New Tank Cycle - High Nitrite and Nitrate

StevieBubbles

Hi there,

I’m busy cycling my new 10 Gallon planted tank with 6 Harlequin Rasboras (more details on my profile) and I’m currently at the point where my Ammonia is consistently reading 0, but my Nitrite and Nitrates stay high even with regular water changes… needless to say I’m stressed about my 6 Harlequin Rasboras.

Recent Water Readings:
  • 30/08/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0.2ppm NO2 0.5ppm NO3 20ppm KH 4’d GH 2’d]
  • 31/08/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0.1ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 4’d GH 2’d]
  • 50% Water Change
  • 01/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
  • 25% Water Change
  • 02/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 6’d GH 2’d]
  • 80% Water Change
  • 03/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 1ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
  • 25% Water Change
  • 04/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
These readings were taken over the course of the past week. I know I have all kinds of bacteria in the tanks, because I can see Nitrites and Nitrates in the water. This seems to be my Nitrite Peak / New tank syndrome. PS: I did test my tap water for nitrates/nitrite and there are non.

How long will this last? Doing water changes this often makes me anxious and tired. I want to keep the fish happy and healthy, but can anyone tell me how long this could keep going before I see the Nitrite going down? I added another plant (Cabomba) today and also hung some Pothos Plants into the water to help suck up some of the Nitrates. I also cleaned up one of my new plants which was melting. The new growth looks great, so I trimmed those off and replanted. I hope by removing these waste materials it’ll help slow down the nitrite production. all the other plants are growing well overall. I only feed once a day as well.

1630788876446.jpeg
Here is a picture of what things look like right now.
 

mattgirl

Beautiful tank :) I have to think the low pH is what is causing your cycle to slow down to a crawl. The cycle should eventually finish up but if you could get your pH up to at the very least 7 things would move forward a bit faster. Simply adding crushed coral to your filter should raise and stabilize the pH and should help get this tanks cycle done.
 

Revan

Hi there,

I’m busy cycling my new 10 Gallon planted tank with 6 Harlequin Rasboras (more details on my profile) and I’m currently at the point where my Ammonia is consistently reading 0, but my Nitrite and Nitrates stay high even with regular water changes… needless to say I’m stressed about my 6 Harlequin Rasboras.

Recent Water Readings:
  • 30/08/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0.2ppm NO2 0.5ppm NO3 20ppm KH 4’d GH 2’d]
  • 31/08/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0.1ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 4’d GH 2’d]
  • 50% Water Change
  • 01/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
  • 25% Water Change
  • 02/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 6’d GH 2’d]
  • 80% Water Change
  • 03/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 1ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
  • 25% Water Change
  • 04/09/2021 [pH 6.5 NH3 0ppm NO2 2ppm NO3 40ppm KH 5’d GH 2’d]
These readings were taken over the course of the past week. I know I have all kinds of bacteria in the tanks, because I can see Nitrites and Nitrates in the water. This seems to be my Nitrite Peak / New tank syndrome. PS: I did test my tap water for nitrates/nitrite and there are non.

How long will this last? Doing water changes this often makes me anxious and tired. I want to keep the fish happy and healthy, but can anyone tell me how long this could keep going before I see the Nitrite going down? I added another plant (Cabomba) today and also hung some Pothos Plants into the water to help suck up some of the Nitrates. I also cleaned up one of my new plants which was melting. The new growth looks great, so I trimmed those off and replanted. I hope by removing these waste materials it’ll help slow down the nitrite production. all the other plants are growing well overall. I only feed once a day as well.

1630788876446.jpeg
Here is a picture of what things look like right now.
I have to say your aquascaping skills are much, MUCH better than mine. Great job! As for the nitrogen cycle, I agree with what the user above me, mattgirl, posted. I would suggest using bottled bacteria if you want, but I've heard such mixed results about it that I don't know whether to recommend it or not. In theory, though, it should be helpful.
 

StevieBubbles

Thanks for everyone’s compliments and advice! I’ll definitely try raising the pH. I have been using Seachem Stability throughout the week, topping up after every water change. I’m not sure how effective it is either, but it can’t hurt trying. ;) I will change to dumping it right onto the filter media for good measure.

To raise the pH, I have the Seachem Neutral Regulator which adjusts the pH to 7, but it always creeps back down to 6.5. I suspect it’s the combination of the driftwood and the previous melting? I know now that the lower pH is perfect for the Rasboras, but I’ll try elevating it while the cycle finishes and then leave it.
 

mattgirl

To raise the pH, I have the Seachem Neutral Regulator which adjusts the pH to 7, but it always creeps back down to 6.5. I suspect it’s the combination of the driftwood and the previous melting? I know now that the lower pH is perfect for the Rasboras, but I’ll try elevating it while the cycle finishes and then leave it.
This is why I recommend crushed coral. Unlike something that comes in a bottle and has to be constantly added the crushed coral just sits in there and does its job. Should you decide to use it be sure to rinse it first. If not it will shoot your pH up too quickly. After rinsing it off it will take a few days for the pH to go as high as it is going to go. Once there it should hold it steady at that number.
 

StevieBubbles

This is why I recommend crushed coral. Unlike something that comes in a bottle and has to be constantly added the crushed coral just sits in there and does its job. Should you decide to use it be sure to rinse it first. If not it will shoot your pH up too quickly. After rinsing it off it will take a few days for the pH to go as high as it is going to go. Once there it should hold it steady at that number.
OK I’m going to try and buy some. Any recommendation as to how much exactly to add, or are there usually directions on the container?
 

mattgirl

OK I’m going to try and buy some. Any recommendation as to how much exactly to add, or are there usually directions on the container?
If all you can get is the finely crushed coral called aragonite start out with about 1/3 cup in a media bag. If you can get chunks of crushed coral (I prefer this kind) start out with at least a cup of it, again in a media bag. Put the bag in your filter. It works best of it has water running over and through it. I can't over stress the importance of rinsing it first. Since we have fish in this tank we don't want the pH to go up too quickly.

The good thing about crushed coral is you aren't going to add too much. It is only going to raise the pH so much and no more. I can't tell you what that number is going to be since it depends on the chemistry of your water. The number I get will be different than the number you get.
 

StevieBubbles

Update:
I’ve gone and bought crushed coral (slightly finer kind, white-ish - I’ll attach a picture)
I’ve placed it in a mesh bag (after rinsing thoroughly to get the fine sand and dust out) and temporarily hung it beneath the filter stream pouring back into the water.

I also had to add a bit of Prime to detoxify the nitrite (was at 2ppm, added 1ml) just to help things stabilise to allow the bacteria to get comfortable and optimised. I’m not sure how fast this works, but I’m planning to test the water again later today and then I’ll let you know.
 

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StevieBubbles

Right, so here are this afternoon’s readings: (bare in mind this is post 1ml Prime to reduce the spike of Nitrite.

pH: 6.5 (unchanged)
kH: 6’dKH (unchanged)
GH: 2’dGH (unchanged)
NH3: 0ppm (unchanged)
NO2: 1ppm (previously 2ppm)
NO3: 10ppm (previously 40ppm)

So at this point the coral hasn’t boosted my pH at all, but it’s only been in for about 6 hours. I guess it’s due to the KH buffer capacity that is keeping it from changing?

I’ve added another 1ml Prime to reduce the 1ppm Nitrite further so the fish can somewhat begin to recover.
 

mattgirl

Since the crushed coral is a natural product it isn't going to raise the pH quickly. It works by very slowly dissolving. This is the main reason I recommend putting it in our filters. We want it where there is the most water movement. The way you have it situated should work too since the water is running over and through it. There is no need to run the pH test no more often than every 24 hours. If it's not affected the pH after 3 or 4 days you may need to add more.
 

StevieBubbles

Since the crushed coral is a natural product it isn't going to raise the pH quickly. It works by very slowly dissolving. This is the main reason I recommend putting it in our filters. We want it where there is the most water movement. The way you have it situated should work too since the water is running over and through it. There is no need to run the pH test no more often than every 24 hours. If it's not affected the pH after 3 or 4 days you may need to add more.
Thanks so much for your help so far! I really do appreciate it. :cool: Quite the learning experience. This is the first time I’m really trying to get things right.

I will monitor things for the rest of the week and provide another update once I see some changes. Best wishes!
 

StevieBubbles

I thought I’d give an update on this situation.
I initially inserted the crushed coral, but it barely did anything over the course of 5 days And the nitrites were still very high. My pH stayed at 6.5, just my KH increased by about one degree.

so I decided to try something very risky and boost the pH chemically and see what happens. I added 2 tsp Baking soda over the course of two days :eek:, which helped raise the pH to 7.5, and my KH went sky high To about 18’d. The GH went up to 3’d.

i used Seachem Prime to detoxify the high nitrites and nitrates, while closely monitoring the pH and water hardness for the next week. Also didn’t do more water changes while relying on the Prime And I dosed Seachem Stability 2.5 ml daily.

After a week, things have now stabilised at pH 7.5, KH 15’d, NH3 0, NO2 0, NO3 0 (Curtesy of the Pothos plant hanging inside my hang-on filter), GH 2’d. All without using Prime or other additives to detoxify anything anymore.

my cycle has finally finished and the tank is happily maturing now. All fish are healthy! Including my three round-bellied Ottos. ;) Just battling the brown hair algae now…

Current Stock:
6 x Harlequin Rasboras
1 x Blue/White Halfmoon male Betta (very mild tempered)
3 x Otocinclus
2 x Julii Corydoras
 

mattgirl

I am so happy to hear this and I know you are thrilled.
 

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