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Nitrite & Amonia Issue

Indiana OCHO

Blue Ring
Oct 12, 2006

I have a 30 gallon aquarium that has been running for three months. I put an inch and a half of live sand in it. It has only one starfish and a handfull of olive snails. However even with three times the required filtration wet/dry, biological etc it has a Nitrite issue. Two weeks ago I did a 25% partial and the problem is still there. Nitrite is registering about 1.0. The Amonia is .6 I had really hoped it would be all clear and ready to roll by now.

I am not using a protien skimmer and plan to add one because it is the only thing I can think to do.

The thing is I have run the very same system many times and set it up for others without this problem and without the skimmer. I like to keep things as simple as possible because it leaves less room for something to breakdown and cause trouble.

I welcome your input, please help me brainstorm this one. :banghead:
This sounds like an interesting problem. Have you added any livestock recently? Have you gone over all your live rock to make sure nothing substantial climbed into a hole and died?

An adequate population of nitrifying bacteria should be in place within three weeks, much less three months. To get to the bottom of this some detailed information might help: do you keep a log of everything you do to the tank? My wishlist for information would be a) when everything (rock, sand, livestock, filters, water change, everything) was added and b) the results of every single water test and when they were done.

Although I suggest having a protein skimmer, if it fixed this problem I think it would be doing it as a band-aid, because there's something anomalous going on: the biological filtration should be working just fine in the absense of a skimmer.

I am sorry to say that I did not log my results but that I first noticed the problem two weeks ago. I did a 25% partial and I waited. Next test was two days later and still the same. I have 1 to 1.5 inches of sand and only about three pounds of live rock. Yesterday I did a 50% partial using water from an established aquarium. The replacement water tested 0 for nitrite and amonia. I also added a protien skimmer that is for a 50 gallon aquarium and another biological filter. I removed some of the base rock just in case something was dead in it. I just tested and it is still as bad. Amonia is a bit better maybe between .1 and .3 but Nitrite is between .8 and 1.6.

Should I do another water change? Should I do anything? I have a 55 gallon that the water tests fine in should I switch out all the water. Should I go buy live rock? Is there a fast way to fix this or do I just have to ride it out? I sure welcome your ideas because I am truly stumped. All livestock is accounted for.
My best guess is you're having a very long drawn out cycle: you've got a big wet/dry, but not enough LR to provide a bacterial "seed." If this is correct, every water change just draws out the process a little longer. I'd go and pick up a bunch of live rock and ride it out.

Thanks, I wondered about the water changing myself, but that is what someone else suggested, and at least it was from an established tank. I will add some LR tomorrow and ride it out. It can't last forever. Thanks again, confusion loves company you know.
When I was establishing my biofilters, I found it helpful to dose them with ammonium chloride so that they had a source of ammonia while they were growing (I think it was something like 2 mls of a .1M solution per 50 gallons every day.) this may speed up your process
I would suggest grabbing some sand/filter media/live rock from that established tank. What your tank seems to need is the bacteria to seed it properly. I wouldn't use "new" live rock, because some of the curing processes take out alot of life from the rock.

What fish do you have in the tank? If you only have the inverts I would add a single cocktail shrimp. That will spike your ammonia to give the nitrite bacteria plenty of food. You can take out the decaying shimp and do a water change before adding any fish or cephs. This will remove the ammonia supply immediatly, which your livestock will replace. The worst thing would be to not have enough ammonia being generated and having another spike when you add your ceph.
Thanks. I keep testing and no change. I will try adding the shrimp and dosing with amonia if that doesn't work. Never have I experienced a cycle or lack of cycle like this one.
I wish it was the test kit, but I tested some water from the pet store and it was perfect. Anyway thanks for the shrimp idea. The amonia is coming up which means the nitrite should start going down soon. I had not thought of adding amonia. Thanks for the help.
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