Rising nitrates - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Rising nitrates

I've been dealing with an algae outbreak for the last 6 weeks for so. In the past I've been able to deal with them by adjusting CO2, typically the happened when my canister was empty, or adjusting the lighting period.

I made several changes to my tank setup adding auto dosing, making my liquid ferts, new LED light, so I changed a lot and have been trying to get things back in order. The previous 6 years or so I've been doing well with manual dry dosing and my old light.

I finally decided to check for nitrates. It was quite high so I did water changes to bring it down, then the next day I did another and it was down to ~15ppm. I then hit my auto dose to measure the rise in nitrates for a singe down. It went to 30ppm so I cut it in half, looking for 7.5ppm rise.

At the end of the day nitrate measured 30-40ppm, hard to tell, but basically it didn't change. This AM I checked before the lights went on and it is up to 80ppm. So a 40ppm increase overnight.

My question is why? Are the bacteria just converting poop, and other goodies to nitrates? My substrate is Seachem Flourite, can it act as a buffer and release nitrates overnight?

I'm just trying to figure out the next step. If it was buffering I could just leave it and stop dosing for until it comes under control, I could do another WC.

Suggestions?

thanks
david
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 02:17 PM
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What's the tank stocked with, and what size is it?

Unrelated to the nitrates (but related to the algae perhaps) what kind of LED light did you get? I had pretty poor results with the bulk of the LED lights I've tried, and had great luck with a few.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-11-2016, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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It is a 46 gallon tank, stocked with a couple snails, rubber nose pleco, and endlers. The endlers breed like crazy, but reach a point where they just maintain their load. I'd guess 100 or so endlers.

I built my own LED light,

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/20...ght-build.html


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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After tracking it for a few days it looks to be settling down, with less swings. I even dosed yesterday:

Date Nitrate
11-May 15 AM
11-May 30 PM
12-May 80 AM
12-May 20 PM
13-May 40 AM
13-May 20 PM
14-May 20 AM

Maybe it was just a build up, and after the initial drop, the bacteria started being productive again.

david

Last edited by lovingHDTV; 05-14-2016 at 02:18 PM. Reason: clarity
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-14-2016, 06:19 PM
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Have you used root tablets? (DIY or commercial)?

The major sources of nitrogen in an aquarium are fish food, fertilizer and 'other' perhaps the tap water has nitrogen, or some other odd sources.

If it is fish food, then you would see a fairly smooth rise through the week, then a drop with a water change.

If it is root tablets they usually do not last more than several weeks to a couple of months, but you might see a spike of nitrogen if something disturbs the substrate.
Similarly, if something in the substrate is releasing nitrogen (perhaps decomposing organic matter) then there will be a burst of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate depending on how active the microorganisms are.

If the nitrogen is coming in with the tap water in the form of ammonia (such as chloramines, or other) there would be spikes of ammonia the day of the water change, nitrite a day or so later, then nitrate.
If the tap water has nitrate, then you would not see ammonia or nitrite spikes, just the nitrate test would give odd results after a water change, such as: if you did a 50% water change, and the tap water had zero nitrates, then the nitrates in the tank would be cut in half. But NO3 in the tap water would skew this, and the NO3 test after a water change would not show 50% reduction.


I would test the tap water, then set up a regular schedule of larger water changes until you can get the NO3 down to 10ppm or less on the day of a water change, then allow it to rise to 20ppm right before a water change.
Do what you can toward vacuuming the substrate, at least the top few grains, to lift out fallen food, leaves and so on. If you cannot reach the substrate, then you could use a power head the way a gardener uses a leaf blower. Clean the filter.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2016, 01:19 PM
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Regarding your spike in nitrates:

When was the last time you tore down your filters(s) and cleaned them out? IMO all that solid fish waste in filters is the same thing as having all that waste sitting in your substrate floor since your filters are connected to your aquarium. I won't let my Eheim's go more than 3-4 months (closer to 3 months) before I completely clean them out. That also helps keep the filter's flow rates up as well. I can visibly notice my filter's flow rate decrease after a longer duration than that.

Long story short , I won't deviate much from manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule except for replacing the bio substrat.

Cheers,
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2016, 04:12 PM
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My first thought would have been filter cleaning but since you did not mention cleaning between the different results, I might back off on that.
A second thought would be due to the number and type of fish. It is impossible to know each fish so one being missing may be a factor. A small fish laying dead in a hidden spot may add a sudden burst of ammonia that is missed except for the resulting nitrate spike.
Most of us do not test for ammonia and would miss a spike of this sort. Testing the nitrite might have caught a spike there but since many do liquid tests, there is often not a close watch kept for nitrite either.
Perhaps a small fish died but decayed and was converted quite quickly? Perhaps number 103 is no longer there?
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2016, 05:15 PM
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Wow. Off topic here but I have to clean my little sunsun 302s monthly.
You all don't clean your high dollar ones but quarterly?

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2016, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonestarbandit View Post
Wow. Off topic here but I have to clean my little sunsun 302s monthly.
You all don't clean your high dollar ones but quarterly?
Nope. That's one of the many advantages of Eheim Classics. It even says 3 month cleaning intervals right in the owner's manual.

Cheers,
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-19-2016, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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I clean my filter every couple of months, when I notice that the flow becomes compromised.

I do have a lot of little fish, and yes they do die and are typically eaten rather quickly, no honor among fishes

I don't use root tabs, just ~EI dosing with water changes.

After tracking it for a week I saw it start to stabilize so I did another large water change and the nitrates came down to <10ppm and held overnight. I think, in the end, the high level I had just took a bit to clear out of the system.

I'll keep a closer eye on it for a bit to make sure it remains stable.


thanks for all the suggestions,
david
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