Nitrate Jump - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Question Nitrate Jump

Hi folks!

I'm new here so I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this. Please correct me if I'm wrong

I'm new to planted aquariums, trying my first 20 gallon tall. I started it in January. Form everything I've read (and plenty!), it's fully cycled. All water parameters after cycling have been stable until yesterday. I noticed the 20 gallon had jumped from 0 nitrates to 20. My 2 gallon QT was at 40. Surprise! My first weird nitrate experience.

On the 20 gallon, I immediately performed a partial water change and substrate vac, where I could get in-between the plants and hardscape. I took out the two weeks old charcoal and added a new Purigen pouch to the HOB filter system. As an aside, the Purigen was added mostly to clear the tannins from Mopani wood. Today the nitrates are down to .25 in the 20 gallon. The fish are doing great. Plants are great too.

On the small QT, I did an immediate partial water change and substrate vac. After a second partial water change today, it's down to 5.0 nitrates. The two newest guppies who appear to being getting red gills are now in the QT being treated for possible gill flukes with AngelsPlus Deworming II food (helps eliminate Gill flukes), saltwater, etc. I have not had an ammonia problem at all.

So, being new to all of this I'm wondering if someone can help me understand what's going on with the nitrates? I do have very hard water here in the desert. The Kh is 161.1 for both tanks. The Gh is off the charts. But I wanted to try to work with the water I have for now. I know about RO/DI water, but still really want to try to learn to work with what I have. Oh, and I always properly treat the tap water before adding to the tanks. Lastly, I tested my tap water. It has 0 nitrates.

Here's the set up and the water parameters. I'm not sure if you need all of this, but it seems to be what forums ask for. So sorry if its too much info, but maybe something in the set up is causing the situation with the nitrates. Thanks for bearing with me:

20 GALLON TALL
-low light, for now. I plan to upgrade as soon as I can.
-HOB filtration modified with medium and fine filter pads cut to fit, Biohome Ultimate Media that was started with beneficial bacteria starter balls (both sold by Great Waves Engineering), and a course sponge on water intake. Flow rate is what one would expect for an average HOB.
-heater, 75-76 F.
-Hydro Koralia water circulator
-pressurized CO2, 2-3bps; 5 hours on, 1hour siesta, 5 hours on. Lights on same schedule.
-CO2 Drop checker takes about an hour to turn green each morning.
-Air stone at night plus during siesta.
-Plants are what were suggested for low-medium light. Lots of new growth except the the hair grass. I know now that they do best in high light. API Root Tabs (replaced when needed) and API Leaf Zone added once weekly.
-Ecocomplete substrate with pretreated Mopani wood x3, and boiled to death river rocks.
-Partial water change weekly, about 30%.


2 GALLON QT
-Airstone in center tube with Biohome, originally seeded with the above bacteria balls.
-under gravel filter
-substrate is gravel
-basic hood light

Current water parameters:
20 G PH= 7.6
2G QT PH= 7.8
Amm.=0 for both
Nitrites=0 for both
20G Nitrates=.25
2G QT Nitrates=5.0
Kh=161.1 for both
Gh=Off the charts.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 01:34 AM
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Many people keep 20ppm of nitrates for planted aquaria.
I constantly dose Nitrogen twice a week and can't keep it there.
I just get anything orange on the test kit and am happy.

Sounds like plants are not using up nitrates.

How heavily planted is the tank?

Remember that NO3 is the last product of the cycle.
If plants don't absorb it, it will continue to accumulate.


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 02:32 AM
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Beneficial bacteria turn the ammonia from fish and left over food into nitrite, then nitrate.
Seeing no ammonia and no nitrite, but yes nitrate says the beneficial bacteria are doing their job.

Plants can use all 3 forms as nitrogen sources. In a low light tank it is rare for the plants to use up all the nitrogen, so slowly climbing nitrates are common. I try to keep them between 5-10 ppm, and usually have to add nitrogen fertilizer.

What is in the API root tablets? (I tried looking it up, but did not see an analysis)

Lastly, what kind of test kit are you using? Some are not very accurate.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Maryland Guppy, Thanks for your response. Maybe I'm concerned about nothing, but just need to watch everything. As I mentioned it's the first time I've had anything but 0 nitrates. It made me worry.

Here's the plants line up. I hope this helps with my question:

-1 Echinodorus 'Red Flame'
-1 Echinodorus 'Ozelot'
-1 Echinodorus vesuvius
-2 Sagittaris subulata
-6 Anubias nana
-6 Cryptcoryne wendtii
-1 Red Lilly
-1 Echinodorus longiplumilosus
-small amount of Java Moss
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Diana,

Thanks for your response too. yes. About the no ammonia and no nitrites and yes nitrates is good to know. I've read that, but was a bit freaked out by such a huge jump in a short time. I see what you mean about low lights and the plants not being able to use up all the nitrogen. You must have a more correct light system for your planted aquarium size if you need to add nitrogen???

Here's what I could find out about API Root Tabs:

Total Nitrogen (N) 3.0%
2.13% water insoluble nitrogen
0.53% other water soluble nitrogen
0.34% urea nitrogen

Available Phosphate (P2O5) 1.0%

Soluble Potash (K2O) 1.0%

Iron (Fe) 5.0%
[5% Chelated Iron (Fe)]

Derived from Urea Formaldehyde, Mono Potassium Phosphate, Iron EDTA (Ferric ethylenediamine tetra acetate)

Lastly, I use all API liquid test kits. They expire in 2020.

I hope this helps to figure it out. Or maybe I am being worried unnecessarily since I'm new to planted tanks. Thanks!
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 03:11 PM
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I am having trouble with my nitrates too. They had been fine and suddenly jumped up to 80 (I thought that was the result of me uprooting all of my plants catching fish). I've vacummed well, done water changes and they still won't go down as low as I'd like for very long. I have been using a nitrate remover pouch in my filter just to keep them down some. My last water change they were still at 40.

I just remixed my ferts (PPS) with no nitrate. I hope that works because I don't know what's wrong. I have quite a few plants so obviously something isn't balanced. I never nave ammonia or nitrite either and I use RO water.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 03:23 PM
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API test kits.
I have seen some posts with test results that are really bad. That is, the test kit did not accurately report what was in the water. Do this:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=83545

The fertilizer tablets have some nitrogen, but it is slow release unless you dug into a pocket of it under the substrate and let it escape into the water column. I do not think API tests will report urea, but as it breaks down perhaps the test will show it.

A combination of small fish load, good light, other nutrients (including carbon) makes the plants grow really fast, and this is how they use up the nitrogen so fast.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 04:10 PM
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API NO3 reagent bottle #2 is the animal.
Must always shake the life out of it.
If not it will ruin all further tests over a short time.

Validating test kit as stated by Diana

Side note: I have moved to one drop testing with API test kits.
Bought some very small graduated cylinders and small test tube rack.
With many tanks going it was way cheaper than buying test kits.
Bummer is GH & KH just halfed sample to 2.5ml and double the drop count.
This makes a NO3 kit perform 900 tests versus 90 @ .5ml sample.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Hi schnebbles,

Do you think I should go to our specialty fish store here and purchase RO water? I have extremely hard water here in the desert. I read that one can add peat to soften water. Is this a good alternative since they charge a lot for 78F RO water? If I go the peat route, how much should I start with for a 20 gallon aquarium with the above water parameters? My PH drop at night is not much at all.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Diana,

That's a great link. I'm going to bookmark it and try it later today. Thank you! My plants are growing well according to the types they are, except for the Hair Grass. The Hair gras is growing slowly, yet has new growth too. I'm cleaning up the small blades that are dying back. As I mentioned, I was unaware that it needs high light to grow really well. It was a lesson to me to read more than a couple of websites about each plant before making a best decision. Some plants are looking a little yellow. Could this be because they need more micronutrients? Should I use Flourish Tabs or those clay based tabsI see here and there instead of API Root Tabs? My fish load for 20 gallons with the plant load listed above is:

7 uniquely different guppies, 2 are in QT.
2 ottocinclus
1 Corydoras Julii

Nothing fancy, but I grew up with a great-grandmother who raised and sold guppies. Fond memories there. After I graduate from grad school, I'm planning to have a larger freshwater aquarium with more diversity. Sometimes I think the cory should have a companion because I know they like to be in groups, but this girl is doing so well. Anyway, i know this is a plant forum not a fish forum.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 05:31 PM
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you can setup your own RO/DI water making kit for ~$150

$65 - 100gpd RO/DI Filter
$20 - Storage Tank/Drum
$10 - Float Valve & RO Shutoff Valve
$10 - GH Booster
$30 - 300W Heater

And this will make thousands of gallons of water before you need new DI media, and many more before you need a new RO membrane.

So the economical question is, how many gallons of RO/DI water can you buy from your LFS for $150? How much is not transporting/hauling that regularly worth? Since you live in the desert storing a large quantity of water on-site is a prudent idea for many reasons.


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Maryland Guppy,

It's interesting what you wrote about the API NO3 #2 reagent. I know that when I first got the bottle I didn't shake it enough. I quickly learned that in oder to get a best result that shaking it is like night and day for readings. I'm wondering what you mean by, "If not it will ruin all further tests over a short time." You are all so helpful. Thank you! I hope to learn enough to help others with time.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 06:38 PM
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if you dont shake it properly before you use the test solution, your changing the concentrations since its not mixed well, and ruin the test..
its a cumulative effect over time since your just taking a few drops out per test.


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thoughtsprocket View Post
Hi Maryland Guppy,

It's interesting what you wrote about the API NO3 #2 reagent. I know that when I first got the bottle I didn't shake it enough. I quickly learned that in oder to get a best result that shaking it is like night and day for readings. I'm wondering what you mean by, "If not it will ruin all further tests over a short time." You are all so helpful. Thank you! I hope to learn enough to help others with time.
I never had the problem with bottle #2. Always shook plenty.
But I'm sure false negatives or false positives will be given.
With the reagent not being shook to create the suspension of denser liquid in the bottom each drop will lack something.
If done enough ratio of bottle contents is lost.

Phosphorus test kit also has a very dense reagent. Just a thought.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-17-2015, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks nayr and Maryland Guppy. These are great things to know. I appreciate all of you! I'm glad I registered here.
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