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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 15 gallon is struggling with high nitrates. My tap is reading 20+ so water changes aren’t helping. It’s cycled and pretty heavily planted. I recently also added some sweet potato at the filter to help uptake, unsure if that’ll help.

I’d like to add some RCS but want to have the parameters correct first. Should I just buy a 5 gallon jug of Distilled at a time or is there an additive that will lower nitrates?

We are installing an RO system in the future, but that’s a couple months down the road.
 

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I know there's some nitrate absorbing filter media types out there but I'm unsure how well they work. I think your easiest bet would be too use distilled and remineralize for now as you plan on going rodi anyways and you'll need to get used it. That's what I would do anyway. Good luck!!
 

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What’s the recommended demineralization product?
Not demineralize- remineralize. If you're using rodi or distilled water there's a lack of essential minerals that are required. I'm looking into shrimp king additive for once my cube is cycled as my water is very soft and my dhk, gh and ph are way too low to keep shrimp straight out of the tap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not demineralize- remineralize. If you're using rodi or distilled water there's a lack of essential minerals that are required. I'm looking into shrimp king additive for once my cube is cycled as my water is very soft and my dhk, gh and ph are way too low to keep shrimp straight out of the tap.
Yes Remineralize.. autocorrect isn’t cooperating today!

I’ll look into a couple 5 gallon jugs of distilled and amend with something before adding.
 

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Yes Remineralize.. autocorrect isn’t cooperating today!

I’ll look into a couple 5 gallon jugs of distilled and amend with something before adding.
😂 my autocorrect does it to me all the time... Takes me 5 tries just to write the word 'to' without it changing to 'too'. Sounds like you've got it covered. Good luck!!
 

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Plant faster growing plants like stems. Things like java fern and anubias are slow growing (don't know what's in your tank, just giving an example) and won't absorb much nitrate. If you have enough plants and the right kind of plants even 20 ppm of nitrate won't be enough to sustain the plants and you will have to add more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Plant faster growing plants like stems. Things like java fern and anubias are slow growing (don't know what's in your tank, just giving an example) and won't absorb much nitrate. If you have enough plants and the right kind of plants even 20 ppm of nitrate won't be enough to sustain the plants and you will have to add more.
Any recommendations for a low tech tank?
 

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Any recommendations for a low tech tank?
There are a LOT of possible options. I personally love ludwigia, its relatively fast growing, and does well under low light and will also grow emersed if given a chance. If it were my tank though, I'd go to my local fish store and look what they have in stock that works for low light tanks and is also a stem plant. Basically anything you find will be a good choice. Then buy 2 to 8 bunches (depending on how many you need) and plant the heck out of your tank. This will rapidly resolve your nitrate issue. You will in fact need to regularly dose a liquid fertilizer to keep things going. I personally like Nicolg Thrive but there are many options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are a LOT of possible options. I personally love ludwigia, its relatively fast growing, and does well under low light and will also grow emersed if given a chance. If it were my tank though, I'd go to my local fish store and look what they have in stock that works for low light tanks and is also a stem plant. Basically anything you find will be a good choice. Then buy 2 to 8 bunches (depending on how many you need) and plant the heck out of your tank. This will rapidly resolve your nitrate issue. You will in fact need to regularly dose a liquid fertilizer to keep things going. I personally like Nicolg Thrive but there are many options.
Thanks for the reply. Checked out my lfs today and the plants were less than desirable. I just got in some dwarf sag and dwarf hair grass from aquarium co-op that look great. I might order some more from them. Thinking about a couple anubias nana, bacopa caroliniana, and jungle Val. Would I benefit from some water sprite floated as well?
 

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Thanks for the reply. Checked out my lfs today and the plants were less than desirable. I just got in some dwarf sag and dwarf hair grass from aquarium co-op that look great. I might order some more from them. Thinking about a couple anubias nana, bacopa caroliniana, and jungle Val. Would I benefit from some water sprite floated as well?
Water sprite is a fast growing plant. Personally I hate floating plants that are not naturally in the habit of floating. Just about any plant can be floated and they will grow in that condition, but to my eye it looks super silly unless its a proper floating plant. Watersprite looks much better planted in substrate. Now if you don't care about aesthetics (and I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, different people have different things that matter to them) floating watersprite will grow extremely well.

Of the plants you mentioned only jungle val is a fast grower. Dwarf sag is sometimes a fastish grower, but it wouldn't be my goto for reducing nitrates. I have not found bacopa to be very fast growing in my low tech 5 gallon tank. It took almost a year to double in size.

Anyway if buying online you have essentially unlimited options, if you know you want a particular plant but the store of your choice doesn't carry it, look around at etsy and ebay. I've had good luck with both (assuming you are buying from within the USA).

Also check out buceplant.com. They have a section specifically for stem plants and will list in the description whether they are fast growers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Water sprite is a fast growing plant. Personally I hate floating plants that are not naturally in the habit of floating. Just about any plant can be floated and they will grow in that condition, but to my eye it looks super silly unless its a proper floating plant. Watersprite looks much better planted in substrate. Now if you don't care about aesthetics (and I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, different people have different things that matter to them) floating watersprite will grow extremely well.

Of the plants you mentioned only jungle val is a fast grower. Dwarf sag is sometimes a fastish grower, but it wouldn't be my goto for reducing nitrates. I have not found bacopa to be very fast growing in my low tech 5 gallon tank. It took almost a year to double in size.

Anyway if buying online you have essentially unlimited options, if you know you want a particular plant but the store of your choice doesn't carry it, look around at etsy and ebay. I've had good luck with both (assuming you are buying from within the USA).

Also check out buceplant.com. They have a section specifically for stem plants and will list in the description whether they are fast growers.
Thanks again for your reply. I’ll check out some stem plants tonight.
 

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Take a look at Dr. Novak's youtube. His BCB baskets are game changers. Ive implemented these on 12 different 10 gallon tanks with great sucess! See link below
Do you have a you tube that shows how you worked this into your 10 gallon? Im slowing gathering my materials. About to get a jar going of my special kitty litter to test and make sure it does not turn to mush. My hob is Aqua clear 75.
 

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Do you have a you tube that shows how you worked this into your 10 gallon? Im slowing gathering my materials. About to get a jar going of my special kitty litter to test and make sure it does not turn to mush. My hob is Aqua clear 75.
Sorry no I don't have a youtube, he really is the expert, I just retrofitted his principles to fit in a small tank. Anyways, I just used a corner filter:
or stacked two of them on top of each other (the taller the filter chamber the better)
I first removed all the media and sponges in the filter, except for one sponge on the bottom of the filter (serves as a prefilter). I then dremeled out the plastic shelf in the middle of the filter so i could fit a small size media bag to run along the entire height of the filter chamber. To the media bag i added special kitty, natural kitty litter:

In the center of the kitty litter I added a core of Fluval Flourite. The flourite should run almost the entire length of the media bag. You want a ratio of 4:1 kitty litter to flourite

It is key to not overfill the media bag or allow the media to fill the entire filter chamber. You want space for water to flow around the media when it enters the filter chamber. I achieved this by leaving some of the plastic shelf (that i previously dremeled) in place to allow the extra plastic to push the media into the center of the filter housing. This allowed the water to enter from the bottom of the filter and flow around the media in the filter chamber. Proper execution will produce the low flow conditions in the center of the media that is needed for bacteria growth. This along with the prefilter sponge on the bottom of the filter chamber will help to avoid the media from becoming a detritus trap as well.

Finally, I hooked up an air pump to the filter and adjusted the flow to about one bubble per second (again to allow really slow flow). After about 2 months break in, my nitrates stay between 0 and 20 for the most part and phosphate stays low too in a well fed tank. I went from weekly water changes to changes about once a month and will probably go longer in the future. It sounds to good to be true but the principles seem to be sound!

I can elaborate if people are interested, but I don't want to hijack the thread

(PS you can also do this in a properly sized plastic water or soda bottle)

Chris
 

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Sorry no I don't have a youtube, he really is the expert, I just retrofitted his principles to fit in a small tank. Anyways, I just used a corner filter:
[/URL]
or stacked two of them on top of each other (the taller the filter chamber the better)
I first removed all the media and sponges in the filter, except for one sponge on the bottom of the filter (serves as a prefilter). I then dremeled out the plastic shelf in the middle of the filter so i could fit a small size media bag to run along the entire height of the filter chamber. To the media bag i added special kitty, natural kitty litter:
[/URL]

In the center of the kitty litter I added a core of Fluval Flourite. The flourite should run almost the entire length of the media bag. You want a ratio of 4:1 kitty litter to flourite

It is key to not overfill the media bag or allow the media to fill the entire filter chamber. You want space for water to flow around the media when it enters the filter chamber. I achieved this by leaving some of the plastic shelf (that i previously dremeled) in place to allow the extra plastic to push the media into the center of the filter housing. This allowed the water to enter from the bottom of the filter and flow around the media in the filter chamber. Proper execution will produce the low flow conditions in the center of the media that is needed for bacteria growth. This along with the prefilter sponge on the bottom of the filter chamber will help to avoid the media from becoming a detritus trap as well.

Finally, I hooked up an air pump to the filter and adjusted the flow to about one bubble per second (again to allow really slow flow). After about 2 months break in, my nitrates stay between 0 and 20 for the most part and phosphate stays low too in a well fed tank. I went from weekly water changes to changes about once a month and will probably go longer in the future. It sounds to good to be true but the principles seem to be sound!

I can elaborate if people are interested, but I don't want to hijack the thread

(PS you can also do this in a properly sized plastic water or soda bottle)

Chris

I really like the idea you use for a corner filter. You also answered my question if a media bag will work. How
Sorry no I don't have a youtube, he really is the expert, I just retrofitted his principles to fit in a small tank. Anyways, I just used a corner filter:
or stacked two of them on top of each other (the taller the filter chamber the better)
I first removed all the media and sponges in the filter, except for one sponge on the bottom of the filter (serves as a prefilter). I then dremeled out the plastic shelf in the middle of the filter so i could fit a small size media bag to run along the entire height of the filter chamber. To the media bag i added special kitty, natural kitty litter:

In the center of the kitty litter I added a core of Fluval Flourite. The flourite should run almost the entire length of the media bag. You want a ratio of 4:1 kitty litter to flourite

It is key to not overfill the media bag or allow the media to fill the entire filter chamber. You want space for water to flow around the media when it enters the filter chamber. I achieved this by leaving some of the plastic shelf (that i previously dremeled) in place to allow the extra plastic to push the media into the center of the filter housing. This allowed the water to enter from the bottom of the filter and flow around the media in the filter chamber. Proper execution will produce the low flow conditions in the center of the media that is needed for bacteria growth. This along with the prefilter sponge on the bottom of the filter chamber will help to avoid the media from becoming a detritus trap as well.

Finally, I hooked up an air pump to the filter and adjusted the flow to about one bubble per second (again to allow really slow flow). After about 2 months break in, my nitrates stay between 0 and 20 for the most part and phosphate stays low too in a well fed tank. I went from weekly water changes to changes about once a month and will probably go longer in the future. It sounds to good to be true but the principles seem to be sound!

I can elaborate if people are interested, but I don't want to hijack the thread

Thank you for the insight. You answered a question I have had in the back of my mind which was can you use a media bag.... I'm assuming the cat litter / iron volume you used is maybe around half cup. Am I right?

I don't have the type iron supplement you have. I only have ironite. It like a black dust... I'm hoping it will be sufficient. Btw I be interested in an more info you care to share on your set up. I'm new to this kinda "forum" way of sharing ideas. I don't want to be breaking rules or hijacking anything either. If you post the info somewhere else can you point me in right direction. Cm
(PS you can also do this in a properly sized plastic water or soda bottle)

Chris
 

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Oh I forgot something. I use plastic canvas cut to size to give support to the filter bag in the chamber. This is so the media doesnt shift in the filter every time you move it. I cut the canvas appropriately slip it between the filter bag and the filter chamber to make the bag more rigid.

Reminder, again with all this you want space for the water to flow around the media bag in the filter chamber.

One final thought:
I have employed this in a high tech planted tank and it seems to work well to keep nitrates and phosphates manageable (ie: less water changes), it may even help pull reds out of plants by limiting the nitrogen, if you are using a soil substrate. The only catch I found with this technique, (and I am meaning to talk to Dr. Novak about this to verify) is that periodically the bacteria that is responsible for the process seems to proliferate in the water column. This I believe is because the bacteria can live in both high oxygen environments and low oxygen environments (in low oxygen environments the bacteria robs oxygen from nitrate and phosphate molecules, thereby removing them). The reason I suspect this has been happening is that when I add Iron to the tank I get a milky cloud that can form very rapidly. I have solved this by UV sterilizing the water for 2 hours/10gal tank just prior to performing a 50% water change once a month. I use this unit:

This has eliminated the clouding effect. You might be able to achieve this with just periodic water changes also. But, this is all just a work in progress. My next goal is to test lengthening the time between water changes to 2 months. Nitrates don't seem to be a problem anymore for me but that does not mean there are not other impurities in the water that can build up and be harmful to fish and plants. Glad you guys found it helpful!

Cheers all!
Chris
 

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It is very difficult to remove NO3 with denitrifying techniques, such as the one being mentioned. Only anaerobic bacteria can do it and this requires very slow water movement in whatever ideal media is involved. Even with the best options, the most you will get is a couple ppm per day.

The best option to limit NO3 is a water change and to control the source of the NO3, which are the organics (ammonia). With a 15-gallon tank, it might not be too burdensome to use distilled water as part of your water change. Reducing fish food and increasing cleanliness will also help. Plants will also consume much of the NO3.

The aerobic bacteria (which is far more prevalent than any anaerobic bacteria that may develop) is what converts ammonia to nitrate. It does not remove NO3. Purigen will absorb ammonia, which means less conversion to nitrate and, thus, lower nitrates.

@cpage3:

None of the bacteria that develop in our tanks will remove phosphates. The milky cloud after adding iron is probably precipitation of the iron as it binds with other ions, such as phosphate. In fact, the UV sterilizer will break the chelator from the iron and cause rapid precipitation. This is probably the clearing effect you are seeing and the PO4 reduction, as the bound iron and phosphate drop into the substrate where they mostly become useless to plants. With a UVS, you may want to try an iron gluconate, such as Seachem’s Iron.
 
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