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View Full Version : Nitrites - what's a safe level?



Fraoch
03-02-2009, 06:21 PM
Having just suffered through the ammonia phase of the cycle, I'm firmly in the nitrite phase of the cycle.

The fish are looking great now, all have lots of energy, all have huge appetites.

Ammonia dropped off really rapidly and has been at 0 for the past two days. Nitrites, however, rose really quickly and have been at 3 (!) for the past two days.

I'm changing water as much and as often as I can, but due to my equipment I'm limited to a 20% water change. I'm doing water changes daily.

Some here advocate larger water changes, I'll have to figure out a way to do this. How do people manage this? Do you have a 5 gallon or larger bucket with gallon marks suspended from the ceiling or on a ladder step and siphon to the tank? I can't imagine doing this every day!

And what's a dangerous nitrite level? I'm struggling with daily 20% water changes holding it down at 3, I'm not sure I'm removing nitrites fast enough and if the levels rise I'll have to figure out a way to do larger water changes.

Fishless cycle all the way...the ammonia phase kept me pretty worried about the poor little guys, I read the nitrite phase is even longer and nitrite is even more toxic. Great, the ammonia phase took me more than a month!:scry:

Heliwyr
03-02-2009, 06:37 PM
I'm changing water as much and as often as I can, but due to my equipment I'm limited to a 20% water change. I'm doing water changes daily.

Some here advocate larger water changes, I'll have to figure out a way to do this. How do people manage this? Do you have a 5 gallon or larger bucket with gallon marks suspended from the ceiling or on a ladder step and siphon to the tank? I can't imagine doing this every day!

And what's a dangerous nitrite level?

Toxic nitrite level is 1. At .5, most fish are stressed.


I have a 3-gallon bucket and I do 4-5 gallon water changes on my 10. I just fill it up more than once. And when I pour the water back in, I have a 1-gallon pitcher that I dip into the bucket and pour into the tank until the bucket's light enough for me to lift easily.

Alfcea
03-02-2009, 06:41 PM
Do you have access to an already established tank? That would really help!

Feed your fish very lightly while you are cycling and that would help you keep your nitrites as low as possible. You're right. Nitrites are, everything else being equal, more toxic than ammonia but you are already half way there. Keep up with those water changes!

Fraoch
03-02-2009, 06:44 PM
Ouch - so 3 could pretty much kill them at any time.:ssuprised:

I guess I'll have to go through my current procedure twice - remove 2 gallons, remove another 2, add 2, add another 2. This'll make a 4-gallon (40%) water change.

Whew. This will take at least an hour going by how long my 20% changes take.

btate617
03-02-2009, 06:47 PM
Ouch - so 3 could pretty much kill them at any time.:ssuprised:

I guess I'll have to go through my current procedure twice - remove 2 gallons, remove another 2, add 2, add another 2. This'll make a 4-gallon (40%) water change.

Whew. This will take at least an hour going by how long my 20% changes take.

Thats a lot of time for 4 gallons...... maybe there is a better way you haven't thought of yet.
I dont use a python and when I do one side of the tanks downstairs( 2 55gal. and 2 90 gal.) it takes about 45 minutes.

There has to be a better way, maybe start with a 5 gallon bucket. Give it some thought, you may get frustrated just with water changer and not enjoy your fish.

brian

Fraoch
03-02-2009, 06:49 PM
Do you have access to an already established tank? That would really help!

Wish I did...


Feed your fish very lightly while you are cycling and that would help you keep your nitrites as low as possible.

I've been resisting this because the guys are always so hungry, even more so now, but I'll do it.


You're right. Nitrites are, everything else being equal, more toxic than ammonia but you are already half way there. Keep up with those water changes!

I just hope it doesn't take another month or two! I suspect it's the environment, the air in the house is really dry (less than 20% RH) because it's still the depths of winter here and I believe the air is very sterile.

I'm using a bacterial booster, I hope it will help.

I'm trying not to, but when levels shot up to 3, I dosed with AmQuel+. Yes, it's not a substitute for water changes, but it has kept them alive while I sort out proper water changes.

Fraoch
03-02-2009, 06:57 PM
Thats a lot of time for 4 gallons...... maybe there is a better way you haven't thought of yet.
I dont use a python and when I do one side of the tanks downstairs( 2 55gal. and 2 90 gal.) it takes about 45 minutes.

There has to be a better way, maybe start with a 5 gallon bucket. Give it some thought, you may get frustrated just with water changer and not enjoy your fish.

brian

Larger siphon maybe? I got the one for a 10-gallon tank like mine, but it's the smallest. Perhaps I can get a siphon that can be primed, getting it started is hard and messy.

Siphoning the tank out onto the bucket on the floor is reasonably fast.

Siphoning the new water to the tank takes a long time. I used to just pour it in, but I can't manage this with 2 gallons (it's way too heavy). Also the big flow disturbs the gravel. So now I siphon it, but I'm not able to get a huge elevation difference and it goes really slow toward the end.

I do enjoy the fish though, particularly now that they look much better than they did when the ammonia was present. But it is a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of worry.

btate617
03-02-2009, 07:35 PM
When you pour your new water in if you can use a hand to break/slow down the water as it goes into your tank. You will be holding the bucket with one hand and pour the water onto your other hand right at the surface of your tank water. Thats what I do with a 5 gallon bucket with my smaller tanks. Or like someone else mentioned get yourself a gallon pitcher/jug and use that, it will be easier/lighter for you to handle.
You could fill up a 5 gallon bucket with new water for the tank, then dip your jug into that bucket to get the new water.

Brian

btate617
03-02-2009, 07:38 PM
Siphoning the new water to the tank takes a long time. I used to just pour it in, but I can't manage this with 2 gallons (it's way too heavy). Also the big flow disturbs the gravel. So now I siphon it, but I'm not able to get a huge elevation difference and it goes really slow toward the end.

All your time is going into siphoning it into the new tank. Find a way to pour it in to the tank without disturbing the tank too much. That will help your time spent out a great deal.
And obviously you are using some type of conditioner on your new water right.

Brian

bushwhacker
03-02-2009, 07:44 PM
quote by froach Fishless cycle all the way...the ammonia phase kept me pretty worried about the poor little guys, I read the nitrite phase is even longer and nitrite is even more toxic. Great, the ammonia phase took me more than a month!



you got me confused here you have fish in the tank and you were trying to do a fishless cycle with ammonia?

Fraoch
03-02-2009, 07:52 PM
When you pour your new water in if you can use a hand to break/slow down the water as it goes into your tank. You will be holding the bucket with one hand and pour the water onto your other hand right at the surface of your tank water.

Ah, so you're still holding it with two hands? I was about to say, holding a 5 gallon bucket full of water with one hand is no mean feat!

Oh and yes, I am using a water conditioner of course.

Fraoch
03-02-2009, 07:55 PM
you got me confused here you have fish in the tank and you were trying to do a fishless cycle with ammonia?

Poor choice of words, I should have said "I should have gone with a fishless cycle" but this forum has the edit function removed.

I only saw about the fishless cycle well after I got everything started.

So yes, I am cycling with fish and trying desperately to keep them alive. I'd feel awful if they died due to my inexperience, stupidity or lack of work. They're "only" guppies but they're living creatures solely dependent on me, and I bungled into things without doing proper research.

btate617
03-02-2009, 08:00 PM
Ah, so you're still holding it with two hands? I was about to say, holding a 5 gallon bucket full of water with one hand is no mean feat!

Oh and yes, I am using a water conditioner of course.


well you have to hold the bucket/use the tank for some help with one hand and use your free hand to break up the water as it enters your tank.

Brian

eteller
03-03-2009, 01:31 PM
Home Depot has 5gal orange buckets for $2.75. Everyone in the house knows not to touch the orange bucket, fish only!! They have a nice lip on them that prevents water from running down the front of the tank. I use this for my 29gal. upstairs.

Fraoch
03-03-2009, 02:04 PM
I'm going to have to fine-tune my water change technique. I can't get my bucket to fit in the aquarium, I had to lean the bucket over and drop the water from above, through my hand. This made lots of splashing - I suppose it aerated the water very well, but it terrified the fish! They were completely freaked out for an hour afterward. Fortunately they survived the night and are looking fine this morning.

I thought I'd be able to lower the bucket into the water and allow it to flow from the surface, but I can't. I'll have to get a jug I can dip into the bucket and then the aquarium water.

The good news is, I managed a large water change. My bucket is in Canadian gallons, and I removed and replaced 4 Canadian gallons, this is 4.8 US gallons (48%). However judging by the water level, it was more like a 60% water change, the water was down well under halfway. The gravel and decorations must displace a fair amount of water.

This must surely have gotten rid of a whole lot of nitrites. Should I be aiming to keep it down below 1?

Alfcea
03-03-2009, 02:09 PM
Do you have a siphon? I always use the siphon to get the water out... and then the same siphon to put it back in. It doesn't stress the fish, it is quiet, no water is disturbed... I like it!

Fraoch
03-03-2009, 02:13 PM
Do you have a siphon? I always use the siphon to get the water out... and then the same siphon to put it back in. It doesn't stress the fish, it is quiet, no water is disturbed... I like it!

Siphoning the water out is fine, it's putting it back in using the siphon that takes me so long. I can't get a big elevation difference and particularly towards the bottom of the bucket, it slows to a trickle.

ErikFromNJ
03-04-2009, 04:27 AM
I'm merely a newbie at fish keeping but here is how I WC my 75 gallon. I went out and picked up an 18 gallon tupperware storage bin. I place the bin on a chair near my window. Then I take the 4' length of hose over to the sink. Place my thumb on one side and fill the hose with water. I walk back over to the tank, stick the open end in the tank, hold the other end in the bucket and release my thumb. Instant suction every time!

I made a mark on the bin using a sharpie permanent marker showing where exactly 15 gallons is. While keeping the one end of the hose in the tank, as soon as I see the bin fill to the 15 gallon mark, I place my thumb on the bin side of the tube. I then take the hose out of the tank (Still keeping my thumb on the other side) I stick it out the window. Then just put my hand in the bin and release my thumb. Instant suction again!

To fill the tank, I do it with a 5 gallon bucket. I fill the bucket with the desired temperature of water and then stir in a 1/5 of a capful of SeaChem Prime. I place the bucket on the top corner of the tank, repeat the same procedure for suction as described above and do that 3 times. Works great for me and I complete a WC in about 20 minutes.

I WC once a week and every other WC I vacuum the gravel using the same siphoning method. Works great for me and hope it helps you!

Some folks say WC's spook there fish... mine actually love it! As I'm putting the water back in there swimming through the bubbles. They seem so much happier after I'm done!

Fraoch
03-04-2009, 02:27 PM
(Still keeping my thumb on the other side) I stick it out the window.

Wow, if I did that here I'd ice up my girlfriend's car!:shappy: It's right underneath the window and it's still cold as h3ll here!!


Some folks say WC's spook there fish... mine actually love it! As I'm putting the water back in there swimming through the bubbles. They seem so much happier after I'm done!

They were much happier when I had ammonia and did water changes, it would perk them right up. With nitrites now they're showing no signs of stress so there's no perking up to do. The big water change with a lot of splashing did spook them a lot, but I did a 20% WC last night (nitrites were down to 1, I just wanted to keep on top of them) didn't do it too much. However I just siphoned the new water in and it's very slow. I have to find a pitcher that fits in the aquarium to pour the water in at the surface.

Also I've taken to starting the siphon by sucking the air out with my mouth. Gross but a lot faster and less disruptive than immersing the siphon and tubing in the aquarium. I just have to get the water above the highest point and it starts, so I'm just sucking air. But I do get the odd drop of fish water though <bleh>.

geowashlaw
03-04-2009, 05:11 PM
I think your best investment would be a 1 gallon pitcher from the local wal-mart, dollar store or whatever ... when I add water with that, I just pour it down the glass to keep it from disturbing the gravel ...

As for starting the suction, I've found that if you take the siphon and turn it on its side underwater in the tank and give it a slight up angle, it lets all the air out and then you only have to pump it up and down three or four times to get the flow started ... I got really sick sucking on mine once ... There are a lot of people that do it, but I don't recommend it ... tank water can contain some mean parasites that are very bad for your gastroinestinal system