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Cycling Tank - Nitrites Too High - Help!


Guest jdsacannon

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Guest jdsacannon

I am relatively new to having a "large" (10 gallon) aquarium but not new to owning a goldfish. Honestly after reading all this info, I am amazed that my goldfish has lived the past 2 years. After starting in a bowl and then moving to a 2.5 gallon mini aquarium, I recently decided to move up to the 10 gallon. I knew nothing about testing the water/cycling/etc., until about a week ago. Anyway, after reading about the cycling, etc, I have begun testing the water and my levels are crazy. To give a little more background, my 2 yo son decided to "feed" the fish himself about a week ago and dumped the whole jar of food into the tank. I did my best to clean it using a gravel vac. I also had to replace the filter (not the insert but the whole mechanism). So, I'm assuming the tank is basically a week into it's cycle...I'm using a Jungle brand Quick Dip multi test kit to test my levels and here is what I'm getting...

Nitrate - somewhere between 0-20

Nitrite - 3.0 - 5.0

hardness - 300

alkalinity - 180-300

pH - 7.8

I'm doing a 50% water change at least twice a day. I've added salt to deal with the nitrite levels for the fish. I've tested my tap water even to make sure that the levels of nitrite were 0 in it. I'm really confused and concerned that I can't get these levels to come down. I don't mind changing the water at all - I don't want my fish to die! I just want to know how to make it better!!

:(

p.s. our goldfish is named Nemo, we've had him just over 2 years, and he's about 5 in long from tip to tail.

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  • Regular Member

Hi! And :welcome

As you mentioned, your tank is going thru the cycle. A cycle can take as long as 8 weeks to complete. My cycle took about 4 weeks; every tank is different.

Your ammonia will be the first thing to go up; then it will go down as your nitrItes increase. Finally, nitrItes will give way to the nitrAtes.

You did not mention anything about an ammonia reading. Are you able to obtain an ammo test kit? Knowing where your ammo is will guide you in where you are in your cycle. Since your nitrItes are getting up there, it looks as if you're in the middle of it.

It sounds like you are doing everything right to keep your fish healthy. Keep up with the water changes. You want to keep your nitrItes as low as possible. Keep salting; salt protects the fish from the nitrItes.

Are you adding any conditioner to your water when you perform your changes? Prime is an excellent product if you are not already using it.

Now, if you really want to speed up this cycle process, and you can afford it, maybe you can purchase a product called BioSpira. I used this, and I believe it is why I cycled so fast. Here is where you can get it:

http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html

Hang in there....it's a grueling process. Good luck! Keep us posted! And feel free to ask any questions!

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Guest jdsacannon

Thanks for the response...I do not have an ammonia test kit. Amazingly the pet store I went to only had one option for the ammonia kit and I just didn't feel comfortable with it. I need to check out another store. I saw the BioSpira at that same pet store but did not purchase it. I may have to go back for it.

I added something called ACE (Ammonia Chloramine Eliminator) made by Jungle just to be safe on the ammonia b/c I can't get a reading right now. I also add Start Right (by Jungle) when I'm doing the water changes to remove the chlorine from the tap water. I'm worried I'm adding too much to the water.

I'm also worried that the "feeding" incident may be what is causing the nitrites to be so high...I would have to imagine all that food is just rotting in the gravel and while I use the gravel vac every time I change the water, I'm still seeing a lot of "waste" in the water as it is stirred up.

Should I be changing the water more frequently than 2x a day?

Thanks!

Shannon

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Hi Shannon,

I am far from an expert, but I suspect loads of food waste contributes to high nitrAtes.

I believe your current nitrIte readings are normal for going thru a cycle. Continue with your current 50% 2x/day. Continue to salt. Here's a link on salting if you haven't already taken a gander:

http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...?showtopic=8382

Note the following: Besides the parasite treatment, salt is also an excellent preventive for nitrite poisoning. Depending on how high your nitrite is and how long your fish has been exposed to it, a percentage of 0.1 to 0.3 is recommended to protect the fishies gill from the nitrite.

Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar w/the products you are using to treat your water. If you feel you are using too much, just use a slightly smaller dosage (imo). Maybe someone else who has experience w/those products can offer up some advice.

I'm curious...why were you uncomfortable w/the ammonia test kid offered by the pet store?

Post when you can. :)

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Guest greykmb

Check out Amquel+

Best product ever. I always keep some in stock for the occasional spike in any of the nitrogen cycle products. However, water changes are the only consistently effective way to reduce nitrAtes.

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Guest JustJayde

I wonder..... experts have any thoughts on this....

If this happened recently and you are just into the re cycle time, why not do a full clean to get that food from the gravel? just don't wash the stones etc.....

I don't know if this is a good idea, but it is the first thought that pops into my head.

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Guest jdsacannon

there was only one ammonia kit and it didn't have a lot of instruction on it...I don't really know much about testing the water - thought I would be okay with out it having the other test kit.

I just posted in diseases b/c as of about 15 minutes ago I noticed my white fish has a piece of his tail missing...could this be a parasite? what do I do now?

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Guest jdsacannon

Thanks for the response...I have added about 2 tbsp of aqu salt to the tank (I have a 10 gallon)...should I add more than this? I had already added the salt prior to this happening with the tail so now I'm concerned I have a new problem. I'm so new to caring for an aquarium...I'm certainly a novice at best. I just want to be certain my other fish doesn't get sick/injured as a result of this one...

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I just want to be sure - did you add 2 tablespoons?? (which would be 6 teaspoons)?

If you're trying for a low salt concentration to help while cycling generally it's 1 teaspoon per gallon. If you want to treat then it's generally a .3% solution which is 3 teaspoons per gal BUT don't add it all at once. Start with 1 teaspoon & then 12 hours later add the 2nd & 12 hours after that add the 3rd.

This may be fin rot from your water quality so I would deal with that ASAP.

You need to know your ammonia levels (& if you know your tank temp that would be helpful)

I too changed 50% twice per day in my first tank for it felt like forever!

Good luck!!!! :D

edit: PS - Salt doesn't evaporate out so be careful with water changes & add back in only what you take out - for example if you tanke out 5 gal - only add enough salt to treat 5 gal - not the entire amount all over again)

Also predissolve the salt before adding into the tank. Don't use salt with anti caking agents in it.

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Guest jdsacannon

How do I deal with the fin rot?

I really don't have any way to isolate the fish b/c I don't have another tank...can I treat both fish? If so, with what? Can salt take care of the problem or do I need meds?

I did add 2 table spoons b/c the box said 1 tbsp/5 gallons. (it's just labeled aquarium salt) I'm going tomorrow to pick up an ammonia kit...how do I bring that down if it's too high other than water changes?

I thought the cycle was doing better until tonight!?!?!?

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Cycles are like this so no worries there. The overfeed prob started it.

I would use a water conditioner like Prime which treats some of the baddies in the water (like ammonia & nitrite) as it conditions the water (it saved my behind while I was cycling) It's a bit expensive but a bottle lasts forever.

It sounds at this point like your rot could be just from poor water so I would start with that (unless it starts looking different or the fish starts acting strangely) You don't need to isolate it at this point.

When you go to buy the ammoina kit - get a salicylate test kit (usually a 2 bottle test kit - the one from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals in the yellow box is one of these) You will get false positives when testing with the other type of ammonia test (the Nessler test) with the water treatments for ammonia. If you read the test right away with the Salicyate test you are supposed to obtain a correct reading.

:D

edit: DIfferent fish react to different levels of ammoina & nitrite in the water in different ways (when I was cycling I had one fish with terrible burns & one without any - go figure!) This may be why you're only seeing probs in the one fish

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Guest jdsacannon

Jenn - Thanks so much for the info...i will look for the Prime and also the AP ammonia kit...

I'm thinking my 2 yo comet is a really hardy fish b/c he has lived thru some crazy conditions...I have to admit I didn't care for him too well in the beginning but now he is like part of the family!

Just to clarify again...I should add 1 teaspoon salt per gallon water gradually until up to 10...once i get there, if I do a 50% water change I'm assuming I should readd 5 teaspoons for the 5 gallons of fresh water i'm adding...is that right?

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Yup... If you go higher on the salt concentration, just add back in what you took out (so if you end up at a .3% then for 5 gal removed you add back in 15 teaspoons)

Since your levels are so out of whack, just keep track of where you are with salt when you do the water change.

If the plan is to stay at .1% then 5 teaspoons for 5 gal removed is perfect! At this point, I would stay at .1% (If something changes & you think that parasites are involved then I would up the salt)

Ammonia is toxic at different temps & pH so after you get a reading for ammonia post it here with your temp & we can check on that too!

Good Luck!!!! :D

(Post back if you still need something clarified - sometimes this stuff takes a bit to get straight & as it's late I may not be making total sense on your end!)

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Guest jdsacannon

Jenn - Thanks again for the help...

I went this morning and bought the Aqu. Pharm Master test kit which includes ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH. I also bought Prime. I changed the water around lunchtime and I'm getting ready to do another test so I will post my results in a little while. When I got home this morning with the test kit, I ran one set of tests and I got...

ammonia - .25

nitrites - either .50 or 5.0 (it's hard to read the color on the card but it truly looks closer to the .50)

nitrates - 20

pH - 7.2

I forgot to pick up a thermometer for the tank so I'll have to pick that up later. (I know everyone probably thinks I'm crazy for not having one yet - oh well...)

After I ran that set of tests I did the water change and added Prime to it. It's been a little over an hour since I did the water change so I will test again soon and let you know.

I got concerned this morning b/c I thought Nemo (our comet) was starting to get mouth rot...he looked like he had blood in his "lip" But now he looks fine...could this just be a sign of stress and will go away as the water improves?

Here is another silly question a little unrelated...my fish act ravenous. How often and how much should I feed. Right now I'm feeding a pinch of flakes 2x a day...I don't want to overfeed but don't want to starve either...I'm planning to buy some frozen peas and a lettuce clip to give them some variety too...

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Keep an eye on the mouth but if it cleared up with water change - I would tend to lean more towards water being the culprit.

No worries on the running to the store - I figuered I was in & out so much when I first started they knew me by name! :rofl

On the feeding thing - I have never not known my babies to act like piggies (what?? you didn't feed me....hee hee I think they would eat themselves round if I let them)

Right now your water readings look pretty good.

Keep up the good work! :D

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