nitrite off the charts. Help

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by jsides1979, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    I just started my tank about 2 weeks ago and have been reading these forum's about cycling and all. The setup I have is a 47 gal tank with AC 70 filter and etc. I have good substrate and live plants. I have past the ammonia stage of the cycle and the nitrite is where I am having some issues. I have done at least a 25% water change once a week and cut back on the feeding. The readings I am getting from my test kit are PH 7.8, Ammonia .25, Nitrite (dark prple) Nitrate is between 20ppm and 40 ppm.

    How long and how can I get the nitrite levels in range and complete my cycle.
    I have 1 pleco and 5 cichlids and not planning to stock more until the cycle is complete.

  2. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!!
    If you have any any ammonia reading, you're not past that stage yet.
    As you probably know ammonia and nitrite are both toxic to fish.
    Nitrates are only toxic at high levels, and you're about there.
    It would be a good idea to do daily water changes to get your nitrite and nitrate readings down.
    Continue that until your readings are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite with some nitrates showing.

    There's no set time for a tank to cycle. There's too many variables.
    Two weeks is pretty quick to be at the stage you're at.

    Good luck!

  3. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    I was using cycle until I read the forums. I have stress zyme which I add a small amount to help with the nitrite. My ammonia was at 0 and it seems the nitrite level is slowly coming down. Guess patience is not one of my strong points.

  4. MindTravel3rValued MemberMember

    Hi jsides,

    I agree with Lucy, your cycle is probably just getting started; maybe a 1/3 of the way. I just completed a cycle that lasted about 45 days. Since you have fish in the tank you are probably going to want to do daily water changes. Check out Prime, a water conditioner which will detoxify the ammonia and nitrite for a 24 hour period.
  5. FishVixenValued MemberMember

    Hey jsides welcome, I agree with Mind Traveler Prime and 25% water changes daily till ammonia and nitrites are 0 then one time a week to keep nitrates down. Your doing better than most newbies as they fill up the tank and plop fish in at least your researching your hobby. I applude you! Keep it up. :;hf
  6. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    It's hard to be patient!
    Stress Zyme, imo, is unnecessary and you should stop using that also.
    I forget what the label says exactly, but it won't help cycle the tank.
    I bet 95% of us have a bottle lying around the way the stores tout it so much.
    Could be why you're having ammonia readings again.

    Hang in there, and really, if the nitrite is off the charts, you should do water changes.
    You can google Nitrite poisoning, but here's a start:
    Note that the article mentions salt as a treatment, but you have a pleco and they don't tolerate salt. Not sure about the cichlids.
    The other treatments, water changes, increased aeration and reduced feeding are all pro-active and won't harm your fish using additives.
  7. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    Hey David
    I just did a 25% water change and got the nitrite level to 2ppm. The ammonia is at 0 unless I overfeed and plan to give it a day before feeding again.

    fish vixen,
    I have heard that using prime while cycling will prolong the cycle.


    I realized after I bought it and checked out this forum that I shouldn't have. Petsmart will try to sell you anything! I did some research and hopefully it will payoff. I have some avid fish lovers at the pet store where I go and their great help also.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2010
  8. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Yep, shelves upon shelves of stuff you don't need!

    Oh, Prime will detox the ammonia (possibly nitrites, I don't have my bottle in front of me) for 24 hours between water changes.
    The ammonia is still available to the bacteria and shouldn't slow the cycle.

    Water changes will slow the cycle because you're removing the ammonia and nitrites that the bacteria need to develop, but we do this for the sake of our fish's health.

    Good luck and hang in there!
  9. FishVixenValued MemberMember

    If your cycling with fish It's better to cycle with prime. It detoxifies the ammonia so the nitrite can "eat" it. I found cycling actually less time using prime without crashes.
  10. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    They have managed to stick it out with the 5.0ppm nitrite and it seems to be really slow at going down. I think long as I have a really low ammonia level it will help bring the nitrite down naturally. I am not one to use chemicals and I am wanting a natural eco system with the live plants and drift wood with no chemicals except stress coat.
  11. FishVixenValued MemberMember

    As you wish, but your exposing your fish to a dangerous chemical. Ammonia! Stress Coat is not going to cycle your tank any quicker. Daily water changes are for your fishes health. Ammonia will burn their gills. Prime keeps the ammonia but alters it to a safer chemical for fish. Please I don't want to sound like a sales person It's just my experience in the hobby.
  12. Prince PowderWell Known MemberMember

    I'm not Lucy, but I would like to address this if you don't mind. :)
    I completely understand about not wanting to use chemicals. However there is one chemical we simply can not do without in this hobby and that is a water conditioner. Prime and Amquel+ are just that, however they are simply more efficient water conditioners because they not only remove chlorine and chloramines, but they also detoxify harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrite. In the case of Prime you are also getting a more concentrated water conditioner that actually requires much less product to be efficient (only 2 drops per gallon). The higher concentration is the reason that despite being cycled I continue to use Prime as my regular water conditioner. If you think about it, the main suggestion that has been given is actually the most natural way of maintaining a stable eco system, the introduction of fresh water. All natural eco systems have a constant flow of fresh water which naturally dilutes the harmful chemicals which fish produce, in a closed environment like an aquarium where there is no flow of fresh water we simply do that ourselves with our regular water changes. When cycling the eco system is underdeveloped because the base organism, the bacteria, is not present in sufficient numbers so it requires more frequent water changes to help stabilize it.

    In the end it is your tank and your fish so only you can decide how to run it. Just keep in mind that the damage caused by ammonia and nitrite poisoning is internal damage and therefore not always visible until it has reached extreme points, sometimes only showing when the fish are close to death. This is because the animal world is governed by one simple rule. Survival of the fittest. Therefore all animals, fish included will naturally attempt to hide an illness for as long as possible as any sign of illness or weakness will make them a target for predators. Also keep in mind, that wile your bacteria may feed on ammonia and nitrite, too high a concentration of either will overwhelm them and actually slow their reproduction thereby extending the amount of time it takes to achieve a proper cycle. Even nitrate in too high a concentration can be detrimental to bacteria development as it reduces the amount of oxygen in the water which the bacteria need to thrive.

    Good luck with your tank!
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  13. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    Prince powder
    I have heard of prime and Amquel + and how well they work. I also have heard that it stalls the cycle and the tank never truly cycles. There was a great forum about TSS and prime or Amquel+ that describes the process in which using those products change ammonia to the less harmful toxin ammonium I believe. Problem with that is that with fish in a tank there is still ammonia being produced and the ammonium will just change back.
  14. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    I've got 11 (I think lol) tanks and never had a problem Prime stalling a cycle.

    Edit: One thing, you are correct, Prime dissapates after 24 hours. If you're cycling with fish, this shouldn't be an issue since you're supposed to be doing daily water changes, not just controlling ammonia by adding Prime without changing the water.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
  15. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    I will continue the water changes and check in getting some prime or Amquel+. Though I rather let it run it's course and see what happens.
  16. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    :) It's always your choice to do what you think is best for your tank/fish.

    Post some pics soon!
  17. redlessiWell Known MemberMember

    Prime is not an additional chemical its merely a water conditioner that detoxifies the ammonia that can harm you fish as your tank cycles.

    Cycling a tank with fish can result in severely damaged and or dead fish. That why it is strongly recommended for use to prevent those damages. Some fish handle the cycling process better than others.

    Good Luck..............
  18. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    That is not necessarily true. The same amount of ammonia is being added to the tank water, there is just bacteria that is now converting it into nitrites. But you do not have the bacteria that turns nitrites into nitrate yet. So the ammonia converting bacteria will keep converting ammonia into nitrites, but since there is not any nitrite converting bacteria yet, the nitrites will keep building up and getting higher.

    I also think you may be confusing Prime and Amquel+ with Cycle or Stability or Stress Zyme. Those bacterial additives are what can stall your cycle and prevent your tank from cycling naturally.
  19. jsides1979Valued MemberMember

    That is not necessarily true. The same amount of ammonia is being added to the tank water, there is just bacteria that is now converting it into nitrites. But you do not have the bacteria that turns nitrites into nitrate yet. So the ammonia converting bacteria will keep converting ammonia into nitrites, but since there is not any nitrite converting bacteria yet, the nitrites will keep building up and getting higher.

    I do have nitrates at 20ppm. The ammonia is 0 and the nitrite is still dark purple.
  20. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    If that were my post you are responding to, that is what I said.

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