View Full Version : Nitrite spiking

04-05-2005, 11:07 PM
Aah, the traps for a new player. I started a fresh tank nearly two weeks ago with some fossorochromis rostratus and melanochromis johanni. All went well enough till I discovered my filtration was inadequate. Got a decent filter system and added some pseudotropheus acei at the same time.
Now some of the acei have developed a white fungus on their skin and two in particular just hide in the same spot all day. As the new filter kicks in the spots are slowly improving and have cleared completely on all but the two worst.
Then I find out about the nitrogen cycle and that I'm probably heading up to a nitrite peak typical of the early stages of the cycle. The pH is very high and I don't have a nitrate tester kit (yet).
As the fish are certainly getting no worse should I ride it out until nitrogen levels stabilise or should I treat it before that? I'm planning to do a 100% water change in a few weeks once the bacteria colony is established in the cannister to get rid of the gravel filter and replace the gravel with river sand. Will this start the cycle all over again if I've already got a healthy bacteria colony? Should I keep some of the water to put back in with the water change?
My fish thank you in advance.

04-06-2005, 03:12 AM
I certainly would never recommend doing a 100% water change, your new filter could take a month to mature. You say your Ph is high, whats the reading, malawis like a nice high Ph anyway (7.5-9.0) Have you tested for ammonia? At the end of the day it's probably going to get worse before it gets better. If your nitIte is peaking then you've got the nitrAte to follow. The biggest causeof fish disease is poor water quality. I would do small reguler water changes with dechlorinated water to try and keep things under control while your tank cycles and don't add any more fish before things have stabilised. I hope the fish you have survive mate!!!

04-06-2005, 04:20 AM

So if I want to get rid of the gravel I'll need to get the water out, do I keep as much of it as possible and put it back in?
The only pH tester I have is the bromo thymol blue which I add to a little water. It stays blue so I guess the pH is pretty high. I don't have any other water tester.
From my reading I thought that the nitrite peak was the most dangerous and that the nitrate peaks were less severe and kept in check with the water changes. Is that wrong?
The acei are looking better all the time, more active and only one has spots now but she still isn't moving much.
So the small changes will keep the nitrite in check? How regular, daily? 20%? 10%?
I'm getting a decent water testing kit first thing in the morning so I'll be able to track the levels accurately. Has anyone tried the fishless cycle (http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Fishlesscycle.htm)

04-06-2005, 05:31 AM
If you have to change the gravel, I would try and keep as much of the water as you can. Nitrites are more dangerous, but very high nitrates are very harmful too. I'd do a 20% water change everyother day, and try to get the nitrates down as soon as possible. It sounds as though your fish are coping OK, and I hope they continue to do so. The water is probably going to be quite cloudy for a time after adding the sand, and I can't think of anyway to get round that. good luck!!!

04-06-2005, 06:14 AM
I would wait till the cycle is done. Then take out 25-30% of the water and scoop the gravel out. Rinse the sand real good and slowly scoop it in the tank. I did this on two of my tanks and it only took a couple of hours for the cloudy water to clear up. The key is to rinse the sand very well before hand. Good luck to you and your fish on the cycle. Hope they make it.

04-06-2005, 06:25 AM
I would also wait until the cycle is done and only do more than weekly water changes if your ammonia or nitrites are up. Glad to hear you're buying the testing kit. It is extremely important to have - during the cycling period especially. Feed lightly during this time.

I would also take out 25-30% of the water and scoop the gravel out. When adding your sand, make sure you shut off your filters!

fish speaker
04-06-2005, 10:55 AM
I've done the fishless cycle a few times, and recommend it. It really made stocking my 180-gallon mbuna tank easy, since I had a large bacteria colony established and was able to add virtually all of the fish at once, rather than gradually (I ordered most of the fish, so they arrived at once).

Good luck with the fish. The water changes might lengthen the time it takes to get the tank cycled, but might help you get it cycled without killing your fish. Also, another complication of cycling a high-pH tank is that ammonia it much more toxic at high pH than at low pH (not sure about nitrite?).