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Need help with Nitrates

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I have a 12 gallon tank fully planted and loosing fish. I have not been testing the water or doing water changes for quite some time. I’m using pressurized CO2 and dosing PPS pro as per the instructions from the manufacture. At first I thought I was gassing them and my drop CHECKER just wasn’t working so I turned the CO2 completely off. Came home from work today and found another dead fish so I decided to check my water and found everything perfect but nitrates extremely high. Can this be the Ferts that I’m dozing? I have another tank that I dose the same solution with and the parameters are Good. See pictures attached. I could really use some advice thank you guys and gals.
One more thing: I have four or five Amano shrimp that will not seem to come out of hiding since I started adding fish. They used to run the tank now they only hide.Could that be a sign of something wrong as well? The fish I’ve lost are neon tetra’s and zebra Danio’s. I’ve also lost a handful of Ottos but I think that’s just because they like to die. ;) Plant Water Vertebrate Botany Green

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If you have fish you need to do water changes on a regular basis to eliminate toxic levels of nitrates in system.

The nitrate level you have, as indicated from your water test, is most certainly the underlying cause of your fish deaths.
High nitrates kills over time, it is not immediate, by lowering the fishes immune system.
The fish, due to the high nitrates, becomes stressed and as a result succumbs to parasitic or bacterial infections that it would-- if healthy-- be able to combat.

If you are not overdosing ferts, then the high nitrate level is simply due to lack of proper maintenance to your aquarium. I would not only start doing regular water changes, but I would maintenance your filter if this has also not been done as often as it should be.

I change 50% of water volume weekly in all my aquariums, my discus tank gets 2 x50% water changes a week.
To find the range that is best for you (with fish I would try to stay under 20ppm at all times) you may need to do further testing to find out how often need to change to stay within a healthy level.
 

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If you are putting stuff in the tank (food, ferts, top ups) you need to be taking stuff out of the tank (via water changes). You can muck about trying to narrow down what specific thing is causing the deaths but it would be easier just to get on and do some water changes. I would start off smallish so as not to shock the fish as having been left you tank water maybe very different to your tap now. Something like 20% a day for a few days and then up it to a few 50%. Then keep up biggish regular changes for at least a few weeks. If no more deaths then you can think about reducing it slightly, but not altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I added Ottos & Nirite snails on 3/21. Amano Shrimp 4/4 and rest of fish beginning end of may and re-stocking dead ones for last few weeks. I turned CO2 back on but not as heavy. Going to do water change tonight as I would assume this can only help. I clean algae from inside tank and change out filter floss regularly inside filter. Running Carbon inside a HOB filter (not reactor but in a bag which much water filters through).

I have been reading and hearing (podcasts) where regular water changes just are not necessary in an established fully planted tank. Using Water changes only used as a tool to fix a problem. What are some of your opinions on that?

Also is it unusual for the Amano shrimp to spend most of their time hiding inside a cave and not swimming around. they were always out until I started adding Neons and Danios. They don't even come out to feed so I a assuming they are coming out only at night. Does it seem as if maybe there is a problem with them based on what I have stated. They are still molting and look good.

Thank you everyone for your help.
 

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Most people doing EI dosing have this level of nitrates- above 80ppm or more? With fish?
This is going to kill your fish long-term. No fish can live in this high of nitrates without eventually succumbing to disease.
 

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Disagree with above.

Many EI tanks are 50+ ppm nitrates for years.

Personally I routinely keep Rainbows for ten years with what most would consider high Nitrates.

If you set out to kill your fish with high Nitrates, you would be highly disappointed. Would take far more and longer than you think.

Now Discus is another thing entirely, but for most freshwater fish, Nitrates are of little concern.

At least that has been my experience in 40+ years of fish keeping.
 

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I would respectfully disagree that nitrates are harmless to fish. Im actually surprised that this isnt something that you would agree with given your many years as an aquarist.

Certainly, there are some fish that can take higher nitrates then others, by a sliding scale. Some fish, like those who come from more stagnant waters with high decomposing organics can take much higher levels of organic levels for a longer duration than those that come from areas of clear, fast moving waters or areas very low in dissolved organics ( like discus, geophagus, Uaru's, etc...). I understand with heavily planted tanks one can go longer between water changes as nitrates do not accumulate as quickly, but this does not diminish the fact that once those levels rise, they do become deadly to fish.

However, and I am not at all disputing your years of experience, nitrates in the 50's are much too high long-term to keep most fish healthy. Of course, this isn't something Ive determined out of my own observations--- it is well documented.
Here is an article from a reputable resource that explains this clearly:

Keeping Up with Nitrate | Freshwater | Feature Articles | TFH Magazine®
 

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I get what the article linked to says. I've seen many like it.

With all due respect, they suggest keeping a tank at no higher than 5 to 10 ppm Nitrates. Do you think ANY planted tank here on this board would fall into that category? Or for that matter very few freshwater tanks in general.

And I am not trying to argue with you. But interestingly, you state you have never experienced it, but have read it. In my opinion, experience and quoting internet articles are two different things. I could start a long list right now of things I consider to be complete myths about Rainbows, yet people regularly quote them as they are gospel. Why? Because they read it somewhere, and it gets repeated. Goes for planted tanks too.

I've read quotes from Tom Barr where he has kept many tanks at well over 80ppm for years. No fish loss, disease, or other problems. Fish breed, shrimp breed, and tank is healthy. And he is a guy who sets up and runs lots of planted tanks.

Now I do believe there is a point where Nitrates will affect health. My point is that in my own personal experience that the level is much, much higher than the 5 to 10 ppm the linked to article states. Even the article says fish don't show any symptoms under 100ppm. I routinely dose N to get the water column into the 50 range, check my journal to see loads of pics of my large long lived Rainbows.

Again, not trying at all to pick a fight, just stating my own personal experience, and I know there are loads more here who share that same experience.

Edit: I should add that I am a strong advocate of large regular water changes. And regular gravel vacs, heavy filtration, good surface agitation, and all around good tank maintenance. In my experience, keeping organics low is key to success for both fish and plants.
 

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1. Nitrates up to 80 ppm in a planted tank is the least of your wories. BUT Nitrates are relatively easy to test and raising or consistently high Nitrates is one indicator that other compounds are also accumulating.

2. You can certainly keep a planted tank that needs very little maintenance, including water changes. BUT can does not mean you should. Low maintenance tanks are specialty tanks that need to be designed with a forethought: specific choice of plants and fish, substrate, lighting, circulation. You do not see many of them running because a) not easy to set up correctly for the long term b) most people don't find them attractive.

3. Once your tank parameters start deviating too far from the local norm, introducing new fish becomes harder and riskier. Ever flew from, say, N. Dakota to Hawaii in winter? Then you can relate how the new fish feels. Some make it, most dont. Drastic differences in temperature, co2 / o2 levels, TDS, chemical concentrations, etc. are like multiple blows, all at once.

In short, start your water changes and keep them on a relatively consistent basis, as per posts above. Planted tanks present multiple challanges - no need to make your life interesting by skipping a basic step.
 

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I have a 12 gallon tank fully planted and loosing fish. I have not been testing the water or doing water changes for quite some time. I’m using pressurized CO2 and dosing PPS-Pro as per the instructions from the manufacture.… I decided to check my water and found everything perfect but nitrates extremely high.
How much CO2 are you supplying?
How much and how often are you dosing solution #1 and #2?
What is your tap and aquarium GH?
What is your aquarium PO4?

I clean algae from inside tank and change out filter floss regularly inside filter. Running Carbon inside a HOB filter (not reactor but in a bag which much water filters through).
You need to keep filters clean, some get dirty in two months, some in two days. Carbon is unpredictable component. I wouldn’t use it because it removes stuff and later puts it back and never know when.

I have been reading and hearing (podcasts) where regular water changes just are not necessary in an established fully planted tank. Using Water changes only used as a tool to fix a problem. What are some of your opinions on that?
It can be done but it takes time. New aquariums need water changes to reach stability. Still, some people are in a constant state of emergency relying on large water changes in order to avoid problems. Exceptions are large fish like discus where water changes are necessary.

Natural waters over 10 ppm NO3 nitrates are considered contaminated. You have large gravel which allows large amount of organic sediment that is decomposing rather than ending up in the filter. You may need to modify the dosing or flush it with water changes in order to keep it under control for now.
 

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"And I am not trying to argue with you. But interestingly, you state you have never experienced it, but have read it. In my opinion, experience and quoting internet articles are two different things. I could start a long list right now of things I consider to be complete myths about Rainbows, yet people regularly quote them as they are gospel. Why? Because they read it somewhere, and it gets repeated. Goes for planted tanks too"

This is not clear to me.

Particularly the part of "you state you have never experienced it, but have read it"

What I meant by "this isn't something Ive determined out of my own observations" is that I do not believe that one persons observations make a truth. Scientific method- verifiable by repetition.

Now if you are saying that I have never subjected my fish to 50ppm nitrates long-term, you are right. I have read enough scientifically based articles and books written by researchers to tell me that the assertion that all fish can take 100 ppm nitrates long-term is false. I could see exceptions,and Ill be generous here, 10% of all fish in the wild ( and that includes the ones we capture and put in the aquarium).

I am not like others where I am unwilling to read articles that refute my own ideas. If you have them- post them! I also have access to scientific- peer-reviewed articles through the University I am affiliated with, so direct me to any articles you know of.
 

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If you really want to, I'm sure you can google it and I'm guessing it wouldn't be too hard to find. I also recall a post of his that basically said worrying about high nitrates (from dosing, not a dirty tank) is the least of your worries, unless you are well over 100ppm from organics. There are 101 things more important to worry about. He also wrote about a tank he kept at 160ppm for some time (from dosing), and no problems with fish.

But in any event, regardless of Tom Barr or anyone else, my thoughts are based on my own personal experience from decades of fish keeping. In the end, that's what I rely upon most, both for fish AND plants.

For instance, if someone starts reading about CO2, they will see over and over again that a one point pH drop (30ppm CO2) is optimal. Funny thing is most every successful plant keeper I follow is well over that. I know in my tank plants would rebel pretty quickly at that drop. And if you read up on EI dosing, you might think there is a recipe you follow and that's that. Again, most every successful plant keeper I follow is dosing some variation that works in THEIR tank.

Again, don't want to argue with you. Each is entitled to his own opinion. But if it's really true that say 50ppm+ nitrate killed fish, I guess I've just been lucky for the past 40 years.

And honestly, peer reviewed scientific University articles mean little to me. I don't know of one that takes place in a home hobbyist aquarium. Goes for both fish and plants.
 
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