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Old 04-02-2006, 02:19 PM   #1
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Stupid question, but...Nitrite/Nitrate question

I'd rather ask a stupid question than it turn into a bad situation for my fish.

I have a 29 gallon saltwater tank for my smaller fish. (my 70 gallon tank is now doing fine.)

Before I put the 2 chromis damsels and the clownfish I have in there now, here's how it started.

I have a 30 gallon filtration system in the tank, the brand name is a "Shuruba power filter".

the Nitrates and Nitrites tested 0, no harmful amonia, the ph was at 8.4, the alkalinity was at 180 and the salinity was at 1.024. (Based on my hydrometer), the temp is set at 78 degrees, everything was looking really good. so after letting it run for about a month, I added two blue/green Chromis and my smallest clown from my previous tank. (they're still eating well and seem to not be too stressed considering the below.)

I test the water frequently, I missed yesterday so I tested the water today and it says the nitrates are at 20 (which the kit says is 'ok' and the nitrites are at 3.0 which is stress, and my salinity dropped to 1.023

I called the aquatics store saltwater specialist right away and he says it sounds like over feeding. (Which could be because I found out when my brother comes to visit he looks at the fish and dabs some food in there even though I've already fed them.) not to mention I was told to feed them 2x a day, and put as much food as they could eat in 30 seconds.

So he told me that its most likely over feeding.

this is the advice he gave me, and I want to know if its sound advice.

1. He told me to cut the feedings back to every other day until the nitrites go down.

2. he said I could do a water change, but it may be of no help because Nitrites come from over feeding and while I'll take out a small amount of Nitrite and nitrate from water changes, it will also take out some of the good bacteria. probably more so than leaving it alone and cutting the feeding down to everyother day for now.

does this sound like good advice, or should I do a 2 gallon water change maybe... and someone mentioned there is a product called Aqua Star.

the description for this product is

Aqua Star should be used when setting up a new aquarium and with every water change.

Aqua Star acts fast. Within Minutes, it neutralizes chlorine, chloramine,

toxic ammonia and heavy metals, making tap water safe for fish. Adds protective Slime coating.

Aqua Star can also be used to reduce dangerous ammonia levels in established aquariums or when transporting fish.

Neutralizes 5ppm chlorine, 2ppm chloramine, 1ppm ammonia.

Directions for use

1ml ( 15 drops ) to 70 litres of water or 1 teaspoon ( 5ml ) to 350 litres of water.

Suitable for both fresh and salt water


so which do you think will help? leaving it alone and cutting the food, or a water change, buying some Aqua Star, and then cut back on the feeding?

I want to do what's less stressful for the fish. The three of them seem to be doing fine, and despite the Nitrite saying "Stress" they are still eating and swimming during the day, and hiding in the plants and under the rock caves I've made at night. So I don't want to upset their balance while things are still looking good with them.

oh also.... someone mentioned I should add a bottom feeder of some sort, like a saltwater crab for example. They'll eat what flakes drops to the bottom. I'm a bit cautious about this one because I haven't read any proof that a bottom feeder helps eat the left over food reducing Nitrites and nitrates.
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Old 04-02-2006, 06:31 PM   #2
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He told me to cut the feedings back to every other day until the nitrites go down.
This is a very good idea. You will find that most people here feed every other day all the time, not just when there is a problem. Two times a day is a lot.

Quote:
he said I could do a water change, but it may be of no help because Nitrites come from over feeding and while I'll take out a small amount of Nitrite and nitrate from water changes, it will also take out some of the good bacteria. probably more so than leaving it alone and cutting the feeding down to everyother day for now.
Wow, this guy calls himself an aquatic "specialist"? This is pure garbage! Nitrites do not come from overfeeding, they come from an ammonia swing...this could be caused by overfeeding yes, but the nitrites do not in themselves mean overfeeding. Also, your good bacteria does not "free float" in the water, it grows in your substrate, on your rock, decor, etc. Doing a water change is an excellent way to reduce the nitrite levels in your tank. If you are worried about bacteria, just don't vaccuum the substrate, just siphon out water. Trust me, this will not affect your bacteria count. Anyone who would tell you not to do a water change to reduce nitrite and that nitrite comes "from overfeeding" has a serious misunderstanding of the nitrogen cycle.

Quote:
and someone mentioned there is a product called Aqua Star.
The description makes this sound like ordinary water conditioner. What kind of water do you use? If you use RO or RO/DI water, this stuff will be a waste of your money. However, if you are using tap water, you should have been using some sort of water conditioner the whole time to eliminate the chlorine.

Quote:
someone mentioned I should add a bottom feeder of some sort, like a saltwater crab for example. They'll eat what flakes drops to the bottom. I'm a bit cautious about this one because I haven't read any proof that a bottom feeder helps eat the left over food reducing Nitrites and nitrates.
This is a very good idea. A cleanup crew of crabs and/or snails, or maybe a sand-sifting goby (assuming you have a sandbed). These WILL clean up after any food that drops to the bottom.

So in short,
1. Cut your feeding back to every other day.
2. Do at least a 5-gallon water change daily until your nitrites are gone, possibly even 10. Eventually, the good bacteria will catch up with it, but you need to get your levels down immediately to avoid stressing your fish.
3. Avoid putting chemicals into your tank, unless you have been using untreated tap water.
4. I didn't see a protein skimmer in your description. This may be helpful in removing wastes before they can cause ammonia and nitrite swings.
5. A good cleanup crew will also be helpful, both for eating algae and consuming any uneaten food. I will leave that recommendation to someone who has a little more experience with the cleanup crews....

HTH
Paul
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Old 04-02-2006, 06:50 PM   #3
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How did you cycle that tank? If you didn't, the 2 chromis may have started one. When it starts, ammonia goes up then down. As that is happpening, nitrites go up then down. After the nitrites reach zero, you have an established tank with good bacteria to consume ammonia.

Just sounds like you caught the nitrites on the way up or down and you may be completing a cycle. But the above is right, 'trites have nothing to do with feeding. Lots of people don't cycle with fish (use gorcery store shrimp) in order to avoid tat stress on the fish. I'd get a good book or do some research and not ask that "specialist" anything.

What else is in the tank? Describe the substrate and how much rock may be in there. I'd also only feed'm once a day.

On the additive, most try to deal with tank issues without additives.
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Old 04-02-2006, 07:06 PM   #4
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Well, I agree and disagree with the statements regarding overfeeding causes nitrites. In an indirect way, they will. The uneaten food decays, causing ammonia, causing the nitrites, causing the nitrates

Bacteria does not live in the water column, doing water changes is the best way to handle this situation.

The choice of how often to feed is up to you. I feed every other day. Some folks feed every day. Either way, do not feed more than they will eat in a short period of time.
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:32 PM   #5
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thanks guys. That's why I asked. It didn't feel right to me that no water change was required to help the problem. I know I remembered all the books I've read that said to do water changes to help the salinity, and take care of bad amonias, nitrates and nitrites, then to test the water to make sure all is well. So when he said that was a bad idea, I had to ask because it didn't seem to go along with everything I've read.

I did a 5 gallon water change, and tomorrow I'm going to buy one or two small crabs to eat at the bottom of the tank. My damsels and clown seem pretty docile. They leave eachother well enough alone, so hopefully they'll leave him to do his thing.

In about 40 minutes I'm going to test the salinity just to make sure I added enough salt to the new water as well.

By the way. I tested my well water, and it tested safe. but to be on the even safer side, I'm going to buy that Aqua Star and start using that next water change.

Thanks for the advice guys.
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Old 04-08-2006, 01:26 PM   #6
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ok, I did another water change since the last time we spoke. the first one I did in the previous post was without Aqua star, it was a 5 gallon change- and I cut the feeding down to everyother day for now.

(By the way I forgot to add I have 5lbs of live rock in this particular tank along with some non-live coral decoration.)

anyhoo.

The fish are looking great, and when I do feed them, they're eating great. And when I use test strips to test the water, they try to chase it around the tank thinking its food. They're doing great.

And I didn't know crabs crawled so fast. One minute he'd be on one side, I'd walk to my computer then back to check on him and he'd be way on the other end crawling around. He's kind of cute with his ultra blue hairy legs.

anyway.

The nitrates and nitrites still didn't go down so yesterday I did another water change, which is 5 days since that last one, this time using Aqua Star as recommended by a few websites I visited...

the Ph, Alkalinity, Saltwater levels are still fine, the salinity is still at 1.023, but the nitrate and nitrites still test "Okay" and "stress" today.

granted its been about 12 hours since the water change (Done last night at 11pm its now 11am) maybe it will take a bit longer.

What's the next step if it doesn't go down? I mean the fish themselves seem fine... there's no algy in the tank, I've already cut back on the feeding, the salinity is at the right level, there's only so many times I can safely clean the tank before I remove good bacteria as well, so I can't do another one for a while, so... should I just wait a few days? Should I add more live rock?
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Old 04-08-2006, 03:37 PM   #7
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It sounds like you are still not finished with your cycle. Did the ammonia still test out at 0.0?

I'll give you an example of what I mean. I have 45 lbs of liverock curing in a trashcan right now. When I tested the water before the 100% water change I did last night the ammonia was at 0.0, but the nitrites were sky high. What is probably going on is that there is a healthy population of the ammonia consuming bacteria present and any ammonia formed is rapidly turned into nitrite. There still isn't a large enough population of nitite consuming bacteria present to handle the load. They will need to develop further in order to be able to convert all the nitrite into nitrate. It sounds like that's whats happening in your tank also. Keep an eye on it and continue the PWC's.

Another possibility is inaccurate testing. You mentioned test strips. I tried those combined nitrite/nitrate test strips and mine were horribly inaccurate. I would recommend getting a liquid test kit. You can pick up the saltwater test kits that do ammonia/trites/trates/pH very reasonable. Good Luck.
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Old 04-08-2006, 04:37 PM   #8
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Yes the amonia does test at 0.0 I do have the liquid test kit. I use that every few days. I use the test strips daily. They both say about the same thing, although the water test kit doesn't make it look as serious as the test strips do. (Which could explain why my fish are doing so well.) however, its still not perfect and I would still like to get that Nitrite and Nitrate levels down.

Would adding more live rock help? Maybe there isn't enough. (Isn't it 1lb per gallon and I have a 29 gallon tank but only about 5-6 pounds of live rock.)

Or should I remove the live rock and go with an all decoritive coral/all fish tank? The all fish tank my brother and his wife has is fairing better than mine when it comes to this situation.
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Old 04-08-2006, 08:51 PM   #9
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[othequote]He told me to cut the feedings back to every r day until the nitrites go down.
This is a very good idea. You will find that most people here feed every other day all the time, not just when there is a problem. Two times a day is a lot.
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Old 04-08-2006, 11:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melosu58
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkremer
[othequote]He told me to cut the feedings back to every r day until the nitrites go down.
This is a very good idea. You will find that most people here feed every other day all the time, not just when there is a problem. Two times a day is a lot.
yes this was really bad advice I got from a store I no longer give my business to. (They said oh two to three small feedings daily is the usual. I found out from many sources UH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) lol
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