Old tank Syndrome- Extremely High NITRATES - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Old tank Syndrome- Extremely High NITRATES

Hi All, Iíve had my 105 for 6 years now and the Nitrates are extremely high- 80-120 PPM and I donít know what to do. The highest itís ever been was over 160 PPM a few months ago. Although I have tried a few processes to minimize it, but Iím sure it must be old tank syndrome. 18 months ago I removed and replaced all the biological media from the Eheim Pro 3 (Eheimís biggest Canister) thinking that this would help, unfortunately I did not test frequently after I did that, so I do not have any data, but I donít think it helped much. The test kit I use is API, it was purchased recently and I followed a process on YouTube on the proper way to test.
ē 1 month ago I removed all 200 lbs or so of the original Seachem Flourite dark substrate (from 2014) and replaced with Seachem Black. I thought the substrate was a nitrate trap, and surprised that it was not.
ē I do 50-70% water changes weekly.
ē I replace the dense foam pad in the canister about every 4-6 weeks or so, Iím thinking I should probably replace more often, but I donít like to break into the Giant canister filter every time I do a WC, itís a PITA.
ē I dabble back and forth between PPS Pro and EI dosing, but try not to overdo it.
ē I have a dedicated skimmer canister filter Eheim Classic 350 just for extra filtration and skimming. I have Seachem Matrix filtration media and foam media in the 350 Classic.
ē I have 2 T5ís and Fluval 3.0 for lighting, if that matters. I constantly mess around with the lights to try to dial them in.
ē The fish bioload is low, 12 small tetras, the nitrates were very high even when the tank was fish-less for a few months (160 PPM). I have good water movement via an MP-10.
ē I dose C02 with a Cerges reactor, about 3 bubbles per second. Bubbles are completely dissolved prior to entering the tank.
ē The plants that are red in most tanks are brown or copper/green in mine indicating high nitrates especially for the rotala.
ē Phosphates at 0. Not worried about ammonia or nitrites since it is 6 years old
ē When I filled the aquarium up after it was completely emptied of everything, I used fairly warm water, probably 85-90 degrees to take a lot of the demand off the heaters. Also, the canister filter was turned off for about 3 hours with no oxygen feeding it, could the hot water and lack of oxygen kill the biological filtration?
The last thing I can think of is to replace the biological media again and instead of using Eheim, I could use Seachem Matrix and/or Seachem De-Nitrate media. Iíd even consider a sump with overflow, but not for awhile. Over all the tank does look good, the algae is not out of control, but some older leaves do show it and the film on the glass appears every week or so.
Iím constantly on YouTube and other sites to educate myself on anything aquarium, lately itís been canister filter maintenance. Itís very debatable whether or not the canister is a fertilizer/nitrate trap, some people say it could be, others say No. But I am willing to again remove all the biological media and replace, I think that is my next step.
Any suggestions would be great, if anyone has had a similar issue, please let me know what you did to resolve it, hopefully I have covered everything, if not, please let me know.
Thanks Folks
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:18 PM
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A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:22 PM
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Can we first talk about how you test?

What test kit do you use and what procedure do you follow? Have you calibrated the test kit by testing a known quantity of NO3? Have you tested your source water at the same temperature you mentioned that you used to fill the tank?
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Thanks Mark,
1) At one time I may have overdosed the PPS Pro, both Micros and Macros were on peristaltic dosers for about 3 years. But now I hand dose daily to monitor the amount better, about 4-6 mL per day of each. The EI dosing was very brief, and before the substrate removal.
2) Phosphates, yes it is odd that it was 0, perhaps I should measure again, I have a new test kit.
3) The tap water is about 2.0 PPM, very slight orange color.
4)Nitrate measured with API, a new test kit. I made sure I was doing it correctly.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Can we first talk about how you test?

What test kit do you use and what procedure do you follow? Have you calibrated the test kit by testing a known quantity of NO3? Have you tested your source water at the same temperature you mentioned that you used to fill the tank?
API is the test kit. I have not calibrated it because the test results was so high, I doubt there was much variation. I suppose I could take a sample down to the LFS, I'll do that. Source water about 2.0-3.0 PPM. Thanks
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:45 PM
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Stop dosing whatever you are putting in the tank. Feed very sparingly. Do a 50% water change every day for 4 days. Then recheck the Nitrates. If Nitrates are still high there has to be something wrong with the testing.
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:48 PM
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The fact that the kit is new doesn't make it reliable. :-)

I've never had luck with Api nitrate test kits.

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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghyti View Post
Stop dosing whatever you are putting in the tank. Feed very sparingly. Do a 50% water change every day for 4 days. Then recheck the Nitrates. If Nitrates are still high there has to be something wrong with the testing.
Ok I'll do this. What about CO2, turn it off? Thanks
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 04:52 PM
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Hi Brian

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianD View Post
But I am willing to again remove all the biological media and replace, I think that is my next step.
You understand that bio-filters CREATE nitrate, not REMOVE it, right? Seems from your explanation you are thinking it's an issue with your filter? The bio-filter converts ammonia to nitrite, then nitrite to nitrate, then.... nothing! The end result is nitrate which stays in your water usually until:
a) plants 'eat' it
b) you do a water change

Assuming your nitrate measurement is correct then, given you're already doing such big weekly w/c's, then there's a lot of nitrate coming in from somewhere! Question is from where? If you're getting lots of nitrates (and assuming these are being produced by the filter, not from fert's) then your bio-media is working great so no need to change it. If your ammonia or nitrite was high, then you might question the filter, but high nitrates indicate the filter is working well!

Regards, James
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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I've ruled out the nitrate was harbored in the substrate since it has been completely replaced. So the canister is just running as it should, it creates nitrates and removal of nitrates would be with big WC's. I'm also looking into Seachem De-Nirate as a step later on, not right away. Probably wouldn't hurt to buy some ammonia and nitrites test kits, and another better nitrate kit.

I'll do 50% WC's as mentioned in above post, stop dosing, feed sparingly. thanks all

Any recommendations on test kits besides API,...... Sera or Seachem or Salifert? Pricey

Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-16-2020 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 05:23 PM
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You probably have contaminated tap water. Can you measure your tap water for nitrates before you put it in the tank? Does your water supplier use chloramines to treat/purify water supplied to you?

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post #11 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Preeths View Post
You probably have contaminated tap water. Can you measure your tap water for nitrates before you put it in the tank? Does your water supplier use chloramines to treat/purify water supplied to you?
I'm very doubtful that the municipal water is bad, they do use chloramines and I use Seachem Prime to remove them as well as chlorine. I could get a reading, from the water supply. I use a python from faucet, it's not the most ideal, but very convenient. I wish I could have 50 gallons of sitting water to replace for a 50% WC. Thanks
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post #12 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 06:02 PM
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Any recommendations on test kits besides API,...... Sera or Seachem or Salifert? Pricey
I switched to Salifert and haven't had any issues since.



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post #13 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 06:13 PM
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Any recommendations on test kits besides API,...... Sera or Seachem or Salifert? Pricey
I prefer the Salifert kit and have tried all of those you listed. The API is very finnicky, so I would suggest that one of those other kits would, at least, rule out user error.

Since you are trying to get nitrates down and on the assumption that you are, someohow, truly creating that many nitrates, try adding Purigen. As mentioned above, your biomedia will convert the nitrogenous organics into nitrates. Purigen intercepts those particular organics before they can be converted by your biomedia, thus reducing the amount available to be converted to nitrates.
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post #14 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
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I'm very doubtful that the municipal water is bad, they do use chloramines and I use Seachem Prime to remove them as well as chlorine. I could get a reading, from the water supply. I use a python from faucet, it's not the most ideal, but very convenient. I wish I could have 50 gallons of sitting water to replace for a 50% WC. Thanks
I would not make the assumption that your tap water is fine because nitrate contamination is not that uncommon. If you test it and it's 0 you can rule it out as a source.
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post #15 of 41 (permalink) Old 08-15-2020, 06:51 PM
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I'm also looking into Seachem De-Nirate as a step later on, not right away.
I didn't catch this before...

Assuming nitrates are not coming from tap, plants make for a great "denitrator". Just saying :-)

I have 3 low tech tanks right now that get water changes every 2 - 3 months. Nitrates hover between 2 and 5 ppm. Plants are growing great in those tanks though.

If you want something more, than maybe look into Pothos as a nitrate sink. Salvinia's do an ok job as well.

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