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Old 11-26-2013, 03:23 AM   #1
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Coral help urgently needed- high nitrates?

Hi

Ever since I got back from 2 weeks holidays late Oct my nitrates have been high despite the number of water changes and volume of water replaced. My corals have been dying and my long plate tentacle is showing the skeleton at a rapid pace and other corals (I don't know the names of) are receding:

Here's my water parameters
CA 360
KH 179
PO3 0.25
NO3 - 40 or 80- not sure how to read it- if I hold it in front of the colour chart
( so light enters the vial ) it is 40, if you are meant to press it against the colour chart it is 80.

The tank is 167litres...a bit more than 40gals. I have had it since May- already cycled and mixed with my cycled tank.

My duncans, elegance, mushrooms, anemone, leather and hammers are fine although the elegance doesn't open as much as it used to.

I have been dosing my sump daily with 4.5 ml Red Sea NO3:PO4 X and just put in the sump 2 bottles of a small rock like substance which removes nitrate- threw the bottles out so don't know the name. I have been doing weekly if not bi weekly water changes with natural salt water from the LFS, changing 40 litres and at times 60 litres- still no joy with nitrates.

Do I need to dose the tank for the corals? So many people are for and against; swearing the water changes are enough but how do I get my nitrates down and is this the cause for my corals dying?

Livestock:

Please don't lecture- I already know since starting out, I need a bigger tank although I always told my LFS the details of my tank size and existing livestock prior to buying fish- my water changes should counter this and my high nitrates are only recent- I have been negotiating $$ on bigger tanks:
2 clarki clowns
2 bubble tip anemone
mimic tang
sailfin
yellow fin coris wrasse
dottyback
foxface
1 snail

Your helpful advice about my corals and how to reduce my nitrates quickly would be appreciated.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:05 AM   #2
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Have you tested ammonia and nitrite?

I would say the nitrate level which is at 40ppm based on how you are describing it is quite likely the problem.

How much are you feeding them?

At this point water changes are only going to put a band aid on the real issue. I doubt your tank can sustain the numbers of fish that you have in it. I would start with doing 2 back to back 50% water changes waiting 6 hours or so between them. This should drop your nitrates down to about 10ppm. After that I would look at rehoming at least a few of your fish; at the very least the two tangs and probably the foxface as well.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:16 AM   #3
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It sounds like too much pollution is being made and the tank cant filter it quick enough

do you have a skimmer, refugium and all that other jazz in your sump?

also used the red sea product.... really great for maintaining the problem, but not so much on removing all nitrates.

Plus Phosphate is 0.25, most corals don't really like this... this could be the big problem overall.

there are either a few options.

1. is to do a few more regular small water changes to hopefully reduce.

2. check out your alk, mag levels just incase they may be too high/low

3. move a few fish out of the tank, less pollution - less nitrates.

4. maybe if all else fails look into better filtration, eg: biopellet reactor, bigger skimmer, more live rock, etc.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alco1 View Post
It sounds like too much pollution is being made and the tank cant filter it quick enough

do you have a skimmer, refugium and all that other jazz in your sump?

also used the red sea product.... really great for maintaining the problem, but not so much on removing all nitrates.

Plus Phosphate is 0.25, most corals don't really like this... this could be the big problem overall.

there are either a few options.

1. is to do a few more regular small water changes to hopefully reduce.

2. check out your alk, mag levels just incase they may be too high/low

3. move a few fish out of the tank, less pollution - less nitrates.

4. maybe if all else fails look into better filtration, eg: biopellet reactor, bigger skimmer, more live rock, etc.
The only problem I see with small water changes is that it only reduces a tiny amount of the pollution in the tank. A 10% change at 40ppm nitrates is only going to drop the nitrate level down by 4 points.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:07 AM   #5
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You might never catch up to the nitrate issue if you dont do something about the stocking level. Sure, you can do some majorly massive water changes but you will end up in the same boat week after week. The tangs and foxface are producing way too much waste in too little of water, just simple math there. To maybe save your corals, if you can, I would do some major water changes like mentioned above.

Also, do you have any media bags with anything in the tank or filter? Or any sponges? They can harbor nitrates something fierce, just another thought.

I would ease up on those additives you have been adding, I bet the corals are not particularly happy with them as well as the high nitrates. Do you vacuum the sand at all? If you do, do you muck up the sand or lightly, very gently go over the surface?
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post
Have you tested ammonia and nitrite?

I would say the nitrate level which is at 40ppm based on how you are describing it is quite likely the problem.

How much are you feeding them?

At this point water changes are only going to put a band aid on the real issue. I doubt your tank can sustain the numbers of fish that you have in it. I would start with doing 2 back to back 50% water changes waiting 6 hours or so between them. This should drop your nitrates down to about 10ppm. After that I would look at rehoming at least a few of your fish; at the very least the two tangs and probably the foxface as well.

Thanks - nitrites are 0 and ammonia 0. Forgot to add these in my log last night as they were fine. Didn't have problems with nitrates until the last month and I already had the same fish.

Have a spare 90 litre tank currently doing hyposalinity for my blue tang which developed ich a while back- LFS also sold him to me when I first started stocking. He is a definite to re home once I know he's ok for sure and then will move some fish over to that tank til I can get my larger tank.

Feeding...well my hubby is at home during the day and says he gives them either 1 cube of frozen mysis shrimp or lobster eggs,a pinch of pellets or some nori.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alco1 View Post
It sounds like too much pollution is being made and the tank cant filter it quick enough

do you have a skimmer, refugium and all that other jazz in your sump?

also used the red sea product.... really great for maintaining the problem, but not so much on removing all nitrates.

Plus Phosphate is 0.25, most corals don't really like this... this could be the big problem overall.

there are either a few options.

1. is to do a few more regular small water changes to hopefully reduce.

2. check out your alk, mag levels just incase they may be too high/low

3. move a few fish out of the tank, less pollution - less nitrates.

4. maybe if all else fails look into better filtration, eg: biopellet reactor, bigger skimmer, more live rock, etc.
I have never tested for mag or alk..I will have to look for those kits or specifically ask LFS to test my water for it. I add Reef Builder ( Raises Carbonate Alkalinity ) and have a phosban reactor and tunz skimmer in the sump. No refugium. I have saved on ebay MACRO ALGAE CAULERPA and thought about adding that to container in the DT- not attractive but may help reduce nitrates?
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey View Post
You might never catch up to the nitrate issue if you dont do something about the stocking level. Sure, you can do some majorly massive water changes but you will end up in the same boat week after week. The tangs and foxface are producing way too much waste in too little of water, just simple math there. To maybe save your corals, if you can, I would do some major water changes like mentioned above.

Also, do you have any media bags with anything in the tank or filter? Or any sponges? They can harbor nitrates something fierce, just another thought.

I would ease up on those additives you have been adding, I bet the corals are not particularly happy with them as well as the high nitrates. Do you vacuum the sand at all? If you do, do you muck up the sand or lightly, very gently go over the surface?
This is my first marine with a sump and the set came with 4 thick layers of filter wool and then large pieces of shell as the bio filtration. I only just changed over my sponge pads last weekend- they needed it but I only just found a stockist with the same thick pads to cut to size. I used to go lightly over the sand but now have been using the under gravel filter more vigilantly to make sure I get out any left over food and waste. Bad??

I have heaps of LR in the tank.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:29 AM   #9
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If you are digging in the sand when you vacuum it then that is most likely contributing to the nitrates and god knows what else. Big no no in saltwater. lol

The nitrates are catching up with you, thats the issue. I didnt have any nitrates forthe longest time and then they just appeared and got high very quick, I have 3 tangs which is a huge amount of waste and food that goes into the tank. Thats the point I was trying to make.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:35 AM   #10
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As mentioned above you are never going to get over this till you lighten your bioload in the tank. All the measures that you and your LFS are suggesting is mere bandaid solutions. You must attack the problem which is high nitrates in a high bioload tank. I know you don't want a lecture and I`m not lecturing you just trying to point out that corals are suffering and what the problem is. I wish you the best and hope you can see what I`m talking about. Good Luck.
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