Noob Nitrate consumption??? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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Question Noob Nitrate consumption???

I kept goldfish in the past, was out of it for a few years and have started again. Until today I had my fish (a fat moor) is a 30G bare bottom which I had to do around 30% WC/week to keep the nitrates under 10ppm. Today I moved it into a fertile substrate 75G. My hope is to have a planted LL/LT which needs few to no water changes. My question is; can this happen with goldfish? Posters who have these kinds of tanks talk about stocking "moderately" or "heavily" but they talk in terms of "schools of tetras" and I don't know how to translate this to goldfish N production. I just read a post where the guy had goldfish (i don't know how many) in a 30G PACKED with fast growing, high N consuming plants and still had nitrate creep. So can I do this? These fish are PIGS! I swear mine would eat a 10 oz. steak if one fell in there.


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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 03:29 AM
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Speaking from experience, you really need a heavily planted tank (so stocked that you have no room to plant more) and generous amount of CO2 to mop up large amount of nitrate. When I had my creeping jenny growing like hair with side roots coming out like the size of a golf ball, my tank was consuming about 10ppm of nitrate in a day. These plants grow in days, not weeks or months. I got so fed up that I removed all of them from the tank. They got too messy and impossible to trim. As soon as they were out of the tank, my nitrate consumption rate went down to 7 ppm. I am not sure how committed you are with the plant side of the tank. From what I read, as long as you can keep the nitrate level below 100 ppm, your fish should be fine. You may want to do more frequent water change (maybe every other day) to keep the nitrate under control. If you are not committed in the plant side of the tank, I won't want to use plants to mop up any excess nitrate. Your plants won't be healthy enough to do so. Second, you may not have enough plants to do so as well.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2011, 04:10 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm... well, I would like to plant enough fast growers to keep the nitrate down. I am committed to the plant side of the tank either way. Like I said this tank has a fertile substrate (capped soil) and will get between 2-4 4' tubes of T12, but no added CO2. My problem is that I believe my fish would rather have as much open space to swim as possible. I am leaning towards using vals as my main plant, and was planning on trying to pack the rear and side perimeter with them. This way, I figure, I can use an easy beginner plant and keep as much open area as possible. At any rate, you've answered my question well. My fish won't produce 10 ppm/ day until it's much bigger (it's only around 4.5 inches right now), so it should be doable. Thanks and I'd appreciate any further advice you or anyone else might care to give.


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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 03:44 PM
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I'm in the exact same boat as you. I'm about to setup a low light tank with no added CO2-- and try two small goldfish. Are you using canister filtration or hang on tank filtration of any kind? My tank is only 56 gallons, so I worry about the nitrates in mine. So you have one goldfish in a 75 gallon tank? Maybe I shouldn't try two in mine.

My tank is:
56 gallon (tall column with a small planting surface)
24 inches tall from bottom to top
18 inches "deep" from front to back
30 inches wide from side to side

Right now I have no water in it, but I have 1.5 inches of flourite and 1.5 inches of sand. If I am going to make a change in this plan, now is the time to do it. I bought the sand to cap the Flourite because I didn't want the goldfish to eat the flourite, but I can tell already it is impossible to keep the flourite off the surface. I am either going to a.) remove as much sand as I can and buy more flourite and cap it with pea gravel, or b.) mix the sand and flourite and cap it with pea gravel to prevent the goldfish from getting to the flourite as much as I can.

The local water company reports: "Hardness levels leaving our water treatment plants in 2010 ranged from 52 (soft) to 450 ppm (very hard) or 3.0 to 26.3 grains per gallon. The average leaving our plants is 197 ppm (very hard) or 11.5 grains per gallon. The sodium level is approximately 20 ppm. Water within our distribution system averages 7.3 pH units. Alkalinity is the capacity of water to neutralize acids; water within our distribution system averages 77 ppm. The highest Nitrate was 0.29ppm and the highest Nitrite reading was 0.017ppm."

I have tried to learn what goldfish tend to eat and what they don't tend to eat, so I want to start with a diverse assortment--

1.) Already under my lights:

Right now I have a holding tank with some java ferns (microsorium pteropus), some anubias (nana), some wisteria (hygrophila difformis), and some anacharis (egeria densa). The elodea and on bunch of java ferns came from a LFS and there are black dots on most of the leaves of the java fern that came from the LFS. The Anubias, Wisteria, and another bunch of Java Fern was that Top Fin kind from PetSmart and no black dots, though the wisteria was in kind of bad shape.

2.) Already purchased:

Tomorrow, two people here are shipping me some batches of Marsilea.

3.) To be purchased within the week:

3x Coffee Anubias (Anubias Barteri Coffeefolia)
1x African Water Fern (Bolbitis heudelotii)
1x Rotala (Rotundifolia)
2x Crypt (Parva)
1x Crypt (Nurii)
1x Crypt (Hudoroi)
1x Crypt (red Beckettii)

We're not using any added CO2, or anything like that. I do have two HOBs, an Emperor 400 and an AquaClear 50. I have a bubbler and a heater, but not much else.

If I am gonna do something better with substrate, now is the time to do that.

Any recommendations?

Can I just shove Osmocote Plus Gelcaps into my substrate every six months?
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Mannie. Are you going for a "balanced" (no W/C's) tank? If not your two fish will be fine in there, you would just have to do regular water changes. Your filtration is fine and adding more wouldn't help keep nitrates down unless you add filtration which removes dissolved waste. Cleaning your filter(s) more often would help, because until you clean them they are still releasing nitrate into the water. If you want a balanced system with two fish, I don't know. I uses hydro sponges exclusively. People scoff, but they don't know. They are the best in every way IMO. By the way, the Fluorite is lighter than the sand and will try to come up even though its particles are larger, but why do you want to keep it away from your fish? I don't see a problem with you substrate. Osmocote or tabs would help.


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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 06:52 PM
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Vals planted at the back and sides of a tank won't stay there for long if they are growing well. The send out lots and lots of runners, with a new plant about every 2 days, and those runners head for open water most of the time. I love vals, but they are a high maintenance plant, in my opinion.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-17-2011, 08:10 PM
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Thanks, no, I'm assuming I'll have to do 15% changes every week. RE: my flourite concerns-- I was warned on another forum that the fancy goldfish have problems when they eat substrate particles that get impacted in their bowels.

I'd consider my plans to be low-tech because I don't have expensive lights and a CO2 system-- but it is in no way going to be either a NPT or a balanced system. The filters I'm using have three different types of filtration (including biowheel for good bacteria and activated carbon).

I'm really liking the idea of Osmocote Plus Gelcaps because of the sheer convenience, but I didn't know if adding them only every 3-7 months would cause a spike in something that might harm the goldfish.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Vals planted at the back and sides of a tank won't stay there for long if they are growing well. The send out lots and lots of runners, with a new plant about every 2 days, and those runners head for open water most of the time. I love vals, but they are a high maintenance plant, in my opinion.
I am hoping to use the vals to export a lot of N. I plan to cut them down a lot. I figure it will be better than uprooting stuff all the time (mud bottom). I am OK with a crummy 'scape. This is my first planted and I'm happy if I just get my nutrients balanced. Perhaps you could recommend something else which would stay put, but regrow as much when I top them? I considered egeria?/ hornwort, and the like, but prefer the look of vals and was concerned those others might shed a bunch of leaves if I mess something up. I have a Moor, so my understanding is that N export is huge if I want equilibrium (no W/C's).


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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Ah yes, the gluttony of goldfish. I wouldn't believe rock impaction in any other fish I know of, but these...I have saved a few from rock-in-mouth-disease... always gunnin' for the Darwin award. Since you don't mind changing water, those two "small" fish won't add up to more than a 30%/60%/90% weekly pyramid W/C, probably a lot less, but given the space, they are gonna grow like mad. Now if you add ferts (which I think you have to until the fish waste builds up), I believe you are adding to the total nitrate accumulation, since the plants can eat the N in the ferts and leave the nitrate in the water. I could be wrong. I am asking about that in another post. Is your concern toxic nitrate levels for the fish? Goldfish keepers consider 15ppm high (I used to be nutty about <5ppm) but here in plant land you'll find that people consider 15ppm a minimum level and 100ppm! OK (gasp). I don't buy that because 25ppm is known to cause bith defects in humans and not allowed at that level in Canada's drinking water. It's nasty stuff. The amount they allow in hot dogs gives me heart palpitations if I eat more than 3 or 4. I may be sensitive to it, but so may be a particular fish.


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
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.......Is your concern toxic nitrate levels for the fish? Goldfish keepers consider 15ppm high (I used to be nutty about <5ppm) but here in plant land you'll find that people consider 15ppm a minimum level and 100ppm! OK (gasp). I don't buy that because 25ppm is known to cause bith defects in humans and not allowed at that level in Canada's drinking water. It's nasty stuff. The amount they allow in hot dogs gives me heart palpitations if I eat more than 3 or 4. I may be sensitive to it, but so may be a particular fish.
I strongly recommend that you not live in an aquarium.

Seriously, people routinely use up to 50 ppm or even more nitrates, added to feed the plants, along with up to 5 ppm or so of phosphates, and some potassium, plus trace elements. And, the fish do well, breeding normally, living normal lives. (No hot dogs though)

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 03:51 AM
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Can you describe the "pyramid" concept? I am a total newb.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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NITRATE CREEP and W/C's

Many beginners believe that you can prevent nitrate levels from becoming toxicly high by changing a certain percentage of your water every week/month. It's not true. Let's say your new tank has 50ppm nitrate after a week. If you change 50% of your water you have only reduced the concentration to 25ppm, not back to 0ppm where you started. So by the end of another week instead of reaching 50ppm you have 75ppm. It is called nitrate creep and must be countered by increasingly large water changes (pyramid), or occasional back to back large water changes, to reduce the levels back near zero. It only applies to systems which have a net increase, such as any system without plants or some other nitrate reducing element, and overstocked planted tanks. Without this, even a weekly 90% W/C gives you creep (a net gain of nitrate).


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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-18-2011, 11:35 AM
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Thanks. If you find the answer to your fert question, I'd like to know. I just ordered a pack of osmocote plus gelcaps.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Mannie; I will keep higher nitrate levels in this planted tank than I did in my old non planted ones. I think the plants kept at higher levels will be healthier and therefore better able to keep the levels from rising as quickly when I am away for long stretches of time or just neglect the maintenance. The idea being that I hope the high steady level of nitrate will do less harm than the spikes. By the way, I don't know if pea gravel will stay above Fluorite either, and if it does goldfish have problems with it too. They will very soon be big enough to get it stuck in their mouths and drown. These fish have issues with every substrate since they eat mindlessly (like Cookie Monster), so I ignore those problems when choosing a substrate. I am using a sand cap because the poop will not sink into it and can be easily cleaned, if I didn't mind changing water I might use fluorite and let the poop stay in there as fertilizer.


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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-19-2011, 06:44 PM
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I am actually even considering aquasoil... but I am far from convinced that it would be worth the spikes, cycling difficulties, etc.

I also haven't read through it yet, but I just found this thread: http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...s-and-critters
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