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Old 10-21-2020, 02:34 PM   #1
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Nitrites extremely high - won't go down

Hi everyone,

I started cycling a new aquarium about five or six weeks ago. No fish in there yet. I was using household ammonia and everything was going great. A couple weeks in, the ammonia started being processed very quickly. I'd put in 2-3ppm and it would be down to 0 by the next day. I was "feeding" the ammonia-eating bacteria every few days while waiting for my nitrite levels to go down. My nitrite and nitrate levels have been maxed out for a couple of weeks now and haven't gone down at all. I started to suspect that the nitrite levels have gotten too high - when I test it's showing that they're at 5ppm but I think they're probably much higher.

I read a bit and saw some folks who said that it might be a good idea to do some water changes. At this point, I've done three or four 50% water changes over the course of a week and the levels haven't dropped. I also haven't been adding more ammonia because I don't want any more nitrites! But now I'm getting worried that I'm going to "starve" the bacteria that are present.

Any ideas what might be going on and what I should do? I have had high nitrate levels for weeks now, which makes me think that at least some of that nitrite is being converted. I just don't understand how it got so high and why it's not going down.

I thought about buying some Seachem Prime but I don't want to mess up the cycle.

Also, I tested my tap water for nitrites and it's showing up as 0ppm.

Thanks!
Meg
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Old 10-21-2020, 02:54 PM   #2
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Exactly what type of 'household ammonia' are you using??? Does the label say something like no sufficants? Has to say pure ammonia. Prime is just a dechlorinator, so using that for water changes is just fine or any other dechlorinator will do the same.
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Old 10-21-2020, 02:58 PM   #3
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I started using seachem prime for the same reason about two weeks ago and my levels have all bottomed out pretty fast, I use seachem stability too with it. I also just added seachem matrix and Purigen to my filter and it has made huge improvements in just two days. I had the new tank syndrome bad and those cleared it up for me.
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by fishwonder View Post
Exactly what type of 'household ammonia' are you using??? Does the label say something like no sufficants? Has to say pure ammonia. Prime is just a dechlorinator, so using that for water changes is just fine or any other dechlorinator will do the same.
It is pure ammonia specifically for fishtanks.
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Old 10-21-2020, 04:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mwalsh15 View Post
It is pure ammonia specifically for fishtanks.
Great. What is the pH of your water?
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:23 PM   #6
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If the chemistry is correct your nitrites and nitrates are high because 1ppm of ammonia converts to roughly 2.7ppm nitrite and 3.6ppm nitrate.

So if you add 2ppm ammonia, once it converts you are already off the charts assuming you are using the API test kit for reference.

You need to do some water changes until the nitrites are low then add smaller amounts of ammonia and be patient.

Ive always used fish to cycle because if done correctly there is little risk to the health of the fish and you can avoid much unnecessary torment.

Good luck.
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