Jump to content

Tank Cycle Spikes


Guest Coastie

Recommended Posts

Guest Coastie

Reading all the info on cycling tanks, all anything says is you will see "spikes" for ammonia and nitrItes, but nothing I have seen defines what a spike is, or the value.

We have had our tank up for almost a month, and we keep getting levels of 0.50 for nitrIte while the nitrAte remains about 5, or 10 at times.

When we see the nitItes hit 0.50 we do a 30%-50% water change and that drops the nitrAtes as well. 2 days later the numbers return and we do another water change.

Do we need to let the nitrItes get higher before we do a water change so the nitrAtes can build up and remain?

While we all know 0.00 is what we are after for nirtItes, what is the high point goal during a cycle?

Seems like we have been playing cat and mouse for a few weeks. Ammonia is at zero.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

When I cycle my tanks, I never let the ammonia or nitrites go above 0.5ppms. Ive had it spike pretty high, but the fish get pretty stressed out, so it should be kept as low as possible, but witout taking out too much water to get rid of all nitrites.It just causes too much stress on the fish. The only thing is, when you do the water changes, you dont want to nitrites to go to 0ppms. Try to keep it around 0.25ppms and .5ppms while cycling. It should start to lower soon. I keep my nitrates below 20ppms at all times.

Hope this helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

AS you are cycling your tank, the beneficial bacteria that processes the fish waste (ammonia) has to grow into the job. There are two types of beneficial bacteria - the first kind to appear in a tank is the type that processes the ammonia into nitrIte. These bacteria appear fairly quickly in a tank - if there is ammonia there to process, they will grow. They slowly grow in numbers until there are enough of them in the media to process all the ammonia your fish produce on a daily basis.

If for some reason, the bacteria that process ammonia into nitrIte die back, you will experience an ammonia "spike" - meaning that the ammonia levels in your tank suddenly become more than zero.

The second type of beneficial bacteria are the type that process the nitrIte in the tank into nitrAte. These bacteria, too, will grow in numbers until the population is large enough to process all the nitrIte that occurs in a tank on a daily basis - and you will see a reading of zero nitrIte when you test. These bacteria are the finicky, stubborn little guys that drive everyone crazy when you are cycling a tank. In general, they like the pH to be about 8.0- 8.6, the temps. around 78F. They are the primadonnas of the cycling biz - they demand all the perks before they actually buckle down and grow a big enough colony and do the work of processing the nitrItes into nitrAtes. If, for any reason, this type of bacteria dies back, you will experience a nitrIte spike in the tank - meaning a reading over zero for nitrItes.

After you have grown enough bacteria to process all the ammonia in a tank on a daily basis, you will STILL see nitrites for quite some time, for the second type of bacteria is stubborn and can take what seems like an eternity to get their act in gear..... What you are seeing is the last of a cycling tank - the beneficial bacteria that process your nitrItes have just not quite grown a large enough colony to be able to process all the nitrIte into nitrAte. This is not really a "spike" - it is, instead, an inmature cycle that is still growing to meet the tank's needs.

Do not ever worry about doing a water change to bring the nitrItes down - you have no need for the nitrates. If, by doing a water change, you could bring the nitrates to ZERO, it would be fine. The fish do not need or like nitrates.

By doing a water change to bring the nitrItes lower than .5 ppm, you are doing a GOOD thing. Your fish continue to add ammonia to the tank. The first type of bacteria will continue to process that ammonia into nitrIte, so the second type of bacteria will CONTINUE to have nitrite to process. You will never "starve" them by changing the water. They will be just fine. If you look at the actual math of the situation, you can see where you can never really take them all away, anyway.

For instance, if you have .50 ppm nitrites in the tank. You change out 50% of the water, you will STILL have .25ppm nitrites..... Remember that the fish keep adding more ammonia all the time - which becomes nitrites.

I, personally, do not ever want to let the nitrItes in a cycling tank go over .5ppm at any time. Change out the water you need to to keep them lower - every day if you need to. It took a month of .5 and the .25 ppm nitrItes in my most recent cycled tank - 50% water changes EVERY DAY of the month to get the nitrItes FINALLY to zero.

Do not be afraid of a water change. The fish continue to add ammonia which become nitrite. There will ALWAYS be something there for the bacteria to process - and grow. You will not stunt the cycle by changing the water - and by keeping the nitrItes ad low as possible, you will be preventing life long handicaps for your fish - ones that are caused by nitrite poisoning.

If you wish, you can use a product called Prime (Amquel + is another similar one) that will detoxify ammonia, nitrite and some nitrate by binding it into a different form. These products will bind the toxins so that they cannot harm the fish, but the beneficial bacteria can STILL use them to process and "feed" on. It is a good way to protect your fish from that last little bit of nitrite as you are waiting.... Add the PRime everyday. It will wait in the water until it is needed, binding the nitrites as they appear.

Patience, patience , patience. Your tank will get there. IT just takes time and patience. Until then, change out the water, have confidence that you are doing it right, add Prime for protection and continue to enjoy those fish.....

:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

I COMPLETELY agree with Daryl, don't ever worry about doing water changes. Change as much water as necessary to keep the ammonia, nitrIte and nitrAte levels in check... As long as the water you're using for water changes matches the PH and temperature of the water in your tank you simply can not change too much water.

The absolute ideal situation for keeping fish in an aquarium would be to change 100% of the water, several times a day. We all know changing water this frequently isn't practical, so we force our fish to tolerate a build up of toxic and semi-toxic chemicals in their water, until we finally dilute them with a water change.

Dilute is the key word... For example: Lets say one single six inch long goldfish, that is properly fed twice a day, will produce enough waste in one week to add 30ppm nitrAte to ten gallons of water (this is actually pretty close). If you start out at the beginning of the week with water that contains zero nitrAtes, at the end of the week the water will have 30ppm nitrAtes. If you do a 25% water change, the nitrAte level will drop to 22.5ppm. Add the 30ppm of nitrAte the fish will produce during the next week and at the end of the week the water will have 52.5ppm nitrAte. Do another 25% water change, the nitrAte level will drop to 39.4ppm. Go another week, and another 25% water change and you'll have 52ppm. Doing 25% water changes every week, the nitrAte level in your tank will continue to climb week after week until the nitrAte level gets to 120ppm. Once the nitrAte level gets to 120ppm a 25% weekly water change will keep the nitrAte level at 120ppm but this amount of nitrAtes will cause most goldfish health problems. If you were to change 50% of the water every week, The nitrAte level will balance out at 60ppm, which is much healthier for your fish.

Do your fish a favor... Change their water... Change their water... Change their water. They'll show you their appreciation by staying fat and happy and not getting sick.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...