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Author Topic: Unmanageable nitrite!!! What went wrong?  (Read 518 times)
cheri_alexander
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Unmanageable nitrite!!! What went wrong?
« on: February 17, 2012, 10:54:21 PM »

These are the circumstances: On Wednesday morning my 55 gallon was running with only a fluval 205 and two fish- all parameters were stable and the filter had been cycled for a year+, on the 125 my magnum 305 was running, cycled, normal levels. All I did was add the mag 350 to the 55 gallon (alongside the fluval 205) and added two fish. The nitrite spiked very quickly and gets to toxic levels within 18 hours of each water change. I am literally changing 50% twice a day! What went wrong and how do I fix it?? Ammonia is 0ppm and nitrate is around 15-20ppm.
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nabi
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Re: Unmanageable nitrite!!! What went wrong?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2012, 12:47:25 AM »

How large are the two new fish? The magnum 350 does a very good job with the biological filtration if you fill the center  chamber with a quality biomedia rather than using the activated carbon.  Nitrosomonas bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite, and Nitrobacter bacteria convert nitrite to nitrate. It's pretty obvious your 55 gallon doesn't have enough nitrobacter bacteria, which grows very  slowly , to deal with the increased bioload from the two new fish.


Here are some things you can do:

1:) Transfer some gravel from an established tank (at least 6 months or more) that  hasn't had any recent outbreak of diseases. An easy way to get the gravel out of tank full of water without draining it first is to grab a fish net with the longest handle and use it to scoop up the gravel. Do it slowly so you don't tear the fish net, but eventually you will have a bucket full of gravel this way. Take at least a 1/4 to 1/3 bucket full of gravel and dump all this into the 55 gallon, which should introduce a lot of nitrobacter bacteria to deal with the nitrite.  You are only borrowing the gravel. Once the 55 gallon stabilizes, you can slowly transfer the gravel back to the original tank.

2:) (optional) Move the biggest fish in the 55 gallon to another tank (temporarily) for a week or so to give time for nitrobacter bacteria population to catch with the increased bioload.

3:) (optional) Move another filter from an established tank to the 55 gallon to give it more nitrobacter bacteria to deal with the increased nitrite level, preferably a canister filter, but it can be a marineland biowheel, aquaclear, etc..

4:) (optional) Stop feeding your fish in the 55 gallon for 2 days and continue to feed them only every 2 days until the nitrite is zero. It's better for them to be a little hungry for a week or so then to suffer from high nitrite levels. Less food means the nitrosomonas  bacteria will have less ammonia to convert to nitrite, which will lower the nitrite level in the 55 gallon. You can put the fish  back on their normal diet once the water parameter stabilizes.


You can pick a combination or do all of the above. If you do all of them , the nitrite should definitely come down.
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Nossie
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Re: Unmanageable nitrite!!! What went wrong?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2012, 10:16:13 AM »

Karma to nabi for that! Cheesy
I agree to every last word in that post. Hope it'll settle soon Smiley
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cheri_alexander
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Re: Unmanageable nitrite!!! What went wrong?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 11:13:21 PM »

Nabi, thank you for the suggestions. The 350 is filled with ceramic rings and has been supporting 8 larger fish with no issue for months. The smaller filter has supported 2-6 fish over the course of about 16 months. I thought that together they could handle four small fish. I did move my stocking-gravel (established 2 years) into the tank and stopped feeding them but I also went searching for where the excessive ammonia could be coming from. The filter intake tubes and sponges were clogged with dead eldoea and there was a lot of uneaten medigold from a week prior (they had a hard time eating the dense pellets). I thouroughly cleaned the tank and rinsed the media (in tank water) and have not had any issue with nitrite since but alas the damage was done, I am now dealing with a parasite of some sort. Cloudy/milky skin and clamped fins. Treating with .3 salt solution.
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