WCs and low nitrate
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:06 PM   #1
Itwasntme
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WCs and low nitrate


We have four low techs, all of them are now for some reason pretty low in nitrates, 1-3ppm. Earlier they used to be 10-20ppm before WC but I guess tanks have matured and plants (heavily-med planted) are doing fine so they use nearly all the nitrate away. I came from hi-tech to low few months ago so this is still something new for me. Phosphate is low too. I used to change water 30% weekly but now Im wondering wich way to do 1) not to chance until NO3 is up to 10 or so, or 2) change as usual weekly but add some KNO3 from the bottle. As ferz I use K2So4, Fe, Plantex, Excel daily and for raising GH in two tanks a bit Seachem Equilibrium. KH2Po4 is not used though I have it. Plants are doing just great, no algae.

Sizes of aquariums are 15, 70, 75 and 150G, medium stocked I suppose.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:13 PM   #2
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Since you seem to have a good grasp on the levels, I would suggest to add some NO3 and PO4. Add small amounts to keep the levels from dropping too much, or bottoming out, which almost guarantees problems. You can add small quantities, and less frequently than required in high tech tanks.

Even for low tech tank, I am a proponent of regular water changes. They are good for fish, and good for plants as well. Weekly 30% sounds optimal to me to maintain a healthy environment, even if you have to add a bit N and P here and there.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:49 PM   #3
Diana
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In the interest of 'Low Tech' I would opt for going in the direction of 'less work' and aim for smaller or less frequent water changes, and add slow release tablets deep in the substrate.
However, low tech can be whatever you want to do, does not have to fit into my idea of 'low tech'.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:26 AM   #4
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Default Why Is There Nitrate In Fertilizers??

I was told that plants consume, first, ammonia; second, nitrite; and if there's nothing else, nitrates, but it's practically break-even in terms of energy. I heard that nitrate is necessary for photosynthesis but I think ammonia does the job. It's all Nitrogen.

Thanks for explaining this to me.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:48 AM   #5
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Thank you very much for your response. The target is to do as little as possible but Im sure that fish do like WCs so the target is not stay away from it "at all" but "enough". Im considering to bay an EC-meter to check my WC-routines, a good idea?

Diana: your suggestion of using root tabs sounds good to me but does it work well with all plants? The only plant without a root system we have is frogbit (I will give it away as soon I get something nice instead of it), I guess it takes ferz from water column only? I have already used tabs for crypts, lilies and swords, those tabs are made for room plants and therefore there is macros (ammonium, but this has not affected water) too. Are these fine for all plants with root system? Using Plantex is just fine with me but as there is some potassium in the tabs too, should I stop adding K2So4?

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Old 10-15-2012, 05:29 PM   #6
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As long as the plants are doing great why do anything different? Slow growing plants just don't use a lot of nutrients.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:23 AM   #7
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You are right, but theres a lot of fast growing plants and I suppose there is something going on since the nitrates has gone down so quickly. I prune plants once a week. Even cryptos and swords are growing fast and Iv seen them growing also under metalhalides so Im really surprised, this was supposed to be "slow-growing"-tank! Now Im just trying to avoid problems not to starve the plants since everything has gone soooo fine (despite my expectations after Hi-tech...), but nitrates were also up earlier as I told, so Im bit worried now. If I do WC now as Im about to do, I will lost almost all nitrate in one tank.

I bought an EC-meter yesterday. First results were a bit shock, tap conductivity ca 655, aquariums (over a week after last WC) 725-850 (this high one has very small plants right now, I guess it matters). Tap water GH is 7, KH 5 so maybe 655 is about right? Well, that means its almost cruel to keep softwater species here, but we mainly have nowadays bows and such species for a bit harder water.

Well, well, stil thinking how to handle nitrates. One way surely is to keep eye on aquarium but not to do nothing before/IF problems are seen.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:54 AM   #8
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Slow release fertilizer in a form that is placed under the substrate might work, even if it is designed for house or garden plants. I have heard one form of Jobes spikes (the skinny little house plant ones) can be broken into 2-3 pieces and placed sparingly under the substrate. I think it was the one for ferns.
Osmocote product line is another possibility. The pellets can be frozen in small ice cubes and the ice cubes pushed into the substrate. The ice melts, and the osmocote is slow release fertilizer. Osmocote Plus is the one I see mentioned most often. If you have a scale that weighs small amounts figure 5 grams of osmocote per square foot of substrate.

Tablets designed for ponds and aquariums will also work. The pond tablets are pretty big.

Floating plants get their nutrients from the water and the air (CO2). Substrate fertilizers will not help them.

Land plants seem to do just fine with nitrates. Ammonia on the land, in the soil is converted very quickly to nitrate, so the plants have evolved to be reasonably efficient at using it. Ammonia is also still a fertilizer to them, and they are pretty efficient at using it, too.
Aquatic plants seem to use ammonia most efficiently, but will also use nitrite and nitrate just fine. In a cycled tank it is a race between the bacteria and plants, who gets the ammonia, then the plants remove any nitrite they find (very rare in a well cycled tank) then nitrate. Since the ammonia is used up pretty fast, and any nitrite does not show up in the water (it stays in the biofilm where the bacteria use it up), the nitrate test is the only one that shows if the system as a whole has enough nitrogen.
Since your NO3 test is showing the level is so low I would be taking steps to raise it.
a) Skip water changes, or do smaller ones.
b) Dose nitrogen in any of several natural forms: Add more fish food, for example. I find this a pretty expensive way to add N, though. The fish overeat, and the cost of N from fish food is really high.
c) Dose nitrogen in any fertilizer form: Slow release fits the concept of low tech better than daily dosing. You could start adding N from KNO3, if you wanted. But that needs to be done more frequently. Easy enough to do, and the cheapest form of N.

If you are also seeing phosphate deficiency, then the same solutions work for that, too. Fish food contains phosphate, and fertilizers (KH2PO4 for example) or slow release ferts. Read the label.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:30 AM   #9
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Thanks, Diana, again. As a profesional gardener Im familiar with garden and house plants needs. Unfortunately it seems a bit difficult to get Osmo tabs here with reasonable prize so I keep going with these (sorry the wrong language but Im sure you get the idea) http://www.biolan.fi/suomi/puutarhah...o/tuoteseloste. They are organic and they includes a bit micros too.

High conductivity made me think of other things when it comes to water change routines. I must make another thread for it since I havent found information about it how much I have tried to seach it. If it seems that I shoud stay "once a week" wc-line, I guess I must use root tabs or dry fertz weekly, not stop change water for x-weeks.

I know, this is supposed to be simple and it is, but Im interseted in many things when it comes to plants and aquariums. Asking and finding questions helps to realize bigger things: how, when, why...Then you will find your own way to do and maybe even help other hobbyists.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:49 AM   #10
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I'd say that very low nitrates is a sign that that the Nitrogen cycle is not getting much input, so it is not ending up with much nitrate. Meanwhile, the plants are going great guns and consuming whatever ammonia they can find.

I find this a great situation to be in for growing plants. "Don't do anything differrent!" I have been very happy when nitrates have been low in my tank.
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