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Old 02-28-2012, 04:47 AM   #1 
SpookyTooth
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Nitrite spike.. nitrite spike.. nitrite.. spike..

I've been waiting for several weeks to move Kaze from his 6.2 gallon tank to his 14 gallon but have encountered a string of problems when trying to cycle it and maintain said cycle. I didn't want to do a fish-in cycle. Kaze is currently still in his 6.2 gal and I'm not adding him to the big tank until I'm confident he won't be harmed.

I've been through a cycle crash, bad quality java moss rotting at an alarming speed, torn down the tank once, done plenty of partial water changes (varying in size), gravel cleans, ornament cleans, algae outbreaks, pond snail outbreaks, nylon tights disintegrating..

I'm very.. very tired.

After weeks of trying not to over-clean the aquarium (as I know this can cause problems with a cycle) I finally gave up and thought I'd do a fish-in cycle - minus live plants. Got the whole thing cleaned, got the gravel cleaned, the ornaments - the only things I added to the water were Stress Coat+, Tetra Safe Start and Stress Zhyme. I've had success with Tetra Safe Start in the past and thought it'd help keep Kaze safe. I didn't put him in immediately after but instead waited 48 hours so any ammonium would evaporate and to make sure the water temperature was stable.

Of course, I tested the water before starting the acclimation process.. the nitrites showed up as a darker purple than I thought possible, nitrates were orange. I thought it was a sign that the bacteria was doing its job. Did a partial water change (about 30%), tested afterwards and nitrites had dropped. Tested the next day, nitrites dark purple, nitrates orange.

The nitrates have stayed at the same level (20 ppm) for the last six water tests.

While all this is happening Kaze is sat in his 6.2 gallon making a thick bubble nest.

The problem I'm having is that the nitrites are continually spiking. Water changes lower the reading I'm getting a little but it shoots back up by the next morning - it has been over a week and I'm feeling discouraged. I have a severe medical condition that affects my joints and muscles alongside my energy levels. I cannot do daily water changes - which is why I bought a large aquarium and decided against a fish-in cycle. My mother has helped me an awful, awful lot but she herself has a problem with her arm and I'm worried all this lugging about with water will make it worse.

Has anyone ever encountered a problem like this? I've researched the cycling process and have looked at various reasons as to why the nitrites would spike continuously while the nitrates remain stable (they haven't increased but they haven't decreased either) but have found nothing. I had wondered if this was normal but.. it does confuse me as I have no form of ammonia going into the aquarium to feed the nitrifying bacteria. It also smells a bit like.. charcoal?

The aquarium is heated to 79/80F and has a canister filter that came with it (got it as a package, will be baffling the filter once things have settled down). No live plants, all silk ones.

I want to get my facts straight before proceeding further so at the moment I'm leaving the aquarium to do its own thing, I won't change anything about it as I understand this may simply be normal.

.. I'll be glad when it's finally done. If worst comes to it I can gather help and tear it down one last time and do a fish-in cycle with just Stress Coat+.

Thank you very much for your time!
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:29 PM   #2 
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You poor thing. :(

Erm...that's all a bit odd. Is there any ammonia in the TTS bottle that would give the nitrites food? Is there any ammonia or nitrites in your tap water?
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:18 AM   #3 
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Thank you for your response!

"Contains specially grown nitrifying bacteria that biologically activates aquariums"... not sure if that counts. Heh sorry, early morning. Trying to get my head together. The bottle just seems to contain nitrifying bacteria, doesn't say much else. The Stress Zhyme bottle says nothing about the bacteria it contains.

I used both by recommendation of the store I bought my betta from, a private aquarist store. I trust their advice as much as the forums' as they do genuinely know what they're doing. Maybe I'm getting something wrong somewhere, which'd be fine as long as I find out what so I can prevent it in future.

I tested our tap water and it has shown 0 for both ammonia and nitrites. Tested the aquarium today and nitrates have dropped but nitrites are still extremely high. I'm beginning to wonder if it might be something in the gravel. I used two sizes of gravel: a fine grade (1-3 mm particle size) and a large grade (about the size of regular gravel), mixed the two together as we lost a lot of fine grade stuff during cleanings. Both were thoroughly cleaned before being added.

I noticed a pond snail crawling up the side of the aquarium again... agh! While trying to remove it using a turkey baster I noticed just how much junk there still is in the gravel... which is odd as nothing but clean water has gone in the aquarium. I must have forgotten something. It's usually the simplest thing that's right under your nose that causes you the most grief.

So much for leaving it alone, eh? The water is beautifully clear... for some reason thought that might be a positive sign but things still seem to be going wrong. I can't figure this out for the life of me. I think it might just be safer to tear it down, replace the gravel and start over... I wanted to use a sponge filter anyway so I could always use this as an opportunity to get one... though I quite like the canister filter, really easy to clean.

/end rambling
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:23 AM   #4 
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I suggest you to stop doing water changes and let the filter run for two weeks. Leave the tank alone for two weeks and test the water again. Also take some water from kaze tank and mix it up in your 14 gal. If possible try to get a pebble and put it near where the filter releases its water in kaze's tank and after a week put it into your 14 gal and see if this steps work. To cycle a tank you really need to have patience and seeing that kaze's doing really well in his current tank. There is no need for a rush :D
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:41 AM   #5 
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Aye. I thought the water changes might hinder it but I wasn't sure... I'm going to leave it for a while - thank you for your advice.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:38 PM   #6 
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If you have a filter in Kaze's current tank, why not run it in the 14 gallon beside the bigger filter for a totally harmless, much quicker fish-in cycle?
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:56 AM   #7 
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To be honest I wouldn't mind doing that at all, though it would likely mean tearing down the tank again (the water stinks)..

That said I just tested it and nitrites have gone down substantially - no more dark purple! The tube still has purple in it but it's so much lighter.

Not sure why the water still smells bad. I can't describe it, first it was like charcoal and now it's like... blerg? If I can figure out what's causing the smell (if it's harmful, it isn't that usual "aquarium smell") and get the nitrites to zero I would gladly use Kaze's old filter for a while alongside the big one.

Now it's just a matter of figuring out what causes that smell and fixing it. Will do a gravel vaccum later today and see if that helps. I'm sure that with a water change will help - not a huge one though. Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow instead of going ahead with the water change now. I don't know hah.

Last edited by SpookyTooth; 03-01-2012 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:16 PM   #8 
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I apologize for the double post.

I just wanted to update this topic to announce that the smell has subsided, whatever it was. I'm going to do another water test - I'm not sure if it'd be safe to put Kaze in there as I'm not sure what caused the smell, though I did initially think it was the high nitrite levels.

Edit: Just tested nitrites again. Below 0.25ppm now - awesome! I think that may be why the smell has gone. The problem is that nitrates have crashed, but if I did a water change and vaccumed the gravel (detritus worm outbreak has confirmed a gravel vaccuming must be done, I'm actually pleased to see these creepy hair-like worms for once - they've shown me what I must do next) - if I did both of these things would it be safe for Kaze? Does anyone know?

I'm going to take Bombalurina's advice and run Kaze's old, mature filter alongside the current one for a while as well.

Last edited by SpookyTooth; 03-01-2012 at 03:24 PM.
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