Lowering Nitrate Levels - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Lowering Nitrate Levels

I recently tested my water because I noticed that a fish was acting strangely. Everything else seemed pretty normal (pH, Ammonia, Nitrite) except the Nitrate level. The Nitrate level was somewhere in the 80 - 160 ppm range, which is exceptionally high.

I have swapped out the Carbon Portion of the filter and have done about a 30% water change and have seen a noticeable decline in the Nitrate levels. I have heard about 'Biological Filter Media' but I am uncertain as to how to utilize these pellets. There seem to be no helpful instructions on the packaging at the store either. I am not sure if I could simply drop these in the tank, filter, or just what should be taking place.

Definitely vacuumed out the gravel. There was a large amount of debris in the gravel. I'm pretty sure I removed a good bit of the funk there, so that should help as well.

I am curious as to what else can be done to help lower these levels without causing much more additional stress to my fish.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 01:21 AM
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Couple things to start with.

What size tank?
Have you tested your tap nitrate levels?
Is the tank overstocked?
Are you dosing ferts and if so with what?
How densely planted is the tank?
Are you possibly over feeding?

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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The tank is 38 gallons.
I have not tested the tap nitrate levels.
There are only 3 fish in the tank currently.
I am not aware of dosing with ferts, so I will say I am not doing that.
There are 5 plants currently in the tank.
Over feeding is a definite possibility.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 03:00 AM
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Good catch! Some people don't notice when their fish are in distress. You also quickly assessed that it could be Nitrate which some people would not know. Unfortunately, I was recently disabused to find that activated carbon does not work that well at removing Nitrate. So that's a bummer. Filter media takes about six weeks to get colonized by denitrifying bacteria. Once established these bacteria will consume Ammonia and Nitrite but not Nitrate. Nitrate Is the end product in the denitrifying cycle. You should have filter media in your filter. In fact, I think you do because you have Nitrate.

Vacuuming the gravel was a good thing to do. Do small 20% water changes every few hours until the Nitrate gets below 50 ppm. Continue doing regular weekly water changes in the future. Cut your tap water with some RO water and reconstitute it with GH booster if you have too much Nitrate in your tap water. Send some of your fish back to the pet store if you are overstocked. Don't over feed your fish. Plant some plants. They consume Nitrate. Water Wisteria grows like a weed. You can even just float it on top of the water. Add some Potassium and micro nutrients though.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 04:26 AM
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The number one fix for basically anything fish related that is traced back to water contaminants/quality: water changes, water changes, water changes.

The key here is that, perhaps counterintuitively, larger is better. If you want to reduce the levels of some substance in the water, the most effective way to do that is dilution. Filtration (and any other method, really) is significantly less effective.

You really want large quantity water changes more than you want a large number of them. Daily 50% is likely more effective than even three 20% changes in a day. A bigger water change all at once results in significantly more dilution than many small changes.

EDIT: You should also test your tap water to make sure you don't have a high level of nitrate already coming in.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 11:47 PM
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Three 20% water changes equal a 48.8% water change because 0.8^3=0.512. When I first heard about EI, I futzed around doing smaller water changes once a week for a couple of weeks. Then I decided to try the 50% water changes. Unfortunately, my fish didn't seem too happy about them. Consequently, I now do three smaller water changes several hours apart overnight to accomplish the 50%. A large water change can be dangerous if you don't test the waters first. On the other hand, and I know this is too late, a large water change really is the best thing to do to quickly clear a tank. I agree with that.

Last edited by Savetheplants; 08-02-2016 at 11:59 PM. Reason: punctuation
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