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  1. #1

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    Default High nitrite levels in 10-gallon tank


    0 Not allowed!
    Hi,

    I set up a new 10-gallon freshwater tank a few weeks ago. I started with 3 platies and have recently added 3 mollies, so there are 6 fish total in the tank.

    Since adding the mollies I've had issues with high nitrite levels. They've been testing at 3 ppm, and should be between 0 and 0.5 ppm.

    My test kit suggested daily partial water changes and the addition of Fluval daily until the nitrite level decreases. I've since conducted 2 25% water changes in the past 2 days, and added 5 mL Fluval each time, but the nitrite level hasn't budged.

    My question is: should I continue with daily water changes? Give it some time? Or try something different? Is this an issue that will persist due to the number of fish in the tank?

    The fish seem fine, by the way.

    Thanks, acquaticcommunity!

  2. #2

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by soupmachine View Post
    Hi,

    I set up a new 10-gallon freshwater tank a few weeks ago. I started with 3 platies and have recently added 3 mollies, so there are 6 fish total in the tank.

    Since adding the mollies I've had issues with high nitrite levels. They've been testing at 3 ppm, and should be between 0 and 0.5 ppm.

    My test kit suggested daily partial water changes and the addition of Fluval daily until the nitrite level decreases. I've since conducted 2 25% water changes in the past 2 days, and added 5 mL Fluval each time, but the nitrite level hasn't budged.

    My question is: should I continue with daily water changes? Give it some time? Or try something different? Is this an issue that will persist due to the number of fish in the tank?

    The fish seem fine, by the way.

    Thanks, acquaticcommunity!
    I think the amount of fish you have is fine, I just wouldn't get anymore than that.

    When you add fish into the water that adds Ammonia (through such actions as defecation) and therefore Nitrites. So even if your tank was cycled, that could put it back a bit. Hence why many will only add a couple of fish at a time. Especially in a small tank like a 10 gallon. Doesn't take much to shift the balance in a small body of water like that. Now you have a better idea why smaller tanks aren't necessarily easier to take care of!

    Just keep changing your water every day until they go down. Some might recommend higher, some might recommend lower, it depends on what you're sourcing. Just go with what you feel is accurate and best for your fish. I'm assuming your "Fluval daily" is an Ammonia/Nitrite detox? If not, get yourself some Prime by Seachem and add it accordingly to the new water with each WC. It also acts as a dechlorinator. It'll turn your Ammonia and Nitrites into non-toxic alternatives that won't harm your fish so much.

    I've got a 10 myself and the damn thing never wants to balance out so I'm doing a 50% WC with Prime added to the fresh water almost daily. My 26 was started up anew and fresh with only old media material used (much like the 10) and it's already cycled.

    Welcome to the forums by the way.

    Edit: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ad.php?t=36492 You can use this as a guideline. I did. That said, different sources will give you different thoughts on the matter. This is the AC's thoughts on it at large. I personally still HIGHLY recommend getting Seachem's Prime. The combination of it and a WC is probably a lot more effective at keeping those levels safe for your fish.

    Also, be mindful how much you're feeding them. A small pinch of flake a couple of times a day should be more than enough. Otherwise any uneaten food will turn to Ammonia as well as excessive waste processing by the fish themselves.
    Last edited by Kitterfly; 08-19-2015 at 12:53 PM.

  3. #3

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    Default


    1 Not allowed!
    Good advice above...your tank is not cycled, therefore the fish waste is not being processed and rendered harmless.

    Study and follow the fish-in cycle that was linked above.

    And if you have a mixture of males/females with the platys and mollies, get ready for a population explosion, sooner rather than later...they both breed like crazy.
    10 Gallon Beginner Tank... Journal
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  4. #4

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    4 Not allowed!
    You can increase the water change much higher than 25%. Nitrites are produced everyday, which is why changing 25% for 2 days is not enough to bring it down. So 25% of 3 is .75ppm, which would bring your nitrite levels to 2.25ppm right after a water change and if 0.5ppm or higher nitrites are being produced, then you won't see a reduction in nitrites. You want the nitrite test to read less than 0.5ppm, so do a 90% water change, and test ammonia and nitrites everyday. Once either one reaches 0.5ppm, do a 50% water change. Always do the testing before a water change, or a few hours after a water change.
    Last edited by Rocksor; 08-19-2015 at 01:59 PM.

  5. #5

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    Default


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocksor View Post
    You can increase the water change much higher than 25%. Nitrites are produced everyday, which is why changing 25% for 2 days is not enough to bring it down. So 25% of 3 is .75ppm, which would bring your nitrite levels to 2.25ppm right after a water change and if 0.5ppm or higher nitrites are being produced, then you won't see a reduction in nitrites. You want the nitrite test to read less than 0.5ppm, so do a 90% water change, and test ammonia and nitrites everyday. Once either one reaches 0.5ppm, do a 50% water change. Always do the testing before a water change, or a few hours after a water change.
    There are schools of thought on the matter that doing too drastic of a water change to combat the Nitrites could result in starving the bacteria that generates Nitrates; therefore taking longer for the process to complete in full. Hence why I didn't just beat him over the head with HUGE WC's and recommended he also use Prime to help detox what is left behind in the water. If he doesn't have Prime then yes, as leaving too much Nitrite untreated would be stressful for your fish to an extreme; though it might be better to do two large WC's versus one that nearly drains his entire tank out.

    Just my thoughts and observations on the matter. I spend a lot of time going through many forums and pages on this stuff. There can be a difference in method between them all, hilariously enough.
    Last edited by Kitterfly; 08-19-2015 at 02:14 PM.

  6. #6

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    2 Not allowed!
    You just need enough nitrite to feed the bacteria. Maintaining a level of below 0.5ppm is enough grow bacteria that consumes nitrite. Having more nitrite is unnecessary, and puts the fish at risk for nitrite poisoning. You cannot starve a bacteria that does not exist in an uncycled tank, which is why a large water change is better in this case.

    I have cycled a tank using simple tap water which contained chloramine (0.25ppm-0.5ppm ammonia) and 0.5ppm of nitrite and no fish.
    Last edited by Rocksor; 08-19-2015 at 02:16 PM.

  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocksor View Post
    You just need enough nitrite to feed the bacteria. Maintaining a level of below 0.5ppm is enough grow bacteria that consumes nitrite. Having more nitrite is unnecessary, and puts the fish at risk for nitrite poisoning. You cannot starve a bacteria that does not exist in an uncycled tank, which is why a large water change is better in this case.

    I have cycled a tank using simple tap water which contained chloramine (0.25ppm-0.5ppm ammonia) and 0.5ppm of nitrite and no fish.
    Yes but the impression I got from his post is that it was an already cycled tank, that he had let allowed it to cycle prior to putting the fish in. It was only the addition of them in one lump sum that has caused an imbalance in that cycle through a likely Ammonia spiked that quickly converted over to Nitrite.

    So if he already has bacteria feeding on Nitrite, my assumption is, if he wipes it damn near to nothing it might kill off some of the Nitrate generating bacteria in the process. I'm no expert on bacteria nor what they require to stay alive. You might be right. They may just need a tiny bit, even in higher pre-existing quantity. Still... this is the only site I've seen recommend such huge alterations to the tank's water. So I am naturally skeptical and for good reason.

    Just about all do recommend a WC though so it's not like that's a questionable course of action. I'm namely worried 90% might put undue strain on the fish (mine seem to hate even the 75%) where as a 50% (even twice a day) seemingly has little influence save against the levels of the toxins in the water.
    Last edited by Kitterfly; 08-19-2015 at 02:26 PM.

  8. #8

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    1 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kitterfly View Post
    There are schools of thought on the matter that doing too drastic of a water change to combat the Nitrites could result in starving the bacteria that generates Nitrates; therefore taking longer for the process to complete in full.
    It is more important to keep the fish safe than it is to get the cycle done quickly. The bacteria will not starve in the time it takes for the fish to create more ammonia. But the fish will be irreparably harmed in the time it takes for the bacteria to grow and the tank to fully cycle.
    Molly's and platys both have large bio-loads for their size, so bigger water changes to keep them healthy will be needed until the cycle is complete. Rocksor gave perfect advice on this matter. Also, molly's can get 4-5 inches and are very active fish. Platy can get up to 3 inches and are also quite active. Neither fish belongs in a 10 gallon tank.
    When I go fishing I just throw sharp rocks in the water and wait for the dead fish to float to the top... Kingfisher
    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.

    I think my fish is adjusting well to the four gallon, He's laying on his side attempting to go to sleep on the bottom of the gravel.
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  9. #9

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    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by mommy1 View Post
    It is more important to keep the fish safe than it is to get the cycle done quickly. The bacteria will not starve in the time it takes for the fish to create more ammonia. But the fish will be irreparably harmed in the time it takes for the bacteria to grow and the tank to fully cycle.
    Molly's and platys both have large bio-loads for their size, so bigger water changes to keep them healthy will be needed until the cycle is complete. Rocksor gave perfect advice on this matter. Also, molly's can get 4-5 inches and are very active fish. Platy can get up to 3 inches and are also quite active. Neither fish belongs in a 10 gallon tank.
    He'll be fine until he can get a larger tank and it also depends on the species in question. Black Mollies for instance only get up to 3".

    If they do indeed produce a lot of waste, then again, back to the feeding. Then he also should consider the strength of his filtration system.

    Those fish will be fine for a while but yeah, even if they are BM's as they grow, especially along with his Platy's, he should look at upgrading his tank size. I agree with that of course.

  10. #10

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    2 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kitterfly View Post
    So if he already has bacteria feeding on Nitrite, my assumption is, if he wipes it damn near to nothing it might kill off some of the Nitrate generating bacteria in the process. I'm no expert on bacteria nor what they require to stay alive. You might be right. They may just need a tiny bit, even in higher pre-existing quantity. Still... this is the only site I've seen recommend such huge alterations to the tank's water. So I am naturally skeptical and for good reason.
    Bacteria does not live in the water and like most every other organism it can go a short time without food and not die off. Fish are constantly releasing ammonia into the water, the bacteria will not starve. Since there is no bacteria in the water and the fish are constantly supplying new "food" for the bacteria, the bacteria will not starve if the OP does larger water changes... Simple to understand.

    Other sites also recommend larger water changes. You just haven't read those posts. Changing only a little water during cycling with fish is very old and outdated information. A few people here are constantly researching new studies, research, and articles to find new and improved ways to keep our fish healthy. We then pass that information on to the rest of the forum, to bad the other forums you read don't the same.
    When I go fishing I just throw sharp rocks in the water and wait for the dead fish to float to the top... Kingfisher
    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.

    I think my fish is adjusting well to the four gallon, He's laying on his side attempting to go to sleep on the bottom of the gravel.
    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Dear naps, sorry I hated you so much when I was a child... Love me

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