Kaystojj

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Hey everyone! I hope you’re well :)

this is my first post so please be kind! I’ve been reading so much conflicting info about high nitrites and I’m super confused.

Im extremely new to keeping fish and I want to get it right! I was told by my local fish shop to cycle my fish tank for 24 hours, come back and purchase some fish. I was told they would be fine… well that was a lie!
I’ve recently purchased 2 tanks. the first tank is a 127L (33 gallon) and a secondary hospital tank which is 21L (5 gallon).

I’ve had 3 goldfish and 5 white clouds in the 33 gallon for about 2 weeks now. I started testing about a week ago, when I noticed one of my goldfish looked as though he had been beaten. He is a white goldfish and his scales began to look bruised and red. When I originally tested, to no surprise ammonia, nitrite and nitrate were through the roof. Did some research and realised I messed up, I needed to cycle the tank. So I managed to get the ammonia right down, using some API quick start and 30% water changes daily.
It’s been about a week now, and my other fish are starting to show signs of not coping. I’ve been testing every few days, with ammonia remaining at 0. The nitrite however, is at 5ppm and the nitrate around 40ppm. ph is perfect.

I’ve tested my tap water (before and after dechlorinating) and there is 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 0 nitrate.

No matter how many 30-40% water changes I’m doing daily, I cannot get the nitrite down.

I ended up moving the dying goldfish to the hospital tank (he was barely alive, so I thought it was best to try cycling the smaller tank immediately). He died, and I kept his body in the tank for 24 hours to encourage an ammonia spike to start the cycling process. After 24 hours, I tested the water and 0 ammonia, but 5ppm of nitrite and 0 nitrates.
I’m so damn confused….
I don’t want my other fish to die…. I want to be a good fish keeper and I’ve been reading sooooo much that I think I’m making myself go crazy.
can someone please help me??

Thank you in advance!!
 

P J

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Unfortunately few fish survive a full on cycle, the maturation will usually take up to four weeks. The humane approach, however unpleasant, would be to gently put the fish to sleep if it is badly damaged and unlikely to survive. Avoid that store, they have a callous attitude, You are not alone.

Follow the cycling advice on this site, best wishes.
 

NannaLou

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lots of us have been where you are now so we understand. You will need to be doing much larger water changes. If you have 5 ppm nitrites and change 50% of the water you will still have 2.5 ppm of Nitrites. I would think you’d need to remove as much of the water as you possibly can, refill with fresh, water that has been treated to remove chlorine and/or chloramine (?) test the levels and do another 50% until you get to zero.
 
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Kaystojj

Kaystojj

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lots of us have been where you are now so we understand. You will need to be doing much larger water changes. If you have 5 ppm nitrites and change 50% of the water you will still have 2.5 ppm of Nitrites. I would think you’d need to remove as much of the water as you possibly can, refill with fresh, water that has been treated to remove chlorine and/or chloramine (?) test the levels and do another 50% until you get to zero.
Thanks for replying! Appreciate the advice :)

I just finished a water change as I got your reply. I changed 35% water and added all the necessary chemicals into the tank.
Should I go ahead and begin again but change 50%? Or should I wait until tomorrow?
Thanks in advance :)
 

NannaLou

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I’m still quite new and others may advise differently, but from my knowledge of the dangers of Ammonia (I know that’s not an issue for you right now) and Nitrites, I would change (and keep changing) the water until I got to a zero reading.

Much easier for me to say than you to do (my largest tank is only 54 ltrs). I think it’s @AbbeysDad that says, “If in doubt - water change it out” or something very similar.

Your fish will already be stressed and getting them into the best water quality as quickly as possible will help them.
 
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Kaystojj

Kaystojj

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I’m still quite new and others may advise differently, but from my knowledge of the dangers of Ammonia (I know that’s not an issue for you right now) and Nitrites, I would change (and keep changing) the water until I got to a zero reading.

Much easier for me to say than you to do (my largest tank is only 54 ltrs). I think it’s @AbbeysDad that says, “If in doubt - water change it out” or something very similar.

Your fish will already be stressed and getting them into the best water quality as quickly as possible will help them.
Sounds like sound advice to me!!
I’m going to do 50% within the next few hours! Fingers crossed #nomorenitrite
 

P J

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If you keep changing the water the cycle time is most likely to be extended, to cycle the tank water needs to go through the peak nitrite curve maybe in the order of 3ppm. Always aim to mature a tank without fish, there is no need to add chemicals.
 
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Kaystojj

Kaystojj

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If you keep changing the water the cycle time is most likely to be extended, to cycle the tank water needs to go through the peak nitrite curve maybe in the order of 3ppm. Always aim to mature a tank without fish, there is no need to add chemicals.
100% know that now. But I made the rookie mistake of putting fish in before knowing about cycling. That’s my issue, I keep getting conflicted info 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢
 

P J

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You have a number of choices:

Ask a friend with an aquarium to look after the fish until yours is mature.

Leave the fish in the tank and hope for the best it survives the cycle.

Take the fish back to where you bought it.

If badly injured, put the fish to sleep, or let it end its days in the tank.

Regrets there is no magic solution.
 

NannaLou

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If you keep changing the water the cycle time is most likely to be extended, to cycle the tank water needs to go through the peak nitrite curve maybe in the order of 3ppm. Always aim to mature a tank without fish, there is no need to add chemicals.
Surely better to extend the cycling time than lose the fish..?
 

Colin_T

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Don't waste your time doing small water changes, they don't do a damn thing. If you want to reduce ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in the tank water, do a huge water change.

Change 75% of the water and gravel clean the substrate any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.

Reduce feeding to 2-3 times a week for the next month. The less food going into the tank, the less ammonia that is produced and the less nitrite and nitrate that will be produced. Don't worry about the fish starving during that time, they won't. Unlike mammals and birds that use most of the food they eat to keep warm, most fish take their body temperature from the surrounding water. This means any food they eat is used for growth and movement. Subsequently, fish can go for weeks or even months without food and suffer little to no effects from the lack of food. Once the tank has finished cycling (in about 4-6 weeks), you can feed them more often and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate once a week.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

---------------------
What sort of filter is on the tank?
Did the shop tell you how to clean and maintain the filter?

---------------------
Add 1 heaped tablespoon of rock salt (aquarium salt or swimming pool salt) for every 20 litres of tank water. Keep the salt in there until the nitrite remains on 0ppm. The salt is meant to help the fish breath better when there is nitrite in the water. The salt will not affect anything (plants, fish, filter, etc) in the tank.

When you do water changes, add salt to the new water before adding it to the tank so the salinity (salt level) in the tank remains constant.
 
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Kaystojj

Kaystojj

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Don't waste your time doing small water changes, they don't do a damn thing. If you want to reduce ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in the tank water, do a huge water change.

Change 75% of the water and gravel clean the substrate any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.

Reduce feeding to 2-3 times a week for the next month. The less food going into the tank, the less ammonia that is produced and the less nitrite and nitrate that will be produced. Don't worry about the fish starving during that time, they won't. Unlike mammals and birds that use most of the food they eat to keep warm, most fish take their body temperature from the surrounding water. This means any food they eat is used for growth and movement. Subsequently, fish can go for weeks or even months without food and suffer little to no effects from the lack of food. Once the tank has finished cycling (in about 4-6 weeks), you can feed them more often and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate once a week.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

---------------------
What sort of filter is on the tank?
Did the shop tell you how to clean and maintain the filter?

---------------------
Add 1 heaped tablespoon of rock salt (aquarium salt or swimming pool salt) for every 20 litres of tank water. Keep the salt in there until the nitrite remains on 0ppm. The salt is meant to help the fish breath better when there is nitrite in the water. The salt will not affect anything (plants, fish, filter, etc) in the tank.

When you do water changes, add salt to the new water before adding it to the tank so the salinity (salt level) in the tank remains constant.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply!!!
appreciate the effort.

this may answer your questions in full :)

1. I’ve tested my water before putting it in the tank. All ammonia, nitrite and nitrate read 0. Any water I’ve been adding, has been dechlorinated :)
2. I read a few days ago to use aquarium salt, which I’ve been doing with every water change - maintaining any left over water in the tank as well as any new water.
3. As for the water change and cycling. I can prioritise doing large water changes daily etc if needed.
4. I have an aqua one lifestyle 127Lt tank, with the filter it comes in. In terms of cleaning, my fish tank is spotless. I have been gravel vac every day and my big ornament in the tank is moved and kept clean so nothings building up inside. during water changes and know to only wash excess filter gunk off in tank water.
5. Feeding has been dropped to every 2 days for about a week.

I’ve attached photos of the tank + my most recent test.
I completed a 40% water change this afternoon (2pm), however upon comments, I went ahead and just did a further 90% (8:30pm)
I don’t have access to get any Prime at the moment, so I figured the safest option would be a large water change to buy me some time.

I’m still confused as to how it’s even possible for the nitrite and nitrate to be so high… even after a large water change? am I supposed to wait to test again?


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Essjay

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Ignore nitrate for now. As long as that is under 20 ppm, it's fine. Your tank level may well be the same as your tap water level after all these water changes and most countries allow around 40 to 50 ppm nitrate in drinking water. Testing your tap water will show if your tank nitrate is at the same level.

Ammonia and nitrite are the ones you need to concentrate on. Colin gave you the best advice, please ignore anyone who tells you not to do big water changes. Fish in cycling is a balance between letting the levels get high so the good bacteria grow faster and keeping them low so the fish are not harmed. Most of us on here prefer to keep the fish safe even if it means that cycling takes longer.

The API nitrite tester only reads as high as 5 ppm. It will still show that colour whether the nitrite level is 5 or 15 or 50 ppm. If the level was well over 5 ppm, it will still be high even after the water changes.
 
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Kaystojj

Kaystojj

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And I’ve just learnt something new!! Didn’t know that about the nitrite!
thank you so much!

what do you suggest I do, moving forward?
Appreciate your advice :)
 

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