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Surface skimming same as a protein skimmer?

This is a discussion on Surface skimming same as a protein skimmer? within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> The significance of nitrates in the aquarium is arguably less understood by fish keepers than the effect of ammonia and nitrites. Although nitrates are ...

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Surface skimming same as a protein skimmer?
Old 02-03-2011, 08:27 AM   #11
 
The significance of nitrates in the aquarium is arguably less understood by fish keepers than the effect of ammonia and nitrites. Although nitrates are not directly lethal in the way ammonia or nitrites are, over time high levels of nitrate have a negative effect on fish, plants and the aquarium environment in general.

Effect on Fish
Fish will feel the impact of nitrates by the time the levels reach 100 ppm, particularly if levels remain there. The resulting stress leaves the fish more susceptible to disease and inhibits their ability to reproduce.

High nitrate levels are especially harmful to fry and young fish, and will affect their growth. Furthermore, conditions that cause elevated nitrates often cause decreased oxygen levels, which further stress the fish.

Nitrates and Algae
Elevated nitrates are a significant contributor to undesirable algae growth. Nitrate levels as low as 10 ppm will promote algae growth. Algae blooms in newly setup tanks are usually due to elevated nitrate levels.

Although plants utilize nitrates, if nitrates rise faster than the plants can use them, the plants can become overgrown with algae, ultimately leading to their demise.

Where Do Nitrates Come From?
Nitrates are a by-product of nitrite conjugation during the latter stages of the nitrogen cycle, and will be present to some degree in all aquariums. Detritus, decaying plant material, dirty filters, over-feeding, and over-stocking the tank, all contribute to increased production of nitrates.

Water used to fill the aquarium often has nitrates in it. In the United States, drinking water may have nitrates as high as 40 ppm. Before adding water to your tank test, it for nitrates so you know if the levels are unusually high in your water source. If nitrates are above 10 ppm, you should consider other water sources that are free of nitrates.

Desired Level
In nature nitrates remain very low, generally well below 5 ppm. In freshwater aquariums nitrates should be kept below 50 pm at all times, preferably below 25 ppm. If you are breeding fish, or are battling algae growth, keep nitrates below 10 ppm.

How to Reduce Nitrates



Unlike ammonia and nitrites, the bacteria that remove nitrates do not like oxygen rich environments. Therefore, conventional filters do not harbor the bacteria that remove nitrates. Although special filters exist that will remove nitrates, such devices are usually expensive compared to other filtration units. However, there are some steps you can take to keep nitrates low.
  • Keep the tank clean – Waste ultimately produces nitrates. Cleaner tanks produce fewer nitrates in the first place.
  • Don’t overfeed the fish – Overfeeding is a significant contributor to excess nitrates and other undesirable wastes, such as phosphates.
  • Water changes – Performing regular water changes with water that has little or no nitrates will lower the overall nitrate level in the tank. RO/DI water is an excellent choice for keeping nitrate levels low.
  • Keep live plantsLive plants utilize nitrates, and will help keep nitrates in check.
  • Use nitrogen removing filter media – Instead of an expensive denitrator or special filter, use special media in the filter you have. Although they will not lower nitrates dramatically, if used together with other methods the net result will be beneficial.

Last edited by reefsahoy; 02-03-2011 at 08:29 AM..
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:51 AM   #12
 
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If I may add to the above, a DSB (deep sand bed) is another effective way of nitrate maintenance in reef aquariums. A sand bed of greater that 3" will create an anaerobic zone where de-nitrifying bacteria can develop and begin to convert nitrate into nitrogen gas. This nitrogen gas will then escape the aquarium (in bubbles) at the water surface.

and back to the topic at hand....

As stated previously, your best bet would be to convert to a more appropriate system via the addition of an external overflow box, a sump system, and relocation of your skimmer (and heater) to the sump.

If you have not yet read it, there is an article covering the use of a sump here: Understanding sumps
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:33 PM   #13
 
Thanks that was a good read. I'm not going for a Reef style to be honest figured just start with the basic salt water fish and live rock. I read around about a sump and it just didnt seem like the kind of thing I wanted to start with. The only thing I have in my tank are two power heads, protein skimmer, and the hoses for the pump which most is hidden or out of the way.

I have to have an external chiller because Singapore is damn hot all year round, no need for a heater.

If I enjoy this and it goes well then I focus on a reef ready tank next time get everything planned out and working!
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:49 PM   #14
 
did you test your topoff water for nitrate before adding it to your tank? just curious if thats where the nitrates are coming from.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:31 AM   #15
 
I added water from my sink since I don't have one of those RO/DI setup at my house (YET). I checked the levels before and just assumed they would go down once I put the live rock in for a few weeks.

Here are images of the test I just did from the sink water I used, just took with my iPhone 4 camera, couldnt embed the images from MobilMe for some reason.

pH = 9.3

Ammonia = 12.5 mg/l
MobileMe Gallery

Nitrite 0.3 mg/l
MobileMe Gallery

Nitrate 12.5 mg/l
MobileMe Gallery

Here is how my tank looks right now (minus 1 Blue Hermit Crab, their was a fight, one lost, split in two and robbed of its shell)
MobileMe Gallery
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:42 AM   #16
 
i would highly recommend a RO/DI. If you don't i think you will have algae issues in a few months for sure. as you can see water quality issues in a new tank already. thats the best investment anyone can buy for their tank to avoid headache after headache.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:51 AM   #17
 
Guess I'll try to source one out in Singapore. Are they complicated to hook up? I dont own my condo so that might be part of the problem. I read up on them and wasnt 100% sure if I should invest the money and time into setting it up.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:29 AM   #18
 
if you are alittle handy it's easy. go here for one units simple instructions http://www.marineandreef.com/v/vspfi...ROtwostage.pdf or simply go here and select the owners manual hyperlink
Coralife Pure-Flo RO Systems Reverse Osmosis Aquarium Water 24 GPD 50 GPD II

this iste can be helpful as it has some of the users manual loaded for some of their products.
it may take a short time to download.

Last edited by reefsahoy; 02-04-2011 at 06:32 AM..
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:55 AM   #19
 
Whats the difference in a 24/50/100?
24/50/100 GPD TFC membrane


Since I want to get rid of Nitrates, looks like I need one with a DI
The Deionization (DI) cartridge found in RO/DI units removes some other chemical compounds often found in the water--primarily nitrates, phosphates and silicates.

Not sure what this is though?
GAC (granular activated carbon) cartridge


I've already started to source one out, most likely if I get this I'll start doing some water changes this week while I dont have any fish.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:38 AM   #20
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vashachiroku View Post
Whats the difference in a 24/50/100?
24/50/100 GPD TFC membrane


Since I want to get rid of Nitrates, looks like I need one with a DI
The Deionization (DI) cartridge found in RO/DI units removes some other chemical compounds often found in the water--primarily nitrates, phosphates and silicates.

Not sure what this is though?
GAC (granular activated carbon) cartridge


I've already started to source one out, most likely if I get this I'll start doing some water changes this week while I dont have any fish.
1. thats the amount of good water in, gpd= gallons per day ,made in a day. you must match the cartridge with the system for it to work properly. ie you cant put a 100 gpd in a 25 gpd system otherwise it wont work properly.

2. yes highly recommend it. the di part brings the water to zero tds (total dissolveed solvent)

3. that takes out chlorine out of the water before it gets to the membrane. real IMPORTANT. if chlorine gets to the membrane the cartridge is damaged. change those cartridge every year to prolong the life of the membrane (most expensive part of filter)
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