Nitrate Consumption by Plants - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 06:09 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrate Consumption by Plants

Hi, I'm new to the forums and re-entering the hobby, and have a question about the amount of nitrAtes that I should typically notice being consumed by a densely planted 20gal high tank during a Fishless Cycle? I'm on day 9 of following the Dr. Tim's method (4 drops per gallon to reach 2ppm), and am seeing ammonia being completely consumed within 24 hours, nitrItes being completely consumed in just over 48 hours, and nitrAtes being COMPLETELY consumed in roughly 72 hours, over the last few ammonia additions. No I am not doing the NitrAte test incorrectly, no there is nothing wrong with the test fluid (I have another tank that I test at the same time with the same kit, and it shows NitrAtes in that established, unplanted tank). Using an API Master Kit for my tests. No water changes are being performed that would skew test results.

Example:
Add ammonia
24 hrs after (day 1)-
Ammonia is 0.25ppm or less
NitrIte is 2.0ppm
Nitrate is 10.0ppm

24 hrs later (day 2)-
Ammonia is 0ppm
NitrIte is 1.0-2.0ppm
NitrAte is 20.0ppm

24 hrs later (day 3)-
Ammonia is 0ppm
NitrIte is 0ppm
NitrAte is 0ppm
Re-dose ammonia as per Dr. Tim

What am I seeing here? Is this to be expected? Is this as unlikely as I believe it to be? What are your more experienced thoughts? Thank you!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 08:04 AM
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Welcome to TPT.

I do not see anything strange there, If the tank is densely planted then the plants take up all of the nitrate. That is the reason why most of us add fertilizers to planted tanks.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply! I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something I was unaware of manipulating the results. I'm leery of "magic", so when things are too good to be true, I immediately think that there's something other than the obvious at play. Would running CO2 injection theoretically make the nutrient uptake happen faster? The tank is super low tech right now, but I'm getting the water parameters where I like them on a sustainable basis, so I am thinking of upping the ante so to speak.. or would the addition of livestock be enough to add the proper amount of CO2 when the cycle is complete?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 01:05 AM
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To go from 20ppm of NO3 to zero in a 24 hour period is doubtful.

I'd think @ best 3 - 3.5ppm would about the maximum consumed daily.

Please tell more about the substrate in the tank?


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
To go from 20ppm of NO3 to zero in a 24 hour period is doubtful.

I'd think @ best 3 - 3.5ppm would about the maximum consumed daily.

Please tell more about the substrate in the tank?

I'm using Eco Complete Black, and a T8 Full Spectrum florescent bulb for lightning. I should also add that there are about 10 plants ranging from 4-12", of which half are sending out runners and/or spore budding. The largest plant has no less than 15 new "babies" coming off of it's leaves.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricP522 View Post
I'm using Eco Complete Black
At least we know it's not a high CEC substrate interaction.
I have SafeTSorb and it will not suck up nitrates and has a high CEC would.

Not trying to burst a bubble here but I think documented NO3 update in densely planted high tech tanks top out at about 3.5 - 4ppm per day.

Examine EI dosing 7.5ppm x 3days = 22.5ppm week.
A 50% weekly WC leaves 11.25ppm for weekly plant growth before the pattern starts over again.

Dense tanks wit 2x EI dosing could use 28ppm NO3 per week leaving the water column @ 8.5ppm after WC day, then people start to front end load macros.

At this point we are not even mentioning phish that most people have.

NH3 dosed @ low pH turns to NH4 which is very readily accepted by plants and maybe never entering nitrogen the cycle.

Many variables @ play here.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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My pH is 7.4 and holding strong. So I'm not sure what else could be causing this.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 06:24 AM
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nitrate tests convert Nitrate to nitrite and then couple to dye for color...
Day 2 you only had 18ppm Nitrate...(20-2 = 18)

so there is that.

Can't tell you why you went from 18 to zero in a day though...

Do suspect you stalled w/ not enough ammonia to keep the chain going..........

Tank doesn't smell rotten eggy?
As a long shot you might have some anaerobic pockets.. How deep is your soil?
That would convert Nitrate to Nitrogen gas...

Really..really.. long shot..

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 11-22-2018 at 06:39 AM. Reason: edit
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 10:49 AM
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Interesting. Have you replicated these results many times over the cycle?

Could there be interference in the test kit with something in the water??
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 01:53 PM
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Since most logical explanations have been covered and found wanting, it's time to revisit the assumptions we are working with. First assumption I'd look at is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricP522 View Post
No I am not doing the NitrAte test incorrectly, no there is nothing wrong with the test fluid (I have another tank that I test at the same time with the same kit, and it shows NitrAtes in that established, unplanted tank). Using an API Master Kit for my tests. No water changes are being performed that would skew test results.
The API NO3 test is notoriously finicky. Have you done the "calibration" with it yet?
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Last edited by MCFC; 11-22-2018 at 04:41 PM. Reason: added link to "calibration" thread
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 04:21 PM
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Im learning as a newb to the hobby but what I have definitely learned ,is that with the API NO3 test it mandatory to shake the living daylights out of " Test Solution # 2". Even go as far as to tap it on a solid surface to disrupt the solution.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
nitrate tests convert Nitrate to nitrite and then couple to dye for color...
Day 2 you only had 18ppm Nitrate...(20-2 = 18)

so there is that.

Can't tell you why you went from 18 to zero in a day though...

Do suspect you stalled w/ not enough ammonia to keep the chain going..........

Tank doesn't smell rotten eggy?
As a long shot you might have some anaerobic pockets.. How deep is your soil?
That would convert Nitrate to Nitrogen gas...

Really..really.. long shot..

No, I don't think the cycle stalls, it only goes about 24 hours without ammonia as it converts the remaining nitrIte into nitrAte, and when I add ammonia back in, it gobbles it up without pause.

Substrate varies from roughly 3" to 1" in depth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebelrebel View Post
Interesting. Have you replicated these results many times over the cycle?

Could there be interference in the test kit with something in the water??

I replicate it EVERY time I dose ammonia. So basically every 2 days. (BTW I was wrong on what day of the cycle I was on, I'm on day 14 now, not day 9).

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCFC View Post
Since most logical explanations have been covered and found wanting, it's time to revisit the assumptions we are working with. First assumption I'd look at is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricP522 View Post
No I am not doing the NitrAte test incorrectly, no there is nothing wrong with the test fluid (I have another tank that I test at the same time with the same kit, and it shows NitrAtes in that established, unplanted tank). Using an API Master Kit for my tests. No water changes are being performed that would skew test results.
The API NO3 test is notoriously finicky. Have you done the "calibration" with it yet?

I haven't done a calibration, but my point from what you quoted in your post was that I show NO3 in my 24 hour test (after ammonia dosing, but not in my 48 hour test, in addition to showing NO3 in a test performed the same day, 2 minutes apart, from a different tank (with no plants). I read that sometimes you have to shake the test solutions because of settling issues, so I've tried that and received the same results. NO3 in tank 1, none in tank 2, no matter what I do, like clockwork. That's what has me so confused, because the test solution would have to be off by at least 10ppm, to show 10ppm in tank 1, but 0ppm in tank 2. But it can't be coincidence that every 2 days the test solution decides to be wonky and suddenly not work right?

Can water chemistry affect the test? I use treated tap water in tank 1 (8.0pH, 10°GH, 6°KH), but remineralized RO in tank 2 (7.4pH, 7°GH, 5°KH).

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCB View Post
Im learning as a newb to the hobby but what I have definitely learned ,is that with the API NO3 test it mandatory to shake the living daylights out of " Test Solution # 2". Even go as far as to tap it on a solid surface to disrupt the solution.
I've tried this method too, after the first time I showed a goose egg on 40ppm disappearing in 24 hours. I searched high and low on the internet, and I figured solution #2 "settling out" was the best guess I had. But shaking the solution has zero effect on wether or not I see NO3 in my water. It's a head scratcher for sure. I think I'm going to do a strip test as well as the API test to do a comparison. I dosed with ammonia yesterday at about 4:00pm PST, so I will do my 24 hour test in 5.5 hours but also do a strip test at the same time and post my results.

Update, both API and Tetra Strip test:
Both tests are in perfect agreement on all levels. 24 hours after dosing to 2ppm ammonia. I started with 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm NO2, 5ppm NO3 before I dosed yesterday. Today's readings (on both API and strip test) were 0ppm ammonia, 0.75-1ppm NO2, 40ppm NO3. I will test with both in another 24 hours to confirm levels of NO3 being consumed. Keep in mind that there is still some NO2 that needs to be converted, so add that to the NO3 I will be testing for tomorrow.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-22-2018 at 11:26 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-23-2018, 12:53 PM
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Fascinating results. I think you have 'calibrated' the test kit somewhat at least to improve internal consistency. It's very nice that the two different tests also agree with each other.

Maybe there is de-nitrification occuring. Any anaerobic conditions available?

Wonder what is going on!?
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