Help with nitrates - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Help with nitrates

Ok I'm fairly new to planted tanks, so here is my dilemma. I have a 60 gallon tank with 2 filters, I have a cascade 1000 canister filter with the stock floss pads, the charcoal, purigen, and the biomedia that came with it. And my other filter is the Aquaclear 110 HOB and it has the stock floss( bottom pad cut down a little) with charcoal, seachem matrix, purigen, and both filters have a final 50 micron polishing filter pad on top. I have about 30 small fish. Mollies, guppies,swordtails,neons,glow tetras,betas,3 types of algae eaters, and 2 kuhli loaches. And the plants I currently have in my tank are dwarf hairgrass, cardinal plant, small sword plant, and about 5 anacharis plants. Oh yes and another plant I'm not sure what it is. I took a picture of the tag and there ar 5 names on it dracaena, spathiphyllum, ophiopogon,trichomanes, and syngonium. I got it at petco. And in the center of the pic is another plant I don't know what it is.

My question is I am testing my water and for 3 weeks the water has been testing 0 for ammonia, 0 for nitrites, but my nitrates are high, they were between 10-20 ppm but are now 20-30 ppm. I know I can change water which I do a 20% water change every week. And a local aquarium owner told me that I shouldn't vacuum a planted tank, I still vacuum what I can without disrupting plants but the coverage is getting much less that I can vacuum. Should I remove some of the biomedia from my filters to lower the nitrate level ? How do I lower my nitrate level ?

Thanks. Mike
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:00 AM
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It's going to sound really simple but you just need to do larger water changes and maybe 2-3 times a week. 20% is not working. You need to aim for 50% or more.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:04 AM
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You can rinse out the biomedia in tank water- but I wouldn't remove it.
When I get high nitrates it's usually because I overfed, or disturbed the substrate, or gave too much ferts, or there's a dead fish/snail...

I think the best way to lower nitrates until you find what's causing it is simply more water changes.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mikq View Post
Should I remove some of the biomedia from my filters to lower the nitrate level ? How do I lower my nitrate level ?
If you remove any media you could ditch the carbon.
NO3/Nitrate is the end of the ammonia cycle, it is typically what we are left with.

Removal is either bacterial, scavenging resin(similar to Purigen but targets NO3), heavy plant load to absorb it, or water changes.

If you are using API test kits you could take the stop light approach as I do.
Yellow = More dosing is required(KNO3)
Orange = All is well
Red = Water Change


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by mikq View Post
Oh yes and another plant I'm not sure what it is. I took a picture of the tag and there ar 5 names on it dracaena, spathiphyllum, ophiopogon,trichomanes, and syngonium.

Thanks. Mike
these plants are not true aquatics and may be decompossing in your tank, adding to your nitrates


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:53 AM
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Why do you want to lower your nitrates? 20-30ppm with 30 fish in a 60G doesn't seem that bad.

My 120G tank loaded with Rainbows is higher than that, more like 60-80ppm right before a water change. Fish and plants are super healthy. I wouldn't worry about too much if I were you.

If it really bothers you, do 50% instead of 20% water change and you won't have to change anything else.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Why do you want to lower your nitrates? 20-30ppm with 30 fish in a 60G doesn't seem that bad.

My 120G tank loaded with Rainbows is higher than that, more like 60-80ppm right before a water change. Fish and plants are super healthy. I wouldn't worry about too much if I were you.

If it really bothers you, do 50% instead of 20% water change and you won't have to change anything else.
I agree. Keep monitoring and if it continues to rise do a little larger water change or change more frequently. You are at what is about the target range for many. If the tank has been up and running for a while you could probably remove the carbon and replace it with more bio-filter. Definitely don't reduce the amount of bio-filter you have now.

As stated the petco plants aren't true aquatics. They might look okay for a while but will not last. I don't know why they and others do this, they aren't doing anybody any favors, including themselves. My wife brought home a potted assortment from them a couple years ago she thought would look nice in the tank. Now they are in a very large pot in the den. Probably 4 feet tall. Never did go in the aquarium.
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