Help Nitrite spikes

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hopeful fish

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The main cause of a nitrite spike is a fail in the cycle of the tank. Is your tank cycled? How long has it been set up? What size is it? What fish are in it?

If you don't already know the Nitrogen Cycle, it is essential to read up on it, especially to fix a nitrite spike. The words should be a link to a great article explaining it, as well as some tips on how to get it going.
 

RLM0501

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I use API liquid Master Test kit. Ammonia was at 0 and has remained so for almost 2 weeks due to my tank being cycled. Nitrates were 10-20ppm and
My Nitrites have spiked to 5.0ppm+ for 2 days. I did a 50% water change after discovering it last night and when i tested today my Nitrite was again 5.0

The tank is a 10 gallon, houses 5 Serpae Tetra and 1 Ramshorn snail. It is live planted with Ludwigia, Java Lace Fern and Dwarf Lilly. It uses 2 10 watt fluorescent bulb and an Aquatech 5-15 filter. Tank temp is 84. It has received 1 dose of API Leaf Zone liquid fert which has in it Potash K20 and Iron Fe. It is under a quite bad Brown Algae outbreak as well.
 

poeticinjustices

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Have you tested your source water?

Nitrites at 5+ is very dangerous. I would recommend you do a large water change now and a series of small ones. If you are using Prime as your conditioner, you can add up to 5x the recommended doseage to detox the nitrites temporarily. Amquel Plus can detox nitrites as well but it also can lower the oxygen in your tank temporarily so do not dose 5x, just one extra dose. Also aquarium salt can help detox nitrites.

The brown algae is not an algae but a diatom. Very common in new tanks, unattractive but harmless, and eventually resolves on its own. You can try leaving your light on longer as, unlike with algae, this stuff does better in low light. It feeds on nitrates and silicates, nitrates likely to be high in new tanks and silicates can be in tap water and also I believe leeching from the sealant in brand new aquariums. It isn't much to worry about.

Have you been monitoring your pH? Has it swung at all? How long from your last negative nitrite reading did you notice the spike?

Right now, the focus is on protecting your fish. Water changes and extra Prime for the moment. Then we can address possible causes.

1) How did you cycle your tank and for how long and how did you add the fish (after the cycle? all at once?)?
2) Have you tested your source water for the presence of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate?
3) Is your pH stable?
4) Did you recently make any changes - adding new fish, replacing filter sponges/media, heavy tank cleaning?
5) Are all of your fish/snails alive and accounted for?
6) What is your water maintenance regimen?

As a note, 0ppm ammonia does not mean the tank is fully cycled. Nor does the presence of nitrates. Yes, these levels spike and fall in stages but they can overlap. And tap water often contains some amount of nitrates so you could be reading that (test your tap). With a nitrite level that high, I'm wondering if your tank ever fully cycled. Did you previously see a rise and fall in nitrites or just ammonia? What I'm asking is, are these last readings the first you've seen of nitrites?

I remember you now, and I remember your previous thread so I went back and read it. Your tank was in the process of cycling to bioload of the ramshorn snail, not yet completely done, and you added the serpae,on top of that, right?

I believe members advised you then that this would overload your cycle. And I believe that this is what's happening now. You mentioned that your ammonia was at 0ppm for almost 2 weeks, were you actually monitoring the levels during these 2 weeks? If not, you likely had an ammonia spike that you may have missed as well. If you were watching your parameters, then ignore me on tha haha. It's more than a mini-cycle, I think, your tank is probably almost completely recycling. You are in the nitrite phase of your cycle. You'll need to do A LOT of water changing. And use extra Prime to bind up those nitrites.

I would highly recommend you get a bottle of Tetra SafeStart to finish this cycle. Those nitrites are way up in the kill zone, so please do multiple water changes to bring those levels down and add some extra Prime.

Good luck!
 
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jdhef

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In a cycled tank there are two types of bacteria living in your filter. The first bacteria basically converts the ammonia into nitrites. The second bacteria converts the nitrites into nitrates. So if you have 0ppm ammonia that indicates that you have enough of the ammonia converting bacteria. But since you have elevated nitrites, that indicates that you either have no, or not enough, of the nitrite converting bacteria.

The presence of nitrates indicates one of the following:
A) You have nitrates in your tap water
B) You have some nitrite converting bacteria, but not enough to process all the nitrites being produced
3) You got a bad nitrate test result. You need to really shake and pound nitrate test bottle #2 before using it. It has crystals suspended in the liquid, but they tend to clump together at the bottom and if not shaken well enough will give bad test results.

I don't know how toy cycled, but if you cycled either fishless with an ammonia source or fish-in with daily water changes, it usually takes about three week to get the ammonia converting bacteria and the an additional 3 weeks for the nitrite converting bacteria.

But as mentioned, elevated nitrites are very deadly to fish. They interfere with their ability to breath, so they can suffocate the fish. Adding aquarium salt can help counteract this, but no all fish can tolerate salt. Filling out your Aquarium Info would be very helpful in allowing people to help you.

Best of luck! But do get those nitrites down ASAP
 

RLM0501

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For a week and a half after adding my Serpaes i battled Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels. My Ammonia and Nitrite would spike and then Nitrates. I did water changes nearly daily. then the Nitrites stabilized at 0 for about a week and Ammonia was very low but i continued to do Watet changes. Then when the Ammonia hit 0 and stayed i still ended up doing water changes because my Nitrate was high around 40ppm and i was also doing water changes because the water was turning brownish green and very dirty. After water changes it looked much cleaner. Yesterday was about the first day i did no water change.

I have also noticed when Nitrites spike, the Serpaes become highly aggressive to each other.
 

poeticinjustices

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For a week and a half after adding my Serpaes i battled Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels. My Ammonia and Nitrite would spike and then Nitrates. I did water changes nearly daily. then the Nitrites stabilized at 0 for about a week and Ammonia was very low but i continued to do Watet changes. Then when the Ammonia hit 0 and stayed i still ended up doing water changes because my Nitrate was high around 40ppm and i was also doing water changes because the water was turning brownish green and very dirty. After water changes it looked much cleaner. Yesterday was about the first day i did no water change.

I have also noticed when Nitrites spike, the Serpaes become highly aggressive to each other.
This can happen, it sounds like you're still cycling (and the serpaes are stressed). I would really recommend some SafeStart for this purpose, 5ppm nitrites is very dangerous.

If you purchase the product, I think you need the 1.69oz bottle (but I recommend going a size or 2 bigger). Also, you'll need some guidance on how to apply TSS that isn't listed on the bottle but is very important. So come on back here and we'll give you the steps if you haven't read them already.

In my opinion, totally natural cycles are hard once you get past ammonia because too many water changes can destabilize a cycle but you have to keep doing them for nitrites or nitrates, so you could end up disrupting bacteria that already brought your levels to 0ppm and ended up bringing them back. I had this flux as well when I attempted a natural cycle. Levels never got that high but they did fluctuate and overlap. TSS saved me, seriously.
 

virusmk

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Skip feeding them a day or two.
Fish would be ok without food and then feed lightly until you get your parameters right,

Also if i was you i would get sample from ur tank and separate tap water and get it tested into nearest fish store just to be on a safe side that testing kit is working as it should be
 

RLM0501

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I am still battling the Nitrite.

I tested my tap water. no Ammonia, no Nitrites, 5ppm Nitrates.
 

poeticinjustices

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Yeah your tank is still recycling. With nitrites of 5ppm it could take a while. I had a mini cycle my nitrites hit not even .25ppm and it took a week to resolve.

Did you get the safestart?

 

RLM0501

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I have not been to the store anytime lately. I finally have gotten my Nitrites down to .25ppm. I will retest tonight and do another water change.
 

poeticinjustices

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Those are much better levels. Do you have some aquarium salt? If your fish will tolerate it that will help detoxify nitrites too. Are you using Prime?

 

Rivieraneo

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Hello,

Moved thread to the aquarium nitrogen cycle section of the forum. To help detoxify nitrites, you can switch water dechlorinators and dose water before water changes or your aquarium with Seachem Prime as it binds to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to lessen the damaging effects of these contaminants on fish. Best of luck.
 
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