Nitrite And Nitrate Problems

Cerissa

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HI everyone! Wasn't sure where to post this. I'm not a total newbie but new to having these problems. We have a 125 gallon tank with nitrate and nitrite problems. We've had various filters over the years. We have tried everything suggested to us to get numbers down. We were successful is getting nitrites to almost zero but nitrates still pretty high. We just bought a Fluval FX4 and it's been running for a 7 days. Now the nitrites are off the chart (where they were almost zero) and nitrates worse. Surely this can't be normal?? My heart sank when I saw the reading.
 

r5n8xaw00

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Welcome to Fish Lore.
Do you have fish in the125g? What type of fish and how many?
Do you have any other source of media from an already established aquarium, this would help seed your new filter.
At this point the only way to lower nitrites and nitrates is by water changes. But the presence of fish or without fish will determine the amount and frequencies of water change.
 
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Cerissa

Cerissa

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Hi, thanks! The tank itself is well established. We've had it for many years As for current fish, we have an Oscar, Pleco, Jack Dempsy, 3 Silver Dollars, and 3 Featherfin Catfish. Per directions on the Fluval we filled wuth 1.5 gallons of water and we used tap water (our tap water test showed 0 nitrites, nitrates, amonia). We put more than that in a 25% tank change LOL So I figured it wasn't that. But could it be?
We've had a hard time keeping it as clean since putting this big pirate ship in there. Last night we took it out, replaced decorations and did a tank change. Also treated with PrimeOne.
 

r5n8xaw00

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It is very possible that changing to a new filter has crashed your already cycled aquarium. The bacteria needed to maintain the cycle live in the filter media inside the filter. Since the Fluval FX4 is new, then there where no established bacteria in its media. This gets mixed reviews, as I have never tried any, but you can try bottled beneficial bacteria. There are several different brands under which bottled bacteria are sold. This could help get your new filter bacteria established in a quicker time. Of course the best way to seed your new filter is with already seeded filter from an aquarium that has already been properly cycled. But for now I am afraid the only way to get your high numbers down is with water changes and you will have to stay on top of this, which I am sure you already know.

Hang in there because I am helping you as best I can, there will be others coming along in due time with more experience to help.
 
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Cerissa

Cerissa

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I honestly didn't think it would be a big deal LOL we've obviously changed filters in the past, replaced media, etc. without such problems. I underestimated the scope of this change.
I appreciate your input!
 

Redshark1

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Its not about keeping things clean its about having a good nitrogen cycle.

The bacteria population in the filter and gravel has to build up to a level where it can deal with all the fish waste.

If you wash this population out you reduce the ability to deal with the wastes which means toxic ammonia and nitrite will build up.

These are normally converted to much less toxic nitrate which you keep at safe levels (under 40 ppm but lower if possible) by doing water changes e.g. 25% per week.

You need to thoroughly understand the nitrogen cycle (including correct feeding amounts) to stand a chance of keeping fish alive. It is the one key thing.
 

Jenoli42

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agree with all the helpful comments above.

the bacteria that live in your filter media are cycled once you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite & nitrates above 5. you manage your nitrates via regular water changes to keep below 20 (ideally). the more fish you have (& the smaller the tank volume), the more frequent & bigger partial water changes you need every week to manage nitrates.

your original post said you were having nitrite problems. if you've had those since your very first filter first cycled, then it would've been caused by a minI cycle from:
1) adding too many fish at once,
2) changing out too much cycled media for new media,
3) changing filter without swapping over all your cycled media,
4) cleaning filter media in untreated tap water instead of tank water,
5) cleaning filter media too vigorously (eg cleaning it too well or too much),
6) doing water change with tap water without conditioning it to remove chlorine, and/or
7) pH dropping below 6 & killing BB

can you please clarify what your ammonia, nitrite & nitrate readings are at the moment?

 

Redshark1

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A large proportion of the dirt you see when you clean out your filter is the actual bacteria that you need to deal with your fish waste (your nitrogen cycle).

The fish waste is solid, liquid and gaseous (dissolved in the water).

Ammonia becomes more toxic as temperature and pH rise because more of it changes from ammonium (less toxic) to ammonia (more toxic) as these parameters rise
 

Mistahbrock

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Hello Cerissa
Some time ago I found this on a saltwater site :
Another DSB - Deep Sand Bottles! -

I suggest reading about deep sandbeds and anaerobic bacteria

Perhaps it's worth a try, I had a DSB in my freshwater sump some time ago and I skipped it as my nitrates was 0.0000 and this wan't optimal for my plants, as they use No3 in their growth.

Cheers, Brock
 

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