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Old 01-08-2004, 01:47 PM   #1
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high nitrate nitrite in aquarium

Help!!!!!!! (Sorry for the long intro)!

I recently acquired an existing 10-gallon tank that had been set up for 3 years. The tank was abused, evaporated water was added only added when needed, no water exchanges at all. Amazingly, four fish survived a fairly large pleco (five inches) and some tetras.

I had a tall 18 gallon, and remembering from the past that it was a good idea to keep some of the originals' tanks bacteria, I thought I was doing good by keeping some of the rock, fake plants and MOST of the original water.

Subsequently, I added the required 8 gallons of water (which is very well buffered. good alk, pH about 7.8) to the existing water, plants and rocks along with the existing fish. My wife goes out and buys more small fish (3 algae eaters, one green cat, 10 neons and four zebra fish) the very next day, without my knowledge, and adds them to the tank !

That night I had what I believe a bacteria bloom (grayish cloudy water). Ammonia was only 1 PPM but I immediately added ammonia-carb to the filter. What surprised me was that my nitrites AND nitrates are off the scale of my test strips! I confirmed this with another test kit.

After a 50 % water change for two days in a row, the water is now crystal clear, but the nitrites are STILL in the danger area and the Nitrates are also in the unsafe area, based on my test strips. Ammonia is holding at 1 PPM or so, I guess do to the Ammonia-carb. The water I'm using is tap water which, as mention before, is quite hard with a high pH but has virtually no nitrates or nitrites, etc. (I will worry about the pH and hardness when I get the nitrates and nitrites in order)

I've also added about 5 teaspoons of Acq. salt and some bio-stuff to add the bacteria in an attempt to get the cycle along.

Questions: Why are my nitrates so high already, it's only been 4 days since set up. I can only guess the original water was really loaded, but how did the existing fish survive?

Now that my wife added the additional fish way too early, is there anything else I should do? Amazingly the fish (except for maybe one) do not appear stressed!

My plan is to continue with about a 25% water exchange until the Nitrates/nitrites get within a range that I could at least read.

Thanks for any input!

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Old 01-08-2004, 01:58 PM   #2
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The original water was probably horrid, and the gravel was probably packed with detrius. Continue the water changes at 25% every other day.

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Old 01-08-2004, 02:35 PM   #3
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I imagine when that old gravel was stirred up there were pockets of anaerobic bacteria in there, which are really pretty deadly when disturbed, but undisturbed in the old tank they were not affecting the fish. I am not sure if you want to return the fish or not, but it might not be a bad idea until things get under control, which they will, but it will take a week or two with regular water changes. Your good bacteria are obviously present, or you would not have nitrite or nitrate, but not in adequate amounts to control the ammonia and nitrite. Soldier on...
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Old 01-08-2004, 03:38 PM   #4
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I feel for you. I'd like to see you get that pleco an cory out of there. They seem to fare worse in those conditions than tetras or danios. JMO
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high nitrate, nitrate

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