4 Reasons for Ammonia not Converting to Nitrite -Boost Conversion

Even though the level of nitrite is sensitive to the life of the aquarium, it is still necessary for the survival of aquatic life. Rather than adding nitrite in the aquarium, owners often depend on ammonia to produce nitrite. Thus ammonia not converting to nitrite can raise concerns. 

There can be several reasons why ammonia has stopped turning to nitrite. But 4 major reasons are the presence of toxins, different water parameters, the level of ammonia, and most importantly the level of Oxygen. All these factors at the wrong level can slow down the process of nitrification. 

Excess levels of ammonia are very harmful to the plants and animals in the aquarium. Thus turning ammonia into nitrite is also a way of balancing the level of ammonia. If the nitrification process is stopped or slowed down, then there is a major chance that the water will get toxic. Thus the tank will become inhabitable. 

Thus it is very necessary to identify why the nitrification process has slowed down and get to know how to boost the process. 

4 Reasons Why Ammonia is Not Converting To Nitrate

Aquarium Nitrite Converting problem

1. Toxins

For different organisms, different chemicals work as toxins. As a standard medium of understanding, when a chemical component is harmful to any organism then that specific chemical is counted as a toxin for the victimized organism.

If you are familiar with the process of producing nitrite from ammonia Ammonia then you will know that there are some bacterias that work in the process. In the presence of toxins, these bacterias die and bring down the conversion process of ammonia to nitrite. 

Chlorine acts as a toxin for these bacteria. In the presence of chlorine, the nitrifying bacteria get killed. The effect is the worst in the case of chloramine. Thus in any case the level of chlorine or chloramine gets increased in the aquarium water, and the nitrifying process gets slower.

The best way to get rid of the higher level of chlorine or chloramine is to use sodium thiosulfate. Using just one drop of the solution per gallon will lower the level of chlorine. But you need to be careful that the level doesn’t go down as necessary. This will increase the level of nitrite.

You can also do a partial change of water to balance the level of chlorine. But the bad effect of this water change is that it can further lower the level of required ammonia and nitrite. 

2. Water Parameters

Water parameters are a very important factor for the effective bacteria in the water to survive. These parameters include pH balance, temperature, and harshness of water.

When the temperature of the water is extreme, you will see an unusual nitrification process. This happens as the bacteria get affected by the temperature. The ideal temperature is between 75° Fahrenheit to 78° Fahrenheit. 

A small difference in temperature from the ideal one is okay. But if the temperature suddenly drops to 72° F or rises to 82° F, then the concern rises. Make sure to check the water heater that is installed. It is always wise to use an automated water heater to balance the water temperature.

Once the water temperature is balanced, it is time to balance the pH level. The bacteria for nitrification survive at a level of 7.8 to 8.2. This means the water is more on the basic side. The imbalance of these pHs will not only cause harm to the nitrification process from ammonia, but it will also temper the life of the other aquatic life.

There are kits available in the market that allow you to check the pH level. It is very easy to perform. Follow the proper instructions to check the pH level. Also, use filtered water in the aquarium.

Unfiltered water contains unwanted chemicals and byproducts in the water that can cause the hardness and pH level of the water to change. Sometimes these parameter changes can end up killing all the bacteria. Thus rather than getting slow the nitrification process can stop.

After every water change, check the pH level and other parameters of the water.

3. Level of Ammonia

The Level of ammonia is necessary for balancing the nitrification process. If the level of ammonia is too little then the process of changing it to nitrite will fail. On the other hand, if the level of ammonia is too high then it will be toxic for aquatic animals.

The best level to balance is between 0.25 ppm to 2 ppm. When the level is between this range then it gets easier for the bacteria to work on the transformation process.

In case the level of ammonia is too low, then you will need to add the ammonia manually. If you want to add liquid ammonia, then add 4 drops of ammonia for one gallon of water. This will raise the ppm by 0.5. 

If you are still getting a lower ppm of nitrite then add some more. But don’t even try to increase the level of ammonia all of a sudden. A sudden change in level will cause distortion in lots of biochemical reactions of aquatic life. 

While adding the ammonia check the level more frequently than usual. This ensures that you have the required amount without harming the other lives in the tank.

4. Level of Oxygen

Like any living being, bacteria also need oxygen to survive. If you want your nitrification bacteria to increase in number then it is also necessary that the water has a sufficient amount of oxygen. 

For proper oxygen level, make sure the tank is not airtight. It will not only affect the bacteria but also will kill other animals. 

Sometimes the level of oxygen drops in the aquarium due to the presence of chemicals. Especially if the level of carbon dioxide increases. In the worst-case scenario, the oxygen will react with carbon dioxide and will form poisonous gas like carbon monoxide. This not only threatens the life of bacteria but also the whole tank.

Along with the survival of the bacteria, oxygen also works as a catalyst in the nitrification process. You can say that the presence of oxygen is a must to boost the process of changing ammonia to nitrite. 

How To Boost the Cycling Process

Adding Beneficial Bacteria on Aquarium

As we have already established that cycling is a very important factor in the existence of aquariums, we need to boost it if needed. This will ensure that you have a healthy aquatic environment in your place without killing a life.

Here are some tricks that can help you in the run.

Adding Beneficial Bacteria

In general, the bacteria that helps in the cycling of the nitrite is produced in the aquarium as a byproduct. But when the process of cycling is slow it can be said that there is a deficiency of this bacteria.

You can buy these bacteria spores in the market. These bacteria are specialized in nitrification. But you will still have to give some time for the spores to grow in the full form of bacteria.

Adding the bacteria means you won’t have to wait and wonder if the bacteria are producing or not. But make sure you add only the required amount. Otherwise, they will imbalance the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide. 

While adding the bacteria spore read the guidelines properly. They will let you know how much to add. Also, try to add the spore at night after feeding the aquatic animals. This will boost the growth of the nitrifying bacteria. 

Change Tap Water

In normal tap water, there is the existence of chlorine. Which is a bad thing for the cycling process of the aquarium. Thus, if you have already added tap water try to balance the level of chlorine. 

Try to change the tap water from the aquarium. Do it 25% at a time in a week. Try not to use tap water. If that is the only way to go, try to let the water sit at least for one day before adding it to the tank.

Add Old Gravel

Adding old gravel into new tanks helps the bacteria to form colonies more easily than the new ones. Also, the old tanks already had bacteria in them. Transferring the substrate will bring those bacteria to the new tank.

This way the deficiency of bacteria will reduce and if you are adding new bacteria they will get adapted more easily. The process is very easy. Before changing the water just put out some old gravel and place it in the new tank. With tools level the layer and it is good to go. 

Ways To Tell If The Nitrite Cycling Is Happening Properly

There are several ways to identify if the cycling process of your aquarium is in the right direction or not. Here are some indications.

  • The level of ammonia and nitrite will change inversely. While the level of ammonia will decrease, the level of nitrite will increase.
  • The fish in the tank will show no sign of stress. They will feed in time and will swim along the tank now and then.
  • The pH and hardness of water will not change without external influence. This means the parameters of water will be static.
  • The level of ammonia will change but it will never go up in its natural state if the nitrification cycling is happening properly.


Why Can’t I Get My Nitrite Levels Down?

Doing water changes is the best way to get your nitrites down. Keep up the progressions and recollect that water changes don’t dial back a tank cycle. You need to develop the nitrite-eating microscopic organisms and those microbes will lessen them to 0. Assuming you continue to eliminate all of them with water transforms, you can’t develop the microscopic organisms.

How Long Does It Take To Lower Ammonia Levels In A Fish Tank?

This interaction can require a few days. Changing the water is the main safe method for bringing down smelling salt levels. Items that guarantee to eliminate smelling salts could make negative side impacts, so they ought to be kept away from. A water change implies that you will eliminate 10-15% of the water in the tank.

How Do I Know If My Tank Is Cycled?

In the wake of testing your aquarium water for alkali and nitrite and nitrate, on the off chance that the perusing shows 0 smelling salts, 0 nitrites, and a few nitrates your fish tank is cycled. Cycling another tank for the most part takes between four to about a month and a half. Cycling your fish tank can consume a large chunk of the day.

Can You Add Too Much Nitrifying Bacteria?

You can’t add a lot of good microbes to a fish tank. The useful microscopic organisms will benefit from how much alkali is accessible to them. Assuming there are a greater number of microbes than food, the additional microorganisms will bite the dust or become torpid. A more normal issue isn’t having enough nitrifying microorganisms.

Why Would I Have Ammonia And Nitrates But No Nitrites?

At the point when the smelling salts-eating microscopic organisms are laid out, you will see a sharp spike in nitrites and a total absence of alkali. Then, at that point, that nitrite spike will disappear when the second arrangement of colonizing microbes secures itself. Then, at that point, you’ll get the last perusing of 0 alkalies, 0 nitrites, and 30-40ppm nitrate

Final Words

Ammonia not converting to nitrite raises concerns on several levels. First is the balance of nitrite level, and then the concern is the level of ammonia itself. In this post, we tried to explain the reason for the transformation blockage and how it can be solved.

Always remember that the level of any chemical elements in the aquarium is important. An aquarium is an artificial habitat where you try to replicate nature. And it is quite impossible to create a self-evolving ecosystem.

Thus you will need to step up and do the check and balance. This way the life of the aquarium stays synced and helps you create a gorgeous decoration for your place.

Howard Parker

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