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QandD

Nitrites every time I do a water change

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Hi again,

 

I'd thought that my cycle had stabilized after reading 0 nitrites for a week, but after having done two water changes over the past 7 days (I was doing two Prazi rounds), I have been getting nitrite readings. I last changed the water two days ago (60%) after my 90% change five days before made me read .25 nitrites for a couple of days. Yesterday I read .25 nitrites, and now my nitrites are at 2-5 ppm and my ammonia is also high!!!

 

My other readings are: 

Ammonia: .5 ppm

Nitrite: 2-5??? ppm

Nitrate: 5-10 ppm

pH: 8.2

Temperature: 75F

Additives: E.I. fertilizers (NilocG), gH booster, baking soda, Prime, Excel, 5 tbsp salt/29 gallons (to protect for nitrites)

Number of fish: 2 (one 48 grams, one around 20 grams)

Filtration: 2 AC 70 HOBs

 

I fed lightly yesterday with a few Southern Delight pellets and a piece of nori. I have not yet fed them today. I also have ordered more ceramic media since I currently have fluval biomax rings, but am now ordering the AC smaller ceramic pellets in addition to what I have. I have filter pads/floss and the AC sponges in the HOBs. I haven't done a WC yet since every time I do so I seem to mess up the water chemistry! Arg! I have no idea what is going on. This is the biggest "bump" I've seen, and they seem to be getting worse and not better. I double dosed Prime and the fish seem OK for now. Should I just leave the tank be? The nitrites are so high that I am not sure if it is safe to do so. 

 

I leave for England in 10 days FOR 10 days, and since I can't use a Python, I really can't ask anyone to do water changes with buckets. It would be too complicated for them. I really want to get this all straightened out ASAP. Help!

Edited by QandD

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Something seems to be bugging your filter. I'd look at the ferts first, of what you listed. Can you drop fertilizing with anything but root tabs for awhile and see if things improve? With light plant life you may be over fertilizing and causing issues. Nitrogen would be added via the ferts and could be exacerbating your issues.

That's a stab in the dark, but it's all that makes sense unless your tap water has some crazy additives.

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Something seems to be bugging your filter. I'd look at the ferts first, of what you listed. Can you drop fertilizing with anything but root tabs for awhile and see if things improve? With light plant life you may be over fertilizing and causing issues. Nitrogen would be added via the ferts and could be exacerbating your issues.

That's a stab in the dark, but it's all that makes sense unless your tap water has some crazy additives.

 

My tap water has always been OK, so I agree that not dosing ferts is the way to go. I'm doing a large WC now because of the nitrite levels and will not replace any ferts. I hope this solves things!

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I'm not too sure it is the ferts. I think there is an ammonia source in the tank that is producing the high nitrites. The ferts are nitrates and not nitrites (as far as I know--we use the same ferts).

 

I'm sure you shared this before, so sorry for asking again: what kind of substrate do you have? How often do you clean your filter and what is your filter cleaning process? Do you clean the walls of your tank (there are BBs on the walls--I just clean my front wall)?

 

In the meantime, I would suggest feeding lightly. I don't think it is the ferts.

 

One more question: You indicate your cycle has been stable for a week? Was it stable before then for a longer period of time?

Edited by LisaCGold

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That would have been my first guess, too, but her chemistry *was* stable. So something in the system is destabilizing it. Plants, driftwood, and that type of sand wouldn't do it. Could there be too much undigested protein in the food, maybe? I've never used that particular brand but I'd think others would notice if it was rotting instead of being digested or decomposing harmlessly.

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Have you tested your tap water since this has been happening? There are bacteria and algae that reduce nitrate to nitrite, so nitrate from fertilizer could possibly yield nitrite.  No matter what kind of organic waste might be hiding in the tank or filter, in a cycled tank it won't produce nitrites unless you have killed off some NOBs.  Even then, it should go down with a water change unless you have nitrite in the tap water.

 

Any chance your test tubes are less than perfectly clean or your nitrite test solution is contaminated or outdated?

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Hi all,

 

The tap water is stable and reads zeros across the board. The only variable I sometimes see when I check is trace ammonia. I rinse all of the tubes very thoroughly and the test kit is less than a year old, so something is going bonkers in the filters or water column. 

 

I use sand with root tabs, and whenever I change the water I siphon up any visible mulm. Every month or so I swish filter media in tank water, and I did this to the filter floss during today's water change since it was very black. No squeezing, etc. I don't feed my fish a ton, and high protein foods like blood worms maybe twice per week since I've had a juvenile goldfish. (I'm not very interested in giant, groomed fish--just happy ones, even if they are little.)

 

I referred to the cycle being stable for a week because I had torn down the whole tank due to disease/parasite issues, and the cycling was--and I guess is--an ordeal. I'm not sure why it has all gone to hell this time but it's troubling. 

 

After today's water change I didn't redose ferts or Excel; I did put in gH booster and baking soda (in addition to Prime), as well as more salt to protect the girls.  :idont

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This: "Every month or so I swish filter media in tank water, and I did this to the filter floss during today's water change since it was very black. No squeezing, etc."

 

So for the filter floss you just swish it in tank water when it is black? I replace my filter floss each water change because it holds a lot of detritus that may be a source of ammonia. I also have sponges in my filter that I squeeze in tank water many many times, empty out that water, squeeze some more and put back into filter. Essential I squeeze the sponge until the water is mostly clear. What comes out in the water is more detritus. I do this thing with the sponges each water change. Might I suggest you try these things to see if this helps?

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I am concerned about disrupting BB colonies further since the cycle is so unstable and new, so rinsing the media so thoroughly makes me nervous. I suppose I could try doing this to one filter and alternate between them.

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I should say that normally I do squeeze out sponges a lot when I have a stable cycle.

Edited by QandD

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Sponges don't really hold that much bio. That's in your ceramic media.

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By squeezing the sponge in tank water, most of the BBs on the sponge are going to be okay. It takes a lot to remove those BBs. I wouldn't worry about BBs on the floss. Like Mikey said, the bulk of the BBs are on the ceramic media. Also they are on the filter and tank walls. I think the detritus on the sponges and floss maybe causing the ammonia and nitrite problem.

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By squeezing the sponge in tank water, most of the BBs on the sponge are going to be okay. It takes a lot to remove those BBs. I wouldn't worry about BBs on the floss. Like Mikey said, the bulk of the BBs are on the ceramic media. Also they are on the filter and tank walls. I think the detritus on the sponges and floss maybe causing the ammonia and nitrite problem.

Good to know about the ceramic, and I'm glad I ordered more of it. I'm still not sure why my chemistry would go crazy *after* a water change, though, if it's a filter floss issue. But I'll tinker with the filters tomorrow if the readings are bad again.

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If they are still dirty I would clean them tomorrow regardless of what the levels are at.

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I think it is a detritus issue. The build up of detritus in the sponges and floss may be released during water changes?? If there is no ammonia and nitrites in the tap, then it is somewhere in the tank. I don't think it is the ferts, but I could be wrong there. Let us know how it goes with your next water change.

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OK--I did another 60-70& water change this morning since I planned to clean out the filter anyway and needed old tank water. The readings for nitrite were .25-.5 ppm and .25 ammonia.

 

The filter floss was gross, so I threw it out and replaced it, and the sponges needed squeezing for sure. The residue water in the filter box was also dark and silty. I saw some weird stuff come off the sponge that must have been rotting in there. 

 

I haven't dosed ferts again or Excel just to see what happens with the chemistry, but might try resuming once things balance out. Thoughts?

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OK--I did another 60-70& water change this morning since I planned to clean out the filter anyway and needed old tank water. The readings for nitrite were .25-.5 ppm and .25 ammonia.

 

The filter floss was gross, so I threw it out and replaced it, and the sponges needed squeezing for sure. The residue water in the filter box was also dark and silty. I saw some weird stuff come off the sponge that must have been rotting in there. 

 

I haven't dosed ferts again or Excel just to see what happens with the chemistry, but might try resuming once things balance out. Thoughts?

 

Were the readings before the wc or after?

 

When I do a wc, I flood the filter box with tank water (I just use a cup) so as to remove the detritus in the box into the tank which can then be siphoned up. This doesn't mess with any of the BBs on the filter walls, it just moves the column of water and detritus. I do this instead of lifting the filter box and dumping it out.

 

Since you are not doing ferts and Excel for now, you'll want to reduce the photoperiod. That way the plants won't need too much additional ferts besides fish waste.

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The readings were from before the WC. Thanks for your tip about flooding the filter box, and I'll try to do that in the future. They're not huge though, so in this case (since they were particularly gross), I didn't mind dumping them out. I refill the boxes and submerge the cleaned media in tank water almost immediately after dumping them out so that they don't dry out. 

 

I'll reset my timer to reduce the photo period, too. 

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I don't think that the filter floss necessarily needs to be replaced at every WC/filter cleaning.  I clean my filters every other week (one the first week, the other filter the next, then back to the first one and so on . . . ).  When I do this, I spray out the filter floss with the hose on my faucet.  I also squeeze out the sponge with tap water until the water runs about clear.  By doing this essentially every other week with each filter, I don't lose many BB as they are only given 2 weeks tops to establish.  However, if someone is cleaning their filters once every month or two (especially if cleaning a couple filters at the same time), I think doing the same thing (spraying the filter floss and rinsing the sponge) would very likely result in a cycle bump as by then many more BB would have established in the filter floss and sponge . . . .

 

I replace the filter floss every 3-4 months, once it doesn't get very clean even after spraying it.  And I do just one each week.

 

What filter(s) do you have?  :idont

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I don't think that the filter floss necessarily needs to be replaced at every WC/filter cleaning.  I clean my filters every other week (one the first week, the other filter the next, then back to the first one and so on . . . ).  When I do this, I spray out the filter floss with the hose on my faucet.  I also squeeze out the sponge with tap water until the water runs about clear.  By doing this essentially every other week with each filter, I don't lose many BB as they are only given 2 weeks tops to establish.  However, if someone is cleaning their filters once every month or two (especially if cleaning a couple filters at the same time), I think doing the same thing (spraying the filter floss and rinsing the sponge) would very likely result in a cycle bump as by then many more BB would have established in the filter floss and sponge . . . .

 

I replace the filter floss every 3-4 months, once it doesn't get very clean even after spraying it.  And I do just one each week.

 

What filter(s) do you have?  :idont

 

I have two AC 70s on a 29 gallon tank. 

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So you have the sponge it came with, a layer of filter floss and the rest filled with ceramic media?  :idont

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So you have the sponge it came with, a layer of filter floss and the rest filled with ceramic media?  :idont

 

Yes, exactly. I have even more ceramic media coming in the mail today, too. 

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Where are you gonna put it if the filters are already full?  :o

 

You have the sponge on the bottom, then filter floss, ceramic media is on top?

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Where are you gonna put it if the filters are already full? :o

You have the sponge on the bottom, then filter floss, ceramic media is on top?

I think I can fit more in there. Either way I'll have spare media around, I figure.

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I always have extra media around.  Ya never know when you're gonna need it.  :whistle

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