High NO3 and hardness
Three weeks after tearing down and reconfiguring a standard 55 gallon tank, I get the following:
These readings are from API 5-in-1 Test Strips.
I re-used much of the water from before the tear-down. Also reused the filter media for the two HOB filters, and the Flourite substrate. I added a 1-inch layer of topsoil below a 1-inch layer of Flourite. I boiled the topsoil for 15 minutes, and strained out as much of the large bark, wood, etc. as possible. I also added a dose of phosphate-free Tetra FloraPride right after set-up, and no ferts at all since. I dose 5 ml of API CO2 Booster daily.
Fish load is moderate: 4 rosy barbs, 4 bronze cories, 2 SAEs, 6 guppies.
Plant load is also moderate: 70% of the substrate is covered with red myrio, Indian Red Sword, Anubias Congensis, java fern, water sprite, and assorted grass types.
Lighting is two 6500 HO T5 bulbs, full length of the tank, on a timer to be on for 10 hours a day. I have another fixture with regular (non-HO) T5s, but I don't have it turned on at all now.
A week after the re-set-up, I had a green water outbreak starting, so I have been running a UV light on the timer with the lights (10 hours a day).
Everything seems to be going well with fish and plants, but the NO3 levels and the GH seem very high. I generally top-off with distilled water because my tap water has the same hardness (both KH and GH) and a pH of 7.5-8.0.
I've had tanks for years, usually with some easy plants, but this is the first time I'm trying to do a "real" planted tank. So I have questions about the water quality.
Should I be trying to lower the hardness, or just leave it alone? Is the high NO3 because of the soil in the substrate? Anything to worry about? What other parameters should I be testing for? The new leaves on the swords are coming in red, but the new growth on the myrio is green. Should I add more light (easy to do; I could just run the other fixture on the same timer)? Turn off the UV light? Seems like it would interfere with establishing proper bacterial activity?
Last edited by LRM2; 11-24-2014 at 12:02 AM.
Reason: adding additional information