View Full Version : Nitrites!!! Help!!!

06-16-2010, 03:25 PM
Ok, so I've got one of those Ammonia Alert things stuck on the inside of my tank and it is reading 0 toxic ammonia and has been for at least a week or so now. The problem is, though, that I now have a serious nitrite problem. My nitrites are through the roof so much that they don't even register on the color chart, meaning they are well above 10ppm. My nitrAtes are also super high up around 100 or so. I've been doing daily water changes of about 5 gallons (on a 65 gallon tank) but I upped that to 15 gallons on the last three water changes. No matter what i do, even right after a big water change, the nitrites just won't go down! Almost all of my shrimp have died and my two rubber lip plecos died. The gold dojo loaches and the goldfish all seem to be fine for now but I'm sure they aren't happy.

I have two filters on my tank. One is a marineland biowheel 50 gallon filter. The other is a tetra whisper filter for up to 70 gallon tanks. I use seachem prime with every water change and seachem stabilizer as well. I do not overfeed my fish, either. In fact I switched to using algae wafers because they are less messy and apt to getting stuck in the substrate.

What can I do to bring down the nitrites and nitrates? Please help!!!

Lady Hobbs
06-16-2010, 03:29 PM
50% water change and another tomorrow

PS......you are just about done with that cycle.

06-16-2010, 03:46 PM
I agree, your water changes should be at least 50% daily until you get this under control.

Do you know what's causing the buildup in toxins? Maybe if we figure it out, once you get it under control with the large water changes, we can prevent it from happening again.
My thoughts are:
-not enough filtration or filter media
-too many fish, or too big of a bioload
-your tank maintenance is insufficient

Lady Hobbs
06-16-2010, 03:54 PM
You really do not have very good filteration on a 65 gallon with goldfish, They are heavy hitters on the bio-load and your filters are just barely getting it, IMO.

Filters are rated to filter just about half of what they claim to filter. They are more accurate if you barely stock a tank but not to what stock normally is. I had a 50 on a 20 gallon tank and two-350's on my 55 gallon.......later to change to one canister + one of those 350's.

You really should be running a good canister filter on that tank and it would not hurt a bit to run a canister + a HOTB as well.

06-16-2010, 04:42 PM
Simple math.... on a 65 gal tank, changing out 15 gal is only removing between 20% - 25% of your Nitrates. Best case, with Nitrates at 100, you now have 75. Do another 15 Gal change and you are left with around 60. (75 - 25% (18.75) = 56.25) This doesn't allow for all the new Nitrates that are building up.
So, 2 50% water changes won't get you to 0, but should get you into some safer numbers.

With Nitrites present, you are either going through a mini cycle or you haven't completed your original cycle. Once your cycle has finished (Ammonia 0/Nitrites 0), you can do a larger WC (80%) and really reduce you're readings.

To figure out why your numbers are so high.....

How long has the tank been running with fish?
What are your "normal" water parameters? (Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates)
What kind of tests are you using? (Liquid/Strips/etc...)
Have you added any new fish to the tank recently?
Did you replace or clean any of the filter media?

Lady Hobbs
06-16-2010, 04:45 PM
He's been using Stability so possibly is converting very quickly.

06-17-2010, 12:48 AM
Well my tank is still cycling. It's been running for a little over a month now. I had a big algae bloom so I did add two small algae eaters. Also I added a new very small goldfish about a week ago. Once the algae eaters clean up my tank I'll be moving them over to a different tank to lessen the bioload on my goldfish tank.

I had a huge ammonia spike so I doused the tank with a lot of Prime and Stability which eliminated the ammonia problem but obviously I now have a nitrite problem. If they make ammonia neutralizers then why can't they make a nitrite neutralizer?

I did a 50% water change today which brought the nitrAtes down to around 35-40 but the nitrItes are still pretty high, though lower than before of course. I'll do another 50% water change tomorrow. I was worried about being able to do such large water changes because I didn't want to disrupt the tank's cycle.

Oh and as far as filtration goes I forgot to mention that I also have a large sponge filter in the tank as well. I can't afford a canister filter. I do have an extra Aqueon 30 gallon filter lying around, though. Would it make a big difference if I stuck that one on the tank with the other two filters? From my experience having a multiple filter set up like that causes the filters to battle for suction, making the filters inefficient. Has anyone else had that problem? I ended up moving the two filters to opposite ends of the tank and that seems to work but I think that adding the third HOB would disrupt the filtration of the other two or vice versa.

Also, I only rinse the filter media when it absolutely needs it, which has only been twice since I set up the tank a little over a month ago. I rinse the media in tank water when I do water changes.

Thanks for all of your support!

06-17-2010, 03:11 AM
Yikes!!! I just saw my little comet goldfish showing major signs of stress. In fact, Now that I watch them more closely I'm seeing stress from all of the goldfish. I'm going to do a 75% water change. If it messes up the cycle, oh well. I really need to get this nitrite down because I just can't take losing any more fish, especially my beloved goldfish. :( Wish me luck.

06-17-2010, 04:02 PM
Large water changes won't mess up the cycle, they just slow it down a bit. :)

Good luck.

06-17-2010, 06:45 PM
Fish seem less stressed today after I did a 75% water change yesterday but the nitrItes are still out of control. The nitrAtes are in a safe zone finally but I'm gonna have to do another large water change today to get these nitrItes down. Oi ve. This cycle needs to be over already. I don't know who's more stressed, me or the fish?

little hawaii
06-17-2010, 07:06 PM
do you have a powerhead on the sponge filter/ That sure would help, especially with goldfish.

Lady Hobbs
06-17-2010, 09:44 PM
You need to be checking that water daily when cycling so it won't get out of hand like that. Glad you got them settled down now but keep an eye on that water more closely until it's done with it's cycle.

06-17-2010, 11:02 PM
I went through a similar problem but great advice here saved all my fish.

First, add salt - this will make nitrite far safer for the fish; add 1 tsp/10 gal and replace any lost in the WC.

If nitrites are high - above 1 ppm YOU MUST DO A 90% WC EVERY SINGLE DAY UNTIL YOUR CYCLE COMPLETES. If you do these things, all your fish (remaining) will not only survive but will do very well. Add an air stone too. Water changes are the ONLY thing that will remove the nitrites until the cycle kicks in - not small ones.

If you can't handle the WC for a large tank, consider getting a smaller one and don't replace the missing fish. I had a 75 gal and did these (and more ) WC for almost three weeks but it paid off big time - my young discus thrived during the cycling. Thanks to the people here I found out what to do and it worked great

06-17-2010, 11:22 PM
i agree to keep up with the large water changes and an air stone is helpful during a cycle.


Lady Hobbs
06-18-2010, 12:04 AM
And stop buying more fish until that tank has finished with this. Bottom feeders should never be in a tank that is not cycled as they live where the water is the most toxic. There also is nothing for them to eat in new tanks so often starve.