Nitrite spike after adding fish/plants??

TeeJay89

Member
Hello all, I have a 20 gallon cycled tank that had 2 mystery snails, 1 betta and 3 black neon tetras in it. I added in a few plants about 2 weeks ago, and a week ago added in 3 more neons. I'm not sure if its the extra fish that added the extra nitrites or the plants possibly? This is the biggest tank I've had, and also the first time I'm really getting into plants. My readings this morning are:
PH = 7
Amm = 0-0.25
Nitrite = 0.25
Nitrate = 10-20

I started getting the .25 nitrite readings a few days ago, I've been dosing the tank daily with prime to keep everyone safe and adding in stress guard and stability to try to help the cycle. I did a 25% water change over the weekend and again yesterday. I noticed after the one yesterday the nitrites went down a little, but again today its back up to .25. Is there anything else I should be doing or should I just do bigger water changes until it goes down to 0?
 

jkkgron2

Member
I’m guessing it’s the combination of the new fish and possibly the plants if they’ve died off at all. Maybe do 40% waterchanges instead of 25%. Other than that I would continue with what you’re doing until the parameters stabilize.
 

NoahLikesFish

Member
It’s not cycled
 

MacZ

Member
Unless the nitrates are from the tap, the tank should be very much cycled with these nitrate readings.
To actually lower concentrations of ammonia and nitrites quick a waterchange of at least 50% is advised. Otherwise the dilution is not big enough.

Besides waterchanges you can't do anything. I'd keep testing for nitrites with test strips daily for several days and whenever detectable nitrites appear do a 50% waterchange. It should be over in about a week, give or take 2 days. Remember, the readings will be higher in the mornings after the lights go on, than in the evenings after hours of light and photosynthesis.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
Ok thanks, my tank was cycled before because the ammonia/nitrites were at 0 and nitrates were what they are now. I made sure this weekend to get rid of any of the dying parts of the plants, I'm getting ready to do a bigger water change today.

MacZ said:
Unless the nitrates are from the tap, the tank should be very much cycled with these nitrate readings.
To actually lower concentrations of ammonia and nitrites quick a waterchange of at least 50% is advised. Otherwise the dilution is not big enough.

Besides waterchanges you can't do anything. I'd keep testing for nitrites with test strips daily for several days and whenever detectable nitrites appear do a 50% waterchange. It should be over in about a week, give or take 2 days. Remember, the readings will be higher in the mornings after the lights go on, than in the evenings after hours of light and photosynthesis.
Awesome thank you! I will be doing a 50% change today, just have to go get a bigger bucket from home depot first!
 

MacZ

Member
TeeJay89 said:
Awesome thank you! I will be doing a 50% change today, just have to go get a bigger bucket from home depot first!
Do so and remember to rinse it before using it for waterchanges. Good luck! If anything else occurs, just post here in the thread.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
I did a 50% water change yesterday, I checked my nitrite last night and it seemed to go down a little. Checked it again today and its still at .25. Would I need to just keep doing water changes daily?
 

MacZ

Member
Waterchanges as long as there is detectable Nitrite. If that means daily, it means daily.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
MacZ said:
Waterchanges as long as there is detectable Nitrite. If that means daily, it means daily.
Ok thanks, sorry I've just never had a spike like this before!
 

PascalKrypt

Member
Try removing the marimo moss balls. I've seen other people on this forum before with mystery sources of ammonia and the like in their tanks and it turned out to be the moss balls.

Also have you tried to do a thorough vacuuming of the substrate? Something might have gotten stuck down there and started to rot. Check the corners of your tank (also at the waterline) and your filter's inside to make sure nothing decaying is stuck somewhere. Are all snails and fish accounted for?
Otherwise you'll just have to wait it out. Have you checked your tap to make sure that isn't the source?
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
PascalKrypt said:
Try removing the marimo moss balls. I've seen other people on this forum before with mystery sources of ammonia and the like in their tanks and it turned out to be the moss balls.

Also have you tried to do a thorough vacuuming of the substrate? Something might have gotten stuck down there and started to rot. Check the corners of your tank (also at the waterline) and your filter's inside to make sure nothing decaying is stuck somewhere. Are all snails and fish accounted for?
Otherwise you'll just have to wait it out. Have you checked your tap to make sure that isn't the source?
I will check my tap water just to be sure later today, I don't think thats the source though because I have another active tank and had a 10 gallon and never had this issue before. I vacuumed this weekend but some of my small plants are still melting a ilttle from when I added them and I'm finding little day by day that needs to be taken out. All the fish/snails are there. I have moss balls in my 5 gallon as well, I never knew they could do that!
 

mattgirl

Member
I am going to go against the grain. If you know me at all you will know my first recommendation is always do a water change but in this case I am going to recommend you hold off for a few day to give the bacteria time to do its job. .25 nitrites shouldn't be harming your fish. Should it go any higher then yes, by all means do a water change to get them back down.

I know folks say any nitrite is deadly to fish but in my experience that isn't necessarily true. I can only go by my own experience. While cycling my tank after being out of the hobby for a while I was starting over from scratch. As always I cycled my tank with fish. When the nitrites spiked they spiked up over the chart. My fish lived through 5 straight days of off the chart nitrites. I was doing a water change daily. The water changes didn't seem to be helping at all but they were. My fish didn't seem to be struggling at all. Thankfully after the 5th day the nitrites dropped to zero.

Most of the fish that were exposed to these high nitrites are still alive and well almost 5 years later. Maybe I have bullet proof fish but this experience told me nitrites aren't as deadly as we think. I personally wouldn't be overly concerned with a .25 reading.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
mattgirl said:
I am going to go against the grain. If you know me at all you will know my first recommendation is always do a water change but in this case I am going to recommend you hold off for a few day to give the bacteria time to do its job. .25 nitrites shouldn't be harming your fish. Should it go any higher then yes, by all means do a water change to get them back down.

I know folks say any nitrite is deadly to fish but in my experience that isn't necessarily true. I can only go by my own experience. While cycling my tank after being out of the hobby for a while I was starting over from scratch. As always I cycled my tank with fish. When the nitrites spiked they spiked up over the chart. My fish lived through 5 straight days of off the chart nitrites. I was doing a water change daily. The water changes didn't seem to be helping at all but they were. My fish didn't seem to be struggling at all. Thankfully after the 5th day the nitrites dropped to zero.

Most of the fish that were exposed to these high nitrites are still alive and well almost 5 years later. Maybe I have bullet proof fish but this experience told me nitrites aren't as deadly as we think. I personally wouldn't be overly concerned with a .25 reading.
Ok thanks! I can tell the water changes bring it down a tiny bit, becasue the color goes from more purple to blue but definitely not at 0 yet. I'm adding in Prime daily to help with the stress if they are stressed from it so I'm hoping it goes down soon! Its been like this maybe 4-5 days now. It's not getting higher but stedily staying at .25
 

mattgirl

Member
TeeJay89 said:
Ok thanks! I can tell the water changes bring it down a tiny bit, becasue the color goes from more purple to blue but definitely not at 0 yet. I'm adding in Prime daily to help with the stress if they are stressed from it so I'm hoping it goes down soon! Its been like this maybe 4-5 days now. It's not getting higher but stedily staying at .25
What kind of filtration do you have on this tank? Bacteria grows on all the surfaces in our tanks but the strongest colony is going to be where the most food is. The filter is pulling the food into the filter.

I may be way off base here but I have to wonder if maybe your filter isn't pulling the water through the media, thus turning it over, fast enough. We really can't go by the numbers the makers of the filters claim their filter will handle. It is never a bad idea to use a filter designed for a tank at least twice as big as what we are running them on. For a 20 gallon tank I would run a filter for a 40 gallon tank. We can never have too much filtration. Too much water movement but never too much filtration.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
mattgirl said:
What kind of filtration do you have on this tank? Bacteria grows on all the surfaces in our tanks but the strongest colony is going to be where the most food is. The filter is pulling the food into the filter.

I may be way off base here but I have to wonder if maybe your filter isn't pulling the water through the media, thus turning it over, fast enough. We really can't go by the numbers the makers of the filters claim their filter will handle. It is never a bad idea to use a filter designed for a tank at least twice as big as what we are running them on. For a 20 gallon tank I would run a filter for a 40 gallon tank. We can never have too much filtration. Too much water movement but never too much filtration.
It seems like the filter is doing ok, right now its completely brown so I know it must be growing bacteria on it. I'll add a stock pic of the tank since I dont' have a close up of mine. Since I have a betta in I did turn the flow rate down some, when I have it all the way up its crazy fast so that might be the problem then? I'll play around with it tonight when I get home and see how my betta does with it being a little faster!
 

bcsay720

Member
Yeah, get rid of any plants that are looking wonky. I've been dealing with a nitrite spike and finally decided to take out some questionable-looking plants. Worked pretty well. Still taking about a week to lower completely, but it absolutely helped. My spike was, like, a SPIKE, though (literally off the charts), so yours should lower soon. just keep up with your water changes.
 
  • Thread Starter

TeeJay89

Member
bcsay720 said:
Yeah, get rid of any plants that are looking wonky. I've been dealing with a nitrite spike and finally decided to take out some questionable-looking plants. Worked pretty well. Still taking about a week to lower completely, but it absolutely helped. My spike was, like, a SPIKE, though (literally off the charts), so yours should lower soon. just keep up with your water changes.
Ok thanks! It's my first time having more than just an anubias in the tank so it spiking is new to me. So much more to learn when you add in plants!
 

bcsay720

Member
TeeJay89 said:
Ok thanks! It's my first time having more than just an anubias in the tank so it spiking is new to me. So much more to learn when you add in plants!
Yes, I only have anubias in my tank now because it's so easy to care for.
 

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