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    Thread: Nitrite spike

    1. #1
      Susan Day's Avatar
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      Nitrite spike

      I just finished my pond a few months ago, and added koi and filtration about 6 weeks ago. My pond is 2000 gallons with a Challenger 40 (? rated for 2500 gallons) bead filter, UV and vortex prefilter. I have been testing the water regularly and have had consistent PH at 7.6, ammonia at .25 - .5, and nitrite at .25. These are all Pondcare brand tests with drops and test tubes. I just purchased a Jungle Quick Dip pond test strip kit for the kh and gh; the gh was "soft" at 75 ppm and the kh was 300 ppm (but I'm doubting myself with the kh after tonight's readings).

      I have 8 koi, all small: 2 10", 2 4", the rest somewhere around 6".

      I have been doing water changes weekly or more often when the ammonia was at .5 (usually has been .25). My other additives have been as follows: Stress Coat when adding water until someone on this forum pointed out stress coat replaced the natural slime coat, now Amquel for the past week or so, and I just received my shipment of koi clay a week or so ago and have been adding a couple tablespoonfuls (ok small handfuls) every few days. I also have been adding Microbe-Lift PL (the starter stuff) weekly, but failed to read the bit about turning off the UV light for 24 hours after adding it, so I don't know how much it has helped.

      Last weekend ammonia and nitrite were higher than usual, I forget how high, I think .5, so I added a big dose of amquel and did an additional water change.

      Tonight the fish didn't seem as hungry as usual. I tested the water and the ammonia is at .25 but the nitrite is off the charts - 5 by the drop test; the dip test had the following readings: Nitrate 20, Nitrite 10, GH 75, kh 0, and ph 6.2. I did a big water change (approx. 20%), added about 4 tablespoons of baking soda, and amquel dosed for the chloramines. I tested the water afterwards and didn't see any change at all. I tested the ph again with the drop test and had a more normal reading of 7.5.

      Tomorrow I'm going to do another water change, and add more baking soda. What else can I do? How do I know if my water tests are affected by the amquel?

      I just tested the tap water with the strip and it appears to be 75 ppm GH and 80 kh, though I'm having trouble reading the stupid strip.

      Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. I don't want to lose these guys.

      Oh, and I usually do water changes by backwashing the vortex prefilter. I did a backwash of the bead filter two weeks ago but was advised not to do any more backwashes until the biofiltration was established. I did a short one tonight (before testing the water) because this weekend the water cleared remarkably. It had been murky (tea-colored, not green) until this weekend. The pond is in almost full shade, though it gets a few hours of morning sun. It has been about 76 degrees.

      I have been doing lots of reading on this forum since I started seriously designing the pond this spring, just no posting.

      Oh, the pond has a bottom drain with aerator, and it has a skimmer which has not been in operation for about 2-3 weeks so I could finish the edging.

      Thanks again, sorry for the length of the post.

      Susan

    2. #2
      Noahsnana's Avatar
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      I would say you are cycling but your numbers are high and the kh does not sound good. Need a water change, this will bump for others.
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
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    3. #3
      KoiValley's Avatar
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      Good post. Good information. Do normal backwashes on the filter. The cycling will take care of itself and the filter won't get blinded in the meantime.

      The microbelift can be sent to the round file.

      Add an ammonia binder and consider some salt to knock out the effects of Nitrite.

      Your pond is cycling, Give it some help with lots of aeration.

      Change the water in your pond by 20-25% weekly.
      Karl Schoeler, founder: EIHIOICGI

      Certified: AKCA Better Health Practices December 2008


    4. #4
      auntiesue is offline Koiphen Koi Health Advisor
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      The pond seems to be struggling with cycling. What is the temperatures now in your area? Is it starting to cool down there yet?

      You're lucky in that your GH is on the low side. Wish mine was. That KH reading is a big problem. The filter seems to be eating it up pretty quickly if you recently did a water change and the reading in the pond now is zero. This is a bad thing.

      You need to get the ammonia detoxified (amquil-latency is about 2-3 days) then slowly bring up the KH by first doing water changes (tap water has some bicarbs in it), then I would start adding some baking soda to get the KH slowly up to around 100ppm. Get a good KH test kit though. I'm not convinced those dip strips are all that accurate. If you can't find one locally, order online. Tetra makes a good one.

      Once you have the ammonia bound out and the kh rising, dose the heck out of the pond with Clay. It may be that 1) you are low on KH and 2) you need the trace minerals contained in the clay to boose that filter efficiency.

      Salt will protect the fish as you pass through the nitrite part of the cycle. I usually recommend .15% to be safe. But bind up that ammonia first, then get that kh up slowly. Leave the UV off completely until your filter has settled down. You need every bit of viable bacteria that this pond can muster right now. That UV is just killing it off.

      EDIT: Just reread your post. You have a bead filter!! Beads need the KH levels to be very high...around 200++ ppm.
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    5. #5
      Koin-Onia is offline Koi Kowboy
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      I would personally reccomend using chloramx,ultimate or serenity as a ammonia binder. I like the ultimate its good stuff. Your system will come around with time but you will have to treat chemically until it does. Keep monitoring the water. Feed lightly as well. Do your water changes religiously.
      The Great Smoky Mountains Koi Club

    6. #6
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      Sue don't the beadfilters need a higher or consistantly higher KH to cyle the filter???
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
      I believe it can happen... Koi World Peace
      "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

    7. #7
      auntiesue is offline Koiphen Koi Health Advisor
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      Quote Originally Posted by Noahsnana
      Sue don't the beadfilters need a higher or consistantly higher KH to cyle the filter???
      Yep, went back and reread-see Edit please. Got that on the second read. This pond has had fish in it for 6 weeks if I read the post correctly. Obviously temperature plays a large role in the length of time it takes to cycle a pond, but 6 weeks should have done it that is why I think it needs a bit of a nudge. Boost the KH High, salt for NitrItes and a good ammonia binder to get through the ammonia spikes. Lots of clay will help if there are missing trace minerals that the filter requires. Seems his source water has been softened with that GH reading so I have to assume lots of good stuff is missing from his tap water therefore the recommendation to add lots of Clay.
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    8. #8
      Susan Day's Avatar
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      Thanks, everyone, for the quick response! Can you clarify dosages with baking soda and koi clay? Would another dose like I used tonight (4 tbs, roughly) per day be sufficient until I get a higher kh reading? I will order a better test tomorrow for kh - but until then, what are the consequences of too much baking soda if I'm reading my test strip wrong?

      What would be a good heavy dose of koi clay?

      Will Amquel (not amquel plus) detoxify the nitrite if I do a heavy dose tomorrow? Otherwise I'll look in petco for chloramx or other ammo-lock stuff.

      I was going to order more MicrobeLift, crushed coral to put in the skimmer, and calcium chloride, in addition to the kh test and Prime. Skip the Microbelift? But its so smelly, it must be doing something right? Any other suggestions?

      Have to go to bed now, thanks again.

    9. #9
      Susan Day's Avatar
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      Hi Sue,
      (I'm a girl!) Temps have gone down a bit here lately but I'm not sure that the pond has cooled off much. I'll look tomorrow. The temps were 76 through that heat wave.

      As I understand it, I should do the following (along with regular water changes, etc.):
      1) Add a good ammonia/nitrite detoxifier
      2) Stabilize ph with baking soda
      3) Then add big dose of clay
      4) Then salt if necessary

      Do I have it right?

      Now I really do have to go to bed.

      -Susan

    10. #10
      auntiesue is offline Koiphen Koi Health Advisor
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      Quote Originally Posted by Susan Day
      Hi Sue,
      (I'm a girl!) Temps have gone down a bit here lately but I'm not sure that the pond has cooled off much. I'll look tomorrow. The temps were 76 through that heat wave.

      As I understand it, I should do the following (along with regular water changes, etc.):
      1) Add a good ammonia/nitrite detoxifier
      2) Stabilize ph with baking soda
      3) Then add big dose of clay
      4) Then salt if necessary

      Do I have it right?

      Now I really do have to go to bed.

      -Susan
      Sorry SUSAN Just as I hit the "send" key I realized that you're a girl!!!

      Yep, you got most of this right. A word of caution, don't use Stress Coat as your dechlorinator. Most are good that are on the market. Amquil Plus, Prime or any of the others mentioned above are good also. Some are just harder to find. Amnio-Lok (sp) is also a good one. Keep in mind that which ever dechlor you use, it most likely will throw off your ammonia test reading. Most conflict with the test kits so you'll have to trust that the dechlorinator is working. Just redose every 3rd day and continue with water changes and very very gently flush the filter. Reduce feeding for the time being also. You can't really overdose with baking soda (within reason of course). Dose at the level you have been using and then let it sit overnight and test again. Keep adding slowly until you get that KH up. Once the KH is where it should be experiment with a maintenance dose to keep it there. Your PH will be around 8.4 no matter how much you add. Every pond is different so you'll have to play with it a bit to stay on top of it.

      Recommended dose for the Clay is around 1 tbls per 1,000 gallons. I would start with 10 tbls per 1,000 every few days to start with. Can't overdose with this at all.

      If there is any reading of Nitrites at all, add salt. 1 pound per 1,000 gallons (roughly) will get you to .1%. You will need a salt test kit also if you don't have one. Also hard to find. Order online.
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    11. #11
      Cowiche Ponder's Avatar
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      Hi Susan, you are up late lol.

      Baking soda is more to get your KH up, but it should also stabilize your ph as well. Bead filters need high KH to function well and I think the idea posted above was that that could be what is keeping the filter from cycling and bringing those parameters down on it's own

    12. #12
      auntiesue is offline Koiphen Koi Health Advisor
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      Quote Originally Posted by Cowiche Ponder
      Hi Susan, you are up late lol.

      Baking soda is more to get your KH up, but it should also stabilize your ph as well. Bead filters need high KH to function well and I think the idea posted above was that that could be what is keeping the filter from cycling and bringing those parameters down on it's own
      Up to my usual nightime routine...LOL!!!

      Yep, you are so right on!! Getting the KH up is paramount!!! PH will follow.
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    13. #13
      Koin-Onia is offline Koi Kowboy
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      Response to your ?
      Quote Originally Posted by Susan Day
      Thanks, everyone, for the quick response! Can you clarify dosages with baking soda and koi clay? Would another dose like I used tonight (4 tbs, roughly) per day be sufficient until I get a higher kh reading? I will order a better test tomorrow for kh - but until then, what are the consequences of too much baking soda if I'm reading my test strip wrong?

      What would be a good heavy dose of koi clay?
      Pm Roddy or Roark and ask them there start up reccomendations on this.

      Will Amquel (not amquel plus) detoxify the nitrite if I do a heavy dose tomorrow? Otherwise I'll look in petco for chloramx or other ammo-lock stuff.

      Amquel will not bind nitrites Amquel + claims to be able to. Ammo lock is ok if it is all you can get. Petsmart has Amquel + They also have KH and GH test kits.

      I was going to order more MicrobeLift, crushed coral to put in the skimmer, and calcium chloride, in addition to the kh test and Prime. Skip the Microbelift? But its so smelly, it must be doing something right? Any other suggestions?
      Microbe lift is not your solution. Your solution is to chemically treat the water with binders and do your water changes keep the ph,kh and gh at acceptable levels. I would not use salt for the nitrites but buy Ultimate it will take care of the nitrites. If you salt it limits your ability to use meds if needed. If you can not find ultimate then use salt.

      Have to go to bed now, thanks again.

      No you are not allowed to go to bed you have to wait for us to respond.

      Just kidding
      N
      The Great Smoky Mountains Koi Club

    14. #14
      Lee B's Avatar
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      Due to the lack of KH, the filter crashed, followed by the pH. It may be too late, but the baking soda should be added in increments, morning/noon/night so you don't raise the pH too rapidly and shock the fish.

      With nitrItes that high - I'd really take the salt to .15 instead of just .1 You can try doing a water change, but I think the nitrites will go right back up.

      You need an ammonia binder (as mentioned above)

      So, that takes care of your ammonia, the nitrites have been "handled", and the KH will go back up, taking the pH with it. The filter NEEDS the KH to replace the carbonates that are used up by the nitrifying bacteria.

      The KoiClay will help with the trace minerals.

      Now, you stand a good chance of getting the ammonia back under control before winter, but the nitrIte will be a long term problem, probably lasting until Spring in your location. That's BAD, because it gets cold in Boston!

      Dose the clay on the high side - it can't hurt and it may help adsorb the nitrItes. I've had it work before, but can't duplicate the conditions on a regular basis, so I don't know why.

      Good luck
      Lee

    15. #15
      KoiValley's Avatar
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      One area which seems a bit foggy. Good advice but two directions going:

      Salt or a chemical dechlorinator and ammonia and nitrite remover.

      Either one or both will work. But:

      Prime and Amquel+ have very good labels which explains their abilities to remove ammonia and nitrite. Whether they really do this seems to be up for discussion. I've used Prime in extreme cases of nitrite buildup and the fish came through completely oblivious of the problem. However an ammonia binder and .1 salt will work very well.

      There are no label claims on salt that I've ever seen which make such claims as these: Removes Chlorine, Chloramine, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. In addition the directions are not sketchy as they are with salt. Still salt will definitely help reduce the uptake of nitrite in fish.

      These products are available on line through Drs. Foster and Smith, or at your local pet stores. Aquatic Ecosystems sells Prime in gallon containers at nearly wholesale cost.
      Karl Schoeler, founder: EIHIOICGI

      Certified: AKCA Better Health Practices December 2008


    16. #16
      Susan Day's Avatar
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      That's bad news, Lee. I'll hope for a really warm September and October, then.

      I'll go to Petco for emergency Amquel +, then order the rest of the stuff I need. I tested this morning and the nitrite was still very high. So this morning I am changing some water, adding baking soda and koi clay, then I'll get the Amquel+ during the day and repeat the baking soda and koi clay tonight.

      I'll post updates. Wish me luck!

    17. #17
      Susan Day's Avatar
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      We crossed posts, Karl. I agree there seems to be two opinions about salt. Since salt seems to be such a good all purpose medicine it seems like a good idea to reserve it for other problems, and try amquel+ first, especially since I am so new to this. I'm ordering Prime from Aquatic Ecosystems today.

      I really appreciate everyone's help. My fish thank you!

    18. #18
      DarleneD's Avatar
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      I have had excellent results with Prime also. My filter had to recycle since the pond was empty for a couple of months. It took only 4 weeks because I think I had some biobugs that survived, but I did have a couple of weeks of nitrIte elevations. The Prime handled it beautifully, and one extra bonus is not having to use salt. To me it's just one more thing to add and test and I'd rather save it for an emergency.

      Good luck Susan

    19. #19
      Lee B's Avatar
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      Susan, Amquel+ will not help your nitrItes at this time - please take my word on this. I don't know if Prime will or won't, but the Amquel+ won't.

      Karl and I have agreed to disagree regarding the use of salt . Salt has its uses - and it can be overused and misused, I agree. The chloride ions in salt become more numerous than the nitrite's ions; chloride is easier for the gills to take up; if they get saturated with chloride, they don't take up nitrIte. Salt is cheap and readily available: you have a problem NOW, not next Tuesday, which is when your products from AES will be delivered.

      Salt as a medicine is useless; salt for its chloride ions can be invaluable. This comes from a child of the 60's/70's: "Better Living Through Chemistry" was my mantra . I use chemicals when needed; choride is a chemical.

      Maybe this will explain it better: http://www.koiquest.co.uk/nitrite.htm

      It's your pond and your decision. We're only here to advise.

      Lee

      Oh, BTW: if you can rig up a BIG TT quickly, you may be able to gas off the problem in a few weeks.

    20. #20
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      TT.... now that's an idea
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
      I believe it can happen... Koi World Peace
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