Nitrate and the effects on plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrate and the effects on plants?

I've read many things but not one thing matches the other, I've read that plants won't grow in tanks under 10 ppm no3, I've read they won't grow in tanks above 20 ppm no3, I've read that some have to have 30 ppm no3, I'm aware for a fish standpoint lower is better, but I'm just curious about the affects on plants growth VS no improved growth at certain ppm in a low tech setup as I don't run co2.

I'd like to be around 15 /20 (including ferts) but that's literally impossible for me to do as I take extremely good care of the tank with water changes, light feeding /thorough gravel Vacs during water changes, filter maintenence every 2-3 weeks, 1 aquaclear 110, 1 aquaclear 70.

Reason I ask is because no matter what I try I cannot get my nitrates to reduce they are about I would say as I'm red dominant 35-45 my nephew says 60, I have a 55 gallon tank 2 larger rainbows boesemani /red Irian, the other 5 rainbows are small species, 2 sentani /2kangaroo creek /1 parva, I also have 6 ornate tetras, 6 lemon tetras, and 1 calico bn.

I dose thrive at 6 ml a week 2 pumps on mon/wed/Fri 50% water change on Sunday

Tap is about 5-8 ppm, (took a Pic but can't find it) light light orange.

I have tried literally everything to reduce the nitrates, increasing water change from 1x a week to 2 times, replacing substrate (old tank syndrome), nitrate removing bagged stuff for the filter, cutting food back to 4 x a week, cutting tap water with ro/di , you name it I've probably tried it, only thing I haven't done is add a pothos roots to the tank or floating nitrate consuming plants.

Any suggestions on how to lower it maybe I've overlooked something and haven't tried everything?

Right now my tank is moderately planted, have 26 plants coming on thursday (10 stems rotala indicia, 10 stems bacopa caroliniana, 4 cryptocoryne spiralis, 2 brownie blue Buce.

in the tank atm I have 18 stems L. repens, 8 stems money wart, 1 Amazon sword, a big amount of anubias, 10 very tall cryptocoryne Wendtii red, a little patch of cryptocoryne parva.

I'm totally new to plants (3 months) so I'm just worried my nitrite levels are to high to effeciently grow plants.

Here's a Pic of what I think is max 45 and a Pic of my tank.

Please don't laugh I'm new, I know the tank isn't up to most people liking but I am at least trying




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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 10:27 AM
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I'm not sure why you are so focused on the nitrate level??

The fish and plants look healthy.

Many, myself included, routinely dose N to get the tank in the 40's. In my tank, if N gets too low, plants suffer.

Just saying that N in that range may be fine for your tank. Watch your plants and let them be the guide.


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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 11:07 AM
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pot...

Don't fret over the chemistry of the tank water, it's not important for keeping a healthy and nicely planted tank. Water changes are the most important. Removing and replacing half the water weekly will maintain a steady water chemistry and that's all your tank requires. For plants, you need to know their light requirements. If you have low to medium light plants, then provide medium light. If they require something stronger than go with that light level. Low to medium light plants don't require more fertilizer than what the fish provide. Stronger light, tells the plants you want them to grow faster. But, you need to feed accordingly. Fertilizer tablets, gently pushed into the bottom material will work fine.

M
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
I'm not sure why you are so focused on the nitrate level??

The fish and plants look healthy.

Many, myself included, routinely dose N to get the tank in the 40's. In my tank, if N gets too low, plants suffer.

Just saying that N in that range may be fine for your tank. Watch your plants and let them be the guide.
Well I know that the effects high nitrates have in fish (theoretically but not scientifically proven) I didn't know if no3 had an adverse reaction to plants as well, also from what I understood from Dennis wong is to keep healthy plants you have to have a clean tank, good chemistry so I didn't know if high nitrates were part of the not so good chemistry portion.


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Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
pot...

Don't fret over the chemistry of the tank water, it's not important for keeping a healthy and nicely planted tank. Water changes are the most important. Removing and replacing half the water weekly will maintain a steady water chemistry and that's all your tank requires. For plants, you need to know their light requirements. If you have low to medium light plants, then provide medium light. If they require something stronger than go with that light level. Low to medium light plants don't require more fertilizer than what the fish provide. Stronger light, tells the plants you want them to grow faster. But, you need to feed accordingly. Fertilizer tablets, gently pushed into the bottom material will work fine.

M
I have what I would consider high light even though I'm only running it at 60% which is the fluval 3.0, I dose thrive to keep my other nutrients up even though it does increase the no3, I could go to dry ferts and eliminate the no3, but the thing is I just ordered 26 more plants so I would probably risk a no3 bottom out if I don't keep up with the thrive, I don't know if the plants I ordered are no3 hogs but they are from what I read fast growing besides the Buce.

I picked the plants to Match my pH or pH range, temperature lighting and water hardness, I think to much tbh so when dennis wong told me my nitrates were high I started to get worried.

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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:01 PM
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pot...

Nitrates are the end result of the nitrogen cycle, so they aren't toxic to most aquarium fish. The nitrate level would have to be near the 80 parts per million (ppm) range and remain at this level for several days before the fish would even notice. At worst, they'd be only slightly affected. Floating plants are the best nitrate users. These plants take in nutrients through small pores in their leaves and are more efficient water filters than plants that must be planted into the bottom material. Anacharis (Elodea), Duckweed, Pennywort, Water sprite and Hornwort are some good floaters to help with nitrates. If you're adding nutrients, it's best to do this right after a large water change. This way, the nutrients remain in the water a bit longer to benefit the plants.

I can't stress too strongly the importance of removing and replacing at least half the tank water every week. This will guarantee at stable water chemistry. If you do this, your fish and plants will take care of themselves.

M

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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:13 PM
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Have you tested the nitrate level of the water that you're using for water changes? My tap starts off with nitrates. That certainly makes it a lot harder to keep the levels down.
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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:19 PM
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I generally agree with much of the above thinking but might throw in what happened to me as side issue on nitrate. I fought the same battle with getting it down as I was reading that high nitrate is bad for fish. Being a fan of breeding African cichlids and them being semi-famous for requiring lots of clean water, I was in a pickle. Trying to get nitrate below red/purple on the API test was just not working. I was killing myself and the fish with water changing and still could see no change. The fish were breeding and doing okay with dropping the "required" high PH down from 7.8 to 6.8 but still the nitrate was up somewhere above 80-100! I even adapted a reciprocating saw to make a bottle shaker, as that was what I was given as a solution to why I was not doing the test right.
The readings stayed that high until I finally broke down and paid a bit more for the Salifert test which uses different colors and shows me totally different results! I can now do a 50% water change and see the nitrate go down by 50% !!!
If you've been down the route of shaking the bottle, calibrating the test, and still get nothing useful, you may be finding it time to try a different test kit?
I still hate paying more for the test but I also feel better paying that price for a test that actually means something. At 20PPM, the API test was okay but at 25, it went totally useless and my tanks normally run above 25. I might think 40 is the normal but I also have stopped dosing nitrate. Got plenty, thank you.
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
pot...

Nitrates are the end result of the nitrogen cycle, so they aren't toxic to most aquarium fish. The nitrate level would have to be near the 80 parts per million (ppm) range and remain at this level for several days before the fish would even notice. At worst, they'd be only slightly affected. Floating plants are the best nitrate users. These plants take in nutrients through small pores in their leaves and are more efficient water filters than plants that must be planted into the bottom material. Anacharis (Elodea), Duckweed, Pennywort, Water sprite and Hornwort are some good floaters to help with nitrates. If you're adding nutrients, it's best to do this right after a large water change. This way, the nutrients remain in the water a bit longer to benefit the plants.

I can't stress too strongly the importance of removing and replacing at least half the tank water every week. This will guarantee at stable water chemistry. If you do this, your fish and plants will take care of themselves.

M
I do 50% weekly water changes ritually to reset my values of the tank, my nitrate does drop by half which is about 20 I think as I'm not good at reading the nitrate test from api, I was going to invest in a salifert but I think I will just keep doing my water changes and fert dosing and see where things go, the fish are happy, the plants are going through a transition right now from upgrading the light but I'm sure Once they settle in all will be well, I was thinking about adding the roots of a pothos to the tank and letting it grow against my wall as I've heard they are great at nitrate reduction.

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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
Have you tested the nitrate level of the water that you're using for water changes? My tap starts off with nitrates. That certainly makes it a lot harder to keep the levels down.
Yes I have my tap isn't 0 but isn't 10 probably around 5-8

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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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I generally agree with much of the above thinking but might throw in what happened to me as side issue on nitrate. I fought the same battle with getting it down as I was reading that high nitrate is bad for fish. Being a fan of breeding African cichlids and them being semi-famous for requiring lots of clean water, I was in a pickle. Trying to get nitrate below red/purple on the API test was just not working. I was killing myself and the fish with water changing and still could see no change. The fish were breeding and doing okay with dropping the "required" high PH down from 7.8 to 6.8 but still the nitrate was up somewhere above 80-100! I even adapted a reciprocating saw to make a bottle shaker, as that was what I was given as a solution to why I was not doing the test right.
The readings stayed that high until I finally broke down and paid a bit more for the Salifert test which uses different colors and shows me totally different results! I can now do a 50% water change and see the nitrate go down by 50% !!!
If you've been down the route of shaking the bottle, calibrating the test, and still get nothing useful, you may be finding it time to try a different test kit?
I still hate paying more for the test but I also feel better paying that price for a test that actually means something. At 20PPM, the API test was okay but at 25, it went totally useless and my tanks normally run above 25. I might think 40 is the normal but I also have stopped dosing nitrate. Got plenty, thank you.
Yeah I looked into the salifert test kit it's pretty pricey but i honestly would only need to probably test once a month so the kit would last me a while, I think they make replacement solution also but not sure I've also heard that the salifert test kit reads way lower than the api like say the api is showing 40 the salifert is more likely to be 1/2 - 3/4 of that, it's a good test kit for sure.

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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by p0tluck View Post
Yeah I looked into the salifert test kit it's pretty pricey but i honestly would only need to probably test once a month so the kit would last me a while, I think they make replacement solution also but not sure I've also heard that the salifert test kit reads way lower than the api like say the api is showing 40 the salifert is more likely to be 1/2 - 3/4 of that, it's a good test kit for sure.

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I had mixed the calibrated/known test solutions to fight through what was going wrong and now I am able to see pretty closely the results as the mix should be. I try not to get too excited about the nitrate levels because it seems to have little effect on my fish but then when I look at how it may be changing the plant thing, I want to know as it does help to guide me.
But the older I get, the less I find that bothers me when small things are not what they might be!
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by p0tluck View Post
I'd like to be around 15 /20 (including ferts) but that's literally impossible for me to do as I take extremely good care of the tank with water changes, light feeding /thorough gravel Vacs during water changes, filter maintenence every 2-3 weeks, 1 aquaclear 110, 1 aquaclear 70.

I dose thrive at 6 ml a week 2 pumps on mon/wed/Fri 50% water change on Sunday

Tap is about 5-8 ppm, (took a Pic but can't find it) light light orange.

I have tried literally everything to reduce the nitrates, increasing water change from 1x a week to 2 times.


Please don't laugh I'm new, I know the tank isn't up to most people liking but I am at least trying
Since you're admittedly new to plants, it seems like you might be misunderstanding this from its most basic point. Nitrate is plant food. Too little and your plants starve. I'm not so sure if you could say too much is bad for anything other than fish.

You are adding nitrate when you dose fertilizer; again b/c nitrate is plant food.

I'd make sure you keep a close eye on your tap water if you're getting 5-8 ppm of nitrate right from the tap. If you're seeing that much right now that number could fluctuate.

If the fish and plants are happy and healthy then keep doing what you've been doing instead of trying to change it up just because of what you're reading.

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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:44 PM
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So I didn't read the whole thread but go through XiaoZhuang's website. It's extremely informative and great for beginners like you and I. https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/

One thing he advises like some others do here is to observe your tank and focus on those observations more than numbers, within reason of course.

And your tank is fine for a first tank. I'm trying to focus on growing plants well first.
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Since you're admittedly new to plants, it seems like you might be misunderstanding this from its most basic point. Nitrate is plant food. Too little and your plants starve. I'm not so sure if you could say too much is bad for anything other than fish.

You are adding nitrate when you dose fertilizer; again b/c nitrate is plant food.

I'd make sure you keep a close eye on your tap water if you're getting 5-8 ppm of nitrate right from the tap. If you're seeing that much right now that number could fluctuate.

If the fish and plants are happy and healthy then keep doing what you've been doing instead of trying to change it up just because of what you're reading.
Yeah I literally got my first shipment of plants other than anubias 3- 4 months ago, I have more coming this week, all fish seem happy, plants are somewhat healthy (Ludwigia loses lower leaves) but hopefully that will be fixed with the new fluval 3.0, it's not extremely high but I have to dose ferts for the other Nutrients the plants need especially Fe.

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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Since you're admittedly new to plants, it seems like you might be misunderstanding this from its most basic point. Nitrate is plant food. Too little and your plants starve. I'm not so sure if you could say too much is bad for anything other than fish.

You are adding nitrate when you dose fertilizer; again b/c nitrate is plant food.

I'd make sure you keep a close eye on your tap water if you're getting 5-8 ppm of nitrate right from the tap. If you're seeing that much right now that number could fluctuate.

If the fish and plants are happy and healthy then keep doing what you've been doing instead of trying to change it up just because of what you're reading.
I'm on there reading daily, also if I have a question I'll message him on fb or post in the fb group, he's very helpful.

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