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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everybody,

so since I got my tank cycled, everything has been great! I got a few more plants in there, everybody is happy! But I do find myself needing to do more water changes then I would like to due to Nitrates.
So I have a few questions.
First question - How high up do Nitrates start to become harmful to my fish?
Right now I have been checking every 5 days or so (Haven't been home too much so haven't been checking them as often), and they get up to the 40-60 ppm range. I've been doing a 50% water change when it gets that high, and it brings me back to about 20.
I'm curious, I have seen in other posts a product called Nitra Zorb.. What exactly is that? And does it work?
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to get out of doing my water changes, I understand the importance of them even if the water is not at toxic ammonia/nitrate levels. I just feel like doing 50% every 5 days or so is a little excessive when I see that most people are saying they do 10-20% weekly.

My tank is 20G Long, has a Tetra Whisper EX45 filter, Top Fin undergravel filter, and heated. It has a Marineland LED light bar across it, and is planted with water wisteria, some mystery bulbs that are growing, Top Fin Ribbon, and Peacock Fern (which i recently found out is a "Semi" aquatic plant. Whoops!). I have 2 Balloon Belly Mollies, 7 Zebra Danios, 5 Cherry Barbs and 3 mystery snails.
Could it be how many fish I have in there that is causing my Nitrates to rise so quickly?

Any tips or answers are very much appreciated!
 

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I don't think you need to use a product like that to keep you levels down. Seems to me that its ok for you to do a weekly cleaning instead of the five days.... When I started this hobby I went years without a test kit so I got real good at looking for signs of a problem.... Smell is number one, lift hood and check the smell you want to smell a lake or nothing much depending on plant load. Another sign after you got a smell going is bubbles created by you HOB filter hanging on the surface.
If it doesn't smell and no bubbles hanging longer than normal I'd say your good for a few.
 

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let the plants handle the nitrates. I wouldn't anything and just let the plants maintain the tank.

could be the plants are consuming ammonia and forgoing nitrates which is a very healthy and temporary situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay so eventually the plants will start taking on the nitrates as well?
At what point will the Nitrates become a problem to the health of my fish?
 

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Okay so eventually the plants will start taking on the nitrates as well?
At what point will the Nitrates become a problem to the health of my fish?
Can't for sure but from my experience the value is very high. I have had fish live in 60-160ppm nitrates for months with no side effects.
 

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In the past I have allowed my nitrates to get higher like most of us. But over the years I have learned more and not for me the 40-60 range is too much and I will do a water change. As far as how high can they get before they are dangerous to the fish that depends on the fish. The mollies and cherry barbs should be fine a little higher from time to time, not sure about the others I don't keep those.

As for water changes I always do 25% or more, most of the time I do 40-50% changes. You could do that 50% change and after a day or so do another change 25-50% that would drop the nitrates pretty quick and shouldn't harm the fish by a dramatic change.

Because your levels will slowly get higher most fish can handle it. Its the quick swings that cause issues most of the time. I have lost fish from doing 50% water changes before if the tank hadn't been maintained in a while, in those cases I do small water changes every day so the fish can slowly adjust.
 

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Since you have a undergravel filter it will be harder to get rid of mulm and other decomposing materials. Plants also inhibit the undergravel filter. You may be better off rethinking your filter setup. A slightly oversized hob filter or a small canister filter may work better for you. I would keep the plants and get rid of the undergravel filter.
 

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yeah, sandybottom has a good point the roots of the plants will mess that filter up good so get that out of there asap... And it wouldn't hurt to get a few more plants going.... I always buy a small bunch and propagate it from there....

Lots of plants you can cut in half and just plant the half you cut off. In a week or two you dubbled what you have for no extra cost.
 

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I don't think you need to use a product like that to keep you levels down. Seems to me that its ok for you to do a weekly cleaning instead of the five days.... When I started this hobby I went years without a test kit so I got real good at looking for signs of a problem.... Smell is number one, lift hood and check the smell you want to smell a lake or nothing much depending on plant load. Another sign after you got a smell going is bubbles created by you HOB filter hanging on the surface.
If it doesn't smell and no bubbles hanging longer than normal I'd say your good for a few.
I'll take my hat off to you for your experience. I fully agree with you smell is number one. Often. the nose is the best test kit. A chemical test kit can then confirm one's conclusion.

But with technology advancing, it's the other way round, which is not such a bad thing. :)
 

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Haha they are comming out with a electronic monitoring unit that lets you do most things from your ipad.... Think its call the "neptune"..... Found the app in the store which made me do some research and yeah seems like the next big thing they will be pushing on us.
 

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Haha they are comming out with a electronic monitoring unit that lets you do most things from your ipad.... Think its call the "neptune"..... Found the app in the store which made me do some research and yeah seems like the next big thing they will be pushing on us.

If I could check the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels from my Ipad that would be pretty cool. It would save a lot of time also. But I'm sure it would be $100 per tank for the little transmitter plus $20 for the app. And I'm cheap so I would just keep doing the liquid test because it's cheap.
 
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