I have had problems with high Nitrates for 2 weeks now. Nothing I did seemed to budge the levels at all, 25% water changes daily, prime, less feeding you name it, I did it. However, I did a 50% water change this morning and surprise surprise FINALLY my Nitrates have dropped to 5ppm:-D
However, my Phosphate reading is off the charts!
Now, this is where I need the advice of those of you who know your chemicals. Correct me if I am wrong: When I do water changes I use prime as well as the Neutral Regulator to keep my ph at 7.0. I also use Stress Guard and then 2 days after changing the water I use the Flourish trio for my plants. Don't each of these chemicals contain Phosphate? Wouldn't this be the reason I have such large readings for Phophate? If I am adding Phosphate in chemicals that are essential then is the Phosphate harming the fish? My fish are all healthy and happy even despite the Nitrate problems I have been having it hasn't caused any stress whatsoever to my fish.
So I guess what I am really trying to ask here is: As my Phosphate reading is off the charts, is this a problem? Is it going to harm the fish long term? Is there some action that I need to take to remedy these high readings?
I honestly thought that in a Freshwater tank I didn't have to worry about the Phosphates. I thought that this was a Saltwater issue, is that not the case?
Please, if you have knowledge regarding the Phosphate please, I need your advice.
Have you tested your tap water for phosphates? Many tap sources have phosphates in it so a water change won't help. Ditto for the nitrates. I had the same problems but it turns out that my tap wat had about a 1.0 phosphate reading and .50 nitrate reading. You can use fertalizer that does not have phosphates and can put some thing in you filter to remove them.
Most aquarists would consider the phosphate danger to be algae; high phosphates promote algae. If you are not seeing algae increasing, the phosphates may not be "high."
The effect of any excess mineral or nitrate on fish is difficult to measure. You don't say how high nitrates were before; most suggest keeping them below 20ppm, though many fish can tolerate higher. But no fish occurs naturally in water high in nitrates, so the less the better regardless. In a well-planted tank, nitrates will often be zero, or no higher than 5 or 10ppm at the most. Unless the fish are overstocked or there is a biological issue.
One issue you have though is the multitude of chemicals going into the tank. This is not healthy for the fish (or the plants). Unless you have ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in your source tap water, I would not use a conditioner that detoxifies these, as there is no need with plants.
There is no reason for using StressGuard in an established aquarium. Again, another chemical going in the water for no reason.
I would not use any form of chemical pH regulator; we can discuss pH more when you tell us what it is in your tap water and what you want in your tank, and why you are using this.
As you correctly surmise, all these chemicals are affecting the tanks biological system. A good water conditioner that only detoxifies chlorine/chloramine and heavy metals (just in case, most do this), plus Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the plants, is all you need. You mention the Flourish trio--are you adding CO2? There is no point in dosing individual nutrients without added CO2, as the plants can't use this.
Thank you so much for the advice. I will add some more information regarding why I am using certain chemicals and what I am expecting to do.
I have been advised to always use Prime when I carry out water changes. The reason I was given was to remove all toxins out of the water and for the added bonus of the slime coat for the fish. Initially I wasn't using prime but, a basic dechlorinator however I began having Nitrite issues so was advised to use Prime.
The PH Neutraliser is another that was recommended as it instantly adjusts the PH to 7.0 which is what I like to keep my PH at. I do not always add it when I do a water change however, I test the water prior to carrying out a water change and if the PH is low I will add some regulator with the fresh water.
My tap water source quite surprisingly is very good. It contains none of the nasties ie Nitrites/Nitrates. I have had issues with the high Nitrates but I believe this to be the result of overfeeding. The tank is certainly not overstocked and I have a good external canister filter with great media. I guess I have just been too caught up with ensuring everyone in the tank gets a good feed, allowing overfeeding to occur thus high Nitrate Levels.
Now, when I say high Nitrates I mean HIGH. The readings I got for 2 weeks were off the scale! It didn't seem to matter what I did to the tank, they just wouldn't drop. I was doing daily 25% water changes, using Prime with each water change, cleaned the filter (ensuring it was done in tank water and not cleaned too thoroughly) and still, I couldn't budge the Nitrates.
Then, several days ago I did a 50% water change, still used Prime & Neutral Regulator and surprise surprise NO Nitrate problem anymore! My Nitrate level was only between 0ppm and 5ppm.
I have drastically reduced the amount and frequency of feeding from twice a day to just once a day. I was feeding the Omega Stress & Appetite Stimulant + Spirulina Wafers in the morning followed by Omega Stress & Appetite Stimulant + 6 Frozen Bloodworms every night. I would also give them a "treat" once a fortnight of 40mL of Live Blackworm.
I have now cut back the feeding to once daily, in the evening and am only giving them a tiny pinch of the flake, a dozen or so Algae wafers and 3-4 Frozen Bloodworm.
I have retested my water and everything is perfect. My PH is 7.0, Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is 5ppm.
However, I am now witnessing what can only be described as a "feeding frenzy" each evening. The Silver Dollars, Clown Loaches, Royal Whiptail, Long Finned Bristlenose, Angels and Corys are all so aggressive and actually fight over the food. The Silver Dollars just swoop in and will steal wafers from a Clown Loaches mouth, the Clown Loaches try their hardest to catch all of the wafers and stash them inside their caves, the corys, Whiptail and Bristlenose all push and shove frantically trying to devour the most amount of food possible.
I find it really hard to watch. I thought that as long as all the food was consumed within 5 minutes then you knew you weren't overfeeding. The food has always been well and totally gone within the 5 minute timeframe however, I have still battled the Nitrates. I s'poe it is all to do with the waste produced from the feeding also, not just the actual amount of food fed. Please, correct me if I am wrong.
I would really love some advice here if I am doing something wrong. I definitely spend a lot of time watching my fish and observing their certain behaviours and then consult my trusted Aquariust however, I am willing to accept that perhaps things are still not right.
As far as the Flourish Trio are concerned, I was advised to use the three products for my plants. However, to be perfectly honest I haven't used any of them for atleast 2 months now as I have been doing such frequent water changes. I don't have any CO2 running on the tank also. I have a good amount and variety of plants. I need to keep up the amount of plants due to the Silver Dollars constant grazing (which, I might add has significantly increased since the new feeding regime has begun.
Without the actual numbers it is a bit difficult to offer suggestions.
On Prime and nitrates: Prime detoxifies nitrate for about 24 hours (I have this direct from Seachem). If there is ammonia, nitrite or nitrate present in the tap water, using Prime at water changes is beneficial because it prevents a sudden influx of whichever into the aquarium, thereby preventing shock to the fish. But without tap water issues, there is no similar benefit. While there is basically nothing wrong with using Prime under normal situations, given the fact that there is (or was) a nitrate problem in the aquarium this is not such a good idea. The result is fluctuating nitrate levels, which is far worse than steady if somewhat high levels. But aside from introducing it from the source water, high nitrate in an aquarium is a sign of a biological problem, and this should be sourced and dealt with rather than being masked once a week.
Adjusting the pH in an aquarium is something that should be done very carefully and slowly, if at all. Fish are highly sensitive to pH fluctuations, much more than with a steady pH that may be somewhat outside their preference. If you can give me the numbers for the pH of the tap water, and the pH in the aquarium (prior to adjustment), plus the hardness of the tap water, I can go into this further. Hardness has an impact on pH, so that is why I ask for that. And pH fluctuations as I mentioned are highly stressful to all fish.
A pH of 7 is not natural. No fish lives in such water, it is too "pure." And the fish you mention are soft, slightly acidic water fish anyway. I may have more on this when I know the numbers.
Generally speaking, any water parameter adjustments (pH, hardness, temperature) can be stressful on fish, and this weakens their immune systems. If the recommendations for these products are coming from staff in stores, one has to remember they are there to sell products. Without a valid reason for doing so, it is not safe to be adding chemicals to a tank housing live fish.
Hmmmm, thanks once again for your very helpful response Byron.
It sure is frustrating when you receive such varying advce from those who are s'posed to have the exact same qualifications.
The person whom I deal with helps us out with our water tests and advicem, that is it. We never actually purchase anything from his place of employment as they don't stock any of the decent fish chemicals, foods etc. He actually stops us from buying products from his store as he knows they are rubbish. So, we definitely don't have an issue whereby he is trying to get a sale out of us.
Ok, here are today's numbers for you (Call me stupid BUT I only have the API Freshwater Test Kit which doesn't test for hardness etc, I have never been told I need to test for this).
Tap WaterPH: 7.6
The temperature in the tank is a stable 26 Degrees Celcius. I have an Eheim Canister Filter which is plenty big enough and has good media in it. Currently I have the noodles, bio balls, chemzorb as well as the usual sponges. When the filter is cleaned I ensure it is done in the tank water and isn't cleaned too pedanticly as I am aware of the negative impact on the fish with massive changes all at once.
As far as using the Stress Guard, this has been when I have had a Silver Dollar with a nasty injury to his lip and was a bonus for the Angels with their fins which were badly nipped.However, this is not something that I just use for the sake of it.
I understand the need to keep the water as chemically pure as possible. Afterall, the best conditions for the fish are those that are the closest to their natural habitat.
Given that almost a week has passed since the last water change and the Nitrate Level is still good, I would definitely say with 100% confidence that the issues were stemming from overfeeding. With the new feeding regime the fish seem happy however, we certainly do need to purchase more plants for the Silver Dollars. They have destroyed one of my gorgeous Anubias.
My belief with the Silver Dollars is that it is best to give them plenty of the plants that they like to eat in order to keep them away from the nicer, more delicate plants. This is something that has taken a while to figure out.
Once again, I really appreciate the help offered within this forum. I certainly am no expert but, try my best and hardest always asking for advice and never shying away from 'constructive' criticism.
keep using prime. Ignore Nitrate. Ignore phosphate. Stop using the pH messer upper stuff.
Now you have success.
FYI nitrate is really of little to zero issue same with phosphates. I actually couldn't maintain a tank with zero nitrates >.> I have also never seen a 0 nitrate test reading lol. I have a habit of adding them if they fall below 20ppm. Phosphates I add regularly and I have no idea what the levels are, other then adding them doesn't seem to hurt anything. Your plants are definatly not going to be happy about high filtration with 0 nitrates...
Most of the plant supplements such as Flourish comprehensive are rich in micro nutrients along with many of the specialty plant substrates from my research thus far, but they often contain very little in the way of macro nutrient's.
Couldn't hurt in my view (expierience thus far), To add Nitrogen, Pottasium,Phosphorus, (NPK) in small amounts once a week or two.
I am doing so in 80 gallon planted tank under the recommendation's of those doing likewise and plan'ts do seem to benefit. (Tom Barr's Non CO2 method) Trust me,If it didn't provide a measureable benefit, (from my expierience)I wouldn't do it.
I always have,and always will value your opinions with respect to most everyting fish and plant related, but to suggest that without CO2 injection that plant's cannot benefit from nutrients which are dosed in a way to be non limiting does not jive with the results that I and other's have witnessed.
I have lost no fish by doing so and have witnessed much appreciated result's with respect to plant growth.
I am not dosing nutrient's at high levels , and all consideration was /is given to plant mass,fishload,foods offered,and CO2 levels that exist as by product of fishes ,and bacterial activity ,albeit at lower levels than CO2 injected tanks.
If one is performing weekly water changes and isn't seriously overfeeding,overstocking,there should never be excess nitrates or phosphates at levels that would harm fishes.
Same with dosing nutrient's in dry form.Would take many many parts per million over extended periods to begin to harm fishes and if weekly water changes are taking place,and source water is not a contributer,then excessive levels should not become an issue . IMHO
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