Nitrate problem - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-26-2014, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrate problem

I have a 55 gallon planted tank with sand as substrate. I do a 50% water change once a week and no matter what my nitrates are high. I can't gravel vac it cause it's sand but idk what else I could do to lower them. Any help?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-27-2014, 12:28 AM
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Test your tap water. See if your tap has high nitrates.
Next is tell us your fish stocking.
I have sand and where not covered with plants I can still gravel vacuum. Just hover high enough that you see debris being sucked up but no sand.
Another option is a dirty filter.
Another option is if you are dosing nitrates into your tank with fertilizer. (For example pps has nitrate which could be raising your nitrate level and so does the seachem flourish line)

If in doubt, add more plants!

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-27-2014, 01:11 AM
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Cut back on your nitrate dosing if you haven't already. 50% water change is just a guideline you can always do more, some of my tanks I'll do 75% as long as I know my fish can take it. You can also look into plants that are known nitrate hogs like water wisteria and floating plants. Have you calibrated your nitrate test? https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ht=calibration You'd be surprised when you do, they can be off by a lot. My current nitrate test looks like 40ppm when its really 20ppm. You might not have high nitrates at all.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-27-2014, 04:29 AM
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Unless you calibrate your nitrate test kit there is no way you can know how much nitrate is in the water. If I was you I would just ignore the nitrates, dose according to the EI tables, adjusted for the amount of light you have, and forget about nitrates.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2014, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepguy View Post
Test your tap water. See if your tap has high nitrates.
Next is tell us your fish stocking.
I have sand and where not covered with plants I can still gravel vacuum. Just hover high enough that you see debris being sucked up but no sand.
Another option is a dirty filter.
Another option is if you are dosing nitrates into your tank with fertilizer. (For example pps has nitrate which could be raising your nitrate level and so does the seachem flourish line)
I do the same thing I hover right over the sand but I obviously can't actually stick it in the sand. My stock is:
2 angels
2 buenos aires tetras
2 bala sharks
1 long Finn rosy barb
5 black skirt tetras
7 red skirt minor tetras
1 albino Cory
1 emerald Cory
1 peppered Cory
1 clown loach
1 eclipse catfish
1 pictus catfish
1 kuhli loach
1 peacock eel
2 plecos
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2014, 08:03 PM
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I'll also suggest testing your source water. If it's at 20ppm, for example, and your tank is in the 40ppm range, a 50% WC can't get it below 30ppm immediately after doing the WC. Some parts of the country struggle with high nitrates from agricultural producers near water sources.

Dirty sponges in filters are also nitrate factories.

What brand test kit are you using? Nitrate kits are topped only by phosphate kits for being inaccurate and difficult to read.

What was the specific reading you got from the tests before and after water changes?

Are you already experiencing nuisance algae issues, or just being proactive?

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2014, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post

Are you already experiencing nuisance algae issues, or just being proactive?
It has been demonstrated repeatedly, by many people, that high nitrate levels don't lead to algae problems, nor do high phosphate levels. That is why the EI method works so reliably.

Hoppy
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2014, 02:35 AM
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Believe it or not lol, I put one of my Girl Friends knee-hi stockings over my gravel cleaner to vacuum my sanded tanks.. Works great; While it's siphoning you have to remove the siphoning tube and knock the tube in a five gallon bucket to clear it once in awhile, but you just lose minimal sand this way.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2014, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post
I'll also suggest testing your source water. If it's at 20ppm, for example, and your tank is in the 40ppm range, a 50% WC can't get it below 30ppm immediately after doing the WC. Some parts of the country struggle with high nitrates from agricultural producers near water sources.

Dirty sponges in filters are also nitrate factories.

What brand test kit are you using? Nitrate kits are topped only by phosphate kits for being inaccurate and difficult to read.

What was the specific reading you got from the tests before and after water changes?

Are you already experiencing nuisance algae issues, or just being proactive?
I will test my tap water tomorrow and let you know but the kit I use is just some 6-2 test strip. It's nothing fancy
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2014, 04:47 AM
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I think your stocking list needs some work. Depending on how large the fish are, they could easily be contributing to the problem. I would start removing them according to what the problems are:

Quote:
2 angels- OK if they are M + F, or 2 x F, but 2 x M can cause problems.
2 buenos aires tetras-I suspect these nip plants. Schooling fish.
2 bala sharks-These fish reach a foot long, live in schools, and eat plants. They startle easily, and can kill themselves crashing into the end of the tank. A 6' long tank is barely enough room. 8' is better, with a cushion of plants at each end.
1 long Fin rosy barb- Cool water fish, not compatible with the warm water that Angels need. Schooling.
5 black skirt tetras- Schooling, and 5 isn'r really enough. IMO look a lot like Angels, and I would prefer something else, but that is just me.
7 red skirt minor tetras-Nice. Schooling.
1 albino Cory-Cories are social fish, but many are OK with other species. Some prefer to hang out with similar looking fish.
1 emerald Cory
1 peppered Cory
1 clown loach- Social fish that can reach a foot long. Really need a tank double this size. Prefer lots of water movement (they come from rivers). Some Clown Loaches seem to like punching holes in large leaves.
1 eclipse catfish- http://www.planetcatfish.com/common/...species_id=159 Gets WAY too big, and is a carnivore. Will eat all the others as soon as they fit in his mouth.
1 pictus catfish - Nice. Got plenty of cruising space? Active guys!
1 kuhli loach- Social fish. Should fit in with the others, but need more of them.
1 peacock eel- Gets pretty long, I think I would be planning a larger tank. Might be OK in this tank, but barely. May eat smaller tank mates.
2 plecos - What species? Commons? They get between 1'-2' (depending on species, several are sold as Commons) and have a tendency of eating the slime coat off slow moving flat sided tank mates, like Angels. If you want algae eaters then a single bristlenose would work in this size tank.
I would trim the mid tank schooling fish down to one species, and get a dozen or more so there is a proper school.
Get more Cories. More Kuhlie Loaches.
Get rid of the larger growing fish (Bala Sharks, Eclipse Cat, Plecos, Clown Loach, and maybe the Peacock Eel).
OR plan a larger tank to include the Eel, Clown Loaches (they are best in groups) and perhaps the Pictus, then add some appropriate (larger) schooling fish.

End list:
2 mated Angels
12 Phantoms or other schooling fish, too large to fit in Angels' mouths, but small enough that a dozen does not over load the tank.
6-12 Cories OR 12 Kuhlie Loaches
1 Bristle Nose pleco
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-06-2014, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
I think your stocking list needs some work. Depending on how large the fish are, they could easily be contributing to the problem. I would start removing them according to what the problems are:



I would trim the mid tank schooling fish down to one species, and get a dozen or more so there is a proper school.
Get more Cories. More Kuhlie Loaches.
Get rid of the larger growing fish (Bala Sharks, Eclipse Cat, Plecos, Clown Loach, and maybe the Peacock Eel).
OR plan a larger tank to include the Eel, Clown Loaches (they are best in groups) and perhaps the Pictus, then add some appropriate (larger) schooling fish.

End list:
2 mated Angels
12 Phantoms or other schooling fish, too large to fit in Angels' mouths, but small enough that a dozen does not over load the tank.
6-12 Cories OR 12 Kuhlie Loaches
1 Bristle Nose pleco
Yes the plan is to get 125+ gallon tank in the future and then seperate the fish having the 125+ being a very social peaceful tank with lots of tetras, corys etc. and then take my previous 55 and put the more aggressive fish I have in there
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