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Old 01-08-2009, 08:01 AM   #1
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Long battle to reduce nitrates...any recommendations?

28 gallon JBJ Nano-Cube 28 HQI slammed with LR and full to the gills with SPS's. No fish bioload and the only feeding in this tank is every once and a while I'll give my GBTA a little piece of kreal or silverside since it isn't being fed by clowns.

Tank cycled August 2008 and my parameters stayed steady until a month ago. I always do a 5 gallon PWC every 2 weeks. I've never had NitrAtes to be zero...it's always been 5. However, my 2-year old got pneumonia and ended up in the hospital when my PWC was due and I didn't get to do it until almost 4 weeks apart (didn't worry me). I tested the water and NitrAtes were up to about 15 and I haven't been able to change that for a month now.

I've tried daily PWC's (not 5 gallons, don't want to shock my corals), added Purigen, added Nitra-Zorb, haven't fed the BTA in weeks, and basically done weekly 5-gallon PWC's for a month. ZERO change in nitrAtes.

Sorry for the long post...but I'm stumped. No bioload and nitrAtes....WTH??? Could I do daily 5 gallon PWC's for a few days without stressing my corals? They are perfectly happy at 15ppm, but I have a pair of Picasso clowns on hold and I'm tired of waiting

Oh, before you ask I have confirmed the nitrAte readings by various tests...LOL
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:00 AM   #2
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Have you tested your source water for nitrates?
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:30 AM   #3
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Yes. Source water is RO/DI that tests 0 as well as my mixed PWC's.

Would doing a 5 gallon PWC (20% roughly) say 3 days in a row stress the corals or impact my benficial bacteria? I see people that do 50% or so changes when they have problems but something that big just scares me.

Another noteworthy item regarding the slightly high nitrAtes is my invert population is thriving and I would expect to see problems out of them first. At any given time, I may have 100's of juvenile stomatellas and trochus snails on the glass. My peppermint shrimp also seem extremely healthy (bigger than most cleaners...LOL) and one has eggs all the time. I wouldn't expect baby snails to survive in anything less than ideal conditions. Since startup I've lost 1 snail total and I'm pretty sure a hermit took him out for the shell.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:56 AM   #4
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Nitrates of 20 or less is fine for a Reef. You want lower but that isn't easy to get when you feed the tank and have fish and the like going on.

Since you have the JBJ Nano, are you using the sponge in the filter? If you are you need to be rinsing that out weekly with your PWCs. That will hold all kinds of crap that will keep your Nitrates high.

If you are getting readings of 15 for nitrates I say get your fish. Keep up with the weekly water changes though. Increasing the bio load is going to increase the nitrate level. Be prepared.
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Old 01-08-2009, 11:02 AM   #5
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I forgot to mention, I removed all the stock filtration media for LR rubble and ditched the foam after a conversation on here a couple months ago. I do have a bag of Purigen on top of the rubble in the overflow compartment. I have since removed the Nitra-Zorb because I didn't show results after a couple of weeks.

I just don't understand how I even got nitrAtes in the first place. I had a delayed PWC, but with no feeding and no bioload (and good source water), there doesn't seem to be a catalyst. It all occurred 4 months after my cycle which rules out LR die-off and I have lost only 1 small snail in the whole tank eliminating decay as the culprit. How am I so lucky:p

And since it's a pair of Picasso's, I want to err on the safe side. I would love to have 5 ppm again (at least) before I added them, but they may just ahve to deal with my "dirty" water.

I've also been skimming wet since the rise to pull the most I can out and upgraded the stock airstone skimmer to a Aqua C Remora.

I've been avoiding the use of carbon since it pulls trace too, but would it be worth a shot at this point?
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Old 01-08-2009, 01:22 PM   #6
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The corals are going to show effects from the nitrates before the fish. at 15ppm you are fine for adding the fish. From what you said it sounds like you are doing everything you can to eliminate the nitrates. The only source I can think of is your salt mix. Even though they all pretty much claim no nitrates and no phosphates it is possible to get nitrates from your mix.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:28 PM   #7
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Have you tried another brand of test kit? NO3 kits are notorious for false readings. Aside from that it sounds like you are doing everything right. During your next water change I suggest removing the LR rubble from the filtration compartments and sucking the water out of them. Rinse the rubble in the SW from the water change and replace it. I do this a couple times a year in my 12gal nano just to remove the build up fo detritus.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:38 PM   #8
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Yep, confirmed with dual tests. I packed my rubble into the empty multi-compartment media holder and I remove the whole thing ever so often and rinse with waste water during PWC's. There's some nasty stuff that collects in that rubble for sure. I'm about to do a series of 5 gallon PWC's several days in a row and see what happens. Just placed a twin-spot goby in there and he's already sifting away and seems to be happy. Pick up the Picasso's Saturday
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:05 PM   #9
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Update

Did a 25% PWC 3 days in a row with little change...LOL. I give up, 15 will have to do.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:04 PM   #10
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15 is not that bad. Yes 0 is the goal but you dont know how many folks wish they had 15 ppm nitrates.
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