & cost money. turn your filter off when you're doing water changes ( heater too) but don't forget to turn them back on once the water level is back to the right level after your water change.

    you'll be doing a lot of water changes to keep your fish safe.

    when you changed your filter media you completely reset your cycle. that's because 99% of the beneficial bacteria you need to have a fish safe tank live in your filter media.

    put simply, your fish poo. that poo breaks down into ammonia which is toxic to fish. imagine breathing your own poo.

    one type of bacteria eat the ammonia. those bacteria then poo and create nitrite. nitrite is also very toxic to fish.

    a second type of bacteria (nitrobacter) start growing. these guys grow more slowly but they eat nitrite. when nitrobacter poo, they produce nitrate. nitrate is less toxic & perfectly safe for fish until it gets higher than 20-40 ppm. you remove nitrates when you do weekly water changes. most of us keep nitrates below 20ppm.

    I hope that makes sense? :)

    getting seachem prime will keep your fish safe as long as the levels of ammonia plus nitrite combined add up to less than 1ppm. (edit: example. ammonia at .5 + nitrite .25 = .75 total toxins = safe with prime)

    when your levels are higher, like yours are now, you need to do partial water changes (usually daily) to remove the toxins back down to a safer level. you do this until your bacteria grow and can do it themselves.

    the way you test your levels is test kits like the API freshwater master test kit. pls buy this :) you'll thank yourself.
  7. SFGiantsGuyWell Known MemberMember

    Additionally, the live plant is also a great benefit as well: An extra bonus haven for BB, cleans up ammonia, provides comfort and stimulation for your betta, and balances the nitrates some. Pretty much when you cycle a tank even with live plants, you're essentially cycling/loading up your filter. It's pretty much exactly that. And you cannot be sure of the water chemistry unless you purchase a water test kit. It's fundamental and very mandatory. Although bettas are indeed very very tough and hardy, high nitrites are not good regardless. Keep doing water changes, get some Prime as well. As that'll aid in alleviating any stress and so forth.

    And it seems that you're still in the midst of "new tank syndrome". Be patient. And take it steady and stress-free. Nature can be a bit tricky sometimes! Acquire the appropriate tools of the trade as well. And most importantly: do NOT get discouraged. In the long run, you'll inevitably learn a lot as well, therefore wisely establishing a base foundation for further care etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2018
  8. missa124816New MemberMember

    Thanks so much! I do have a water test kit, it just doesn't include ammonia. Should I be doing a water change every day? It's been very stressful for me because I just don't want him to suffer, so thanks for telling me I shouldn't be too stressed.

    I appreciate the time you put in to answering, all of these answers have put me at ease. I'll start doing daily water changes, should I be doing 10% or more? This little guy has me a bit stressed haha. Thanks for all your help. When the filter is necessary to be removed, how should I remove it safely so this doesn't happen, or will it happen every time? Also, I noticed the water levels were low the first time I changed the water and fixed it, but this was all in the morning so maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention!

    It's a filter that came with the tank, my mom insisted I get it to save money. The filter isn't too much of an issue, I think it's just me not knowing what I'm doing. I just hope he's having a better life rather than stuck in the cup the pet store had him in.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  9. SFGiantsGuyWell Known MemberMember

    Well maybe not a daily water change, because you need your BB to colonize more efficiently and productively. And also unpresumably note, that BB can either double every day...and it also can die just as fast every day--thus, you need to be careful about any potential disruptions rendering the primary characterstic of BB's function, which is to accelerate the cycle. Prime for example, lightens the burden of any bad chemicals effecting fish, so most everyone would suggest you use that forever, pretty much. Through much trial and error, and ups and downs, you will be rewarded for your consistent patience diligently. : )

    Oops! I meant not use it "forever" as in whenever, but rather use it when necessary. Don't want any misunderstandings here! Sorry my bad! lol...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  10. Ghost pepperNew MemberMember

    One of the starter tank set ups I purchased I have to put a little water into the filter almost to prime it so it doesnt make wierd noises. Also be sure to turn it off before doing the water changes so as not to burn up the pump running it dry. I am also very new to this but I think you will get all the answers you need here. Just stay positive. You do need an ammonia test kit though.
  11. SFGiantsGuyWell Known MemberMember

    Ever try the Carolina Reaper or extract Ghost_Pepper? Yeah, she NEEDS an ammonia test kit, asap.
  12. Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    you don't need to remove the filter. just unplug it when you're doing water changes until you refill to the right level. :) remember to plug it back in when you're done tho! :)

    I'm going to disagree with other people here and say that if your nitrites are at 5ppm you need to do larger water changes so your fish is safe. if it's at 5ppm, a 50% change only brings it down to 2.5 which is still harmful. if you only do 25%, it goes to 3.75. if you do 25% followed immediately by another 25% it brings levels to 2.8

    your goal is to get nitrite below 1ppm and then add prime. ultimately you need nitrite and ammonia to be dead zero.

    if you've gOt nitrates I reckon you're nearly cycled. hang in there! :)

    EDIT: almost there... except that removing filter media has set you back :/

    so at minimum I'd say daily 30% water changes... and I'd personally be doing more.

    your bacteria are in your filter not your tank water. :)
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  13. missa124816New MemberMember

    sorry, I meant when I have to change the filter cartridge, not the entire thing! my bad haha. I'll start by doing what you recommend. thanks so much for your help!

    thanks so much!

    so I should switch to prime and not bother using the water conditioner I already have? I just want to make sure I'm getting all the facts straight before I touch the tank again haha.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  14. Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    my advice with the filter cartridge is DON'T change it. that's where your bacteria live. just rinse it out in a bucket of tank water.
  15. Ghost pepperNew MemberMember

    Definitely do not change the cartridge. My suggestion was to simply use a little tank water to fill the HOBs holding chamber in order to alleviate strain on the mechanical part of your filter
  16. missa124816New MemberMember

    Oh my gosh, now his eyes are bulging and his body is swollen. I had no way to check this since I was out babysitting for a few hours and my parents, not knowing how he should look, didn't know anything was wrong. Will he make it through the night? I'm going to make a water change right now but I don't know what else I can do for him. Please help.
  17. Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    large water change. if you can get prime get it. don't forget to condition & declorinate water.
  18. missa124816New MemberMember

    thank you, I did a small water change, so should I add more? I can't get prime until tomorrow because everything is closed around here, but I have my water conditioner I put it. I left it for a few minutes and made sure the water temp was right before dumping it in. I feel so awful for him, he was not this bad when I left.

    He's moving around a little more, but he's definitely not doing the best he could be. at some points it looks like his swelling may have gone down but then I look again and it seems to be back up. since I changed the water, he seems to be moving around a bit more, but I don't know how long that will last. tonight's not my night guys haha
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  19. pugletfanWell Known MemberMember

    How is your fish this morning? What are your water parameters? (Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)
  20. missa124816New MemberMember

    Thank you for asking. The swelling in his eyes and body have gone down, and he's swimming around normally. The water has also cleared up from looking cloudy. I'll keep doing a few water changes, but still debating how often and how much I should be doing. I'm going to test his water before I leave because I only have one test strip left so I can go out and get more for him.

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