View Full Version : Need some advice: high nitrite levels

08-28-2011, 05:28 PM
I made a big mistake, buying red cherry shrimp but not learning enough about aquariums.

I bought 7 shrimp, and put them in a fishbowl, with a sponge filter. Dumped some sand in it, some java moss, a few rocks and called it a day. Things seem fine for about 6 days, and then the larger shrimp started dying off. I went and got a master kit and tested the water, ammonia was 8ppm+ and nitrite was 5ppm+. I thought shrimp produced low bio load, how did the water get so bad so fast?!

Some more research later, I learned about the nitrogen cycle. /facepalm

I still had 4 shrimp, so in an attempt to save them, I went out and bought a much better aquarium, sized at about 15-20 gallons instead of my old dinky fishbowl. I stuck 2 sponge filters in there, using filter media from a already established and cycled tank (with 0 ammonia and nitrite lvs). I filled the tank with water from the cycled tank. This way I dont have to age the water and worry about chlorine.

So the new aquarium is set up, but dumping the shrimp would instantly shock them, so I they needed to be slowly acclimated. But wait, the bacteria in the new tank will die off if they dont have any ammonia/nitrite to feed off of. So I started swapping water between the fish bowl and tank. This way the new tank would have a little bit of each, while the old tank starts acclimating to the new water.

The new tank hit about 2ppm of ammonia and 1ppm nitrite, its definately not good but its vastly better than the fishbowl which is extremely toxic. So I took out the shrimp and started acclimating them to the new tank. They were obviously agitated, being moved around. But after a day in the new tank they settled down.

I tested the water everyday, and both ammonia and nitrite went up a bit, but then the ammonia dropped back to 1ppm and nitrite lvs spiked up to 2ppm. I figured this was a bad sign, I guess even using cycled filter media is not enough to cycle the tank, so I went and got some bacterial cultures, specifically Microbe-lift nite out II (and the special blend, which degrades waste and uneaten food).

I did a ~30% water change, and added water from the cycled aquarium slowly. I then added a dose of the bacteria culture. I monitored the levels everyday, but things didnt seem to improve. Then all of a sudden, ammonia dropped to around 0.50 ppm, but nitrite lvs hit 2-5ppm! This is about 9 days after I put them in the new tank. I still havent lost any of the 4 yet, but the 3 redder shrimp are acting sleepy, sitting around and showing little activity. The largest, and the least red female is still actively swimming around scavenging all day.

That is my current situation, Im not sure how to proceed. I read that shrimp are extremely sensitive to toxicity, and while my shrimp may look like they are doing fine in this bad water, it cant be good in the long run. But doing water changes will slow down the cycling process.

Heres a quick summary of my current parameters.
ph: 6.8
ammonia: 1ppm
nitrite: 2~5ppm
nitrate: 40ppm
temp: 75~76
Equivalent 75W grow light over the aquarium
substrate sand
2 Patches of Java moss on rocks
1 Patch of Pellia on a rock
3 small pieces of cuttlebone half buried in sand
1 small piece of driftwood (waterlogged, no tannins anymore)
Some planaria on the glass
Fed them once after they entered new tank, stopped because they werent eating it fast enough.

08-28-2011, 05:39 PM
Stop adding old dirty tank water to your new tank. 4 tiny shrimp will never produce enough ammonia to register let alone cycle a 15 gallon tank. The ammonia in your new tank is from the dirty water you added. Have you checked your tap water for ammonia? If not please do.
You either need to get a couple small hardy fish to get your tank cycled, or return the shrimp and do a fishless cycle.

08-28-2011, 05:49 PM
+1 to mommy1's suggestion

I would also suggest returning the shrimp and complete a fishless cycle. IMO, it is the easiest way to get a cycled tank

08-28-2011, 06:01 PM
But the water I am adding in registers at 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, and 10 ppm nitrate. My tap doesnt have any ammonia.

08-28-2011, 06:04 PM
There is no benefit from using used dirty tank water for water changes. If your tap water doesn't have any ammonia, then I think you are probably over feeding the shrimp and the extra food is rotting in the tank.

Lady Hobbs
08-28-2011, 06:15 PM
Good heavens. Do about a 90% water change, and add your new dechlorinated water. All this was unnecessary for 4 shrimp.

08-28-2011, 06:18 PM
I fed them a single sinking pellet about 8 days ago. They werent really eating it so I removed it a day later. I havent fed them anything extra since then.

I dont have any dechlorinators, how long should I age my tap water?
Oh, and these shrimps were ordered online, and my LFS does not carry any shrimps. So returning these would be difficult to do.

One thing I dont really understand. If 4 shrimp will not produce any registerable ammonia, wouldnt they be able to live in the aquarium forever? They seem to be pooping all over the substrate in these couple of days. Its just weird for all of that waste to not affect the water.

Anyway at the moment, the big problem seems to be nitrite. Ammonia lvs seem to be dropping down.

08-28-2011, 07:25 PM
"I dont have any dechlorinators, how long should I age my tap water?"

Unless you use well water, you need to get some
dechlorinator ASAP.

I use PRIME for my fish and Shrimp tanks (a little goes a long ways) but there are others which also do the job. It's not expensive and it treats the tap water within minutes or less so there is only waiting until the temperature of the new water matches your tank water.

Get some dechlorinator and do a large water change and your levels will drop down right away. Monitor the levels again tomorrow and if they are up, another water change. You'll be busy for awhile but it will get better rawry56.