HELP: Constant High Nitrates - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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HELP: Constant High Nitrates

I have a newly and lightly planted 55 gallon:
1 Amazon Sword
Bunch of Water Wisteria
6 Dwarf Sag
1 Anubias Coffeefolia

I have normal sand substrate with 10 Seachem Root Tabs

I've had a constant problem of 80-100ppm of nitrates. I've been doing 50% water changes every night for three nights in a row to try lowering it but it's not working. I've been dosing Seachem Excel and I'm thinking this might be the culprit since this problem arose literally a day after I started dosing. However tonight I did another 50% water change and then this time tested the water IMMEDIATELY after the water change (instead of waiting 24 hours like I usually do) and low and behold the Nitrates are STILL EXACTLY the same even AFTER a 50% water change.

My stock is 6 Rummynose Tetra and 8 Albino Cory Cats. No over feeding is occurring.

The tank has been cycled and running for over a year with no Ammonia or Nitrite problems..

My tap water has no Nitrates in it.

Test kit being used is an API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Is it possible it's faulty? I'm beginning to think that this is what's happening because even though I'm getting readings of 80-100ppm of nitrates, my fish have been acting 100% normal...

Any thoughts?? I'm completely stumped now.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 06:59 AM
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You said: "The tank has been cycled and running for over a year with no Ammonia or Nitrite problems.."
But it has had nitrate problems for this whole time?
Those test kits are notorious for reading high.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
You said: "The tank has been cycled and running for over a year with no Ammonia or Nitrite problems.."
But it has had nitrate problems for this whole time?
Those test kits are notorious for reading high.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=83545
It had Nitrate problems before when it was barebottom but that was only because I neglected water changes for weeks. When I completely changed the stock and added plants two weeks ago, my Nitrates were around 30ppm. The readings started to be 80-100ppm around 4 days ago.

I've used multiple API Freshwater Master Test Kits ever since I started the hobby which was 5years ago and haven't had a problem with it at all though. What other option would I have? The test strips aren't as reliable or accurate if I'm not mistaken.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 07:13 AM
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excel does not contain any nitrate, nor could it cause any chemical reaction that would cause nitrates as a result.

What was your water change schedule up until now?


If you want to check your test kit, test your tap water. If it comes up zero then you're not getting a false positive from your test kit.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by turbosaurus View Post
excel does not contain any nitrate, nor could it cause any chemical reaction that would cause nitrates as a result.

What was your water change schedule up until now?


If you want to check your test kit, test your tap water. If it comes up zero then you're not getting a false positive from your test kit.
I changed my water every 4 days because of new fish I was adding; wanted to keep the water pristine for their comfort and acclimation.

Well, I tested my tap water and got 5ppm Nitrate. I live in Seattle, Washington and have heard and know that the water here is known to contain some Nitrates. This is the same water that I have been using for 5 years in the hobby and I have never had readings like this from the various API test kits that I've owned and used; in other words, I know it is not my tap water.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 07:21 AM
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FYI- most test kits give false negatives when they fail due to the breakdown of reagents due to age, heat, etc, not hyper-positives.

The plural of anecdote is not data
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 07:51 AM
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Could there be a dead fish somewhere you haven't noticed?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 12:35 PM
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High Nitrates

Hello run...

There are a couple of ways to lower nitrates. Floating plants like Pennywort, Anacharis and Hornwort will do the job as will nitrate absorbing filter media like the products from HBH and Acurel. I use both in my HOB filters and have a thick growth of floating plants.

B

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Could there be a dead fish somewhere you haven't noticed?
There is not; I count my fish everyday multiple times.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 01:43 PM
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There are a couple items that jump out at me. One is the testing. When you measure 100 PPM and do a 50 % water change with water that has no nitrate, an accurate test has to measure 50PPM. Just the way things work when you dilute the nitrate.
So this says the test is wrong!
Also it is quite common to read about this test being way bad. I am one who fought that fight. When I had low levels of nitrate like 25 PPM I could get a reasonable test. I finally got down to doing what is called "calibrate" the test. It really is more what I would call calibrating your thinking and checking your eyes. If you mix known levels of nitrate test samples, you can check things.
I'm guessing that you may find that you get good readings at the low levels like 20-30 but totally wrong when you get to 40 or more.
I went back to using the test strips as they give me better answers on this one test.
Bad tests are common. It is not your methods but the test in the water that you have does not work.

Last edited by PlantedRich; 09-20-2015 at 01:45 PM. Reason: remove a mystery bump that got in?
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 02:09 PM
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I bet the problem is the API test kit.
Been there. Ended up with nitrogen defiency.

Last edited by The Big Buddha; 09-20-2015 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Add
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 02:20 PM
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I read on here weekly if not daily about the API test being inaccurate. Is there another brand that reliable?
Has anybody tried Pinpoint Nitrate Calibration Fluid? The place I buy my filter media on line has it. Its in the clearance section so I wonder how good it is or how old and maybe out of date.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
There are a couple items that jump out at me. One is the testing. When you measure 100 PPM and do a 50 % water change with water that has no nitrate, an accurate test has to measure 50PPM. Just the way things work when you dilute the nitrate.
So this says the test is wrong!
Also it is quite common to read about this test being way bad. I am one who fought that fight. When I had low levels of nitrate like 25 PPM I could get a reasonable test. I finally got down to doing what is called "calibrate" the test. It really is more what I would call calibrating your thinking and checking your eyes. If you mix known levels of nitrate test samples, you can check things.
I'm guessing that you may find that you get good readings at the low levels like 20-30 but totally wrong when you get to 40 or more.
I went back to using the test strips as they give me better answers on this one test.
Bad tests are common. It is not your methods but the test in the water that you have does not work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Big Buddha View Post
I bet the problem is the API test kit.
Been there. Ended up with nitrogen defiency.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trickster 75 View Post
I read on here weekly if not daily about the API test being inaccurate. Is there another brand that reliable?
Has anybody tried Pinpoint Nitrate Calibration Fluid? The place I buy my filter media on line has it. Its in the clearance section so I wonder how good it is or how old and maybe out of date.
Yep, you guys are right. I suspected my API Freshwater Master Test Kit was deficient somehow, so I took a sample of my water to work (PetSmart) and tested it myself with test strips, twice. It read 0-5ppm of Nitrates!
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 12:54 AM
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Just as a bit of added info, there is a lot of difference in the way we see colors and also a difference in the test strips. When I found the API test to be wrong for me, I tried several different brands of strips and found the Jungle brand like sold at Walmart gave me the best colors to match the way my eyes see the known values in my test samples. I now use the 5-in-1 type strips, not because I find them better for the other tests but one test that would show me any radical changes in the other four tests values is an added value.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 03:39 AM
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Rich, you're going colorblind.
Haha just messing with ya.

Those API color charts are a bit hard to tell sometimes. Off the top of my head I believe the lower range/basic pH range colors can be a little confusing as the test liquid doesn't quite match a pH chart color, a lot of the bluish-greens look similar and the test liquid can be a close to the color chart, but a different shade if that makes sense, like the color chart is faded in a way. More so with the nitrate test, particularly if you are testing in the red range, the reds can be tough to tell apart and my eyes have perfectly good vision.
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