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I have a 1400 gal FT, 2 80 ft troughs( about 1800 gal each). I was fishless cycling and at 2ppm ammonia and nitrites were just starting to show up when I added 200 3"-5" catfish on 11-1. PH was about 6.8. Within a week nitrites were 5+, ammonia .25 ppm, PH 6.2 - 6.4, nitrates 10 -15- ppm, water temp 65.5 - 66.5. I have been removong 1/2 my rafts daily for a week now and all levels remain constant. 6 fish have died in the last 3 days. I tried checking with a test strip also for 3 days now and it says 1 ppm nitrites and .5 nitrates, but I tend to believe the test kit more. I thought the nitrites might be coming down but it is so hard to judge the color chart at the higher levels of nitrites. If I start doing water changes I will use well water which is 58 degrees and has a ph of 7.2 but I am afraid that might stress the fish. Can someone please give me some suggestions.

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Hi Pete,

I know that waiting test your patience and you really just want to get on with it already........but, I've been there as well. I just want to remind you, you have to wait a bit longer to get a zero reading. Your nitrifying bacteria are still growing and will establish themselves soon. With your low PH and cool temps it will take a little more time than the average under more ideal conditions. Not saying this happens in every case, but, I've had an API kit out in the tropical sun(slightly shaded in the GH) for 2 yrs and it still test accurately. If its indeed a faulty reading keeping at .25ppm, you'll know for sure if it stays there for more than 10 days. Your fish can go without feed for a long time and the plants will continue growing anyway...its better to be sure, I'm thinking.

I don't use the API brand...but my Tetra Test Nitrite test takes a good 2 to 4 minutes to develop...I kinda agree with Harold on this one though. And probably you just need to give it some more time perhaps. My nitrification is crawling because of our temps...

But you can check the dates in the meanwhile. If they have expired, and you can't get a zero reading in the coming days, you can easily purchase a new test kit and check them against one another. Myself and John Malone from Arizona (I think it was him) were trouble shooting this same problem a good while back, and it turned out to be the test kit had expired. the new kit showed zero, while the old 0.25...Again, I'll can confirm that for you...since it's been a while...but it costs you nothing to look at the "LOT" dates...

OK I checked the dates this afternoon and they all expire 02-17 so they are good. My nitrites tested at 0, which was awsome. Ammonia still was reading about .25 though.


Here ismy next question. Isalted the water to about 1.5 ppt. will the salt naturally disapate or will it just get diluted down as I top off my system?

Pete, Your salt will never really disipate on its own. Water changes are the only way I know of to reduce their level. If all of the water in your system were to evaporate, you would be left with all of the salts and minerals that were there initially. The salt/mineral percentage will in fact get higher with evaporation. It has to be diluted by partial water changes, not top offs, to reduce it.

Na and K are interchangeable to a degree in plant (as well as human) biological processes, and the chloride salinity at that level is hardly anything to worry about. DO NOT do any water changes. Many well seasoned aquapons have been keeping their systems salted to about 1ppt regularly with no ill effects whatsoever to the plants (with the exception of strawberries, which seem particularly sensitive...even they seem kosher at 1ppt though). No need to take any action to reduce it IMO.

If you plan on keeping your system salted at about 1ppt for the benefit of the fish, by treating top up water, (and have fruit bearing plants) you might think about salting with a combination of KCl and NaCl. (Really, I think both K and Na are needed for the fishy's osmotic regulation, so there's a plus... and Jon Parr's fruiting plants seem to have gotten a boost since he's started doing this. It's too cold here where I'm at to be fruiting anything right now, but I trust Jon, and it besides it just makes good...and it's kinda the whole point/reason I'd advocate using some KCl for in the first place).

Just maybe something to think about :)

Congrats by the way Pete. It looks like your in the clear eh? So what was the final nitrite death toll out of those 200 fish?

unfortunally I lost a little over half the fish. If I had only salted a few days earlier...  What is done is done. My system is now cycled showing zero nitrites, zero - .25 ammonia, and 10-15 nitrates. I am keeping the ph between 6.6 - 6.9. DO is 7+. I should have more fish this week. Now it's time to move on to water temp but that is a different thread. I thank everyone for their advise. 

Hi Pete,

Please feed lightly and continue to monitor. When you can get a zero reading after full feeding between 12-24 hrs then you'll know the AP engine is running optimally. Take heart though, almost everything I've learn't in AP came from mistakes. This is one lesson you won't ever repeat!    

Before adding those fish, watch the ammonia.  .25 is fine, 1 is ok but make sure it is not creeping up.  Mine swings every other day to .25 then drops to 0.

Funny how the test kit dates came up. My tests were bouncing all over the place lately, however, the fish were happy. I was talking to my pet store manager and she asked me what the expiration date was on my API Master kit. Seems as though its out of date. Not so impressed as I purchased it back in January. Ah well, with a fresh kit, the numbers are back where they should be. Personally I'll spend the $40/yr to purchase fresh reagents. Makes sense to me.

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