HELP with constant high nitrates
My 28 gallon bow front has been up and running for 5 months but in the last month or so I've had high nitrate readings (between 40-80). I did my weekly water change and vacuuming today and tested 3 hours later and I have at least 80 on the nitrates and suddenly I have a low nitrite reading .25. No matter what I do I can't get the nitrate down but it's higher than ever today.
The tank is lightly planted with about 8 plants.
5 head and tail light tetras
3 glo tetras
1 silver molly
2 female sword tails
I have two filters running a penguin bio wheel with a new filter in it for 2 weeks plus a cut to size nitrate filter pad for about 3 weeks. The other filter is an aquaclear 50 that has been running for about 4 weeks along side the biowheel. I took out the carbon and put a piece of cut to size nitrate filter pad.
I do between a 30-40% water change weekly and dig into the gravel when vacuuming.
I can't figure out why my nitrates are always so high and why I suddenly have nitrites today?
I also tested my 5.5 gallon betta tank and everything is fine with that although even that showed the nitrate a little high maybe at 40. Seems odd since I only have one betta who eats 3 pellets a day and his water is changed weekly also.
I checked the expiration date for my API test kit and it's good until 2017. I tested my water a few weeks ago and the nitrates are between 10-20 in the tap water. I'm at my wits end trying to lower the nitrates. I haven't cleaned any filter media in a few weeks, could that be the cause of the high nitrates? and since I haven't fed the fish today it can't be because of rotting food and there are no dead fish or plants. Last week I thoroughly cleaned everything meaning I removed the decorations and the silk plants so I could vacuum good, scrubbed the glass with my algae brush and put all new plants in.
Could someone please give me an idea of what to do to lower my nitrates?
What plants do you have in the tank?? Some plants will handle nitrates better then others. Duckweed comes to mind here (even though I hate this plant it will work in the ad of the removal.).
lastly before you changed the fliter in the bio wheel did you have nitrate problems??? I am not sure what the bio wheel has in it. Is it just a filter pad??? I am wondering if you sent the tank into a mini cycle due to taken out the old pads.
With the new Nitrite reading it does sound like a cycle issue.
It doesn't appear that you are overstocked and you seem to have plenty of filtration.
3 hours after a water change you had 80 Nitrates? I would have the water analyzed by your LFS or by a club member (if you are in an aquarium club) to verify your numbers.
The test procedures for Nitrate bottle #2 is to shake for 1 minute, I shake mine like H$#L for 2 minutes before adding - make sure you are shaking #2 really really good.
You may have somehow disturbed the cycle by over cleaning the filters, deco and substrate?
There are some good TFK threads pertaining to Nitrates (especially by Abbey's Dad and Byron) do a search and you should find a large amount of valuable ideas and information.
Keep us posted on how things go, but do daily water changes until you get the nitrate problem resolved.
Larger more frequent water changes. Nitrates just accumulate from the ammonia and nitrites being oxidized.
Duckweed seems to work for me, I have nitrates always under 5ppm, closer to zero, even after two weeks (or more sometimes) between WCs.
10-20 nitrates in your tap water is awfully high imo. Maybe you can try half and half of ro/di water with ur tap water?
The nitrate pads get full, so to speak, but can be "recharged" I believe... something about soaking in salt water comes to mind.
The duckweed can block out the light but that depends on the light that you have and the plants in the substrate and how much you let the duckweed propagate. Most fish prefer shaded areas so I consider that surface plants are a must in most tanks (there area some exceptions). It actually takes a lot of plant growth at the surface to affect the light enough to make a difference except with really high light plants. Just remove enough to keep it moving around the top of the tank in the water flow. The worst thing that you might have to do is increase your photo-period. I am at 14 hours currently, but I use that time with or without massive surface plant masses.
The RO or distilled water idea is good as long as you don't mess with the hardness too much. Your livebearers prefer hard water (so do the plants) and cutting 1/2 and 1/2 with RO will effectively halve your hardness.
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