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High nitrates, need a new maintenance plan

Discussion in 'Tank Chemistry' started by fonduecat, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. fonduecat

    fonduecat Copepod

    I found out last week I've been testing nitrates wrong for years. Pretty much since I got my tank. I ignored the length of time I needed to shake the vial of water and solution. I thought it was weird my nitrates were always 0, turns out they are really about 160ppm. Because everything always tested so low I never did a huge amount of maintenance and put it all down as just a stable tank with low livestock and lots of live rock. I've been doing 10% water changes every day/every other day while working to get those levels down. I plan on putting a Protein Skimmer in this week.

    Curious what other things I should do to start getting those nitrate levels down and help keep them down. It's a 30 gallon JBJ rimless tank.

    Only dosing I've been doing is:
    -Kalkwasser in the top off tank
    -Seachem AquaVitro fuel 1/2 times per week
    -Seachem Reef Fusion 1&2 Once a week or every other week

    Salt right now is about 1.021 and temp is stable at 77.
  2. whyamisofly

    whyamisofly Cuttle Fish M.A.S.C Club Member

    Why is your salinity so low? Are you testing with a refractometer or hydrometer?
  3. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Any of the below will help with nitrates.

    - Skimmer
    - reducing feeding
    - more frequent water changes
    - running activated carbon
    - running a refugium
    - manual removal of algae
    - deep sand bed
    - biopellet reactor
    - vinegar/vodka dosing
    - using more live rock

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
  4. fonduecat

    fonduecat Copepod

  5. fonduecat

    fonduecat Copepod

    Thank you! I hope the skimmer will help! I've been working on lowering feeding and feeding frozen shrimp when I do instead of flakes and pellets. I am going to look to see if it's possible to add a refugium to my tank, I know people have.
  6. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Get the salinity up to reef levels if you are keeping coral. Refractometer is a good idea.

    How much live rock and sand do you have? Do you skim?

    You can stop the additives... not only do they probably not work, they are making stuff worse in your case.

    I would keep up on the water changes. They are cheap and easy in a tank that small.... you can change 250 gallons of water for what a single ICP test costs.
    TheRealChrisBrown likes this.
  7. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    As for food, pellets are the best. Soak them first to soften them up. Then only add what the fish will eat before they hit the bottom - that way you are sure that there is no waste. This is not totally necessary in all situations, but it can help you right now.
  8. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Assuming the test was actually accurate. I wouldn't change salinity levels on a tank without at least a calibrated refractometer saying so. I dont trust swing arms.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
    timnem70 and TheRealChrisBrown like this.
  9. fonduecat

    fonduecat Copepod

    Update! Got a protein skimmer in (thanks SUS and 2nd hand Zombie!) Getting is calibrated now but it fits perfect in one of the chambers. Grabbed some more water for water changes and hope to get these levels stable soon.
  10. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    All good options, just wanted add another option when one is dealing with really high nitrates, a nitrate sulfur reactor. They are really easy to make, low cost, and low maintenance. Having a good skimmer is a start, and water changes will take quite a few to get back down. By now I'd assume things are in check/
  11. Fourthwind

    Fourthwind Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    I'll throw this in there. Typically high nitrates is a function of not enough anaerobic bacteria to brake it down. Typically from not having enough good porous rock in the system. Hence why people run Bio pellets or carbon dosing like nopox. This just artificially feeds the bacteria you do have to higher levels. if you keep that up, than thats great, but once you stop dosing or the reactor stops working as well then the nitrates are back up. I have become very fond of making sure there is enough biological surface area than throwing band aids. I absolutely love the Brightwell NO3 export bricks. I have the opposite problem now as to having very little nitrate and feed very heavily (which the fish love) to keep them between 3 to 5 ppm. JMHO
    TheRealChrisBrown likes this.
  12. TheRealChrisBrown

    TheRealChrisBrown Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Is there a difference between the Brightwell brick and the MarinePure ones, in terms of Nitrate reduction? I am assuming there must be because it looks like Brightwell even sells 2 versions with one being labeled as No3 reduction. Just curious
  13. Fourthwind

    Fourthwind Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    I have used both brands and never saw the same nitrates reduction with the Marine pure. The difference in the brightwell bricks is in the chemical makeup supposedly. You will get a better description on their website than the supply websites. I know they have worked in multiple tanks for me.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using MASC mobile app
    TheRealChrisBrown likes this.
  14. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    I agree, but sometimes we overstock beyond recommendations and the other methods mentioned - although could be looked at as band-aids - work. Assuming one keeps things consistent. One of the items that changed in the few years I was out, was the emergence of the Triton method. Your summary aligns with that, to use and maintain natural export through mico algae, and even supplemented by the bricks like you mention. That's actually what I am doing on my new set up. I have a bio pellet reactor waiting in case I exceed my systems capacity to export as I'll have some 40 fish when I'm done. I still do water changes. Anyhow, bacteria living inside the brick, or inside the reactor do the same thing.
  15. Fourthwind

    Fourthwind Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Actually this is not true. The pellet reactors are actually a way of carbon dosing which in turn increases bacteria whether it nitrification or anaerobic. Which is why the pellets are consumed. The bricks create a high density home for the bacteria to live, which in the case of anaerobic is in low oxygen environments. Nitrification bacteria that break down ammonia and nitrite into nitrate, live in a high oxygen environment such as the surface of rock. This is why some rock is better than others when it comes to Nitrate break down. IE Pukani rock versus Base rock. The more porous the rock the better it is at housing the anaerobic bacteria that consume nitrate. I truly believe one of the primary problems in the hobby with nutrients such as nitrate is that there is not enough knowledge out there about the affects of the types of rock in the tank. To 99% of the folks in the hobby its about the looks and the cost of the rock. Very little thought is put into what rock to choose because of it's porosity.
  16. DyM

    DyM Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    I meant they both lower nitrates. Yes they do it differently. What I found is porosity naturally gets clunked up with debris over time. I have several of the Brightwell plates in my sump so not knocking them. It's all about balance, and the good and bad in this hobby is there are hundreds of combinations of techniques to achieve it. Reef on!
  17. Matt_Arian

    Matt_Arian Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    I feel as if some explanation/clarification is needed here. Nitrifying bacteria break down ammonia into nitrites and further into nitrate. Bacteria generally do not consume nitrates (some do, but not all). Bricks are a great way to reduce ammonia and nitrite, and you’ll find that a regular removal of debris from the bricks will improve your filtration (a good schedule for changing filter socks will DEFINITELY help the frequency of maintenance) Now, micro and macro algae are great consumers for nitrate. Greenwater solutions, chaeto plantings and coral (think of the zooxanthallae) will consume nitrate from the tank. 10% water changes are only going to dilute the issue, not solve it. Run a good horticulture bulb over a refugium, equal to or greater than the display tank PAR/PUR. This will help keep the algae growth within the refugium and not the display tank. Good choice on the skimmer, that’ll help keep excess nutrients from accumulating. Carbon dosing and carbon filtering will slightly help, but not as much as you think with nitrogenous compounds.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
  18. Matt_Arian

    Matt_Arian Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Forgot to add this. Macro algae will store the nutrients, but you have to remove it from the tank every so often.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
  19. gajake

    gajake Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    My Nitrates were in the 80 range. Multiple water changes made only a minor difference. A combination of Dr Tim's NP_Active pearls in a reactor and Dr Tim's Waste-away Gel was all it took. After l week I'm down to 20ppm, now a big water change should do the trick and get me below 10ppm. At this point the fish, coral and anemonies all look happy, are eating well.

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