Should I be worried about my nitrates? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Should I be worried about my nitrates?

Essentially the title.

I tested my nitrates and they were up over 80ppm according to my API Test Kit; 0 ammonia, as well.

All my plants are healthy, growing like weeds. No dead fish or shrimp - some are even berried.

Feel like I should just trust my gut and think things are fine because everything seems to be doing really well. Just thought I'd get a second opinion on the matter.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 05:50 PM
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Ber...

A nitrate level this high, long term isn't good. It wouldn't hurt to do a little larger than normal water change as soon as possible and wait a couple of days and retest. Small tanks under 30 gallons should get a 50 percent water change a couple of times a week. Larger tanks should get half the water removed and replaced every week. Do this, and you'll have few, if any tank problems.

M

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 06:04 PM
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^ I agree. Not sure why your nitrates are that high to begin with. Does this tank have soil or active substrate? Fish and shrimp will be much happier with 10-20 ppm nitrates. I use the API test as well to get a general idea. Whenever I see the slightest tinge of red to the sample, I do a 50% water change to get nitrates at a reasonable level.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 07:01 PM
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There are a few things to consider - to start with, what is the nitrate level in your source water? Water changes won't be a big help if all your nitrates are coming from there rather than within the tank.

Are your nitrates stable or increasing? If it's going up steadily that's more of a concern because it means over time they are just going to get higher.

How much do your current water changes reduce it? For example if you are doing a 25% change (nitrates drop down to 60ppm post water change) and then they are back up to 80ppm at the next change - you are keeping things quick stable. But, a couple of extra changes or slightly bigger changes for a few weeks would reduce it and let you keep it stable a bit lower.

Could you be overfeeding? Nitrates are the end product from the nitrogen cycle - excess food can end up with higher nitrates. So have a think about how much, how often and how quickly the fish are consuming what you give. In a heavily planted tank, your shrimps may need very little food.

Are you adding additional nitrates with your fertiliser? Some include it and some not. You may need one without it if you are adding it in currently.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 07:04 PM
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It's worth noting the growing concern over false readings with the API nitrate test kits. Shake the absolute !#$%#$% out of the reagent bottles for minimum 1 minute straight (go longer if you can) and use them immediately

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, thanks for the advice.

As far as my tap water, my API test kit pegs it in the 5.0ppm area.

I've done 50% water changes everyday since Sunday (4 times now) with readings still being the same - I cleaned my canister filter last night in the hopes that it would help, and I've even stopped dosing my fertilizers. Just have some shrimps and ottos in the tank (its a 12g long) so I really just feed every other day.

I've read about needing to calibrate the API test kit - or that the nitrates test is kind of wonky, so I was thinking maybe that was it. Just confused because it gave me a lesser reading for my tap water.

I just put some Kordon AmQuel Plus in, hoping that'll help.

Sort of at a loss because everything seems happy and healthy


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 11:14 PM
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Doesn't sound like an issue with test kit. I'd try distilled water just to see if it reads 0. Something has to be raising it if you only have 5 ppm out of the tap. High organics in the water column is usually from an overstocked tank, overfeeding or substrate that is high in organic matter.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bercey View Post
Essentially the title.

I tested my nitrates and they were up over 80ppm according to my API Test Kit; 0 ammonia, as well.

All my plants are healthy, growing like weeds. No dead fish or shrimp - some are even berried.

Feel like I should just trust my gut and think things are fine because everything seems to be doing really well. Just thought I'd get a second opinion on the matter.

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If plants and fish are doing well, I wouldn't worry about it.

My tank always has high nitrates, due to heavy fish stocking. I've never seen a negative effect on the health of fish from Nitrates in that range, regardless of what you read sometimes. And my plants seem to like those Nitrates just fine. If it works, I wouldn't change a thing.

Just make sure to keep up with regular weekly changes.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 09:51 AM
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If your tap water is 5ppm and your tank is 80ppm then immediately after water change your tank should be closer to 40ppm. By the time you've done 4 50% in a row you've just about completely changed the water and it should be closer to 5-10ppm. I don't think it would rise quick enough to return to exactly the same before you could test. If it was rising that fast your original number would have been proportionally higher.

What you could do is replicate changes in a jug (or even using a syringe to do it in the test tub) - mix tap and tank 50/50 and test that. Then gradually increase the proportion of tap and retest until you get to the orange shades. See if you get different results.

Otherwise, I'd be inclined to ignore it.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
If your tap water is 5ppm and your tank is 80ppm then immediately after water change your tank should be closer to 40ppm. By the time you've done 4 50% in a row you've just about completely changed the water and it should be closer to 5-10ppm. I don't think it would rise quick enough to return to exactly the same before you could test. If it was rising that fast your original number would have been proportionally higher.

What you could do is replicate changes in a jug (or even using a syringe to do it in the test tub) - mix tap and tank 50/50 and test that. Then gradually increase the proportion of tap and retest until you get to the orange shades. See if you get different results.

Otherwise, I'd be inclined to ignore it.
Yeah, I have no idea what's going on with it. I don't think I'm super overstocked. I have about 60 shrimp, 11 ottos and 7 pygmy cories. Everything is doing well and I don't want to play with it enough to cause an issue. I'm just going to do my weekly water changes and ignore it. Lol

Here's a pic of the tank in question.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 08:43 PM
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Funny, isn't it.. Ask myself the same question every day..
my 40b was practically filled w/ plants and still had Nitrates at those levels..

Good thing is they never seemed to get any higher..
not big on water changes..

Only thing I can think of is substrate N conversion...

good thing.. Your Bene bact is working great..

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 11:41 PM
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Nice looking tank!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2018, 11:59 PM
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That is a nice looking tank!

Wide and shallow. Interesting layout. Well done.


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-12-2018, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the late reply, but thank you for the complements!

I've stopped worrying about the nitrates. I don't want to fix what isn't broken and all that.


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