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Discussion Starter #1
I tested my invert tank water to see what my params were like before doing my water change so I know what to do with the ro water before adding it.

Consequently my nitrates are abnormally high. And have been all along I'm thinking the test is no good.

Params include
Ph7.0
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Gh 8
Kh 4 (ro water will fix these)
Nitrate 40ppm

The top of the tank is literally covered in rrf salvinia cucullata, as well as duckweed, granted the light isn't high enough to sustain salvinia.

Filtration is one marina s20 half with biomedia other half with the ceramatik and carbon cartridges I change out every three weeks. As well as one year seasoned sponge filter.

Nothing is decaying in the tank, there is no dead fish or shrimp or snails to my knowledge ( I just combed through the whole tank to make sure) so wht is going on. It seems like my nitrates are never below 20 ppm in this tank.

I never dose ferts in the tank or co2, I just did a spot treating for staghorn algae, and now I'm thinking that the staghorn was caused by the nitrate being so high.

Ideas or suggestions guys?

Btw this is a ten gallon tank. Lighting is a fugeray 16" and a single bright 16" marineland.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's a great tool to use, I'll try that today.

Even if there was decaying organic matter it should be that high at most 20ppm because of the sheer volume of floaters on the top and moss ball in the tank as well as the moss. It's almost detouring to have the tank still. I love my shrimp and wish I could start the tank over from scratch but that would entail a thorough cleaning and rehousing of the shrimp and I don't have an extra tank for that.
 

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Many chain petstores that deal in fish and LFS offer free testing of basic water parameters, including nitrate. Taking a sample in would be a quick verification.
 

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I just can't see it being organics especially with the salvinia. I have a 10G shrimp tank that I dose (no CO2). Basically just all moss and some pearl weed, pellia, and a couple of small java ferns. Two 13W CFLS. If I didn't dose there would be 0 of everything pretty quick. I dose 1.75ppm of NO3 three times a week and frequently see nitrate of less than 5.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah I don't dose anything in the tank, the substrate is supposed to give the most nutrients to the plants.

I would take it into my work, petsmart, but all chain stores use test strips which are highly inaccurate. I took my ph test in yesterday the liquid kind, and a customer came in to test his water. So I used the strip compared to the liquid, and he went and bought the liquid tests because it proves the strips are inaccurate.

But now I'm wondering if the liquid tests are even any good. Myne still has a shelf life of about a year in a half left before I need to replace it.

I'm going to do the hoppy calib test first and then see if the tests kit is no good or good still. And then do a 50% w.c. N follow tomorrow or the next day with another 25% one.

It just doesn't add up to me why the nitrate would be so high with the plants there. To me if the nitrates are high, the ammonia should be present as well as nitrites.
 

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Yeah I don't dose anything in the tank, the substrate is supposed to give the most nutrients to the plants.
What type of substrate and how old? If it's dirt who knows what is in it. The controls are lacking in that department lol.

It just doesn't add up to me why the nitrate would be so high with the plants there. To me if the nitrates are high, the ammonia should be present as well as nitrites.
Not necessarily. Your bacterial population is most likely processing the ammonia fast enough to never see ammonia or nitrite.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's azoo plant grower bed. The buffering has wore off though because when I first set the tank up I was using solely tap water and was having trouble so I switched over to ro water.

I wanted to do a dirt tank, but it would rather use another substrate for re doing my shrimp tank. But it's hard as I said I don't have another tank or room to temporarily home my shrimp.

That's true, and there's not many shrimp in the tank to put off that much ammonia and waste to begin with.
 

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I'm not that familiar with azoo plant grower bed. I don't think it's suppose to raise ammonia like ADA although the composition is similar. Maybe they don't add nutrients like the ADA, dunno. If the buffering has worn off I would think any leaching of nutrients would have as well. Really sounds like a bad test to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't see what the problem is. It's a non-issue and 40+ppm of NO3 isn't abnormal.

If you're wondering where it came from: food or from the tap. Test the tap.
In a tNk were the nitrates stay below 20 ppm having them upwards of 40ppm is definatly abnormal. I don't use tap water anymore. I use strictly ro water so I know what's going into my tank and I can mineralize to the gh or tds I find fit for my stocking.

I'm thinking its a bad test as well. I'm going to test it again as I just did a 50% w.c.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's definatly the test kit, I tested twice before and twice after a water change using pure ro water. 50% water change and the results are the same at 40ppm. After a water change that big they should have dropped down to 20-10ppm

Even the ph is reading the same. 7.0 the only thing that read different was the gh and kh wich were at 6gh and 1-2kh.

What test kits do you guys use.
 

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I use API test kits. The nitrate test has worked fine for me, even well past the expiration date it shows no signs of failure when tested against calibration solutions. As long as you shake bottle #2 very well that is. The active ingredient is solid crystals in liquid suspension, which tend to settle and clump together over time, and if they're not well mixed you'll get bad tests. Rapping the bottle on a hard surface helps break up clumps too, prior to shaking.

I tried upgrading to a fancier and more expensive Red Sea nitrate test once. Which always produced a result of zero. It was replaced by the manufacturer, but the new one had the same problem. At which point I got to speak directly to a chemist working for Red Sea, and during troubleshooting I learned about all the ways nitrate tests can go wrong. None of which got the Red Sea test working, but ironically the technique he gave me (described above) got my API test working perfectly. So I went back to API.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I followed the directions exactly as it sais in the booklet. And out of all four tests I did today they all came out with the same reading. The same thing with the ph test. 7.2 before and 7.2 afterwards. The only tests that actually were useful and showed a difference were the gh kh tests. And of course the tds pen.
 

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A Nitrate reading of 40 is perfectly acceptable for fresh water fish. Don't worry until the Nitrates reach 60, and only panic is they reach 100.

Try increasing the number of plants and decreasing the amount you feed the fish. Keep an eye out for algae. Above all enjoy your fish tank.

If you absolutely have to reduce your nitrate level try a product like
. Add it to your filter and keep an eye one your nitrate levels. It is possible to reduce them to much, and starve your plants.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If it was just a fish tank with fish I wouldn't worry, but this is a shrimp tank that's not heavily planted. It's not really a water quality problem as it is a test problem.

If my nitrates are reading (with a good test) 40ppm before a water change. And then I do a after change with pure ro water, the nitrates should be cut in half and read 10-20ppm afterwards, and the test was saying 40ppm after the water change.

Even then if the test was right there should be no nitrates detectable because of the floaters and moss in the tank.
 

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I see a couple of things going on. Don't know which is the answer. Perhaps a combination.

With low light (you say Salvinia struggles) there is not enough light to keep the plants metabolizing at a high enough level to keep the N levels down.

If you do a 50% water change and the new water has zero NO3, then the water test after the water change might not show a 50% reduction in the NO3, but will show something close to it.
If you are still seeing 40 ppm after a 50% water change then there is either a really fast acting source of NO3 (stirring up the substrate, for example) or else the test is not working for you.

If the test is not working here are a few ideas:
1) The colors beyond 40 ppm are all so similar that the real NO3 level might be even higher, and you cannot see the difference in the color. Then you do a 50% water change, and that brings the level down to really 40ppm, so you read it and think there has been no change.
Solution: Dilute the test sample with RO water. Use 2.5ml aquarium water + 2.5 ml RO, then double the result.
2) The test might be really not valid.
Solution: Shaking as described by Dark Cobra and verifying the results with another test kit, and making samples of known dilutions are all valid things to do.
3) The test is valid and the NO3 level has been creeping up.
Solution: Do 2 x 50% water changes daily until the level is WAY lower. Then monitor it to see how fast it climbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yeah the light isn't high enough for the salvinia to thrive, the fugeray and marineland single bright combined are enough to sustain it without dieing, the rrf and duckweed howver multiply at a very rapid pace, as does the moss in the tank. Even without the salvinia the other should be able to take care of the nitrates with no problem. Funny thing is, I rarely ever touch this tank except for weekly water changes and to throw in new alder cones.

What I'm going to do is take a sample of water to work tomorrow buy a new liquid nitrate test and test it against that. Because there should be no reason or way for the nitrates to creep up or even be remotely close to 40ppm or more.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ok, I banged the crap outa the second bottle this time and shook if for a long time to get the crystals broken up. I didn't know that about the second bottle that's really good to know. I did a test on my 55 first to make sure the test worked. 55 is way to high I need to do a water change. Color is almost off the charts. But that might be because I did just put aquasoil in on Friday.

Anyways the tank dropped overnight from 40ppm to 20 ppm which I am pleased with because that's where I like it to stay if not at 0 for my invert tank, and I tested the ph on my 55 and then my invert again and the ph test is working, I just don't understand why my ph is slightly higher than 7.0 if I use nothing but ro water.
 
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