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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All, I’ve had my 105 for 6 years now and the Nitrates are extremely high- 80-120 PPM and I don’t know what to do. The highest it’s ever been was over 160 PPM a few months ago. Although I have tried a few processes to minimize it, but I’m sure it must be old tank syndrome. 18 months ago I removed and replaced all the biological media from the Eheim Pro 3 (Eheim’s biggest Canister) thinking that this would help, unfortunately I did not test frequently after I did that, so I do not have any data, but I don’t think it helped much. The test kit I use is API, it was purchased recently and I followed a process on YouTube on the proper way to test.
• 1 month ago I removed all 200 lbs or so of the original Seachem Flourite dark substrate (from 2014) and replaced with Seachem Black. I thought the substrate was a nitrate trap, and surprised that it was not.
• I do 50-70% water changes weekly.
• I replace the dense foam pad in the canister about every 4-6 weeks or so, I’m thinking I should probably replace more often, but I don’t like to break into the Giant canister filter every time I do a WC, it’s a PITA.
• I dabble back and forth between PPS Pro and EI dosing, but try not to overdo it.
• I have a dedicated skimmer canister filter Eheim Classic 350 just for extra filtration and skimming. I have Seachem Matrix filtration media and foam media in the 350 Classic.
• I have 2 T5’s and Fluval 3.0 for lighting, if that matters. I constantly mess around with the lights to try to dial them in.
• The fish bioload is low, 12 small tetras, the nitrates were very high even when the tank was fish-less for a few months (160 PPM). I have good water movement via an MP-10.
• I dose C02 with a Cerges reactor, about 3 bubbles per second. Bubbles are completely dissolved prior to entering the tank.
• The plants that are red in most tanks are brown or copper/green in mine indicating high nitrates especially for the rotala.
• Phosphates at 0. Not worried about ammonia or nitrites since it is 6 years old
• When I filled the aquarium up after it was completely emptied of everything, I used fairly warm water, probably 85-90 degrees to take a lot of the demand off the heaters. Also, the canister filter was turned off for about 3 hours with no oxygen feeding it, could the hot water and lack of oxygen kill the biological filtration?
The last thing I can think of is to replace the biological media again and instead of using Eheim, I could use Seachem Matrix and/or Seachem De-Nitrate media. I’d even consider a sump with overflow, but not for awhile. Over all the tank does look good, the algae is not out of control, but some older leaves do show it and the film on the glass appears every week or so.
I’m constantly on YouTube and other sites to educate myself on anything aquarium, lately it’s been canister filter maintenance. It’s very debatable whether or not the canister is a fertilizer/nitrate trap, some people say it could be, others say No. But I am willing to again remove all the biological media and replace, I think that is my next step.
Any suggestions would be great, if anyone has had a similar issue, please let me know what you did to resolve it, hopefully I have covered everything, if not, please let me know.
Thanks Folks
 

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A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
 

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Can we first talk about how you test?

What test kit do you use and what procedure do you follow? Have you calibrated the test kit by testing a known quantity of NO3? Have you tested your source water at the same temperature you mentioned that you used to fill the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Thanks Mark,
1) At one time I may have overdosed the PPS Pro, both Micros and Macros were on peristaltic dosers for about 3 years. But now I hand dose daily to monitor the amount better, about 4-6 mL per day of each. The EI dosing was very brief, and before the substrate removal.
2) Phosphates, yes it is odd that it was 0, perhaps I should measure again, I have a new test kit.
3) The tap water is about 2.0 PPM, very slight orange color.
4)Nitrate measured with API, a new test kit. I made sure I was doing it correctly.

Bump:
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Can we first talk about how you test?

What test kit do you use and what procedure do you follow? Have you calibrated the test kit by testing a known quantity of NO3? Have you tested your source water at the same temperature you mentioned that you used to fill the tank?
API is the test kit. I have not calibrated it because the test results was so high, I doubt there was much variation. I suppose I could take a sample down to the LFS, I'll do that. Source water about 2.0-3.0 PPM. Thanks
 

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Stop dosing whatever you are putting in the tank. Feed very sparingly. Do a 50% water change every day for 4 days. Then recheck the Nitrates. If Nitrates are still high there has to be something wrong with the testing.
 

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The fact that the kit is new doesn't make it reliable. :)

I've never had luck with Api nitrate test kits.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A few random thoughts:
1) Is it possible you are inadvertently overdosing nitrate with EI or pps pro?
2) On a related note, it's very odd your phosphates are 0 when you are dosing with EI or PPS Pro.
3) Have you tested your tap water (or whatever you are using for water changes) for nitrates?
4) How are you measuring nitrate?
Stop dosing whatever you are putting in the tank. Feed very sparingly. Do a 50% water change every day for 4 days. Then recheck the Nitrates. If Nitrates are still high there has to be something wrong with the testing.
Ok I'll do this. What about CO2, turn it off? Thanks
 

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Hi Brian :)

But I am willing to again remove all the biological media and replace, I think that is my next step.
You understand that bio-filters CREATE nitrate, not REMOVE it, right? Seems from your explanation you are thinking it's an issue with your filter? The bio-filter converts ammonia to nitrite, then nitrite to nitrate, then.... nothing! The end result is nitrate which stays in your water usually until:
a) plants 'eat' it
b) you do a water change

Assuming your nitrate measurement is correct then, given you're already doing such big weekly w/c's, then there's a lot of nitrate coming in from somewhere! Question is from where? If you're getting lots of nitrates (and assuming these are being produced by the filter, not from fert's) then your bio-media is working great so no need to change it. If your ammonia or nitrite was high, then you might question the filter, but high nitrates indicate the filter is working well!

Regards, James
 

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I've ruled out the nitrate was harbored in the substrate since it has been completely replaced. So the canister is just running as it should, it creates nitrates and removal of nitrates would be with big WC's. I'm also looking into Seachem De-Nirate as a step later on, not right away. Probably wouldn't hurt to buy some ammonia and nitrites test kits, and another better nitrate kit.

I'll do 50% WC's as mentioned in above post, stop dosing, feed sparingly. thanks all

Any recommendations on test kits besides API,...... Sera or Seachem or Salifert? Pricey
 

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You probably have contaminated tap water. Can you measure your tap water for nitrates before you put it in the tank? Does your water supplier use chloramines to treat/purify water supplied to you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You probably have contaminated tap water. Can you measure your tap water for nitrates before you put it in the tank? Does your water supplier use chloramines to treat/purify water supplied to you?
I'm very doubtful that the municipal water is bad, they do use chloramines and I use Seachem Prime to remove them as well as chlorine. I could get a reading, from the water supply. I use a python from faucet, it's not the most ideal, but very convenient. I wish I could have 50 gallons of sitting water to replace for a 50% WC. Thanks
 

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Any recommendations on test kits besides API,...... Sera or Seachem or Salifert? Pricey
I prefer the Salifert kit and have tried all of those you listed. The API is very finnicky, so I would suggest that one of those other kits would, at least, rule out user error.

Since you are trying to get nitrates down and on the assumption that you are, someohow, truly creating that many nitrates, try adding Purigen. As mentioned above, your biomedia will convert the nitrogenous organics into nitrates. Purigen intercepts those particular organics before they can be converted by your biomedia, thus reducing the amount available to be converted to nitrates.
 
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I'm very doubtful that the municipal water is bad, they do use chloramines and I use Seachem Prime to remove them as well as chlorine. I could get a reading, from the water supply. I use a python from faucet, it's not the most ideal, but very convenient. I wish I could have 50 gallons of sitting water to replace for a 50% WC. Thanks
I would not make the assumption that your tap water is fine because nitrate contamination is not that uncommon. If you test it and it's 0 you can rule it out as a source.
 

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I'm also looking into Seachem De-Nirate as a step later on, not right away.
I didn't catch this before...

Assuming nitrates are not coming from tap, plants make for a great "denitrator". Just saying :)

I have 3 low tech tanks right now that get water changes every 2 - 3 months. Nitrates hover between 2 and 5 ppm. Plants are growing great in those tanks though.

If you want something more, than maybe look into Pothos as a nitrate sink. Salvinia's do an ok job as well.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Here's my take from what you've said. If your P levels are always at 0 then your plants will not uptake that nitrate. Plants require all nutrients in order to photosynthesize if you are missing one of the macro nutrients the plants will stop taking up the other two. If you are at 0 P then plants will not uptake any K or N.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Here's my take from what you've said. If your P levels are always at 0 then your plants will not uptake that nitrate. Plants require all nutrients in order to photosynthesize if you are missing one of the macro nutrients the plants will stop taking up the other two. If you are at 0 P then plants will not uptake any K or N.

Thank you for the suggestion and you're right, which prompted me to test for phosphates. Over the years I have tested my P, was always 0, 6 weeks ago, I tested again, was 0. I just tested and was 10.0 ppm, the highest on the chart (API). Yesterday I tested my Nitrates at 40.0 ppm (API). Lights are off now, CO2 started at 10 AM, lights on at Noon, it's 10:18 my time MST, if that makes any difference. I have not dosed any ferts (PPS or E.I) since Thursday.
So, I'm scratching my head. I'm going to do a 50% WC here shortly and plan to not dose any fertilizer for quite some time, maybe 2 weeks.
Suggestions? and Thank you.
Brian

Bump: So decided to test again, for the phosphates and the nitrates, one before a WC and one after for both nitrates and phosphates. In the picture, the left is before and the right is after the WC
 

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Nitrate levels are looking good.

P is too high though unfortunately. It's commonly agreed upon that an aquarium with a P level consistently above 3ppm is at a high risk for an algae problem.

I dose 3ppm a few times a week so on average my heavily planted 20g long probably hovers around a consistent 1.5-2ppm on average. What I can say is that at a consistent 1.5-2ppm of P over the week it seems that is sufficient so that my plants grow well and P is never the limiting nutrient and algae (from too much P) isn't an issue. The amount reading here is more than plants need, and if there's too much of a nutrient that the plants can't use we know algae happily will.

The range of 1.5-2ppm of P is best for me and is the recommended "ideal" amount for planted tanks in general.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nitrate levels are looking good.

P is too high though unfortunately. It's commonly agreed upon that an aquarium with a P level consistently above 3ppm is at a high risk for an algae problem.

I dose 3ppm a few times a week so on average my heavily planted 20g long probably hovers around a consistent 1.5-2ppm on average. What I can say is that at a consistent 1.5-2ppm of P over the week it seems that is sufficient so that my plants grow well and P is never the limiting nutrient and algae (from too much P) isn't an issue. The amount reading here is more than plants need, and if there's too much of a nutrient that the plants can't use we know algae happily will.

The range of 1.5-2ppm of P is best for me and is the recommended "ideal" amount for planted tanks in general.
So, would you recommend that I should use some phosphate and nitrate reducing media in the canister filter?
I did a 50% WC today and will continue every 4 days, feed sparingly, no dosing of anything. This is a starting point, if nothing happens in the next 2-4 weeks, I'll add the media as well and see what that does. What are your thoughts? BTW, I also tested the tap water today and 0 phosphates and 0 nitrates. Thank you.
 
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