Is This Even Real Life?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Aquaboy, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Aquaboy

    AquaboyValued MemberMember

    I've been cycling a second tank and monitoring it daily.
    On Saturday the parameters were pH 6.6, ammonia 1.0, nitrite 2.0, nitrate 10.0

    I do almost daily 50% water changes because the Nitrite gets so high, but this is what shocked me.

    On Monday the parameters were pH 6.6, ammonia 2.0, nitrite 5.0, and...something I've never ever seen before nitrate was 160.0, the maximum on the chart totally blood red. I dose Prime every day and usually the maximum dosage.

    Do snails cause nitrate because the only odd thing about my tank is that I have literally an infestation of pond snails. I can probably count more than 50 on the glass alone.

    p.s. I did double check the nitrate test because I thought it was surely a mistake, but the same result. I did a 80-90% water change and the nitrate went down to 5. The next day it was at 80 so I did another water change and it went down to 10. Two days later it went up to 40 and that's where I am now.
  2. Chaory

    ChaoryValued MemberMember

    What size tank, filters, and test kit?
  3. AllieSten

    AllieStenFishlore VIPMember

  4. dndlyon

    dndlyonValued MemberMember

    Are you doing a fishless cycle? If so, how often are you adding ammonia? If not, what critters do you have in the tank?

    If you aren't adding ammonia and only have snails - where is all that ammonia coming from?

    (I have been invaded by pond snails, too. They poop like crazy, but I don't think they make enough ammonia to affect a cycling tank - especially if you are vacuuming some of the pooh with the water changes.)

    Did you shake the second nitrate test bottle like crazy (assuming it's a liquid kit)? I have been trying to cycle a 29 gal since January. It seemed like the tank was barely converting nitrite at all. Then nitrates were off the chart, and then all over the place. Part of it is just how the different bacteria in the cycle work, and part of it was me not taking the time to shake the second bottle well enough (so my test results were bad).

    Regardless of any water changes you may have done over the weekend, both the ammonia and nitrate climbed between Saturday and Monday, so it makes sense that your nitrate would climb as well. As you know, ammonia is converted to nitrite which is converted to nitrate. But it isn't a 1:1 reaction - 1 ppm of ammonia doesn't end up as 1 ppm of nitrate.

    Regarding Prime - it doesn't remove the ammonia. At some point between 24 and 48 hours, it stops "binding", so any free ammonia will still convert through the cycle. There is a limit to how much Prime will "bind". So at over 1 ppm, there is probably free ammonia that will convert through the cycle to become nitrate. The thread below might be interesting for you. There's a section in the middle about how Prime works.
    How long will the water remain "Primed?"

    Just a guess (assuming you don't have fish in the tank), if you keep doing what you're doing, things will settle in. I'd recommend doing the testing and water changes on a regular schedule so you can see if there is a pattern to the values. Once I put the 29 gal on a regular cycle (add ammonia in the am, test at 24 hours, do a water change before adding ammonia when nitrates were 40 or greater, repeat), the cycle smoothed out.
  5. chromedome52

    chromedome52Fishlore VIPMember

    The idea that snails are not relevant to cycling is very wrong. A snail infestation can be an enormous addition to the bioload, so depending on what you call an "infestation", yes, they can produce that much. Bear in mind that Nitrates are the end product of the nitrogen cycle, so you have to control it by either changing water or having plants that use it. BTW, snail feces produce ammonia as they decay, as that's done by a different set of bacteria, which are, themselves, an addition to the total bioload. It is a cascading effect.

    Newbs often think the nitrogen cycle sounds complicated, but in fact, it is a great simplification of a much more complex system than even many with experience are aware of. In the aquarium we use it as a bellweather to watch for indications of imbalance, but it is not the whole system.
  6. purslanegarden

    purslanegardenWell Known MemberMember

    Sometimes the nitrate levels get so high that the test product shows its highest number, even after several water changes. It just means it is still high and you should keep doing water changes until it comes under control. As for what caused it to spike so high compared to the last time you had tested it at 10 ppm just a few days prior, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't exclude the bioload of the current inhabitants.
  7. OP

    AquaboyValued MemberMember

    Hello, thanks for replies. It is a 17 gallon tank with 1 betta and an infestation of pond snails and lots of plants. So far an entire bottle of stability has gone into it prior to adding the fish, even the instructions say livestock may be added at any time. I'm using the JBL cristalprofi e701 which is for 15-55 gallons it has the biofoam layer with prefilter media, then a layer of purigen and then biofilter balls. Using the API test kits.
    This is my log that I used to keep track of the parameters. I added the fish when I was able to stabilize the pH. My tap water is 0/0/0 as well.

    The green background for the water change tab is when I did a water change and the measurements were after.

    When the nitrite is either 2.0 or 5.0 that means I can't tell the difference in color its just really dark purple. I also added Seachem Pristine to handle organic waste.

    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  8. Gekco

    GekcoWell Known MemberMember

    How much pond snails are in the tank? If you have a bunch then it can be a sign of over feeding, that can cause ammonia spikes as the food decays.
  9. OP

    AquaboyValued MemberMember

    On one side of the glass I stopped counting after 40 because there are baby ones everywhere. I feed the betta these little balls from Hikari once a day. Although about a week before I got the fish, approximately 1 month ago in total, I did add a lot of fish flakes, that is the reason I added Seachem Pristine.

    What is strange is I cycled my other tank fishless and the nitrate never went above 20 and since it has been cycled it is usually below 5.