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Old 02-24-2010, 01:39 PM   #1
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Help with nitrite spike

I have had my tank for 2 month and ever since day one the water has tested good (no ammonia, no nitrites and nitrates are consistently under 10 ppm). I tried a new food for the fish (they didn't eat any of it) so it just sat on the floor of the tank over night. Today I tested the water and for the first time it tested for nitrites about .50 ppm and my ph was lower about 8.0. Most of the food is gone (I think the blue leg hermit crabs eat it over night) and my water looks a little cloudy. What should I do?

Test results yesterday
Ph 8.3
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrites 0 ppm
Nitrates 10 ppm

Test results today
Ph 8.0
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrites .50 ppm
Nitrates 10 ppm
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:44 PM   #2
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Always the first thing to do with less than perfect water conditions and cloudiness is PWC`s. Secondly find the cause.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:50 PM   #3
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The cause has to be the extra food it put in there. It was pellet food and the fish just looked at it. I think the food braking down in the tank has to be the cause of the spike.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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Tell me a little about you cycling the tank. I presume your "day 1" reference above started counting AFTER you cycled the tank.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:57 PM   #5
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I've only have the tank for 2 month. I never really had a true cycle. I waited a month then added a few fish snails and crabs. I have never had any spike at all since i started the tank.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:14 PM   #6
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That wasn't really the best thing to do.. because now a cycle could happen any time the bioload from your inhabitants gets too great for the bacteria in your tank to break down. The bacteria that you would have if you cycled your tank. You basically have no bacteria from the lack of a cycle that will break down the ammonia. Ammonia will present itself when things begin to decay, or from waste from the fish and other inhabitants. Once ammonia is present, it will then be converted to nitrites, and then to nitrates. Hence the cycle.

When you cycle the tank, you create bacteria that can break down the ammonia, and bacteria that can break down the nitrites, which are harmful to your tank inhabitants. I think this tank could go south pretty quickly. I'm surprised it hasn't already though.. Also, you should never let any food sit in the tank, floating, or on the sandbed. This is just a poor decision overall. If the fish aren't eating it while it's floating and circulating around the tank, chances are they won't eat it off the floor either. And too much on the sandbed will leave little time for your CUC to clean it up before it begins to decay. You should remove the extra food right now, and you should do a pretty hefty water change.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:22 PM   #7
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Correct me if I am wrong (which is probably the case) but since i haven't had any ammonia or nitrites and a small amount of nitrates doesn't that mean my tank's bio-filteration (bacteria, and live rock) is doing exactly what it should be doing?
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:26 PM   #8
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Well.. if you have nitrites and nitrates then you are clearly in the middle/near the end of a cycle..

But if your tank was cycled properly, no matter what you added(within reason), you should not have any ammonia or nitrite spikes at all. And if there's nitrites, then that means there was ammonia.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:32 PM   #9
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You never cycled your tank. Tell me more about it in terms of the size, what kinda substrate, and how much rock. Protein skimmer? And when is the last time you changed water?

I hear that so often, that "I just filled it with salt water, waited for a bit, and added critters". Recipe for disaster. Check out our articles section and read up on cycling a SW tank.


What critters are currently in there?
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:33 PM   #10
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Nicely put. If your tank sat around for 2 months with nothing in it, then there is no or not enough ammonia to start your cycle. When did you put your fish into the tank?
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