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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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"Research paper is valid when fits one’s narrative". So does this mean that Tom barr's article is only true because it fits his narrative?
There are countless threads about fish health relationship to NO3 levels with references to hundreds of scientific research documents pointing clearly in one direction. But no, the little opposing group will still try to dismiss it based on a claim that no research was conducted on their own glass box and also not in their living room.

It has already started in post #17 above:
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.
See? More is coming.
 

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I do rely on personal experience in my glass box.
At the stage your aquarium is in, I would really like to find out why you are experiencing problems when lowering NO3 to half when the most aquariums on this planet with the best plants have 1/10th of that.
Lets be consistent here.
I trust the research papers that are consistent in finding similar results and conclusions to each other, not the extreme few.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5eb8/62b20729b804521991a7567eb38a96629ec4.pdf
https://www.researchgate.net/profil...aquatic-species.pdf?origin=publication_detail
https://www.researchgate.net/public...itrate_toxicity_to_freshwater_aquatic_species
http://envirolink.govt.nz/assets/En...ty-effects-on-freshwater-aquatic-species-.pdf
http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/defaul...ty effects on freshwater aquatic species .pdf
 

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Can you please point me to the area of article that was to support higher nitrate levels as not harmful to fish?
My PPS fertilizing systems since 2004 recommend 5 – 10 ppm NO3.

You need to redirect your question to Greggz:
Many EI tanks are 50+ ppm nitrates for years.
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.
 

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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.
I will say it again;
At the stage your aquarium is in, I would really like to find out why you are experiencing problems when lowering NO3 to half when the most aquariums on this planet with the best plants have 1/10th of that.

Why? Because there must be some reason we can learn from. Why do I like having lower NO3? Because it is not the best thing for fish, if you agree, see bellow:
We are speaking of Nitrate (MG NO3-N/L which converts to commensurate value of 1ppm) between:
1.0-1.5 Pristine environments
2.4- 3.5 Environment has a range of human interaction w/ little harmful effects to aquatic-life.
3.8-5.6 Environments with naturally occurring seasonal disturbances.
6.9-9.8 Measurably degraded seasonally elevated levels of nitrates 1-3 mo. of year.
20-30 Environments that are significantly degraded. Probable chronic effects on multiple species.

20-30 ppm Nitrates is the high measure with "chronic effects on multiple aquatic species".
For example, some tetras get more colorful, more beautiful when introduced to higher trace element metals. More Cu better colour they get, until they go to shock and die. Even when dead, they have unusually very strong ‘beautiful’ coloration. So much for happy looking fish, right?

I'd like to know more about your experiences with N dosing and fish health. Not something you've read, or an article you can point to, but your own actual experience.
You don’t want me to test that. It is cruel enough what the research does. I rather take the research as is and keep my fish happier based on their data.

I support everyone doing something new for this hobby, developing new stuff, like @happi and @burr740do. That’s the right way to get forward.
 

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Post #1
Thread Starter, davgriggs:
I’m using pressurized CO2 and dosing PPS-Pro as per the instructions from the manufacture. 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.
Post #2
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.
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.
Disagree with above.
Many EI tanks are 50+ ppm nitrates for years. 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.
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… Even the article says fish don't show any symptoms under 100ppm.
@Edward I get that your system is PPS. And you have success with it. And many others use EI, and they have success with it. …Keep in mind my goal is not to prove any theory.
And your question really is PPS vs EI in general.
Greggz, can you let us help davgriggs, the thread starter OP?
 

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I am not exactly sure how much CO2 I am dosing as I am not certain how to measure it correctly. (do you suggest the GH/KH test? I have read that this is fully unreliable). I have the bubble counter @ just a little above 1bps when I used to have it so high I couldn't even count it. The drop counter is solid green to slightly blue when it used to be green w/ a tinge of yellow hue.
The way you do it is good. It is a 12 gallon aquarium so 1 – 2 bps is ok. Keep it steady.
I failed to mention that the fish loss has spiked once I started dosing PPS Pro method.
In the past, I have seen fertilizer bags mixed up and also weighting and mixing solutions incorrectly. It is difficult to troubleshoot when that happens. Let’s say, for some reason there is missing KH2PO4 in the solution then NO3 will not be taken by plants as much as it should and it starts accumulating in the water column. Do you use digital scale?
I don't know what my GH is in tank or tap but will test when I get home tonight and will post them.
I asked this because plants need calcium. Your source is tap, but if you don’t change water for some time it can get used up and plants stop taking NO3.
I don't have a phosphate test kit. I have very little algae that I can see and never have had a problem with it in this tank if that matters.
I asked because it can confirm PO4 in the dosing solution. Again, if PO4 is missing NO3 will not be taken by plants.
I cleaned my filter and added new mechanical filtration twice the amount of what it was. Removed Carbon. With HOB filter I have no added biological aside from what is in the tank. The HOB is equipped for a bio-wheel which I don't use. Should I start using it? Does it matter?
Perfect. You don’t need the wheel. Clean the filters as often as you find them dirty.
As an aside: once I did the water change the neons started to swim in a group again and seemed to be playing in the current when they were just kind of roaming on their own with some just sort of hovering around the bottom. at this point I turned up the CO2 from 1dps to maybe 1.5 to 2.0dps and the neons separated a bit again. Coincidental?? I left the CO2 where it is and look forward to seeing what Is going on when I get home today. The shrimp have come out of hiding and are feeding in the moss
Very good.

Also your gravel is probably leaching KH due to CO2 injection. The only way to keep this under control is with water changes and the cheapest and easiest way is to get a TDS Tester. It lasts forever and it will also tell you when water change is needed. You can get it cheaply from Home Depot or elsewhere.

You forgot one thing: How much and how often are you dosing solution #1 macros and #2 micros? Without sufficient dosing, NO3 will also go up.

For your 12 gallon aquarium the daily dose should be
1.2 ml or 24 drops Solution #1 macros
0.6 ml or 12 drops Solution #2 micros
 

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@ Edward.
been dosing every night as soon as lights go out. 1.0ml macro and two drops of micro (as per instructions) I use a digital scale to make solution.
- by the way... why dose with the lights are off. I am doing this because the instructions say to do so but doesn't explain why this is. also is dosing at beginning of the dark period the best time? instructions only say while lights are out.
You need to dose before lights go on, not after off. When plants suck it up in 30 minutes they have it ready for photosynthesis when lights come on.

For high light and CO2 you need to change dosing to;
1.2 ml or 24 drops Solution #1 macros
0.6 ml or 12 drops Solution #2 micros
 

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Edward,

I leave for work in the am @ 7am but lights don't come on until noon. If I dose @ 7am-ish is this to early to dose considering no lights until noon? If I turn the lights on to much earlier I won't have much time at night with the tank lights on.
Better if you dose in the morning than at night and leave light timer the way it is.
Are Nitrates raised by Macros, Micros or neither? I don't understand the chemistry behind it all. What drives nitrates other than the nitrogen cycle. Am I even asking the right questions? If I raise or lower my micro or macros right now is it going to affect my nitrate level? I stopped dosing a few days back once I noticed the high nitrates. Im sort of nervous to even start dosing again.
If you don’t dose complete fertilizer your plants will not take up as much nutrients as they could. As a result, fish waste will start accumulating in water and becomes detectable as NO3 and PO4. See, plants are incredibly greedy creatures, they take up more than they need. But there is a catch, it has to be balanced. The Solution #1 macros have N, P, K, Mg, S and the Solution #2 micros have Fe, Mn, B, Zn and Cu. So the best setup is when added fertilizer makes plants so excited that they remove also the fish waste.
 
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