The Dangers of High Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate - Rate My Fish Tank

What would cause high levels of nitrite if there are no fish in my tank yet
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Internally nitrite binds the oxygen carrying in blood therefore cells within the fish are starved of oxygen, even in a tank with lots of and good water circulation.
Once the tank is done cycling, your Ammonia & Nitrites should  read 0 unless you add something to the tank... like a significant number of fish.
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The desired species of nitrifying bacteria are present everywhere(e.g., in the air). Therefore, once you have an ammonia source in yourtank, it's only a matter of time before the desired bacteria establisha colony in your filter bed. The most common way to do this is toplace one or two (emphasis on one or two) hardy andinexpensive fish in your aquarium. The fish waste contains theammonia on which the bacteria live. Don't overfeed them! More foodmeans more ammonia! Some suggested species include: common goldfish(for cold water tanks), zebra danios and barbs for warmer tanks, anddamselfishes in marine systems. Note: Do not use ``toughies'' or otherfeeder fishes. Although cheap, they are extremely unhealthy and usingthem may introduce unwanted diseases to your tank. We have had a new 48L tank running, with no fish in it for three weeks and have high nitrite levels
Photo provided by FlickrNitrite can suffocate your fish, therefore you really don't want it in your tank
Photo provided by FlickrI tested my fish tank(20 Gallon) today for ammonia, nitrite, and Nitrate
Photo provided by Flickr
Your tank is fully cycled once nitrates are being produced (andammonia and nitrite levels are zero). To determine when the cycle hascompleted, buy appropriate test kits (see the section)and measure the levelsyourself, or bring water samples to your fish store and let themperform the test for you (perhaps for a small fee). The cycling processnormally takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks. At temperatures below 70F, ittakes even longer to cycle a tank. In comparison to other types ofbacteria, nitrifying bacteria grow slowly. Under optimal conditions,it takes fully 15 hours for a colony to double in size!Your tank is fully cycled once nitrates are being produced (andammonia and nitrite levels are zero). To determine when the cycle hascompleted, buy appropriate test kits (see ) and measure the levelsyourself, or bring water samples to your fish store and let themperform the test for you (perhaps for a small fee). This processnormally takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks. At temperatures below 70F, ittakes even longer to cycle a tank. In comparison to other types ofbacteria, Nitrifying bacteria grow slowly. Under optimal conditions,it takes fully 15 hours for a colony to double in size!The desired species of nitrifying bacteria are present everywhere(e.g., in the air). Therefore, once you have an ammonia source in yourtank, it's only a matter of time before the desired bacteria establisha colony in your filter bed. The most common way to do this is toplace one or two (emphasis on one or two) hardy andinexpensive fish in your aquarium. The fish waste contains theammonia on which the bacteria live. Don't overfeed them! More foodmeans more ammonia! Some suggested species include: common goldfish(for cold water tanks), zebra danios and barbs for warmer tanks, anddamselfishes in marine systems. Note: Do not use "toughies" or otherfeeder fishes. Although cheap, they are extremely unhealthy and usingthem may introduce unwanted diseases to your tank.Of course, there are many variations on the above that work. However,it is a bit difficult to give an exact recipe that is guaranteed towork. It is advisable to take a conservative approach and not addfish too quickly. In addition, testing the water to be sure nitratesare being produced eliminates the guesswork of determining when yourtank has cycled.