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post #1 of 8 Old 08-13-2012, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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0 Nitrates?

My tank is a medium planted 55 gallon (48"), sand substrate, dual 48" T5 NO, Fluval 406 filter. Water is 8-12 gDH, PH 7.8, with the only chemicals added being prime and flourish comprehensive (seachem). I also use root tabs, just in case this could affect the water parameters. Tank has been established for approximately 5 months, fully cycled. Fish are; 7 Glass Catfish, 3 Upside Down Catfish, 2 Bolivian Rams, 4 Oto's, 6 Hatchetfish, 3 Zebra Nerite snails. I do a 25%-50% water change weekly.

Question is, all my readings are showing up zero. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0. I have tried several times with the same results. Everything seems pretty healthy aside from a few leaves, so I wanted to see how common this is...
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-13-2012, 10:39 AM
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My tank is a medium planted 55 gallon (48"), sand substrate, dual 48" T5 NO, Fluval 406 filter. Water is 8-12 gDH, PH 7.8, with the only chemicals added being prime and flourish comprehensive (seachem). I also use root tabs, just in case this could affect the water parameters. Tank has been established for approximately 5 months, fully cycled. Fish are; 7 Glass Catfish, 3 Upside Down Catfish, 2 Bolivian Rams, 4 Oto's, 6 Hatchetfish, 3 Zebra Nerite snails. I do a 25%-50% water change weekly.

Question is, all my readings are showing up zero. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 0. I have tried several times with the same results. Everything seems pretty healthy aside from a few leaves, so I wanted to see how common this is...
I've seen this reported several times. My problem is high nitrates, probably caused by over stocking and over feeding. If everything is healthy, don't change a thing.

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post #3 of 8 Old 08-13-2012, 11:59 AM
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I think fairly normal - many heavily planted tank owners with CO2 and high lighting have to add nitrogen to their tank to fertilize their plants to keep their plants' needs fulfilled. Before my last water change, I measured somewhere between 0 and the first measurable level on my test kit, which is 10 ppm, so I estimate somewhere around 5 ppm nitrate, which is a value that many planted tank keepers seem to aim for.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-13-2012, 01:43 PM
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Yeah my pressurized co2 55g barely had any nitrates that registered when it was up and running. I dosed Seachem Nitrogen to add a bit. I even tried overstocking with more schooling fish to keep up. My tank was moderately planted with my main toxin consumer being Wisteria. This plant grew like a weed. I could prune back to nothing and once it got re-established it was back in 2-3 weeks before needing another trim job. Overall I would not worry about 0 Nitrates. Plants and water changes are the only ways to rid of it anyways. Although I recall seeing somewhere awhile back that there was another step after Nitrates that broke it down but there is little evidence that this is true. If it was true more than likely most tanks won't have conditions suitable for a bacteria to consume nitrates. For years we take nitrates as the last of 3 cycles.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-13-2012, 05:30 PM
Assuming you have nitrate free water to begin with in a medium-heavily planted tank, the plants process/use the ammonia, so bacteria never converts ammonia to nitrites and subsequently to nitrates. This is a good thing as we want nitrates as low as possible.

Having said that, be sure your nitrate test is accurate. Regent #2 in the API test kit for example is notorious for an element that separates out of solution and requires excessive shaking...even rapping on a table to mix properly to yield accurate results.

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 08-13-2012 at 10:59 PM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-14-2012, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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Well, that eases some worries. I guess I'll leave good enough alone It does have me wondering now if I should add any nitrates. My plants look ok, though I do have some yellowing/brown leaf edges on some of the Amazon Swords. Could it be due to nutrient deficiencies such as nitrates? I only dose Flourish comprehensive. Use to be once a week, though I have upped it to twice a week now.

Thanks about the heads up on the test kit. I'll double check when I get home and be a little more aggressive with the test, lol.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-14-2012, 02:23 PM
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Well, that eases some worries. I guess I'll leave good enough alone It does have me wondering now if I should add any nitrates. My plants look ok, though I do have some yellowing/brown leaf edges on some of the Amazon Swords. Could it be due to nutrient deficiencies such as nitrates? I only dose Flourish comprehensive. Use to be once a week, though I have upped it to twice a week now.

Thanks about the heads up on the test kit. I'll double check when I get home and be a little more aggressive with the test, lol.
Nitrate deficiency is almost never the cause of plant problems in natural setups. If there is sufficient natural CO2 (from the fish, bacteria, breakdown of organics in the substrate) for the plants, there will be sufficient nitrogen. Aquarium plants mainly use ammonium (ammonia) as their source of nitrogen. Nitrates in high-tech systems are needed to supply nitrogen, and no one is going to dose ammonia, so nitrate is used. But as this does affect many fish, I would not go down that route when it is not necessary anyway.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-15-2012, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Byron, that's 1 less thing to worry about as well. lol
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