Always nitrates, always water changes. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 29 Old 11-28-2012, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Always nitrates, always water changes.

I have a 20g tall that's been running for 7 months. It has never gotten to 1 wc a week. Nitrates are usually 20ppm or more. I can do 3 daily wcs in a row and drop them to 5ppm but after 3 days of no wcs they climb back up to 20ppm or more. I have 2 hobs that I rotate and clean one housing and rinse the media every other week. I do 25% wcs usually 3 times a week and vacuum gravel in a different area each time. I have 1 bristlenose pleco and 2 platys. I had more platys but I rehomed them to try to lower nitrates but it didn't help. I have 3 rhizomes with 8 large Anubias leaves and at least 30 new leaves, 7 wisteria stems that grew from 2 stems, 4 bunches of Anachris that grew from 1 bunch, 4 bunches of unknown stem plants that grew from 1 bunch, 5 unknown stalky looking plants with long green and white leaves, one reaching the top. Except for the 5 unknown plants and the Anubias, all are growing to the top and then I cut them in half and replant them and so on. Looking back I see that I've had this nitrate problem since the tank cycled. That's why I started with the plants. Oddly, as much as the plants grow and propagate, they don't seem to help with the water. Ammonia and nitrites are always 0. PH stays steady at 7.3-7.5. I test with an API liquid. I feed the plants Flourish Comprehensive every 10-14 days. I feed the platys lightly with NLS small pellets and the pleco NLS algae wafers every other night, removing leftovers in the morning. I have a community of pond and ramshorn snails. Lights on/off 12 hours with 2 screw in mini florescent, 5100k and 6500k. My tap water has <5ppm nitrates but I would expect the plants to take care of that. Any help is appreciated from anyone, but I hope AbbysDad sees this. I know he has the same problem just bigger. What am I missing or what do I need to do?

Consider the needs of your fish before acting on your desires.

Last edited by marshallsea; 11-28-2012 at 09:59 PM.
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post #2 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 05:03 AM
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Were it me,,I would not worry bout nitrate level's below 40 ppm.
I should think they could not be too much higher before time for weekly water change.
You say they are reduced to 5 ppm after water change but reach 20 ppm within 3 day's, so by six or seven day's,,they might still be below 40 ppm?
If fishes are still thriving,,I might try once weekly water changes for a while and see what level's are by week's end before water change.
Might also google..."Calibrating Nitrate test's" Much more accomplished keeper's of fishes /plant's than myself, place little value on these test's (API) without said calibration.20 ppm could be accurate reading or not .Could be way more ,or way less.
In any event..I would not want any chemical scavenger's of nitrogen in a planted tank. It is macronutrient for plant's and plant's will fair poorly without it.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.

Last edited by 1077; 11-29-2012 at 05:10 AM.
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post #3 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:03 AM
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sounds to my like you're actually doing pretty well. It very well could be the plants are consuming ammonia preventing dangerous spikes but in the process ignoring nitrates. Once the aerobic bacteria build up then you should see nitrates drop down and possibly a just before lights out pH rise.

my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #4 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:13 AM
I agree these are probably not dangerous levels.

How much/often do you feed your fish?

I was overfeeding one tank for awhile and the extra waste produced by the fish, or perhaps extra uneaten food, raised my nitrates.


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post #5 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Canadian Fish View Post
I agree these are probably not dangerous levels.

How much/often do you feed your fish?

I was overfeeding one tank for awhile and the extra waste produced by the fish, or perhaps extra uneaten food, raised my nitrates.
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post #6 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Were it me,,I would not worry bout nitrate level's below 40 ppm.
I should think they could not be too much higher before time for weekly water change.
You say they are reduced to 5 ppm after water change but reach 20 ppm within 3 day's, so by six or seven day's,,they might still be below 40 ppm?
If fishes are still thriving,,I might try once weekly water changes for a while and see what level's are by week's end before water change.
Might also google..."Calibrating Nitrate test's" Much more accomplished keeper's of fishes /plant's than myself, place little value on these test's (API) without said calibration.20 ppm could be accurate reading or not .Could be way more ,or way less.
In any event..I would not want any chemical scavenger's of nitrogen in a planted tank. It is macronutrient for plant's and plant's will fair poorly without it.
I have fish glancing before the water changes. I've tried to get to a week but can't due to glancing. I will google.

Consider the needs of your fish before acting on your desires.

Last edited by marshallsea; 11-29-2012 at 09:46 AM.
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post #7 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by beaslbob View Post
sounds to my like you're actually doing pretty well. It very well could be the plants are consuming ammonia preventing dangerous spikes but in the process ignoring nitrates. Once the aerobic bacteria build up then you should see nitrates drop down and possibly a just before lights out pH rise.

my .02
I wouldn't think there would be enough ammonia with my amount of fish in a 20g for the amount of plants I have to ignore the nitrates. I will test at night this evening.

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post #8 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Canadian Fish View Post
I agree these are probably not dangerous levels.

How much/often do you feed your fish?

I was overfeeding one tank for awhile and the extra waste produced by the fish, or perhaps extra uneaten food, raised my nitrates.
They're enough to cause glancing. I'm careful to not overfeed the 2 platys and feed the bn 1 time in 2 days.

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post #9 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 12:03 PM
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"Glancing", at least as far as I know, is by no means a sign of Nitrate poisoning. It is rather a sign of disease.

Nitrate poisoning would be more like fish not eating, listless, laying on the bottom of the tank, rapid breathing.

The Nitrates have to come from somewhere, if it isn't in your tap water than it's coming by something you are adding. Plants can take it out, but really they prefer Ammonium (or convert Ammonia to Ammonium) so in reality with heavily planted tanks they consume the Ammonia fish produce before nitrifying bacteria can get at it. If you built up a huge bacteria colony before it may be possible they're still using the ammonia. I personally clean all my filter pads weekly in tap water (canister only every 3-4 weeks) because I frankly don't care about the bacteria.

Or, it may be possible the plants are not growing as fast as they could. Anubias is a very slow grower so its effect on water quality is minimal but the stem plants should be fast growers. The normal minimum dose of flourish is once a week, consider going up to that instead of once every other week.

Aside from that... all that's left is decaying organic mater, for example left over food or dead/dying plant leaves. Left over food would be the result of over feeding. Only enough food that is 100% consumed in less than 5 minutes should be added. Only feed 1 time a day.
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post #10 of 29 Old 11-29-2012, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Geomancer View Post
"Glancing", at least as far as I know, is by no means a sign of Nitrate poisoning. It is rather a sign of disease.

Nitrate poisoning would be more like fish not eating, listless, laying on the bottom of the tank, rapid breathing.

The Nitrates have to come from somewhere, if it isn't in your tap water than it's coming by something you are adding. Plants can take it out, but really they prefer Ammonium (or convert Ammonia to Ammonium) so in reality with heavily planted tanks they consume the Ammonia fish produce before nitrifying bacteria can get at it. If you built up a huge bacteria colony before it may be possible they're still using the ammonia. I personally clean all my filter pads weekly in tap water (canister only every 3-4 weeks) because I frankly don't care about the bacteria.

Or, it may be possible the plants are not growing as fast as they could. Anubias is a very slow grower so its effect on water quality is minimal but the stem plants should be fast growers. The normal minimum dose of flourish is once a week, consider going up to that instead of once every other week.

Aside from that... all that's left is decaying organic mater, for example left over food or dead/dying plant leaves. Left over food would be the result of over feeding. Only enough food that is 100% consumed in less than 5 minutes should be added. Only feed 1 time a day.
Thanks, Geomancer . Sometimes I get tunnel vision and stop considering other possibilities. I may not have nitrate issues as I have been keeping filters and substrate free of dead leaves and leftover food. Maybe my test is off because many times I didn't shake bottle #2 and used the drops unshaken and this could conceivably change #2s content. I will get a new nitrate kit tomorrow and try to figure out the glancing. I got parasites from Petsmart( they throw parasites in for free) and thought I had gotten rid of them.
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