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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Nitrites, Chemical Filtrants 

Related Articles: Nitrite, Ammonia, Nitrates, Establishing Cycling, BioFiltrationPhosphate, Silicates, Phosphate

Related FAQs: Nitrites 1Nitrites 2Nitrites 3, & FAQs on Nitrite: Importance, Science, Measure, Sources, Control, Troubleshooting/Fixing & Nitrates, Ammonia, Phosphate, SilicatesChemical Filtrants

Remember the Rolling Stones song refrain?: "Time... is on my side... yes it is..."

Stubborn Nitrites... Another case of zip [HPO4]       5/8/17
Hello Crew! Thank you for all of the advice over the years. Your site has been an invaluable resource.
<Ah, good>
I'm having a problem with stubbornly high Nitrites after (during?) a cycle for a quarantine tank and I'm out of ideas.
<Well; quarantine systems tend to be unstable, disallowing establishment and ready metabolism of beneficial microbe populations... Do you have sufficient biomedia, circulation about it to sponsor nitrification?>
QT is 20g, HOB BioWheel filter with bagged carbon and GFO (there was a Phosphate issue from uncured dry rock in the display tank).
<Is there still "some" soluble phosphate present? You NEED some for microbial conversion of Nitrite to Nitrate... Re-read that last statement>
Also has a small skimmer as I intend to follow the mantra "Quarantine everything, corals and all" with this new display tank (150g). QT is bare bottom except for some pieces of pvc for hiding spots and tests at 0 Ammonia, 20 Nitrates, 2 Nitrites, 0 Po4,
<Bingo: Here's at least part of the problem. Remove most/all of the GFO>

480Ca, 9dkh, and 1250mg.
We use water from the display tank for water changes (was an attempt to seed, but also a way of acclimating the critters to heir eventual conditions. Currently the only inhabitants are 3 Scarlet Reef hermits.
Nitrates are coming down (artificially high from early on when the both tanks were showing 100+ Nitrates.... DT now shows zero after water changes and a little impatient Vinegar dosing).
<Won't help>
What is NOT moving however are the Nitrites. They've been floating between 2-3 for weeks. The QT has been running for almost 2 months and they just won't come down. I've tried everything. I've even added SeaChem stability to the area behind the Filter wheel in an effort to directly add <sic, aid?> the bacteria necessary. It just won't come down (but isn't going up either). We are doing water changes, but only @10% weekly. I know that a
bare bottom tank takes longer to cycle, but this just seems absurd. I would have expected a spike and then drop over a longer time. Not a constant 2-3ppm with no movement. The kit is Salifert, brand new, and tests fine at 0ppm on the DT as well. I'm completely out of ideas. Any thoughts? I know Nitrites are not as bad for marine organisms, but I'm not relishing the thought of subjecting a really cool frag to Nitrites just because I can't get this thing to fully cycle.
<Your situation is very commonly misunderstood. "Some" phosphate is absolutely necessary to all life... part of DNA, RNA, Phospholipids in every cell... ADP, ATP energy transfer molecules... AND conversion of NO2 to NO3... The (over) use of chemical filtrants has killed more livestock than pathogenic disease. Remove the rust and you will find your nitrite gone in short order>
Thanks again!!
<Glad to help Frank. Bob Fenner>

Nitrate Sponge & Phosban Don't Mix! 1/29/09 Hi Crew, <Hello BC> This is more a commentary than a question. Hopefully it might prevent some other person from making the same mistake. I have a 90g Reef Tank with a 40g sump with circulation pumps, heaters and a Turboflotor 1000 Multi Skimmer (which I love and highly recommend). I like to be able to run a little Polyfilter or other media without going full canister filter, so I also have a Aquaclear 110 hooked on the back of the sump. I've run Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge in a twin setup on my FOWLR 90g for years. Where's the problem? I added Phosban to the mix. I've never used the products but was having a problem with hair algae and figured it might help with the phosphates I assume are feeding them even though tests kits read zero across the board for phosphates, ammonia, nitrite & nitrates. <Likely> Anyway, I added both the Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban at the same time. Wince. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have, but there you go. The skimmer immediately started having a fit-- producing copious amounts of super wet foam. I removed both the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban (once I narrowed down the cause) and slipped in some Polyfilter hoping it might help. I'd just performed a water change so I didn't have any more aged water on hand. The corals and fish looked fine--perky, so I crossed my fingers, disconnected the frothing skimmer and waited until the next day hoping things would "right" themselves. They didn't--although the corals and fish looked no worse for wear. I performed another 20 gallon water change. The skimmer improved marginally--it took 30 seconds to fill the cup instead of 10. I decided a huge water change was in order. The following evening I changed 50 gallons. It seems to have worked. The foam is still a little wet, but its gradually improving. The only thing I can figure out is that there was a reaction between the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban that effected the water. At first I figured an airline on the skimmer was clogged, but it wasn't. I also tested the unit in my FOWLR tank. It produced normal, dry foam there. I tested the skimmer on the new patch of water, to see if their was something funny coming in through the tap. Again, no problem. I don't use any water conditioner since I always let my water age for at least 24 hours. I'd added nothing else to the tank. Unless it was the Phosban alone (which I doubt), then it had to be the combination of the two. Have you ever heard of this? Do you know of anyone who runs both these medias together? It was a real pain in the rear. Thankfully I didn't loose any live stock to it, in fact, my corals seem happier than I've ever seen them--must be all that nice new water! Anyway, I saw nothing on your site about a possible conflict between the two, so I thought I'd put this out there. <Wondering if the Phosban should have been rinsed out thoroughly before use. As far as the Nitrate Sponge, it's just a porous Zeolite that fosters anaerobic bacteria aiding your denitrification system in converting nitrate to nitrogen. It has no properties that directly remove nitrate from saltwater. This product should cause no reactions with Phosban. Might be something else going on here. Bob may have some input here.><<Nope. Nothing new. RMF>> Cheers! <Good day to you. James (Salty Dog)> BC

- Reappearance of Nitrites - Hello Crew, Thank you for your wonderful website. I have a 58 gallon saltwater tank.  Fish only (yellow tang, coral beauty, maroon clown) and 2 live rocks.  The tank has been running for one year.  For 11 months the Nitrite reading has always been 0.   On the advice of a local pet store I started using a product, Marine S.A.T, to treat hair algae.  After 3 weeks of treatments, my Nitrite went up to 1.5. <Could be your test kit reagents are old - I'd get a second opinion on the results of the test kit.> What do you think of this product? <I've never heard of it.> How do I eliminate the Nitrite? <Larger water changes, and consider perhaps some more live rock.> What do you think of AMQUEL or other Nitrite reducing products? <Amquel doesn't reduce nitrites, it locks up ammonia. Am not familiar with anything that addresses nitrites directly.> I appreciate any guidance.   Thank you Tina <Cheers, J -- > Nitrite spike Hi Bob, Again I am faced with spike in nitrite now up to 0.5mg/l. Additional to the live rocks I have actually add a biological system with bio-ball and in the main tank I also add some coral bits in . <Leave this system be... if the NO2 doesn't approach 1.0 ppm, let it settle> Moreover, I also add it a poly filter ( just in case ) but it didn't stop it from spiking. I guess the system is not fully mature and also due to feeding again. I will stop feeding right away and monitor the problem everyday. May I know what is the immediate action to be taken? Partial water change or not? Add in fresh poly filter ? <Zip, zero, nada... don't do anything... including no additives, no feeding...> Bob, I heard that Seachem offer a product for lowering nitrite call "PRIME " IS it effective? And it also advice to add 5 times more during emergency, what is your view on this product? <No, don't use this... or anything... you're just forestalling the establishment of cycling> Also shall I add more live rocks ? <NO> Pls advise. Urgent. David. P.S Fish behave ok but notice small white patches on body and fin. >> <Likely due to whacked water quality... unless, until you can determine this is a parasitic problem, don't even move the livestock... more stress... Bob Fenner>

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