Biomass - At Capacity or Not? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-17-2019, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Biomass - At Capacity or Not?

How can you tell when your tank is at it's Biomass capacity? Do the weekly nitrate levels tell us this?

I have a hunch I'm there due to the fact that I'm having a problem with high nitrates despite a heavy population of plants. I inject CO2 etc. so it's pretty lush! I'm starting my second year with a planted tank, so I'm still learning.

Rather than get into a description of whats in there, I've posted a picture of my 40 gallon breeder and will gladly answer whatever questions are posted to help me determine if I am at capacity, if necessary.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-17-2019, 09:59 PM
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What kind and how much livestock do you have?

What and how much do you dose in terms of fertilizer?

How much and how frequently do you feed?

I've had heavily stocked tanks with tons of plants that required daily nitrate dosing in order to keep plants going. So it really depends upon multiple factors.


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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-17-2019, 11:34 PM
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Iím counting 21 Columbian tetra?


Also what is filtration and how much and what kind of media is in it?
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-17-2019, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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First of all, thank you for the replies!

There's probably more than 35 Tetra in there, including 4 new hatchlngs, three Amano Shrimp, two Ottos, two Plecos and one Bolivian Ram!

Ferts: 4 pumps of Easy Green once a week, 2 Seachem fert tabs in two spots once a month. As for feeding, it's TetraMin Plus trop flakes once a day - it's about 1/2 teaspoon . . . they feed in a frenzy and it's all gone in a minute or two.

CO2 Injected - pH @ 6.6 during the day - air pump at night with the pH going to 7.0 at night. KH4, GH 6-8, NO2 0, NO3 - Don't ask. However I've been doing 5 or 10 gallon water changes every few days since last month.

Filtration: Aquaclear-50 (layered from bottom to top) using the stock open-cell sponge, that blue/white filter pad material and some bio media and a Purigen satchel.

You can see a zucchini-round stuck on a plastic plant stand in the front left . . I started that yesterday as a treat.


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Last edited by ZuppaDePesce; 11-18-2019 at 02:15 AM. Reason: Spelling & Punctuation
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-19-2019, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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No replies?
I thought that persistent high nitrates would be a sign of my tank being at it's capacity, so I didn't front-load my post with all the details of my tank. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-19-2019, 10:54 PM
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High nitrates can indicate a variety of situations, not just a max bioload.

I think a better indication would be persistent ammonia. If you have zero ammonia, that would indicate a bioload that is below capacity, but having ammonia would suggest you are at or near maximum, especially if it increased with increasing bioload.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 02:13 AM
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If both your phosphate and nitrate drop when you change water then climb between water changes that would indicate plants are not able to use them all.

The extra bio media in filter may be contributing to nitrates, it converts ammonia compounds to nitrates, your plants would actually prefer to use the ammonia compounds as their nitrogen source. Itís actually easier and less work for plants to process them over uptaking nitrates.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Hm. I've got zero ammonia. This is interesting, thanks.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 12:25 PM
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your tank certianly doesn't look crowded...The tanks I add zuchinni to, for plecos, seem to run higher nitrates as well as more mulm in the filters.

MTS? no,I just need one more tank...
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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That piece of zucchini was the second time I've done it. I wanted to see if I could lure a large female Amano out in order to get a picture of her egg-engorged underside.

I'm beginning to think that I wasn't changing the water often enough, so I've increased the frequency of that. I'm doing 5-10 gallon water changes a couple of times a week until I get the NO3 down, then I'll be on it regularly.

Additionally, I'm thinking of adding Seachem Matrix in this HOB filter if there's room. If not there are other options.

How does that sound?


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 10:56 PM
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Regular water changes are the best solution, at least 20-25% per week, and many aquarists do more than that.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-20-2019, 11:44 PM
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If your biomass is at capacity, you'll end up with ammonia or nitrites. Basically waste that isn't being processed. You're likely just not performing enough water changes or dosing too much. Possibly overfeeding, but it all ends up the same. If you aren't having algae issues, I'd just suggest larger water changes.


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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-21-2019, 04:53 PM
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I've used this website as a general guide to capacity. It seems to be fairly accurate based on what I see in my aquarium: AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-21-2019, 11:11 PM
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Personally, I would either add another filter - maybe the AC30 or even another AC50 - or replace the one you have with a larger one. I use the Tidal 75 on my 40B. For the amount of stocking you have I think you could use more filtration than just one AC50. Then, do larger water changes - like 50% - once a week. I only change water every 2-3 weeks, but my stocking is about half of what you have. I do 50-60%.
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