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Old 12-22-2008, 01:55 AM   #1
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How much Nitrite is too much?

OK, this is a follow-up to my previous question (how much Ammonia is too much). I never got an exact answer (at least not a consensus), but it made for some interesting discussion.

Here's my current situation:

I've got a small common gold fish and a rosie red gold fish in a 10 gallon planted tank (as previously reported). I decided to take a chance and added a pair of glass shrimp. Yea, yea, the common should eventually grow big enough to eat them, but for now, he's small, and I got some of the larger shrimp the LFS had in stock. So far, the fish are not bothering the shrimp (I've even caught all four inhabitants in the fake log before).

Because the sign at the LFS indicates the shrimp need salt, I've started adding some aquarium salt (about 1/2 the recomended level on the salt container).

The tank is planted, about 3 anuba, a wisteria, and some villisnera (sp?) with a 15 watt florusent light. Some of the anuba leaves in shadows of the other leaves have yellowed. Much of the villi isn't doing so hot (but then it wasn't looking all that great when I got it at the LFS... but at least it was cheap). A few pieces of villi are doing good. The wisteria looks to be doing great.

The ammonia levels are now reading ZERO... the test tube is staying yellow (YEA!!!).

The nitrite and nitrate levels have increased. I'm also getting a couple of brown spots in the tank. Nitrate levels are usually at the 2nd color on the card. The nitrite levels are currently 1ppm. I haven't been letting it get that high, but I haven't been home all day, and the tank is in the kids room (they are sleeping, so no PWC today) and I've got an appointment in the morning. So I'm going to go 48 hours between PWC, and expect nitrite levels to get near 2ppm before I can get to a PWC.

I guess the good news is that I've heard the aquarium salt can help avoid nitrite poisoning, and with the added shrimp, I've now got a little salt in the tank.
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:45 PM   #2
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Typically any nitrItes or ammonia over .5 ppm is call for a large PWC. Anything over that limit can potentially damage your fishies gills. I've seen some fish in some really bad (maintained) tanks with bright red areas around their gills, this is most likely from too high levels of ammonia.

I think I replied to your other post "What is raising my ph"... I'd read my post about the salt. It may be unnecessary. The only thing I'd say that is helping you out is your plants using up some nitrAtes. I'm not sure if salt does anything to nitrites or not but I'm sure others will chime in.
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:52 PM   #3
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Salt wont change your nitrates just PWC and plants may consume some. Nitrites should be 0 but like meegosh said .5 or above is call for a large 50-70% PWC. Nitrites increasing after your amonia is decreasing means your tank is still cycling. Keep up with the PWC avoid harm to your livestock. The shrimp are they clear or glass shrimp? If so most of those only need brakish water to breed not to live. and as far as i know it is very difficult to breed the glass shrimp
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:44 PM   #4
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I know salt won't change the nitrate or nitrite levels, but somewhere I read something that indicated adding salt will allow the fish to deal with elevated levels of nitrites better.

I just finished up a PWC of almost 50%, and my nitrite levels are still around 0.25 to 0.5. But since DS in currently napping, it will have to wait until tonight before I could possibly do another on.

I am doing daily PWC of about 30%, but I just didn't have the time yesterday and had to skip a day.
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:04 PM   #5
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thank you for clarification. Salt can help some fish (mollies) i dont know for sure on its benefits for others. Just keep up on the PWCs. .25 is tollerable 0 is best. If you get the chance go for a big 70% change that will help. Good luck sounds like you are doing your best.
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:54 PM   #6
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I had read debates about salt here in the forum before I even got the ghost shrimp (if there is a difference between clear or glass, I don't know what they are, the LFS just labeled them ghost). Since the debate was more of a "does it do any good", I figured when the sign at the LFS said aquarium salt was needed that it wouldn't hurt anything to put some at less than full strength (the stuff is cheap, so it doesn't even harm the wallet).
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:58 PM   #7
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Yeah I om of the opinion it neither helps nor hinders. Ghost and glass are commonly interchanged but are different species. Both however do not require salt. You only need to add it if you wish to breed them and even then it is very difficult to reer the young.
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:43 PM   #8
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There seem to be confusion here on the salt issue. I agree that salt is not needed in most FW setup. However, using salt to treat or prevent nitrite poisoning is well established in the scientific literature (& among hobbyists.)

Nitrite binds to hemoglobin & prevent it from binding oxygen. The Chloride ion in salt prevents (or reverses) this binding & will help your fish through the nitrite phase of the cycling. To be effective, you need Cl- level 30x that of nitrite. This is still very low compared to salt treatment in ick, etc. Generally, a level of 0.05% will be sufficient for most nitrite spikes. (of 2-3 ppm)

This is not to say that yoou should not do water changes. Ideally, you want the NO2 level to be less than 0.5 (0.25 is better). The salt, however, is a good insurance.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:20 PM   #9
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I did 50% PWC's on my 20 every day while it was cycling.

Then one day, everything was good.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:03 AM   #10
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Well, after a 2nd PWC this evening, I've got the nitrite level below 0.25ppm.

It had never been my intention to use salt and allow the nitrite levels to get too high... it's just sort of the way things worked out.

I've been trying PWC daily, since I am cycling with fish. But we just had a new baby and occationally I'm unable to give the tank the care it needs. But at least the fish have made it through the 1st half of the cycle.
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:10 AM   #11
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
Well, after a 2nd PWC this evening, I've got the nitrite level below 0.25ppm.
Sounds good to me. I think if you keep them that low through the cycle you will have no problems.
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