Stubborn Nitrite ... Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by AscendingAngel, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. AscendingAngelNew MemberMember

    Hi all!

    I have a 10 gallon tank, sand substrate, with some peacock moss on top of a few rocks and a single 4x4" travertine tile "wall" covered in the moss. The moss seems to be growing well. The tank is stocked with 2 albino cories, an orange dwarf crawfish, a red cherry shrimp, and a ghost shrimp. All livestock are rather juvenile.

    I wanted to wait for the tank to cycle but my roommate kept twisting my arm to get some fish and put them in. When I got em, I had no ammonia but my nitrites were around 2 ppm and my nitrates were around 10 ppm. I told her it could kill the fish but she is very stubborn and stuck in her ways (older lady who has kept fish before and never worried about cycling).

    Anyways, I got the fish about 2 weeks ago. They're all still alive and seemingly doing very well. I've been really struggling with the nitrite levels lately (consistently around 2 ppm) and even my nitrates spiked up to 40-80 ppm. I cleaned my filter, the sponges, and some of the decorations yesterday and did a water change. I've been doing water changes once a week since getting the fishes but stepped it up to once every couple of days starting this week.

    Anyways, my most recent reading was today. pH: 7.4 (consistently between 7.2-7.4 since filling the tank), ammonia: 0, nitrites: 2 ppm, nitrates: 20-40 ppm. I'm rather pleased that the nitrates dropped since yesterday but the nitrites have been at 2 ppm since the beginning of June (I filled the tank roughly 1 month ago.

    I'll say that my tap water (yes, I treat it ... over treat it because our city puts chloramines in the water) has small amounts of ammonia and nitrates in it. The tank seems to have no problems getting rid of the ammonia but nitrites are just so darn persistent.

    What can I do before this hurts my fish?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2018
  2. AquaticJ

    AquaticJFishlore VIPMember

    To answer your question, yes 2ppm of nitrites can be lethal. I'd keep it down to 1 ppm or lower and use Seachem Prime. Prime is a water conditioner that also detoxifies ammonia and nitrites 1 ppm or lower.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2018
  3. Mom2some

    Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    Bigger more frequent water changes for a few days in a row might be a place to start. Try 50% daily for 3 days & see what your levels are at. I think you might have some stocking incompatibilities, but the crawfish is out of my wheelhouse. @TexasDomer might have a better idea.
  4. OP

    AscendingAngelNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice (both of you). The crawfish is tiny, max size around 2" or so I think. It hasn't tried to harm anything ... well, except when an albino unwittingly corners him at least. It'll even crawl into the moss with a shrimp and not bother with it. Binky (my crawfish) is a little territorial, that's all :)

    I'll keep an eye on it though. I'm planning on having a 40g tank in a few months. If I have to transfer it I will.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2018
  5. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    If you are not using a bacteria additive to speed up the cycling process, you can usually expect it to take about 3 week or so to get thru the nitrite phase of the cycle So you should be pretty close to completing it. I know when I cycled (without a bacteria additive) my nitrites were elevated then all of a sudden one day they just dropped to 0ppm. I would have expected a slow drop, and was very surprised to see it just drop straight to 0ppm overnight. But every cycle is different and your mileage may vary.

    BTW, I edited your first post for you.
  6. OP

    AscendingAngelNew MemberMember

    I haven't been able to water change since my last post but I did one today. Nitrites are still same at 2 ppm, but the nitrates dropped all the way to 5 ppm. That was before the water change.

    My ghost shrimp got sucked into the filter. I hadn't seen her for a couple days so I figured I'd check in the filter while I'm doing my water change, sure enough there she was. Surprisingly she's still alive! Unfortunately I caught her trying to eat on my red cherry shrimp, I had to get her off with a stick. She's been playing nice since though.

    So my nitrates are still way down to 5 ppm and my nitrites are still at 2 ppm. I'm wondering if I'm having a problem with getting bacteria to convert nitrites to nitrates?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2018
  7. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    It would appear you still do not have a colony of the bacteria that converts nitrites into nitrates. I know it's hard, but you'll just need to be patient. It will happen eventually.

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