Nitrite In Basement Pond

JimSinclair

Something is wrong with my ~400 gallon basement pond. It has ten goldfish in it, commons and comets, about 4-6" long. I moved them--plus their cycled filter media to add to the new pond filter--from a too-small aquarium upstairs to the pond in the basement in October. Water tests, done with API Freshwater Master Test Kit, had consistently been optimal.

I put in some water hyacinths a couple of weeks after setting up the pond. At first they looked fine and the fish seemed to like them. But the plants did not seem to like my pond. I started seeing brown leaves, leaves coming off, a lot of those pod structures coming off, and roots turning black and feathery and floating loose around the pool.

Then a couple of weeks ago I started getting water test results positive for nitrite and possibly a bit of ammonia too. Hard to be sure about the ammonia, because it's at the level where it can look yellow at one angle under one light and greenish at a different angle or under a different light. But there's no doubt about the nitrite. It's definitely lavender, not blue.

I increased the frequency of partial water changes. Still nitrite.

I realized that even though it's warmer in the basement than it would be in an outdoor pond, it's still colder in the basement than it would be in the aquarium upstairs. I checked the water temperature. It's right around 50F. I stopped feeding greens, gel food, and peas. Now they are just getting Tetra Pond Spring & Fall Diet, plus some broccolI when the temperature is above 50, because they still eat the broccoli. But still nitrite.

About a week ago I took the water hyacinths out of the pond, fearing that dying plant matter might be causing the water quality problem. I've done either four or five 25% water changes since removing the plants. But this evening the water was *still* positive for nitrite.

What else can I do about this?

Also, is there any way to possibly save the plants? Right now they are in a bucket of pond water sitting next to the pond, so still under the same light fixture, and still looking pretty bad.
 

Aquaphobia

Where did you get the plants? What kind of light do you have on the pond? What's the pH?
 

JimSinclair

I got the plants from another Fishlore member who had them in an outdoor pond. I disinfected them with potassium permanganate before putting them in my indoor pond. I guess it was always a long shot for those plants to survive the winter indoors. If anyone has found a way to do it, I'm still interested in saving the plants if feasible. But my primary concern is for the fish. That's why I removed the plants from the pond, to stop the dying plants from polluting the water.

The light is a hanging fluorescent light fixture with two T12 6500K tubes. It's on a timer that turns it on at 4 p.m. and off at midnight. Then the pond is dark from midnight to sunrise (at least 7 hours in this latitude at this time of year), and gets some natural light from small south- and west-facing basement windows from sunrise until 4 p.m. when the timer turns on the fluorescent light.

The pH is about 7.5: It registers as the highest reading when tested with the "regular" pH drops and the lowest when tested with the high range pH drops. This has not changed. Ever since my initial tank finished cycling more than three years ago, each time I have moved the fish to larger tanks and then finally to this indoor pond, I have seeded the new filters with media from the established tanks. My water test readings have consistently been zero ammonia, zero nitrite, nitrate around 5-10, and pH the highest reading with the regular drops and the lowest reading with the high range drops. The only thing that's different now is that stubborn nitrite reading, and possibly a tinge of ammonia. pH is unchanged.
 

CindiL

Hi, I absolutely swear by Microbe-Lift fall and winter bacteria blend. My pond is down to about 40 degrees right now and with my last water check I have no ammonia or nitrites. Up until I used their product I had a real tough time with nitrites in my pond last spring, early summer. The bacteria in this blend can live down to 40 degrees and probably lower. It has a blend of decomposers but also nitrifyers. It smells REALLY bad so hold your breath when you use it ha ha. It smells like rotten eggs.
 

Aquaphobia

Plants need a "hardening off" period before they're moved from the greenhouse to the outdoors in spring because they've become accustomed to one set of "parameters" and can die if moved suddenly to new ones. It's the same thing when you move aquatic plants from the store to your tank, they often die off in a process known in the hobby as "melt". If I were to try it I would probably move the plants to a bucket in early fall and bring them indoors at night and on colder days. Part of the problem may be that the increasingly cool weather and shorter days trigger it to go dormant and you just can't reverse the process once started. But if you nip it in the bud you might not get the full season's enjoyment out of the pond!
 

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