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High nitrite won't go down

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  • Regular Member

So about 3 weeks ago I got really excited to start seeing nitrites, and hoping my cycling was coming to an end.

In a matter of a few days my super high ammonia dropped to zero. And my nitrites skyrocketed.

We're seeing both nitrites and a few nitrates (10-20) but they never get very high because of all the water changes we've been doing to keep the nitrites in check.

For a few weeks we've been doing nearly daily 60% changes (sometimes a bit more) with almost no change in the nitrite level. It is still between 2-5ppm.

Last night before the change it measured between 2-5ppm, and after a 90% change is measured .25ppm. It's the lowest it's been. I had hoped it was enough of a reduction to help us stay ahead of it. Well, not so much. This morning, 12 hours after the 90% change the levels are right back up where they were.

Our tap ammonia is .5ppm, so I know we're putting more into the tank when we change the water, but would that (plus what comes from my fish) be enough to make it jump that high in just a 12 hours?

I know the second stage of cycling takes longer, so do I just need to be more patient (haha hard for me) and keep changing the water, or is there something else I can do to help this along? It's been weeks!! :wall

We are dosing with Prime every time we change the water.

I've got 2 small goldfish, 2.5 inches each maybe. They both appear to be fine, as a matter of fact, they love to play in the bubbles the water makes when we pour the new water into the tank.

You all were so helpful in getting me to this stage, I'm hoping you have some great insight for this second step.

Thanks for your input!


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  • Regular Member

Go to your most reputable LFS and ask them for a hand full of established substrate, or for some filter media, and plunk that into your filter. It should speed cycle your tank, as the bacteria seeds are already present and will grow more quickly than if starting from scratch. Make sure to pick a shop with VERY healthy tanks, though, as you would be introducing whatever is in their system into your tank. You should have a cycled tank inside of a week, using this method.

If that's not possible, just keep up on your water changes and keep using prime. The nitrite to nitrate bacteria is definitely slower to establish. What is the temp in your tank? Some people have had success with it growing faster with the temp at about 80, but this is a double edged sword, in some ways, as the ammonia and nitrites are also a bit more toxic to fish at higher temps. The prime should still block them, but make sure to keep dosing it.

You can also add aquarium salt to your water to block even more nitrite damage to your fish, while the tank cycles. 1TSP/ gallon should be enough to help, and it will also help with your fish during QT, in case they have any little nasties going on that the salt can wipe out. ;)

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  • Regular Member

It took me 2 months to get to this point.

My tank temp is 72 degrees. It's a 75gal tank.

We're changing the water every 24-48 hours, using higher doses of Prime, so I don't think my fish are suffering from toxic effects.

Would raising the temp to 75 ish or something help with the cycle, and not bother the fish too much?

I'm not necessarily looking to finish this cycle up in a week (but that would be nice) I just want to make sure I haven't done something to keep it from finishing some time in the near future.

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Just get a hand full of gravel or filter media from an established tank, hun. MUCH less of a headache. You won't have to do these huge water changes daily, and your fish won' be in danger of nitrite poisoning, which creeps up, and does big damage to the fish internally, if not dealt with.

Heck, if I thought it would survive the shipping in the cold, I'd get your address & ship you media from my tank to get that sucker cycled. Anyone in Kansas City got some media to share to get JRo's tank cycled up?

Post a shout out on your little news feed, and post an ad in classified that you're looking for someone to donate some fully seeded tank media in your area. I am sure someone is here that can help you out close to your area- otherwise, just run out to the LFS and ask them for some. It is much, much easier that way. :D

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