High nitrate questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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High nitrate questions

I havent done any testing of my tanks in forever but I was testing nitrate in my shrimp tank last night and decided to test some of the other tanks at the same time.

The shrimp tank had no measurable nitrates---good.

The 29 gallon tank with EI dosing and Aquasoil and CO2 with T5HO lights ( 3 x 24W ) had very high nitrate readings---dark red on the API scale ( I think it said 100--but it was the highest reading )

This is the dosing I use--I add 1/16 tsp of epsom salts when I dose micros ( CSM+B ) I use Green Leaf dry ferts

20~40gal
50% H20 change-weekly
1/4 Tsp-KN03 3x a week
1/16 Tsp-KH2P04 3x aweek
1/2 Tsp-GH booster once a week
5ml or 1/16Tsp-Trace 3x a week
Optional
1-2ml-Fe/Iron 3x a week

Its stocked with 13 Harlequin rasboras, 5 three line corydoras, 3 red clawed macro shrimp ( one that is VERY berried ) and 2 fat otos.

This tank has always been a nightmare for me to keep algae away. Currently I have brown algae everywhere, green dust on the glass and green spot algae on some crypt leaves. I recently upped the lighting to the current levels. Before, it had 2 double strip T5NO fixtures. The brown algae is new, the others have always been present--along with BBA from time to time. None of my other tanks have any algae to speak of. I thought I would try to put the plants in overdrive and eat up the nutrients. Obviously with this much nitrate the plants arent using it all.

I use the same tap water to change the water in the shrimp tank as I do this 29 gallon. I changed the water last night and Im gonna skip the KNO3 this week and check the nitrate before the next water change. I honestly havent tested for nitrate in the tap, but if the shrimp tank tests at zero I would think the tap is close to that. I do have a lot of floating plants in the shrimp tank to keep the water clean though.

Any additional thoughts?
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post #2 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 02:39 PM
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nope, sounds like you have it under control, you need to limit the amount of kno3 you're dosing so that it falls in line with how much the plants are able to take up/water changes.

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post #3 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 04:40 PM
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You had a chance to control the algae with the 2 T5NO lights, but I doubt that you can with a 3 bulb T5HO light. That is just too much light for a 29 gallon tank. Nitrates don't cause algae blooms. Excessive light will cause algae blooms.

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post #4 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 05:05 PM
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I have the same setup as you do: 29g with 3 24w T5 HO lights, aquasoil with a light stocking of 8 danios. The only algae I get is a little gsa on the glass when I overfeed.

The difference is that I don't dose nearly as much as you do. Only K, micros and iron are dosed in small quantities on a regular basis. Excessive nutrients, particularly N and P CAUSE ALGAE. This website is perhaps one of the only places where people are naive enough to keep on dumping in massive amounts of ferts despite having algae issues.

I would recommend you give your filter a good cleaning, do one extra large water change and only dose K and micros for a week or two. Keep your lighting the same, but cut the photoperiod down by an hour or two until you get the algae under control.
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post #5 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:14 PM
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If adding nitrate or phosphorous caused algae blooms, all of our tanks would look like bowls of pea soup.

There is such a minute amount of protein in algae (It's mostly water. When you hear claims that chlorella, etc. are high in protein, it's because it's something like 40% by dry weight.), that 1ppm can probably grow enough algae to coat everything in your tank.

You can try cutting the N if you think it will help. Just watch your plants and make sure they don't start "yellowing" out. It's possible the fish are producing enough nitrogen via ammonia to keep them fed.

The amount of nitrate you are dosing can never produce 100ppm nitrates unless the water isn't being changed or the NO3 is coming from some other source. You're only dosing about 20ppm each week.
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post #6 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:18 PM
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The difference is that I don't dose nearly as much as you do. Only K, micros and iron are dosed in small quantities on a regular basis. Excessive nutrients, particularly N and P CAUSE ALGAE. This website is perhaps one of the only places where people are naive enough to keep on dumping in massive amounts of ferts despite having algae issues.
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post #7 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:21 PM
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post #8 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sharkfood View Post
If adding nitrate or phosphorous caused algae blooms, all of our tanks would look like bowls of pea soup.

There is such a minute amount of protein in algae (It's mostly water. When you hear claims that chlorella, etc. are high in protein, it's because it's something like 40% by dry weight.), that 1ppm can probably grow enough algae to coat everything in your tank.

You can try cutting the N if you think it will help. Just watch your plants and make sure they don't start "yellowing" out. It's possible the fish are producing enough nitrogen via ammonia to keep them fed.

The amount of nitrate you are dosing can never produce 100ppm nitrates unless the water isn't being changed or the NO3 is coming from some other source. You're only dosing about 20ppm each week.

I do a 50% water change weekly. The only other sources would be Aquasoil ( its been in this tank since January ), fish poop and fish food. I dont think I overfeed, all of the flake or pellet food is gone before I turn the filters back on--I do drop in a sinking wafer or two every night or every other night for the Corydoras and shrimp.
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post #9 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:42 PM
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I suppose the sinking wafers could do it, but that's assuming that they aren't getting eaten, which is unlikely if you have shrimp and Cories.

I still suspect the test kit.

I don't have any experience with Aquasoil, but I've heard it will leach ammonia for several months. 7 Months seems like an awfully long time though.

Maybe it's a perfect storm of all the previously mentioned factors.

Honestly though, with 50% water changes every week, the fert input should never result in higher than around 40ppm, assuming the plants don't use any of it. If you graph out the function of the inputs with water changes, you get a line with diminishing returns, such that the resulting concentration will always stay just below 2x the weekly input.

Again, if you want to stop nitrate for a week and see if the levels decrease, I doubt that one week will hurt the plants much. There will still be some nitrogen compounds in the water, even if it's lower than optimal. I'd dose K via some other compound though. It's been my experience that potassium deficiency pinholes can appear fairly quickly under high light.

It's just hard for me to believe there's 100ppm of nitrate in a planted tank. Especially under such intense lighting. This is why I suspect the test kit.

BTW I tried adding pure KNO3 to a test sample, and it didn't register on my API test. I'm not sure what conclusion can be drawn from that, but it sure took me by surprize.
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post #10 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 06:42 PM
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You aren't limiting NPK or micros or light. Suspect the tank needs more CO2 and if there is too much light you aren't going to be able to get enough into the tank without gassing the animals within. Cut back on the light period, shade the tank and use less nitrate.

EI is a guide, not an absolute. I cut back on my nitrate and add potassium instead and am going to up the potassium even more next time I fill the pill minder up. Why I still need the phosphorus I don't know but the tank is better off keeping that amount up there.
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post #11 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 07:33 PM
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Plants need phosphorous just like the other nutrients. I think that heavily stocked or fed tanks probably don't need as much N, but I don't feel from my own experience that dosing 20ppm anyway is going to hurt anything either.
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post #12 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Excessive light will cause algae blooms.
^ this

I'm no expert, but i think light is the problem. I follow the exact same dosing regimen as you do on my 20 Long. I've had a battle with algae for a long time....actually gave up on BBA and decided just to coexist with it..
The only thing I cut back on was my photoperiod from 12 hrs to 8 hrs. Everything else stayed the same(water changes, Ferts, CO2, etc). This solved my problem....well at least there is only BBA on my driftwood now. Before I had staghorn algae everywhere and BGA on the glass.

There's a part of my tank that gets very little light...as you can see there is NO algae at all on the part of the driftwood that gets little light....And a bunch on the part that is under direct light.



Algae free


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post #13 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 08:28 PM
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Really, the question about whether high NO3 and/or PO4 will cause algae has been answered many times by many people. As Sharkfood noted, we who use an EI fertilizing method would all have algae infested tanks if NO3 and PO4 caused algae problems. Continuing to debate the issue is non-productive.

I would never claim that it isn't possible to have a high light tank, even a 3T5HO lighted 29 gallon tank, with no algae problems. I would certainly argue that most people will have algae problems with that much light. All we try to do is point out ways to tilt the odds more in our favor.

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post #14 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:10 PM
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I thought the KNO3 dosing according to that regime was a bit excessive, I have 0 NO3 if I don't dose, and I maybe have to add 1/8 - 1/4 tsp weekly to get 10-20 ppm NO3.
I had algae problems *before* dosing KNO3
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post #15 of 161 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:14 PM
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BlueJack, your blue jd doesn't mess with the plants?
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