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Prime & Nitrites


Katalyst

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I am in the cycling stage of high amounts of nitrites in ALL of my tanks at the moment.. :krazy: One in particular is my 39 gallon. It would seem the nitrites creep up to .25% every 3 hours and overnight they go to .50! Yikes! I'm wondering how much Prime I should be adding to the water to help detoxify the nitrites.

I'm really get nervous that this is going to clear up, I've already delayed going home for Christmas a week in the hopes this will right itself soon. Not going home for Christmas will get me killed....Essshh

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Kat the dosage should be on the bottle.

How it works is the prime that you put in there will bind the nitrites until there is no prime left.

Sort of like (I know this will sound strange but it is how I picture it), if you picture a drop of prime it's surface "sucks" up the nitrites until it is covered completely like a blanket. The "blanket" of nitrites cover the drop of prime and can't get loose. Now if there is no more room on the drop what nitrites that are left in the tank are loose and toxic.

If you are seeing that many nitrites you are going to have to bump up water changes some.

Do you have nitrates going on yet?

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Prime can be used up to five times the normal dosage [normal is 1 capful per 50 gallons] to bind nitrites. My concern is that if the nitrites are all bound... the nitrobacter colony will starve vs. prolifrate and the desired conversion to nitrate is going to be retarded.

I have a current post about a nitrite issue I've had going on for three weeks. I'm sure it will be moved to this forum when KoKo does housekeeping, but it is on the Goldfish Tanks board, right now. Know how ya feel, Kat. I know how consciencious you are and I feeeel your frustration, girl. I'm changing 100 gallons of water every few days at present. It takes 90 minutes. ;) I'm not going to Prime, though. I'm also a little hesitant to rec. salt unless the fish are visibly stressed, too. I have read on Koi Forums that salt kills nitrobacters, too, thus prolonging the nitrite spike in the cycle. Some sources tout that it's the length of exposure to nitrite that is the bugaboo. Brief period of exposure to [very slightly] higher nitrite is less harmful than an extended exposure to lower nitrite.... thus defending their no binder, no salt thinking. A real balancing act, eh?

Keep us posted.

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Kat the dosage should be on the bottle.

How it works is the prime that you put in there will bind the nitrites until there is no prime left.

Sort of like (I know this will sound strange but it is how I picture it), if you picture a drop of prime it's surface "sucks" up the nitrites until it is covered completely like a blanket. The "blanket" of nitrites cover the drop of prime and can't get loose. Now if there is no more room on the drop what nitrites that are left in the tank are loose and toxic.

If you are seeing that many nitrites you are going to have to bump up water changes some.

Do you have nitrates going on yet?

I'm doing water changes every 3 hours! Eeeeeek! Yes I have nitrates going as well...When I look on the bottle of prime it gives me exact amountage of ammonia 0.6, 3mg of chloramine, or 4 of chlorine but as far as nitrites goes it just says it detoxifies them. Because of the insane amounts of water changes the nitrates aren't really registering. When i get up the morning they are about 10-15 but because of the insane amount of water changing otherwise no. I'm wondering how badly this is hurting my cycle and I'm scared to death to leave for Florida for 2 weeks as I have no family or friends to rely on to care for them. And of course everyone else's response is, they're just fish. I've looked into having them professional cared for but no way can I afford it sadly. As it is I was supposed to leave today and am trying to postpone it a week which is making my boyfriend pretty mad as he took leave time for this week and next. Ugh...I hope this rights itself soon. :(

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[ Ugh...I hope this rights itself soon. :(

It has to, friend. As soon as the nitrobacter colony kicks it into gear, your nitrites should nose-dive. As you are registering nitrates before your water changes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I know it is exhausting and frustrating. Wish there was someone to do your water changes for you while you're away. If I were in your very shoes, I'd still plan the trip but maybe not be gone two full weeks. With that long of an absence planned, you are going to HAVE to find someone to come in regardless of where your nitrogen cycle is at. Someone has to feed the fish. Oh and that's another thing - if no water changes can be done during your absence, the fish should only be fed sporadically and very lightly. Someone on another post mentioned pre-measuring the food in pill boxes for their care-takers.

The only alternative is going to be placing or boarding some fo your wards... Some of my friends to the North actually board their pond fish in the winter. I have a friend with an "il primo" Koi pond who has boarded some of my fish there until I can get my own pond up and running in the spring. I am keeping my best and most favorite fish inside.

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Prime does not make the nitrites inaccessible to your bacteria colonies, they will not starve. That is the great thing about Prime. It binds ammonia, nitrites and nitrates into a form not harmful to your fish, but the ammonia and nitrites are still accessible to your bacteria.

A reading of 0.5 for nitrites while cycling is normal. I would recommend salting to 0.1% if you are at this level though.

I would do a 50% water change any time you read 0.5, with a triple dose of prime to the new water.

When my tank cycled (it was double stocked), there were a few times where I used the full 5x dose on the new water, and still did a double water change every day. But it never got worse than that.

That is my opinion on how you should/could do it . . . but I am far from the most experienced person here.

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Prime does not make the nitrites inaccessible to your bacteria colonies, they will not starve. That is the great thing about Prime. It binds ammonia, nitrites and nitrates into a form not harmful to your fish, but the ammonia and nitrites are still accessible to your bacteria.

A reading of 0.5 for nitrites while cycling is normal. I would recommend salting to 0.1% if you are at this level though.

I would do a 50% water change any time you read 0.5, with a triple dose of prime to the new water.

When my tank cycled (it was double stocked), there were a few times where I used the full 5x dose on the new water, and still did a double water change every day. But it never got worse than that.

That is my opinion on how you should/could do it . . . but I am far from the most experienced person here.

I wish I had a kit that tested 0.5, may I ask which kit you use? Mine starts at 0.25 (API) and so far its the only one I can find. I am salting the tank but the readings I'm getting are .025 & just a few moments ago .50 even though I am doing massive water changes every 3 hours or so. Another one of my tanks just started doing the same thing. :krazy: If I may ask how much prime would you add to a 39 gallon & to a 30 gallon to reduce it. Sorry I feel like a bit of a dunce but after a reading of 1.00 this morning I added 3 capfuls to my 39 gallon tank, then I panicked lol that it wasn't enough and changed it anyway.

My boyfriend seems to think I'm going to get high blood pressure & the fish will be fine lol. I also added two elodea plants to the 39 gallon in hopes it'll suck up some of the nitrites. I want to see if they'll actually live with limited artificial light and a bit of sunlight before I get a few more. In the meantime I'm going to dig up an old desk lamp downstairs to shine on it.

Thanks LE Pirin & Laurie & CometKeeper for your advise/help. I'm going a bit banana's!

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I wish I had a kit that tested 0.5, may I ask which kit you use? Mine starts at 0.25 (API) and so far its the only one I can find. I am salting the tank but the readings I'm getting are .025 & just a few moments ago .50 even though I am doing massive water changes every 3 hours or so. Another one of my tanks just started doing the same thing. :krazy: If I may ask how much prime would you add to a 39 gallon & to a 30 gallon to reduce it. Sorry I feel like a bit of a dunce but after a reading of 1.00 this morning I added 3 capfuls to my 39 gallon tank, then I panicked lol that it wasn't enough and changed it anyway.

My boyfriend seems to think I'm going to get high blood pressure & the fish will be fine lol. I also added two elodea plants to the 39 gallon in hopes it'll suck up some of the nitrites. I want to see if they'll actually live with limited artificial light and a bit of sunlight before I get a few more. In the meantime I'm going to dig up an old desk lamp downstairs to shine on it.

Thanks LE Pirin & Laurie & CometKeeper for your advise/help. I'm going a bit banana's!

I use API as well, 0.5 and 0.50 are the same thing.

API doesn't give you a reading of 0.025, but rather 0.25.

When your water reads 0.50 (the third bar on the API nitrite kit), do a 50% water change using anywhere between 1 and 5 times the normal prime dosage. That would be on the 39 gallon tank a 20 gallon water change, dosing the new water with anywhere between 2ml and 10ml of Prime. On your 30 gallon tank, that would be a 15 gallon water change, dosing anywhere between 1.5ml and 7.5ml of Prime. Each capful of Prime is 5ml, the first thread on the cap of Prime is 1ml it says. However I would recommend going to your pharmacy and asking them for a syringe, as it is much easier to measure things that way.

Remember when you are changing out your massive water that you need to salt the water you are adding, though be wary of salt creep, which can happen when you are doing massive amounts of water changes. I think you could avoid this by skipping the salt every once in a while, and that would bring it back down to a level where it isn't getting too high. (but that is just speculation on my part)

As for putting a plant in to help with the nitrites . . . I'm not too sure about that, but I don't think it will help. High nitrites are not something plants really appreciate if I remember properly. Plants will help soak up nitrates, and can help you deal with it if you've got an overstocked tank, but they aren't helpful in the nitrite or ammonia department.

Also, if I wasn't clear about the salt, it won't bring the nitrites down, but rather help protect your their gills from being harmed by the nitrites.

I wish I was local to you Katalyst, I'd swap you some of my media out of my filter, you've had such a rough time with this.

*** edit ***

I forgot to add, another thing to keep in mind, is that when you are huge dosing on the Prime, the testing kits are showing you only the dangerous ammonia, nitrite and nitrates in your tank, the bound forms (still accessible to the bacteria) are not shown. So you may have nitrates and ammonia in there, that you can't see, because of the huge Prime doses that you are using to get the nitrites under control.

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Great advice L.E.P apart from this last bit which is incorrect.

I forgot to add, another thing to keep in mind, is that when you are huge dosing on the Prime, the testing kits are showing you only the dangerous ammonia, nitrite and nitrates in your tank, the bound forms (still accessible to the bacteria) are not shown. So you may have nitrates and ammonia in there, that you can't see, because of the huge Prime doses that you are using to get the nitrites under control.

Prime will not remove the ammonia/nitrIte so it will still show up on your water tests. If your nitrIte is .5 before you add Prime, it will still read .5 afterwards but the nitrItes are safe and detoxified. This is tricky because the next day there is no way to tell if your test kits are showing you detoxified nitrItes or new nitrItes.

Basically, my rule of thumb is to add a half dosage of Prime everyday whilever the ammonia/nitrIte readings are under 1. If they go over 1 then add a full dose of Prime everyday, if they go over 2 then do a 50% water change and add enough Prime to dose the full tank.

The levels of nitrItes you mention are very low, if you keep doing massive water changes every 3 hours your tank will take forever to cycle.

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Great advice L.E.P apart from this last bit which is incorrect.

I forgot to add, another thing to keep in mind, is that when you are huge dosing on the Prime, the testing kits are showing you only the dangerous ammonia, nitrite and nitrates in your tank, the bound forms (still accessible to the bacteria) are not shown. So you may have nitrates and ammonia in there, that you can't see, because of the huge Prime doses that you are using to get the nitrites under control.

Prime will not remove the ammonia/nitrIte so it will still show up on your water tests. If your nitrIte is .5 before you add Prime, it will still read .5 afterwards but the nitrItes are safe and detoxified. This is tricky because the next day there is no way to tell if your test kits are showing you detoxified nitrItes or new nitrItes.

Basically, my rule of thumb is to add a half dosage of Prime everyday whilever the ammonia/nitrIte readings are under 1. If they go over 1 then add a full dose of Prime everyday, if they go over 2 then do a 50% water change and add enough Prime to dose the full tank.

The levels of nitrItes you mention are very low, if you keep doing massive water changes every 3 hours your tank will take forever to cycle.

Are you sure about this? When I asked about this during my cycling, the information I was given, was that the API tests are showing non bound ammoina, nitrite and nitrate.

My tap water tests at 0.25 for ammonia, but after Prime-ing it, it tests at 0 for ammonia.

When I was cycling my tank, I am positive that the Prime was hiding my nitrate readings, if I lowered the dosage of Prime to see if the nitrites would spike during the day . . . the nitrates would also show up. Then I would raise my Prime dose to get the nitrites back under control, and the nitrates would also stop reading on the tests.

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I am absolutely certain that all test kits will show detoxified ammonia/nitrItes after using Prime. The Prime does not remove, hide or bind the ammonia/nitrItes so they are no longer detectable. It simply adds a molecule that binds them into a harmless form.

The example of your tap water is an anomoly - I cannot explain it other than it may have something to do with the source of ammonia in tap water which are the chloramines, these are broken down instantly by Prime whereas ammonia in the tank is formed by decompossing organic matter. :idont

Whereas it is safe to use up to 6 times the recommended dosage of Prime, it is not recommended to do it on a regular basis. As Laurie said, whatever Prime is not used up will remain in the water and accumulate. If huge doses of Prime were added regularly and not being used up you could infact end up with many times the recommended dosage in your water, perhaps this could interfere with test results?

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The levels of nitrItes you mention are very low, if you keep doing massive water changes every 3 hours your tank will take forever to cycle.

I'd love not to do the water changes but if I don't do them I end up with 2.0-3.0, that's really the only reason why I was doing them. I was under the impression that I should be keeping them lower then .25 My question is then when should I wait to change the water? I keep reading all sorts of conflicting things so please pardon my frustration. I only started doing large water changes when one of the fish started getting blood streaked fins.

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Keeping nitrItes under .25ppm by way of water changes is recommended if you are not using Prime. Your cycle will take much longer this way.

If you are using Prime to detoxify the nitrItes then water changes are not needed as often and your cycle will be quicker.

In your situation where you are experiencing levels of 2-3ppm daily while still doing water changes I would recommend the following:

1. Do a 50% water change daily using enough Prime to double dose the whole tank.

2. When your daily nitrIte readings are between 1-2ppm stop doing water changes and add a single dose of Prime everyday.

3. Resort back to water changes only if the nitrIte goes above 2ppm.

edit: Are you using Cycle or any other bacterial suppliment? Cycle is designed to specifically reduce the nitrIte stage of the cycle and when using it my nitrItes stayed low.

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Keeping nitrItes under .25ppm by way of water changes is recommended if you are not using Prime. Your cycle will take much longer this way.

If you are using Prime to detoxify the nitrItes then water changes are not needed as often and your cycle will be quicker.

In your situation where you are experiencing levels of 2-3ppm daily while still doing water changes I would recommend the following:

1. Do a 50% water change daily using enough Prime to double dose the whole tank.

2. When your daily nitrIte readings are between 1-2ppm stop doing water changes and add a single dose of Prime everyday.

3. Resort back to water changes only if the nitrIte goes above 2ppm.

Thanks Annette! Whew! I feel so much better now and thanks for explaining it in such detail, I feel like a bit of an idiot sometimes asking so many questions. I still have a lot to learn!

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The example of your tap water is an anomoly - I cannot explain it other than it may have something to do with the source of ammonia in tap water which are the chloramines, these are broken down instantly by Prime whereas ammonia in the tank is formed by decompossing organic matter.

Well that is a mind boggler for sure, our tap water has chlorine in it, rather than chloramine, but it also has ammonia in it, which honestly I'm not sure where that is coming from. I would think that the ammonia was from chloramines as well, but the city has assured me that they treat the water with chlorine not chloramine, when I specifically asked which it was.

I wish I was still cycling so I could experiment with nitrite and ammonia water right now.

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Yes I am going to ditto the thanks, Annette. I have cycled many tropical tanks and a few Goldfish tanks, doing it the old fashioned way. A recent upset in the cycle of my Goldfish tank has proven to be "different" than what I was used to. The age-old way of dealing with nitrites [water changes] is taking for-ev-er and involving 100 gallons of water changed every couple of days to keep nitrite levels at or below 0.25 ppm. I have been paranoid about Prime and even salt because of things I have read and heard, elsewhere. Your explanation makes sense, albeit the method is less conservative than the chem-free method I have always used. I'm going to give your way a shot as I am three weeks into a nitrite spike with zero detectable nitrates and weary from schlepping water barrels.

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Kat and Annette,

Thanks!

Well, so far so good with the Prime and salt. The fish are not acting the least bit uncomfortable. My nitrites are not going above 0.5 ppm, so am doing the half dose of Prime at present.... and my four water barrels are juuuuust sitting there. haha. My wife will be so glad for them to be stacked in the garage between routine water changes instead of in her bathroom, 24-7.

By the way, the water changes are just time consuming, not difficult. I plop a submersible pump in the main tank and hang the hose out the window to water the hydrangeas, below. Of course, the barrels were filled up the night before and it takes about 5 minutes per to fill them up. So I wheel them into the aquarium room two at a time, plop submersible pumps in and the tank is refilled rather painlessly. The only real schlepping I am doing is wheeling the barrels from the bathroom into the aquarium room, so I should not whine. Beats carrying buckets.

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Annette, if you have the time and inclination, maybe you could do a separate post/article with all the useful info. you put in this thread and we could plead for KoKo to pin it. I think it would be of benefit especially to those who have always done things conservatively and with mixed success. Also, people reading the Prime bottle are going to use 5X normal dosage vs. what you have recommended. This is probably the most valuable information I, as a fairly experienced fishkeeper, have gotten on KoKo's to date. What do you say?

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