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Old 11-05-2004, 04:53 PM   #1
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Nitrites...nitrates...ammonia...what gives?

When I first started my tank, I was told that the bio filter was a good thing because it converted ammonia (bad) to nitrate (also bad) and then to nitrite (good???). I've been told that even nitrite is bad if the level is too high. I now have more testing supplies (for all three) and additives to bring levels down. What's the real story behind all this? Is there a better way to control these elements?

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Old 11-05-2004, 05:03 PM   #2
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You've got it the wrong way round

Ammonia is very bad at even slight quantities, and is converted to nitrite. Then, nitrite (equally as bad) is converted into the less harmful nitrate. But, even nitrate can be harmful if you get enough of it.

Nitrate is best controlled with waterchanges.
Also, be careful with your feedings - under-feed rather than overfeed.

Ammonia and nitrite are constantly being converted by the bacteria in the tank - in your filter, in your substrate, and other areas of your tank. If your bioload is appropriate for your tank and it's been properly cycled in the first place, these should be taken care of (and always at 0). But, it's best to monitor them regularly, especially with a new system.


*Moved from SW forum and edited by An t-iasg to remove references to SW, such as LR*

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Old 11-07-2004, 07:52 PM   #3
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first, read this article:
It explains the whole Nitrogen cycle.

Use your tests frequently, but as for the chemicals to control ammonia and such, please don't use them. You end up with a never-ending usage of this chem to lower that element... etc... it's sometimes called "chasing the Dragon". You don't want to get involved with that, I think it's the #1 reson peopple quit the hobby.

Live plants cosume Ammonia as food, and Nitrates also. If you have good enough lighting, consider keeping at least a few live plants. They will assist in avoiding the dreaded (and often deadly) Ammonia spike.

Be patient
Don't overstock your tank
Don't overfeed your fish
Use your tests
control ammonia and such with water changes (and maybe some plants, I'm highly biased towards plants)

It's not as hard as it may seem at first!
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Old 11-08-2004, 01:28 PM   #4
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Graph to help explain.

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ammonia, nitrates, nitrites

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