High nitrate! HELP (same question, different person asking)
As Im sure youve all seen this question asked time and time again, heres my situation.
Ive been running a 20 gal tank for 1.5 years. The first year I had 2 really large goldfish and a large plocostumus. (sp?). The tank became too small for them and I was moving so I donated them to a aquarium store. All 3 fish thrived in that tank, I just felt bad for them and they ate my newly planted live plants.
I tested regularly with all levels wonderful except Nitrates and ammonia always creepin up.(of course large goldfish)
I moved, resetup the tank. Planted. Let it cycle a little on its own. Then added some tetra's. Let that cycle. Then some otocynclus. Let that cycle. Then one Gourami, and then another. Total count now is 6 Tetra, 2 Oto, 2 gourami. All of them still young and not very large yet. Im now 2 months into the cycle and levels are nice except the nitrAtes.
Ammonia (almost 0)
NitrItes (almost 0)
NitrAtes (near 40+ppm) My biggest problem and always has been
PH is on the low side (6.4)
So heres the answers I know and follow so repeating will be useless (Thanks anyway)
First, Water changes! Done! lots and lots. 25-50% depending on severity of NitrAtes. Tried daily and every other day but none the less, very frequent changes. No difference! Always high.
If live plants are supposed to help with NitrAtes, Im not seeing any change. Infact its been worse since ive had them.
Second, Too many fish!, NOPE. All fish are in juvenile stages. Therefore are still small. (general rule of thumb, 1":1Gal. I know.... currently at 15 inches in a 20 gal take taking into account the loss of approx 4 galons on gravel and sorts. About spot on plus they are all very low polluters. The Nitrates were still high before adding the Gourami's with all other levels settled safely. The inch to gallon was approx 12 inches at the time. And yes I do know this is a general rule, not fact.
I am running Co2, I have a eclipse II filtration system with bio wheel (filter changed every 2-3 weeks and rinsed in the dirty water in a bucket (not clean tap water))
Their fed 2x daily. Morning and night. A very small pinch of flake. About one small flake per fish in the tank. I use tetramin crisps.
Im sure theres more ive forgotten but, as you can see this isn't my first tank. Ive researched and researched and researched and found nothing to help that I havnt already tried. My NitrAtes are always wacked out. Im definatly no pro but im no novice and really need some real help.
Also want to know a reasonable NitrAte level for a tank this size. Many sites say "0" but Im not buying the BS. Ive never seen anyone ever get them that low that isnt running a 55+gal tank. They must be confusing NitrAtes and NitrItes. So long as you have poo, you have nitrAtes. So, thats not an answer im looking for. Realistic help please!
PS, Im not really a dick, just tired of the same runaround without any real answers. I cant be the only person out there with a 1.5 year nitrate problem.
Breathe a sigh of relief....40ppm for nitrAtes in a tank is ok. Not perfect, not preferred, but it's not quite to the dangerous level of say, maybe 60-80ppm. I run a 55G tank thats not planted, with a decent amount of small schooling fish and my nitrates are always hanging around 30ppm.....40ppm is just around the top of the "safe" zone as far as nitrAtes are concerend.
How often do you do a gravel vac? and how much per attempt?
When you say "change filter every 2-3 weeks" are you changing out the pads in the filter? I'm assuming you're not changing your biowheel every 2 or 3 weeks. You don't need to change those pads unless they are literally falling apart.....just another way for companies to make money off of you....just continue as you are and swish them around in dirty tank water....
One thing I noticed, that you did not address.......your tap water. Can you test your tap water for us? Some companies (suburbs of Philly included...ugh...) have nitrates in their water. My tap water tests about 10ppm already. So I'm at a disadvantage already when doing water changes.
If you are chaning out your water daily with water that might already have nitrAtes in it, you're never going to have them lowered.
Test your tap water and get back us. Hope some of this helped.
One thing i noticed about your post, you say you test regularly, thats very good, but what kind of test kit are you using?...........Test strips or a liquid test kit?.......What brand?...........Some test kits, espcially the dip strips are very unreliable........Like Johnny already stated, i would suspect your tap water already has a concentration of nitrates in it........Let us know and we will see if we can make anymore suggestions
good point Fishin! I didn't think if he was using the dip strips......
That's thinkin with your dipstick Jimmy!
Gravel vac is difficult in my tank. I get between the plants as well as I can but its pretty dense planting. Id probably have to uproot many of them and do a big cleaning. Thats been one of my considerations to possibly fix the problem. Though I wonder how live planters usually handle this situation. It seems crazy to have to uproot regularly to clean and then replant. Live plants should thrive with the "fertalizer" their now recieving. Im confused as to how nature would deal with this situation.
I use a API master test kit for Ammonia, PH, NitrIte and NitrAte. No dip sticks.
I do not change the bio wheel (sorry for the confustion). The pads are changed every couple weeks. I usually wait until the water has issues flowing through the pad/carbon filter and is now running through the overflow back into the tank. I just swish the pads regularly in the removed water in a bucket to clean off debris and gunk collected to help keep the flow through the pads. When cleaning doesnt help the flow, I replace them.
As I was typing this post I tested the water from the tap. NitrAtes are "0" :( Would have liked something higher to explain why I cant get it lower.
Could I still be in the new tank cycle after 2 months? I dont think thats the case since all other levels have settled properly.
Ill have to try pulling some plants and doing a deep through cleaning. I thought live planting would help the situation. Its looking like I might have been somewhat wrong.
Keep checking your tap for a while. For years, I had no nitrates in my tap, one day I tested the tanks, nitrates where sky high. At the time the thought of nitrates in my tap, did not occur to me, so I ended up doing two large water changes in all my tanks within a couple day, before discovering the tap water was the problem. One day my nitrates will test close to zero, then get 10 to 20 tap water reading a few days latter.
Also, some fertilizers contain nitrates, make sure what you are using is nitrate free.
After discovering my nitrate problem, I just try to do more frequent water changes. (I know, that was on your list of things you did not want to hear.) Not sure what plants you have, but fast growing plants work best for nitrate removal. I added some hornwort to my goldfish tank and there was great improvement once it took off.
Another thing I did, was switch to Prime water conditioner. It claims to help detoxify nitrates.
Interesting... Ill keep an eye on it. Ive only been here a few months now. I tested when I moved in, and again today, but nothing more. Ill keep testing this week. My PH is my tap is sky high rescently. Though my tank is low, it hasnt swung the PH much with 25% water changes.
I just checked my fertalized I was using. It contains NitrAte. Thats something I wouldnt have thought of. Thanks!
The API test kit for nitrates has problems.
Now that I have everyone's attention...I read a lengthy thread on another forum recently about the inaccuracy of the API nitrate test kit. The instructions say to shake Bottle #2 vigorously for 30 seconds. But the advice on that thread was to shake it for at least 2-3 minutes. Apparently, the readings will be quite different. Posters commented that their "high nitrate" was no more once they started shaking the regeant for 2 minutes. You will note that the API instructions do mention in bold that shaking the regeant vigorously is very important to ensure accurate readings; shake it 2-3 minutes.
Given that in a planted aquarium there should never be nitrates above 20ppm, unless the aquarist does something major to upset the biological balance or they are in the tap water [both negative here], I suspect this may be the answer. Let us know.
The water company told me that their test was much more accurate than any fish aquarium test kit and suggested the API nitrate test kit was picking up on something else in the water (perhaps safe nitrates) and was showing up as a nitrate reading.
I will try the longer shake and see what happens.
Byron, are there any nitrate test kits recommended over the API? The color chart is so hard for my to follow on the API and I do not like how the chart jumps from the safe 40 ppm all the way to an unsafe 80 ppm, with the colors looking the same.
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