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high nitrites and nitrates

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by WillK, May 16, 2019.

  1. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    My fish tank was looking quite sparse, so i decided to give it a full clean out. I took all the water out and into a new tank along with the fish. I cleaned out the tank, including replacing the gravel. I put the fish back in with the original water as i knew this was important due to the good bacterias etc. What i did not realise is that most of the bacteria is in the gravel and the filter, and i seem to have removed this all. So i got some water strip testers and my nirite levels are as high as it goes and nitrate are 2nd from highest it seems, maybe highest also. But i remember testing my tank a while ago when it was all set up and i had the same issue, lots of nitrites and nitrates. But the fish never seemed to care and they dont now. My tank has always been quite a self cleaning tank though, i rarely cleaned the filter and it just seemed to plod itself along. But ive realised i need to get this bacteria going and the external filter should help. Also, in the past ive never used conditioner, so maybe my water could have had chlorine in it and killed the bactera? Ive also got some API quick start. i just want to check can i add the quick start with the fish already in?

    Ive learnt everything i know so far from my father who seems to have had a good past with tropical tanks, but there seems to be so many things popping up that are big no no's, such as changing water with tap water etc.

    Any help would be much appreciated, thanks.

    Also anybody got any other ideas what i can do to resolve this problem and possibly get some healthier water.
     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading. You probably have a very high nitrite reading, but the nitrate won't be as high as it says.

    Regardless of this, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate do harm the fish and you need to get the levels down as quickly as possible. The easiest way to do this is to change 75% of the water and gravel clean the substrate every day until the levels are back down to 0.

    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

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    Yes, you can add liquid bacterial supplements to an aquarium with fish in. You can double dose or add more than that if you like.

    Try to add the bacteria supplement near the filter intake so it gets drawn into the filter.

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    Power Filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better. Filter materials should be washed out in a bucket of tank water. The filter case and impellor assembly can be washed under tap water.

    When the filter is clean, put the media back in it and get it going again.

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    You need to do regular partial water changes. I recommend doing a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate once a week. If you have water restrictions or the tank is huge and only has a couple of fish in, you can do a water change every 2 weeks. But they should be done at least every 2 week.

    You do water changes for 2 main reasons.
    1) to reduce nutrients like ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
    2) to dilute disease organisms in the water.

    Fish live in a soup of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoans, worms, flukes and various other things that make your skin crawl. Doing a big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate on a regular basis will dilute these organisms and reduce their numbers in the water, thus making it a safer and healthier environment for the fish.

    If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.

    Fish live in their own waste. Their tank and filter is full of fish poop. The water they breath is filtered through fish poop. Cleaning filters, gravel and doing big regular water changes, removes a lot of this poop and makes the environment cleaner and healthier for the fish.

    ---------------------------
    The following link has information on what to do if your fish get sick. It's long and boring but worth a read when you have spare time.
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-to-do-if-your-fish-gets-sick.450268/
     
  3. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    I have done 2 big water changes already. changing about 50% of the water. but the levels still seemed to be high. So thats why ive resorted to the external filter and bacteria. thanks very much for all that information. This should help me to resolve this issue now i think. All the other info is really useful too so i know what im doing when cleaning and during water changes. thanks very much once again!
     
  4. Brodie Becker

    Brodie Becker New Member

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    I am having a similar problem. The tank is about 4 months old, and I have one black skirt tetra, 2 corys, 2 plecos, and 2 snails. About 3 days ago, ammonia spiked to 0.5 ppm and black skirt had white spots appear on its tail, about a day later it began disintegrating. Nitrites at 0ppm, but nitrates spiked to about 30 ppm, which is not too unusual for my tank. I am thinking maybe ich? I do a 25% water change weekly. This has been a recurring problem, have had to supplement with new bacteria about once a month because my ammonia begins spiking again. I think that my water also hit the end of it's buffering capacity, ph dropped to 6.7. (I use a tetra whisper 8 filter, and the tank is 20 gallons. Fairly heavily planted.)
     
  5. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    you will have to wait for an expert to answer that one. although it does seem like a similar issue to me. does seem as though you have some bacteria as you have no nitrites but if there is lots of nitrates means you have to do more water changes i believe. Maybe feeding too much? another source of ammonia that your not thinking about?

    You have reminded me though. my ph is low. how do i safely increase it? anybody know?
     
  6. Brodie Becker

    Brodie Becker New Member

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    You can use API Ph Up
     
  7. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    I heard about using baking soda? is this a legit safe way to do it? I'd rather not have to buy another bottle off stuff if it is the same as baking soda?
     
  8. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    For Brodie Becker.

    if you can start a new thread and add pictures of your fish, it is easier for us to follow.
     
  9. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    Hi again.

    I've done a lot of water changes now and have aqua safed my whole aquarium plus the water that has been changed. so that is all fine now! Ive got my new filter installed and have added the bacteria, over double the amount it said, including some i poured on the media in the filter too. Im still not seeing any changes on the test strips. is this normal?
     
  10. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Add some limestone, coral rubble, dead coral skeleton or shells to the tank. They are made from calcium carbonate and will buffer the pH so it doesn't drop. Add a small piece/ amount and monitor the pH over a week or so. If it continues to drop, then add a bit more and monitor for another week. Continue adding a little bit at a time until the pH stabilises and doesn't drop over a week.

    You can use baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) as a temporary measure but shells and limestone are safer.

    It will take a month or so for the new filter to established and it could take that long to see ammonia and nitrite levels go up and come back down to 0.

    If you have any ammonia or nitrite readings, do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate each day until the levels are back to 0.

    Do water changes to try and keep the nitrates under 20ppm.
     
  11. WillK

    WillK New Member

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    I bought some Ph plus solution now and it seems to have changed a bit, although im going to add some more still. but that seems to be under control now.

    And i guess i will just wait and keep looking, and maybe add some more quick start. But im worried about keeping doing water changes incase im just clearing out all the bacteria i just added? And my test strips dont test for ammonia unfortunately, just nitrites and nitrates. and i just cleaned my entire tank out, so the gravel is perfectly clean, its brand new.
     

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