Lowering Nitrates Through Decrease in Fertilization - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-04-2020, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Lowering Nitrates Through Decrease in Fertilization

I wanted to run a theory I have by you guys to see if I can solve an issue I have been having with high nitrates.

55 gallon tank information:

Stock:[censored]
-10 bronze corydoras[censored]
-1 albino bristlenose pleco
-5 neon dwarf rainbow fish
-6 male endlers live bearers[censored]
-6 neon tetras (purchased 14 but lost 8 - during quarantine to fungal infection)
-2 rabbit snails
-various pest snails[censored]

Feeding (every other day MWFS):
-omega one flake food[censored]
-5 or 6sinking bottom feeder pellets[censored]
-1 algae wafer[censored]
-1 cube Frozen baby bribe shrimp (2x week thawed in tank water and sucked out with syringe)
-1 cube frozen blood worms (1x week thawed in tank water and sucked out with syringe)[censored]
-1 slice organic blanched cucumber (2x week)[censored]
- 3 or 4 organic blanched and shelled peas (1x week)[censored]


Plants:[censored]
-Pogostemon stellatus octopus x2
-vallisneria x10 ish
-Italian vallisneria [censored]x 8 ish[censored]
-Jungle vallisneria x 10 ish[censored]
-Cryptocoryne wendtii red x2[censored]
-Cryptocoryne wendtii green x1
-Amazon sword x2[censored]
-Anachris stems ~5” x5
-Dwarf Sag x10 (still rioting and relatively small)
-Some form of Ludwigia stems x4
-Water sprite stems x7
-Java fern x1
Hornwort x2[censored]
-Duckweed (isolated to left 1/3 of the tank)
-On the top of the tank I have a large Pothos plant and a large peace lily with roots hanging in the water.[censored]

Filtration:
-Aqua clear 70[censored]
-Cascade pennplax 700
-Sponge filter rated for 40 gallons[censored]
-All filters are cleaned once a month in tank water at varying intervals (weeks 1, 3, and 4)[censored]

substrate:
-Eco complete
-40 lbs. dragon stone
-7 small stick-like pieces of driftwood[censored]
-6 Indian almond leaves (swap them every two months)

Fertilizer dosing:
- Easy root tabs (followed packet instructions)
-Flourish comprehensive 4.5 mL (2x weekly)
-Flourish excel 5mL (3x weekly)[censored]
-Flourish potassium 10mL (2x weekly)[censored]
-Flourish phosphorus 6ml (2x weekly)[censored]
-Flourish trace 13mL (2x weekly)
-Flourish iron 5mL (2x weekly)

Lighting:
Finnex 24/7 HLC[censored]
6-9am — 40% RGW spectrums
9am-9pm — 100% RGWB spectrums
9pm-12am — 10% B spectrum
12-6am — total blackout[censored]

Co2
- 2 to 3 drops per second from 9am-9pm[censored]

Parameters (checked 3 x weekly)[censored]
-pH: 7.8-8.0 (Rises slightly after water change as tap pH is around 8.4)
-Ammonia: 0 ppm
-Nitrite: 0 ppm[censored]
- Nitrate: 40-80 ppm
-GH: 8-9
-KH: 4[censored]

Water changes:
20-25 gallons 2x a week (Saturday, Wednesday)[censored]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -[censored]

In the last 3 weeks my city tap water has increased in nitrates from 10 ppm to 20-40 ppm. I have been battling high nitrates for about 3 weeks now and have increased my water changes to 20 gallons every other day with no drop in Nitrate whatsoever as I am starting to see some fin clamping. I was wondering if scaling back or even halting my fertilizer dosing would allow the plants to absorb the extra nitrates in the water. I am concerned the sudden drop in fertilization could attribute to nutrient deficiencies/melting in plants and a sudden uptake in algae growth due to the abundance of co2 in the water column. I’m at a loss here. I would prefer to do 50/50 RO/DI water to battle this issue but funds are tight and my LFS doesn’t have access to the amounts I would need on a weekly basis.[censored]
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-04-2020, 07:14 PM
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You aren't dosing any nitrates, so reducing your current dosing will have no effect on NO3.

I would increase the amount of water changes, clean out the filter every water change (removing organics), substrate vacuum every water change (removing organics), reduce feeding to just the flake food and consider adding floating plants to remove excess nitrates.

Also, I would increase the CO2 slowly over a few weeks to achieve a 1.0 drop in CO2. You should be closer to 8-10 bubbles per second depending on your surface agitation an diffusing method.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bzellm20 View Post

55 gallon tank information:

- Nitrate: 40-80 ppm


In the last 3 weeks my city tap water has increased in nitrates from 10 ppm to 20-40 ppm.


You'll have to do a lot of water changes to dilute 40 ppm nitrate water with 40 ppm nitrate water!
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 05:01 PM
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Your change water is the source of your nitrates. Your best defense (barring RO water) is to employ fast-growing plants to help reduce your nitrates. You listed hornwort, duckweed and water sprite, which are fast-growing. How are they doing? How long has your tank been running?

You could get by with only a 20% water change once per week. Between this and fast plant growth, you should see a reduction in nitrates.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 05:25 PM
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yeah, i'm in the same boat that the city water I'm getting has a bit of high nitrates and sometimes ammonia. I feed heavy,have a high fish load, and dose.

somehow the plants are soaking up stuff and keeping it to 40ppm however I want to get it lower so I can try and get more red out of the plants.

I started dosing half of KNO3 however that resulted in plants getting pin holes due to lower K so need to play around with the dosing a bit.



Is your main intent to lower nitrate because the fish are showing signs of stress? or for plants?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyruler90 View Post

I started dosing half of KNO3 however that resulted in plants getting pin holes due to lower K so need to play around with the dosing a bit.
Can you switch to KCl as your potassium source?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 02:08 AM
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As others have said, your tap water is going to be a problem for you. Your water company is bumping up against the maximum allowable nitrate levels (I would raise a complaint with them, but that’s another issue). The above recommendations are all good, as well.

You are adding NO3. The Easy root tabs have NO3 in them (can’t tell how much) and the Flourish [Comprehensive] has it, albeit in small quantities. I would get rid of the Flourish Comprehensive and the root tabs. The Trace will give you all the trace elements provided by the Comprehensive and the fish food will fill any gaps. I don’t like root tabs: you can’t control what is being released and all ferts can be supplied in the water column.

Additionally, I would add Purigen to the filter. This will help reduce the organics that will turn into NO3.

It would be interesting to know what your PO4 levels are.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 05:14 AM
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Definitely stop with root tabs. Eco complete is to course of a pore size and Nitrates in tabs just leach out into tank water.

Clean aquaclear every week and think about getting a coarse sponge for canister filter input that you also clean every week. Use turkey baster to go around and suck up or blow up loose detritus so filter pads pick it up before water change.

Also may want to remove any excess biomedia you have in canister.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 02:42 PM
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I'll confess that I have no idea what all the [censored] 'stuff' is about!

I think you could cut way back on the ferts and if your using CO2, I'd stop using Excel (wouldn't use it anyway!) BUT as previously mentioned, your root problem is high nitrates in your source water! Since a tank is always going to generate some nitrates, water changes with high nitrates in the source water will not lower tank nitrates enough. Fast growing plants help but you may need to either pre-filter water to remove nitrates, find another source of nitrate free water, or use a product like API's Nitra-Zorb (an ion exchange resin that adsorbs nitrates and is rechargeable many times with ordinary non-iodized salt water).

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-08-2020, 10:38 PM
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I use this to filter my tap water as mine too has 40ppm in it. Lasts a good few months ago for me on my 80L tank. Turns 40ppm to 0ppm.

https://www.pozzani.co.uk/product_in...products_id=67
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-09-2020, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wormvortex View Post
I use this to filter my tap water as mine too has 40ppm in it. Lasts a good few months ago for me on my 80L tank. Turns 40ppm to 0ppm.

https://www.pozzani.co.uk/product_in...products_id=67
Interesting, I wonder if just going to full RO would be easier however this is a cheap membrane. Might be worth the try

Quote:
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Can you switch to KCl as your potassium source?

Yeah, I have some K2SO4 that I'm going to bump up to see if it makes a difference.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-12-2020 at 01:18 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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