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Nitrite Help


Mar 8, 2012
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Tomball, TX
I started to build a new tank and started from scratch around 3 months ago. I have dried rocks and dried sand.
I followed the Dr. Tim One and Only bacteria, and feeding a small amount of ammonia to keep the bacteria alive. I have never added any live goods to the tank yet. I also filtered my water with a 5 stage RODI BRS filter and am getting 0 DTS.
Testing, the ammonia soon started nitrate and then nitrite, and then the ammonia disappeared which I don’t quite understand, but while still feeding a small amount of ammonia as recommended, there was minimal traces of ammonia, yet Nitrite was off the scale. I had it tested by a LFS, and they recommended me to do about 30% water change, then a 50% water change and lastly a complete system rebuild. What I did was dried everything again, it’s been two weeks since the rocks and sand has been dried. Should I re-use the sand?

Anything I can do to make sure that the nitrite won’t spike and stay off the scale again?


Supporting Member
Jun 29, 2012
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IMO, the tank just needs to cycle and take time to stabilize. Give your bacteria time. Every time you dry everything out and start over, your cycle has to start all over. I would re-use the sand, rock, and everything. Put water in it, seed it, and let it run for a few weeks. You can put some food in there if you want to feed the cycle.

The cycle goes like this: ammonia spikes first, then nitrite, and finally nitrate. When the nitrate spikes and then settles down, you know the cycle is complete. If you are still in the nitrite spike, the bacteria that converts nitrite to nitrate hasn't established yet.

Btw, where are you getting the ammonia that you are adding? Not sure if you are using the ammonia from the grocery store or not but just put something organic in there. Some fish food or something. It will be fine. You can do water changes if you want but you can't speed up a cycle. I use something called Startsmart complete by TLC. Cycles your tank instantly. You can add fish same day and you won't get any spikes. I have used this on numerous tanks and never got an ammonia spike. If you go old school, you just have to be patient.
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Mark L.

Moved On
Oct 8, 2010
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The Woodlands
You were on the right track and then stopped your cycle by rebuilding the system.

All the bacterias you buy in a bottle are mainly for converting ammonia to nitrites. These bacteria work fast and grow fast. The nitrobacter bacteria are slower working and growing. You can manage your trites and trates by doing water changes. I think you were on the right track and given bad info to start over. Dr. Tim's is a great product and many of us here have used it. There's other products out there just like it also that work well. When I did one of my tanks I used Dr. Tim's and put fish in the tank 24 hours after the initial dosage. I also used ammonia (Dr. Tim's sent it with my order) to feed the bacteria. After 48 hours my tank would process ammonia within hours and it would test 0. My nitrites and nitrates took about two weeks before they also tested 0. During that time I performed water changes every few days to manage them and keep them lower. Fish can handle nitrates in the tank. Ammonia is the killer.

I would start over, add more Dr. Tim's and the ammonia and just be more patient this time around. :)