Help nitrite spike after moving fish

Je55*e

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I just moved to my first apartment, and today I tried to move my fish into the new place. I have 4 Hatchets, 1 Striped Kuhli Loach (going to get 2 or 3 more when things settle down, and add them after QT time), and 1 Flamingo Gourami. Tank is 20g, well established with great readings (always ammonia 0, nitrite 0 and nitrate 5) and live plants with eco-complete substrate.
I got them a 20 long for this apartment. So, today I brought over their filter and a lot of their water (about or almost half) and set up the tank. Then I put them into a 3-5 gallon (not sure) plastic storage box I got at the store. I put in a couple of plants, a couple of decorations and a battery-operated bubbler and brought them over.
I checked the tank's readings before adding them, and it says ammonia 0, nitrite .25 and nitrate 5. It's been so long since I set up a tank; what should I do? I imagine I must do a large water change (50%), and continue to do that until the reading goes back down, right?
The fish are still in the box, but I added a tiny heater (one for a 3 or so gallon tank, that I had used for my Betta before upgrading his tank). I hope they'll be okay while I get this sorted out =(

Any suggestions and help are GREATLY appreciated!
 

Nitro Junkie

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So this is the same set up,you just moved? If that is the case,then just moving should not have increased your nitrite levels. Did you keep the filter media in tank water when you moved?

I would get the fish into the tank,and out of the box. Unless there is a cycled filter in with them,ammonia will quickly become an issue.

Do a water change in the tank,more than 50% won't hurt,75% would be fine.

You might try to find some Seachem Stability too. Great stuff! Petsmart carries it.It will help re-cycle your tank.

Until the levels are back down to 0ppm. do water changes as needed.
 
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Je55*e

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I do worry about them being in the box. Anyone else agree with putting them into the tank, despite the .25 nitrite level? I'm neurotic, I want to be sure!
 

ryanr

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Did you also move all gravel/substrate and decorations?
I assume you kept all media wet when you moved the filter?
Some of your bb colony will have been in the substrate too, which may have now resulted in a mini-cycle.

I would be keeping an eye on levels, and changing water as required to dilute the concentrations of nitrites.

Then, one of the following plans of action:
1) Dose with TSS or Stability (TSS is the more recommended product) - or -
2) Dose the tank with Prime to de-tox the ammonia (if any) and nitrites.

I would put the fish in the new tank, even with 0.25 nitrites. As suggested by Je55, leaving them in the bag/box will increase the concentrations of ammonia in the box.

Better for a fish to be in nitrites than ammonia...

Good luck
 
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Je55*e

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Ok, you're right. The media was in a plastic bag, so it was moist, but not saturated. I should have done that. >< I did bring the substrate. I added some black aquarium safe sand a bit ago to add to the eco-complete I already have, because the tank is longer.

So, I should add the fish tonight, and do daily water changes until the nitrites go down?
 

ryanr

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How long was the media out of water?
I personally would have transferred it in a well rinsed tupperware container or similar full of aquarium water. Or even better, transferred it in the bag/box with the fish

I've heard/read that bb can start to die off after an hour, but not 100% sure

I would put the fish in, and just be prepared for a mini cycle till the bb catches up again. It's not the ideal situation, but better than leaving the fish in the bags.

With a bit of luck, it might only take a few days to a week for things to get back to normal.

[ps, not having a go at you, just offering my approach ]
 

MindTravel3r

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Have you tested the new tap water? There is always the possibility that there could be issues there, although I doubt you would see nitrites in the .25 range.
 

callichma

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I agree. Get those fish in the tank. Your bacteria will need an ammonia source. Do w/c with Prime or Amquel+ until your cycle recovers.

Enjoy your new tank and your new apartment. Congratulations.
 
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Je55*e

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Thanks very much, guys. I'll do a w/c tomorrow after I check the levels again.
 
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Je55*e

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Update: so, I tested the water the following evening, and the results were ammonia 0, nitrite 0 ^___^ and nitrates 5. I guess things settled down? Last night I tested again and nitrites were still 0, thankfully. Is this a normal occurrence?
 

ryanr

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Good to see things have settled.

Any time you move a setup, or part of a setup, there is a risk of a mini cycle. When you stir up the gravel/substrate, there is also a possibility of releasing stuff back into the water. That's because things (i.e. detritus, a small amount of toxins etc) settle into the gravel/substrate and get 'locked away'.

It's these reasons that it is generally not recommended to conduct 'deep gravel cleans', rather just light gravel surface vacs. Off topic but worth mentioning

So to answer your question, yes, it is normal occurrance, particularly if your not moving the whole setup.
 
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