Having issues reading nitrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Having issues reading nitrate

I dose 14ppm weekly nitrate from thrive (2 pumps) its been 9 days since my last pwc (been ill) my tank is a 55 gallon moderately planted, my stocking is 8 rainbows of different species, 5 ornate tetras, 5 lemon tetras, 1 calico bn.

I'm red sensitive to shades of red and still cannot figure out what my reading is, if I hold the tube in front of the color card it's red, if I hold it off the card in front of a light it's a medium orange color.

I do 50% weekly water changes, dose 2 pumps thrive all in one (14ppm no3) , excel 3x weekly, clean filters every 3 weeks, my phone does take darker images and I don't know why but I've attached photos hoping someone can help as honestly do everything I should be doing sometimes I do 2 water changes per week 1 50%, 1 25% (don't re dose thrive after second one)

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 03:00 AM
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There are a number of us who have found this problem! We keep getting readings way too high for what we believe can be possible but still we do all we can to change the reading and it doesn't help. My African cichlid tanks where fish were breeding were nearly impossible to get below 80PPM which seemed really unlikely as those fish are semi-famous for "requiring" good clean water.
There is likely to be quite a bit of talk about the way you are doing the test, not shaking enough, etc, etc. But none of that advise was able to solve my problem.
This may seem really bad advise so take it as you see it but, for me, the best move was changing test sets. I now use the Salifert brand nitrate test. A bit more expensive but then I found little value in buying the API if it never gave me the correct answer!
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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There are a number of us who have found this problem! We keep getting readings way too high for what we believe can be possible but still we do all we can to change the reading and it doesn't help. My African cichlid tanks where fish were breeding were nearly impossible to get below 80PPM which seemed really unlikely as those fish are semi-famous for "requiring" good clean water.
There is likely to be quite a bit of talk about the way you are doing the test, not shaking enough, etc, etc. But none of that advise was able to solve my problem.
This may seem really bad advise so take it as you see it but, for me, the best move was changing test sets. I now use the Salifert brand nitrate test. A bit more expensive but then I found little value in buying the API if it never gave me the correct answer!
This is after a 50% water change without adding my ferts in guessing 20-25, after I add the ferts it's 35-40 so I'm trying to get the nitrates to around 10 before adding ferts, I guess I might have to do 2 water changes a week instead of 1, or lower my fert dosing to 1 instead of 2, but then I'm afraid my plants will stop growing/ get a deficiency, I know 40-50ppm isn't going to kill my fish I just know lower is better.

50% no ferts https://imgur.com/a/WnEEg

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 03:31 AM
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Consider it a relative reading - as long as you are consistent with the tube relative to the card, you should get a consistent reading result - orange = okay / red = bad.

Also, how did you conclude that 2 pumps of Thrive yields 14ppm NO3 in your 55g tank? That seems unlikely as all in one ferts are usually quite low in NO3.
Have you tested your source water for nitrates?

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Consider it a relative reading - as long as you are consistent with the tube relative to the card, you should get a consistent reading result - orange = okay / red = bad.

Also, how did you conclude that 2 pumps of Thrive yields 14ppm NO3 in your 55g tank? That seems unlikely as all in one ferts are usually quite low in NO3.
Have you tested your source water for nitrates?
That's what it says on the bottle 1 pump =7ppm I do 2, my tap is 5ppm nitrate, the issue is the tube is orange if I hold it up to a light, it's red if I put it in front of the card

EDIT : it's 7ppm for 10 gallons not 55 so if I did the Math right right as I'm bad at math I'm adding about 8-9 ppm for a total of 55 gallons

I was also told dosing straight no3 is more clean and less harmful to fish than decomposing matter in the tank/filters but I'm new to ferts so I have not a clue tbh.

Before I did the water change today all topped off and fish are mad at me lol.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 10:58 AM
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If you really want a more accurate (although still rough) reading, try diluting your test water with water you know has no nitrate until you hit the clearly yellow option. If you think you might have 40 or 20, but aren't sure which as they look basically they same, then mix and test 2.5ml tank water with 2.5ml RO (or other nitrate free water). If it was 40, you'll still get red as you are now at 20. If it was 20 you'll get yellow as you are now at 10. You can use other proportions depending where you are starting
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 01:45 PM
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This is why I don't like all-in-one fertilizers, they just don't account for nitrate and phosphate levels in your water supply.. or any other nutrient for that matter. If you have a higher bioload, you may only need to dose phosphorus and potassium for your macros... even if you are using r/o water. There just isn't enough freedom to target certain nutrient levels without giving an over abundance of others.

As mentioned above, you may want to test your tap water for nitrates too. All the water changes in the world won't help you if you have high levels of nitrates present.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 02:06 PM
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To get consistent readings, it does work best to hold the test against the white of the card and at the same distance out from the card. As the readings are not all that accurate to begin, we need to do more to look at them as compared to last time. That is where being consistent will help as it will look very much different if we hold it in front of some item like the floor and also it will vary if we use different lighting. I have one chosen LED light to use as using daylight may not always work if I'm doing it at night. I can depend on the LED mostly being the same and available.
I also find that using separate dry ferts does let me vary things with less drama. Most of the time my nitrate and phosphate run way too high but switching to a different brand was the only way I found to actually see when I was cutting the reading by doing a 50% water change. Different eyes, different situations require different methods at times.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 02:34 PM
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Two pumps of Thrive in 55G = 2.54ppm + 5ppm in tap = 7.54ppm NO3
Subsequent weekly(2pump) doses will keep adding 2.54ppm to total.

How many Boes in there? Do you feed heavy?
High quality foods, less quantity can be used.
Also not a huge bio-mass in plants.

Hope my math was correct?


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
Two pumps of Thrive in 55G = 2.54ppm + 5ppm in tap = 7.54ppm NO3
Subsequent weekly(2pump) doses will keep adding 2.54ppm to total.

How many Boes in there? Do you feed heavy?
High quality foods, less quantity can be used.
Also not a huge bio-mass in plants.

Hope my math was correct?
8 bows, (1 boseman, 1 irani red, 2 kangaroo creek, 2 Chilatherina sentaniensis, 1 parva 1 herbalexrodi).

I have a strict food regime, M/W new life spectrum premium small pinch 2 x a day morning and night Tues /Thurs spirulina flake in the am, freeze dried tubifex in the evening, fri new life spectrum in the am freeze dried brine at night, Saturday fasting, Sunday frozen Hikari blood worms in the morning blanched deshelled peas at night.

I also have 6 ornate tetras 4 lemon tetras, I need to up the stocking on the lemons back to 6 but I was recommended to go to 8 each because they are shy and don't come out, but I feel I will be overcrowded if I did that.

I run an modified aquaclear 110 and a modified aquaclear 70

Plants are ludwigia repens(5 about to be 7), moneywart(5), cryotocoryne Wendtii red(6), cryotocoryne parva(1 pot) , a Bunch of anubias, 1 flame leaf sword, 1 amazon sword

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
To get consistent readings, it does work best to hold the test against the white of the card and at the same distance out from the card. As the readings are not all that accurate to begin, we need to do more to look at them as compared to last time. That is where being consistent will help as it will look very much different if we hold it in front of some item like the floor and also it will vary if we use different lighting. I have one chosen LED light to use as using daylight may not always work if I'm doing it at night. I can depend on the LED mostly being the same and available.
I also find that using separate dry ferts does let me vary things with less drama. Most of the time my nitrate and phosphate run way too high but switching to a different brand was the only way I found to actually see when I was cutting the reading by doing a 50% water change. Different eyes, different situations require different methods at times.
Yeah i was going to go dry ferts but I'm absolutely horrible at math and don't understand how it's dosed, I'm super new to plants literally about a month, I also know I will save a bunch of money if I went to dry, I did just order a TDS Meter not just for plants, to see how much my water changes throughout the week to get the proper %of water change I should be doing, so I can reset the tank so the fish and plants have a consistent water purity (still researching this as well)

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-03-2018, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by p0tluck View Post
Yeah i was going to go dry ferts but I'm absolutely horrible at math and don't understand how it's dosed
Online calculators can clear this up for you.
Zorfox & RotalaButterfly calculators, Zorfox can be saved to your PC even.

Thrive is a great product but nothing can be adjusted if needed.


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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-04-2018, 12:39 AM
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Since I do talk up working as little as we can get away with???
A link to Rotala that I keep on the favorites list---just so I don't have to look for it!!
Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator
Basic plug in the answers for size of tank and what you want to do/use and it spits out sizes that are meant to be "close enough" if you use EI dosing.
From there it often gets down to adding about the right amount and doing a 50% water change at the end of a week to knock it all down to reasonable before starting to " too much" for the next week. After a while you may see something like nitrate being always too high, so you can stop dosing the dry nitrate (KNO3?)
Or it may all be just close enough and you never have to do any of the figures!
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