Nitrate dosing if at 0? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Question Nitrate dosing if at 0?

Hello everyone, quick question for you.



My tank is registering 0 nitrate when testing using the API test kit. Is this is ideal for my plants growth?


0 ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate (could be like 1 or 2 nitrate)



Dosing Thrive (contains nitrate)

- 4 pumps ea water change
- 1 pump daily


Water changes 35% weekly
Light vacuum of full substrate
Filter mechanical media cleaned weekly (fluval 406)



Tank stocked at 115% according to aqadvisor
Feeding 2 times a day. (definitely not underfeeding the fish)


Established tank. (5 months up and running)



Is 0 nitrate in a tank bad or good?

Am I over cleaning my tank possibly?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:41 PM
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Are you satisfied with your plant growth and the way they look? If the answer is yes than you have the correct amount of nitrate. If things donít look quite right or seeing yellowing leaves than I would increase nitrate dosing.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 02:45 PM
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As @Willcooper says, if the plants are happy and you're happy with how they are growing and looking, then you are good to go. That being said, I find it odd that your nitrates are so low. The API test for nitrates is known to be quite finicky at time. Have a look at your bottles and make sure they aren't expired. Also make sure to shake the heck out of bottle 2 before adding drops. It can make a big difference.
Follow up question, how big is your tank? It looks really nice!
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 08:00 PM
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Both the above seem right but perhaps some added info might be worthwhile. This is a time when I like to go to dry ferts as a cheap way to add just one item rather than a pre-set with several items I may not want. Sometimes we get into situations where it seems dry is difficult to figure but I fell that is because we get way too hung up on being "exact" when what we are doing is always going to be an educated guess we sometimes call an ESTIMATE. Since what I add is always going to be an estimate, I don't sweat too hard over getting it exact as estimate and exact don't come in the same thought.
Perhaps it is time to order up a bit of dry potassium nitrate and add a pinch of so until you see something show on the testing. This is my spot for cheap ferts:
Dry Fertilizer | Aquarium Fertilizer
A one pound bag of nitrate is $3 but when we add shipping it may seem like a bite but compared to using pre-mixed where we pay a bunch for the water, I like the dry and a pound will last a long, long time.
An older post that gets into the exact question that you have with lots more detail about what I use:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...-nitrates.html
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 08:09 PM
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@VioletAqua,

Everything in there looks happy and healthy. API test kits are notoriously bad at low concentrations, so take the results with a grain of salt. It could also be that the plants are taking up everything you're adding pretty quickly. Like the above posters have said, if you're happy with how things are going there's no need to change anything.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your feedback and advice.

In a dramatic turn of events I followed @carlsj2012 advise and shook the nitrate test kit bottles vigorously before testing again... it turns out I have high nitrate levels around 40.



This is an eye opener! I will continue monitoring but my changes going forward are as follows:
- Less fish food (I have likely been overfeeding. see below)
- 2 squirts of fertilizer after water change (down from 4. This contains nitrate)
- 2 squirts on wednesday (up from 1)
- 50% weekly water changes (up from 35)

Possible variables
- I tested 0-3 nitrate before my water change. I added 4 squirts thrive after water change and 2 days later now have read 40ppm
- Shaking the test bottles

What's the ideal nitrate level to target for a planted tank?

My fish seem to eat a lot. In 2-3 minutes they eat a large pinch of spirulina flakes + small pinch of mixed flakes + small pinch of pellets. Is this too much per feeding if feeding twice daily?

Bump: @Willcooper One area I noticed a plant deficiency was the bacopas lower leaves all died off from the bottom half of the plants. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I was thinking probably lack of lighting but have no idea.

@Carlsj2012 Thanks! It's a 55 gallon tank (48" wide)
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 10:05 PM
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OUCH?? Or maybe not?
I may have gone through much the same as you on testing and have a theory that you might think over. Use or ignore is always a question, so feel free to do what seems to fit!
I had an almost impossible time getting anything that made sense with the API nitrate test. I got readings like 80 PPM and above and my fish were happy and breeding, so I felt it was wrong and I got the "shake the bottle " answers and went as far as building a bottle shaker on my reciprocating saw so that I KNEW it was shaken. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that having used both bottles but one not fully shaken, I might have used the "good stuff" out of one bottle and not the other, so the answers were going to always be wrong, so I bought a new set, shook totally and still got wrong answers!
That is when I went for the slightly more expensive Salifert test for nitrate and find it may be more expensive but it actually tells me something useful!
I was finally able to test and do a 50 % water change and see the reading go down 50% ! I'm glad to pay a nickel extra if I don't have to beat the bottle to death each time? I can actually see and read the difference in the pink colors. Wow, what a relief.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 10:06 PM
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Glad I could help! As far as targets go, it will vary from tank to tank. From what I've seen on TPT, most shoot for a range between 10-30 ppm, but I think there are other "ratios" to factor in that I really don't understand, and probably never will. You just need to use trial and error to find your sweet spot. You've made some changes, see what the next couple of weeks brings. Also, @PlantedRich makes some valid points about dry ferts. It's what I decided to go with from the start, if only for a financial point of view. Plus, it's kind of fun playing mad scientist, creating elixirs unique to your tank :P

Bump: @PlantedRich Hahaha! Performing that API NO3 test is my least favourite by far! Once in the 40 ppm range it does get quite difficult to tell if at 40 or 80. I may switch to the Salifert test once I've emptied the API kit and my arm has fallen off! So far I've been fortunate to have consistent results, and have made great gains in my arm size ><
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 11:06 PM
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@VioletAqua,

If I were in your position I'd do a 50% water change, cleaning the substrate and filter as well as I could, without adding the Thrive and wait 24 hours before testing again. There should still be some NO3 in the water, but cleaning out as much organic gunk as possible will give you a good baseline to then modify your dosing, if needed. Do a normal dose, wait 30 minutes, and test again. That'll tell you about how much NO3 your normal dose adds so you then have an idea of how much to add to reach your desired target. Since things are looking pretty good in there now, I'd aim for 20-30ppm and give it a couple weeks to see how things respond.

If you prefer lists.
1. Clean the tank and filter well and wait 24 hours to get an approximate baseline of NO3. Make sure to use old tank water when cleaning the filter, we need the to be "normal" and not sterilized.
2. Test nitrate after 24 hours, do your usual dosing, wait half an hour, and test again to get an approximate idea of how much you're adding so you can figure out what to change if needed.

Regards,
Phil
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 11:30 PM
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Iíd also check phosphates as well if nitrates are 40ppm. That would be a good indicator if you might be feeding to much if both are higher than what your ferts would normally provide.

Iíve always limited it to what they will consume in 1-2min if feeding twice a day. Slack off a bit and youíll probably see both readings pull back a bit within 1week.

Take a your prepped change water and measure nitrates before and after dosing with ferts for that volume of water. That will basically show you nitrate levels of water supply and after supplements. Any increase you see in tank levels will be from organic breakdown of plant or fish waste in tank.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the great feedback. I'll report back on how the changes pan out. I have the Salifert test for nitrate bookmarked for when this test kit runs out. I'm off to lug buckets for my 50% water change (darn you fancy faucets!).


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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 01:27 AM
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I'd revisit the first few posts and just accept your current levels and dosing of everything ...if you're happy with your tank. 40 ppm NO3 won't hurt, although it's much higher than many of us like it to be. If you are into fooling around with targeted parameters (like me and many others, here), then spend the time working the permutations. If you want hands-off, stay where you are and collect the ooohs and ahhhs.

At this point, while still fine-tuning, I only use NO3 as a guide for how well my fish are dosing ammonia and how well I'm dosing urea. My NO3 target for this purpose is about 5 ppm and, I agree with @PlantedRich that the Salifert kit is far beyond the API capability and well-worth the extra cost.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 03:39 PM
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I'm known to be genetically tight and that means I really fight against buying the more expensive test items. But that also makes it very important to find something that does actually work for me, not counting what works for other folks. So I got down to paying less but getting nothing from the API or paying more and actually getting test results! DUH?

Any chance this might help with the water change?
https://www.amazon.com/LASCO-09-1657.../dp/B005IQLBOA
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Last edited by PlantedRich; 05-15-2019 at 03:42 PM. Reason: add
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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I did a water change last night and tested the nitrate again just now and it's dropped to 25ish ppm. I'm going to do a 75% change on the weekend and proceed with my changes in routine going forward. We'll see how this pans out over the next few weeks.

That link might just do the trick @PlantedRich, Thanks. I'm looking to get the python water change setup going when I have a little more spare time. My problem is I have waterfall faucets in the bathrooms so I have to have a connection that goes into a bathtub faucet.


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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 11:46 PM
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Beside genes that make me tight, they also make me against work!
That often means I go to extremes to get it done easy. Any chance of a shower head that might be taken off pretty easy to add a "y" gizmo to connect the tubing for a python type? Or maybe instead of the "normal" handheld shower, you convert to one with a 25-30 foot tube that reaches all the way to the tank!!!
I'm for anything to avoid the bucket and only the best friends would know!
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