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Old 10-27-2003, 07:18 PM   #1
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Difference between nitrate and nitrite

Can someone please explain to me the difference between nitrate and nitrite? What testing kit do you recommend. I have an Ammonia and pH testing kit from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals and seem to like them very well. Thanks for your helo.
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Old 10-27-2003, 07:28 PM   #2
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Ooo ooo! I know that *grin*

There's a coupla diff explanations; I'll go for the basic. I'm sure sweets will be in later to give the chemical definitions as well.

Ok, nitrites and nitrates are all forms on nitrogenous waste, as is ammonia. All have Ns in their chemical name (NH3 is ammonia, NO2 is nitrite, NO3 is nitrate). Nitrifying bacteria comes in a number of different forms. Some types eat ammonia; they produce nitrites as waste. Others eat nitrites; they produce nitrates as waste. Thing is, ammonia and nitrites are deadly to fish. Ammonia burns the gills and the fish suffocates. Nitrites compete with oxygen in the gills and again the fish suffocates, just for a diff reason. Nitrates are not a prob at lower levels (0-40 ppm) but can stress fish at higher levels. Its best to have all 3 nitrogenous waste tests as nitrates won't show up till the tank is cycled, and you also need to know how high the levels of ammonia and nitrites are. If you have to limit yourself to one test to buy this week, get the nitrites.
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Old 10-27-2003, 10:20 PM   #3
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lol, yes, i'm here to give the overly complicated and less useful version

I'll approach it from a bacterial and fish-health stance. Nitrite can suffocate your fish, therefore you really don't want it in your tank. There are bacteria that oxidize nitrite, but this process isn't particularly favorable in terms of energetics. This is why, when you're cycling the tank, it takes a lot longer for your nitrites to drop than your ammonia levels. These are opportunistic lil buggers tho, and still get by oxidizing NO2 to NO3. Nitrate (NO3) is not as toxic to your fish...but we really don't want to leave a ton of it in the tank either...not only does it stress fish, but once again, clever little bacteria will jump on that opporunity. There are bacteria that, when they can't find anything else worthwhile to munch on, they'll reduce NO3 right back to NH3...which is really kinda counterproductive!

Anyway...I'll stop rambling now....hope somebody finds something useful in there!
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:26 PM   #4
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Nitrite= 0 ppm, Ammonia=.5-1.0 ppm, pH=7.6, High Range pH=8.0

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:34 PM   #5
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Have you read up on cycling your tank?


you probably want to keep your ammonia levels below 1ppm....10-15% water changes daily or every other day if your tank isn't cycled (without vacuuming the gravel).

is 7.6 the highest your low-end pH test reads? If so, then you're pH is 8. When you max out on the low scale, test it on the high scale (and also the other way around...if you're on the lowest of the high-end scale, test it on the low-end kit). Also know that your pH is going to be affected by your ammonia levels (and get this....your toxic ammonia levels are going to be affected by pH!). Tank chemistry...oy!
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:45 PM   #6
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LOL I KNEW you'd stop by sweets *grin* knew I could count on you!

Just to add to sweets comments, it sounds very much like your tank is cycling. If I'm correct (I get confused easily ) this tank is about 2 weeks old AND is in the midst of an ich treatment?

You might want to peruse this site; it gives a nice clear explanation of the nitrogen cycle as wel as explaining the relationship between pH and ammonia: http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-cycling.html
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:54 PM   #7
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Yes, the tank is about two weeks old today. And yes, I am having what I think is a major battle with ich. Thanks for all your help Alli and Sweets, I appreicate it. I just hope that I don't give up on this tank. The fish in the tank right now don't seem to be sluggish or anything like that.

I still don't know what the cloudy muck is on the sides of the tank. When I wipped it off before it turned the cloth yellow. I seem to always do this though, I get my tank set up, add some fish (probably too many at once), and then have to battle with ich. Hopefully my luck will change.
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Old 10-28-2003, 05:59 PM   #8
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Heh, I hear ya FWgal. I had to pull a neon from my planted tank when he started losing color. I have him in QT and am treating him with Maracyn and Maracyn2, which has caused a HUGE bacterial bloom. Consequently, I'm water changing at night before I add meds, but its completely cloudy in the morning, and I have to spend 5 minutes just to find the poor guy! The worst part is, I don't think he's going to make it anyway. But we do what we can
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Old 10-28-2003, 06:03 PM   #9
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I wonder what kinda bacteria are surviving the maracyn + maracyn2, alli...tough little buggers!! the combo of those 2 should theoretically wipe out pretty much everybody LOL
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Old 10-28-2003, 06:10 PM   #10
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I know! It has to be heterotrophics I figure. They're prob gram neg and the Maracyns are gram pos...

*sigh* makes no diff tho; went to do the meds n water change after that post and the lil guy is dead. Kinda knew he wasn't gonna make it. Poor lil bugger.
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Old 10-31-2003, 03:17 PM   #11
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Well, using Maracide and Maracyn-two wiped out everything and caused a huge bacterial bloom in my tank.
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