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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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Having some high Nitrates

So I tested my water today and my Nitrates read around 40ppm to 80ppm couldn't really tell.

Quick little background:
10 gallon low tech tank
ADA Aquasoil
5 osmocote+ root tabs in the soil
Stock: 1 Honey Gourami, 5 Emerald Rasboras, 5 Pygmy Cories, 4 Otos
Some bladder snails I can't seem to get rid of.

My question is is the nitrates high due to the soil? When I first cycled the aqua soil my nitrates read 40ppm once the cycle completed and that was when I had lighter fish stock 1 Honey Gourami 6 Zebra Danio.

OR

I'm currently over stocked? Now that I think about it I've been feeding a little more then usual because of the new stock that I got. Didn't do a good job of vacuuming up uneaten food.

I am planning on doing my 50% water change tomorrow (my weekly maintenance) as well as clean out my filter since its starting to clog up. Especially the intake strainer. Is there anything else I can do to reduce the nitrates naturally? Or should I think about returning some fish? I've seen some people on here with a lot of fish in their 10 gallon set ups, so I thought I might be good, what's everyone doing to keep their levels low?
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 05:29 AM
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Have you considered doing 25% water changes daily? Have you added the additional fish recently? What did your water parameters look like before the additions?
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 05:37 AM
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Yeah, well all of those are contributing factors to the Nitrogen levels.

I've heard Aquasoil releases ammonia/ammonium, which the nitrifying bacteria would convert to nitrite then nitrate.
Osmocote also contains Nitrogen (O+ 15-9-12 formula has 7% ammonium -which would be converted to nitrite to nitrate- and 8% nitrate)
And livestock and food create ammonia, nitrite to nitrate.

All contributing factors. And in a 10 gallon that's not much water volume to dilute the nitrogen ppm (parts per million) depending on the given load.

So yeah, it is a bit overstocked if the nitrate levels remain elevated too often/soon. Nitrifying wise, if you have no ammonia, nitrite issues, then the nitrifying bacteria are is good supply doing their job. Just too much of a bioload for the water volume to keep nitrates from creeping too high. But to counter that, more frequent water changes will reduce nitrates and TDS/DOC, so it is doable, but does require more maintenance to keep things healthy. Anaerobic bacteria can denitrify nitrates into Nitrogen gas, but a nitrate filter isn't very practical on a 10 gallon, takes a long time to develop and still doesn't take care of TDS. So water changes are the easier option. More fast growing plants are a options, but still only do so much.

How thick is the substrate? The more of it, the more ammonia (consequently nitrates) you are getting from it.

With all that said though, Nitrates are not nearly as harmful as people make them out to be, 80ppm is not really that high. Not that I am advising people to allow high nitrates, I am just saying, with more frequent water changes to keep nitrate and TDS levels down, it's the same as everyone elses tank, just requires more frequent maintenance.

If you'd rather not deal with more maintenance then you can reduce some of the nitrogen contributing factors (switch/reduce substrate, reduce ferts containing nitrogen, reduce livestock, don't overfeed)
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Aolinger11 View Post
Have you considered doing 25% water changes daily? Have you added the additional fish recently? What did your water parameters look like before the additions?
I've done 20% water changes every 3 days the past week because of the new stock that I ended up with. I did recently just add the 6 pygmy cories. I lost one today, he was okay, but all day yesterday it lost all its color and just didn't make it.

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Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
Yeah, well all of those are contributing factors to the Nitrogen levels.

I've heard Aquasoil releases ammonia/ammonium, which the nitrifying bacteria would convert to nitrite then nitrate.
Osmocote also contains Nitrogen (O+ 15-9-12 formula has 7% ammonium -which would be converted to nitrite to nitrate- and 8% nitrate)
And livestock and food create ammonia, nitrite to nitrate.

All contributing factors. And in a 10 gallon that's not much water volume to dilute the nitrogen ppm (parts per million) depending on the given load.

So yeah, it is a bit overstocked if the nitrate levels remain elevated too often/soon. Nitrifying wise, if you have no ammonia, nitrite issues, then the nitrifying bacteria are is good supply doing their job. Just too much of a bioload for the water volume to keep nitrates from creeping too high. But to counter that, more frequent water changes will reduce nitrates and TDS/DOC, so it is doable, but does require more maintenance to keep things healthy. Anaerobic bacteria can denitrify nitrates into Nitrogen gas, but a nitrate filter isn't very practical on a 10 gallon, takes a long time to develop and still doesn't take care of TDS. So water changes are the easier option. More fast growing plants are a options, but still only do so much.

How thick is the substrate? The more of it, the more ammonia (consequently nitrates) you are getting from it.

With all that said though, Nitrates are not nearly as harmful as people make them out to be, 80ppm is not really that high. Not that I am advising people to allow high nitrates, I am just saying, with more frequent water changes to keep nitrate and TDS levels down, it's the same as everyone elses tank, just requires more frequent maintenance.

If you'd rather not deal with more maintenance then you can reduce some of the nitrogen contributing factors (switch/reduce substrate, reduce ferts containing nitrogen, reduce livestock, don't overfeed)
That's some good info. Thanks for that. What is TDS if you don't mind me asking? I'm still new to this hobby.

Haven't been long since I started. The substrate is about 2" - 2.5" deep. I don't have any sort of Ammonia as it is fully cycled. Just have high Nitrates. I was starting to get worried because it started getting higher, but now it does kind of make sense.

Since its a newer soil, I probably won't dose anything except Flourish Excel for the time being. Unless I shouldn't. If I dose Excel how often should I be doing water changes? 25% water changes every other day? Or how many times should I be doing water changes? twice a week? and how much water should be changed out? I usually do 50% water changes once a week, but now that you mention a little more maintenance. Would it be too much if I did 25% middle of the week and 3-4 days later doing 50% changes?

Also, I am struggling with Green hair algae I believe. Very annoying and hard to remove by hand. Any tips on how to reduce the growth other than reducing photo period?
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 06:20 AM
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TDS is Total Dissolved Solids. DOC is Dissolved Organic Compounds.

You don't see ammonia on the tests, but there is constantly ammonia produced (by fish waste and other contributing sources). It's just that the ammonia is being converted to nitrite, which is being converted to nitrate by the beneficial bacteria in a quick manner so you don't really see them on tests. If you have rising Nitrate levels, there are contributing Nitrogen factors causing the increase levels of Nitrates.

In regards to excel and fert dosing, someone else should be able to give some better input on that.

Here are some general algae info
James' Planted Tank - Algae Guide
http://www.bubblesaquarium.com/image...ater_algae.htm
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
TDS is Total Dissolved Solids. DOC is Dissolved Organic Compounds.

You don't see ammonia on the tests, but there is constantly ammonia produced (by fish waste and other contributing sources). It's just that the ammonia is being converted to nitrite, which is being converted to nitrate by the beneficial bacteria in a quick manner so you don't really see them on tests. If you have rising Nitrate levels, there are contributing Nitrogen factors causing the increase levels of Nitrates.

In regards to excel and fert dosing, someone else should be able to give some better input on that.

Here are some general algae info
James' Planted Tank - Algae Guide
http://www.bubblesaquarium.com/image...ater_algae.htm

As far as water changes go, how often should I be doing it and how much? Since I want to keep my plants and fish happy. haha.

After taking a look at first link. I can definitely see that I have GDA and Rhizoclonium. Thanks for the info. I'm going to have to do some research.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 06:58 AM
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Most people here recommend doing water changes once a week or every other week.

But there are so many factors that determine how necessary a water change is, such as:

Nitrogen levels
Fish stock
Calcium/Magnesium ions (GH)
KH for stable pH
TDS
etc
etc

For example if you had a large tank with only one small fish, as long as the nitrogen, GH, KH, TDS, etc levels and all other water parameters remained healthy, a water change isn't really necessary as all the parameters are at good levels. So theoretically that set up could go many months or longer without needing a water change as long as levels remained good.
Just mentioning that as some people just blindly say water changes MUST be done weekly/bi-weekly without understanding what water changes actually do, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to do them when they aren't actually needed. Nothing wrong with fresh water though, but just saying.

Now if you have a high bioload or fish stock, those levels/parameters can get out of balance a lot easier, so then more frequent water changes will likely be more necessary.
Just as another mentioned, not all tap water is healthy, some don't have sufficient GH, KH, etc, etc, to keep water chemistry healthy for livestock, so it does get a bit more complex than simply suggesting water changes for every issue.

If you are doing a fertilizer regiment, some of those recommend weekly water changes or so, so those may be a factor that dictates water change frequency.

Hehe, sorry if I made things more confusing for you

But to simplify for you, do water changes as necessary. If your nitrates get past 40ppm, then do a water change, whether that occurs daily, every other day or weekly, will be found out based on test results. Water change once a week is a good start. Test nitrates before that weekly water change, and if it's 20ppm or so, you can probably extend water changes to every other week (which then the nitrate test would read 40ppm or so).

By the way, nitrate tests can be inaccurate and need calibrating (reference to determine how accurate your test kit reads)
Read here on how to calibrate your test kit
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-chemists.html
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterLife View Post
Most people here recommend doing water changes once a week or every other week.

But there are so many factors that determine how necessary a water change is, such as:

Nitrogen levels
Fish stock
Calcium/Magnesium ions (GH)
KH for stable pH
TDS
etc
etc

For example if you had a large tank with only one small fish, as long as the nitrogen, GH, KH, TDS, etc levels and all other water parameters remained healthy, a water change isn't really necessary as all the parameters are at good levels. So theoretically that set up could go many months or longer without needing a water change as long as levels remained good.
Just mentioning that as some people just blindly say water changes MUST be done weekly/bi-weekly without understanding what water changes actually do, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to do them when they aren't actually needed. Nothing wrong with fresh water though, but just saying.

Now if you have a high bioload or fish stock, those levels/parameters can get out of balance a lot easier, so then more frequent water changes will likely be more necessary.
Just as another mentioned, not all tap water is healthy, some don't have sufficient GH, KH, etc, etc, to keep water chemistry healthy for livestock, so it does get a bit more complex than simply suggesting water changes for every issue.

If you are doing a fertilizer regiment, some of those recommend weekly water changes or so, so those may be a factor that dictates water change frequency.

Hehe, sorry if I made things more confusing for you

But to simplify for you, do water changes as necessary. If your nitrates get past 40ppm, then do a water change, whether that occurs daily, every other day or weekly, will be found out based on test results. Water change once a week is a good start. Test nitrates before that weekly water change, and if it's 20ppm or so, you can probably extend water changes to every other week (which then the nitrate test would read 40ppm or so).

By the way, nitrate tests can be inaccurate and need calibrating (reference to determine how accurate your test kit reads)
Read here on how to calibrate your test kit
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-chemists.html

Well I do have the API Master Test Kit, so I guess I'll have to try out the calibration and see if it is accurate or not. Do they expire over time or something? I've never heard of this until you mentioned it.

I used to have at least 5ppm of Nitrates before I did the substrate change. When I had gravel with just API Root tabs my nitrates were never higher then 5 ppm sometimes Nitrates wouldn't show on the test kit. Gonna have to double check and see if I do have Nitrates in my tap water, which I don't think I do.

But I do know that the pH level is around 7.6 and 0.25 for Ammonia in my tap water the last time I checked when I was cycling my tank. Never tested Nitrates because it never crossed my mind.

Will definitely do my 50% water change today since I do water changes every Sunday and will just continue to monitor my Nitrate levels during the week see if I need to do another partial water change.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 06:19 PM
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Or should I think about returning some fish?
Don't return the fish, especially if you like them.
Now is your chance to start another tank and split the fish load.

Regarding the Flourish, you never really told us the plant load.


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Last edited by Maryland Guppy; 02-21-2016 at 06:23 PM. Reason: edit
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Don't return the fish, especially if you like them.
Now is your chance to start another tank and split the fish load.

Regarding the Flourish, you never really told us the plant load.

Yeah I do what to start another tank but I don't have room for one. My room is pretty small. Lol.

I have a lot of Java fern, pennywort ludwigia repens, Java moss, anubias, Amazon swords and s repens that I just planted. Also one plant of sunset Florida crypt and parva.

Just did a 50% water change today. Added 3ml of excel onto the hair algae and cleaned out the filter. Didn't realize how clogged and restrictive the flow was.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 10:33 PM
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Well I do have the API Master Test Kit, so I guess I'll have to try out the calibration and see if it is accurate or not. Do they expire over time or something? I've never heard of this until you mentioned it.

I used to have at least 5ppm of Nitrates before I did the substrate change. When I had gravel with just API Root tabs my nitrates were never higher then 5 ppm sometimes Nitrates wouldn't show on the test kit. Gonna have to double check and see if I do have Nitrates in my tap water, which I don't think I do.

But I do know that the pH level is around 7.6 and 0.25 for Ammonia in my tap water the last time I checked when I was cycling my tank. Never tested Nitrates because it never crossed my mind.

Will definitely do my 50% water change today since I do water changes every Sunday and will just continue to monitor my Nitrate levels during the week see if I need to do another partial water change.
Everything that is used to measure something has to be calibrated periodically if you really want accuracy. All scientists who do experiments do this routinely, and they use expensive equipment. Our hobbyist test kits are cheap, so it follows that they may not be as accurate as we assume they are. Also, water test kits use reagents, which have a time limit on how long they are expected to remain useful, but we tend to keep our test kits way longer than that. And, finally, some water tests require very close adherence to the directions or you get faulty results. So, when we calibrate a test kit we are verifying that we are doing the test correctly, that we are capable of reading the test colors accurately (or not), and that the test reagents are still usable.

The alternative to calibrating is to reduce our expectations. If we just want to see if we have "some" nitrate in the water, no calibration is needed, as long as you follow the test directions exactly. But, if you want to know if you have 10 ppm, 5 ppm or 40 ppm of nitrate, you really need to calibrate or you only think you know what you have.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2016, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Everything that is used to measure something has to be calibrated periodically if you really want accuracy. All scientists who do experiments do this routinely, and they use expensive equipment. Our hobbyist test kits are cheap, so it follows that they may not be as accurate as we assume they are. Also, water test kits use reagents, which have a time limit on how long they are expected to remain useful, but we tend to keep our test kits way longer than that. And, finally, some water tests require very close adherence to the directions or you get faulty results. So, when we calibrate a test kit we are verifying that we are doing the test correctly, that we are capable of reading the test colors accurately (or not), and that the test reagents are still usable.

The alternative to calibrating is to reduce our expectations. If we just want to see if we have "some" nitrate in the water, no calibration is needed, as long as you follow the test directions exactly. But, if you want to know if you have 10 ppm, 5 ppm or 40 ppm of nitrate, you really need to calibrate or you only think you know what you have.
Man I was hoping to keep my tank low tech and easy to maintain. Didn't think I would have to go into greater detail to maintain my tank properly. I do want to keep things simple as possible. I guess I have a little more research to do. Thanks for all your help!
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 12:59 AM
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Yeah I do what to start another tank but I don't have room for one. My room is pretty small. Lol.
You can build a rack and go up instead of increased length.

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The alternative to calibrating is to reduce our expectations. If we just want to see if we have "some" nitrate in the water, no calibration is needed, as long as you follow the test directions exactly.
You could take the stop light approach.
Yellow is time to dose.
Orange is Good.
Red consider water change.


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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You can build a rack and go up instead of increased length.



You could take the stop light approach.
Yellow is time to dose.
Orange is Good.
Red consider water change.
I really like how long tanks are set up. Not really a fan of the tall for some reason. Maybe I just need to give it some time.

Yeah that's a pretty good way to approach the nitrate. I'm not trying to get the exact ppm anyways. When I tested my water it was really red with some orange in it. That's with it against some white paper. I'll continue to monitor my nitrate levels until I can get it into the orange color.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 02:19 AM
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If you do a 50% water change, with tap water containing no nitrates, you will drop your nitrates to 20 ppm, if your test was accurate. If you do another 50% change a couple of days later you should have around 10 ppm of nitrates. Now, do 50% water changes once a week and you shouldn't have any problem if your city tap water contains no nitrate. That shouldn't be much of a workload.

If this is your city water report, http://www.denverwater.org/docs/asse...lityReport.pdf you don't have any significant amount of nitrates in your water.

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