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Old 10-27-2010, 09:37 AM   #1
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nitrate level tends to stay high even after a water change (20-25%)

Hi Folks,

I'm fairly new here though I've had my tank for several years. I got into it big time and then slowly slacked off. I continued to do routine maintenance but only that. I recently started to reagin interest. My problem is that my nitrate level tends to stay high even after a water change (20-25%). I have an emperor 400 filter, a cyclone skimmer and a waterjet? I have a 6" engineer, 2" Clown, 2" Sgt Major, 3" Flameangle, 3" Blue Hippo and a 3" Yellow Tang. I also have about 15 Red legs and 2 Turbo Snails. I was thinking about removing the Filter and just going with the live rock and skimmer. Any help would be great. Here are a couple pic's.
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:07 AM   #2
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I don't think i would remove your filter with out having something else in place. Taking it apart and giving it a good cleaning would probably help.

There are a couple ways to lower your nitrates. Sump/refugium is always a good option and gives you somewhere to hide equipment. There has been a recent movement towards algae turf scrubbers that many have reported good success with. There is a thread in the DIY section all about them. People also use a deep sand bed. You can plumb one into you system and make it out of a 5 gallon bucket. A little more high tech way to do it is biopelets or vodka dosing which a couple people on the forum have started and seem to be very happy with. Start doing some google searching on these and let us know which one you are interested in so we can provide more information.

It would also be helpful to provide us with your feeding and water change schedule so we can see if that can be modified to help start lowering the nitrates as well.
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:12 AM   #3
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I do a water change about 2-3 weeks of around 10-12 gallons. I feed twice a day, 6AM and 6PM. They finish in about 2-3 min so I don't think it's overfeeding. I want to keep the tank as simple as possible. The less to maintain the better.
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:32 AM   #4
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Are those sea fans these

Saltwater Aquarium Corals for Marine Reef Aquariums: Yellow Finger Gorgonian

If so i think they need to be fed fairly often to keep healthy like you are right now. Most people feed their tank once a day or even every other day. If you are looking for low maintenance i would look into a deep sand bed or the biopellets
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:13 AM   #5
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IMO, there are too many fish in your 55g. Add to that, feeding twice a day is giving you those nitrates I believe. Many feed once a day, even once every other day with good success.

What are your nitrate readings anyway? 20ppm or below is just fine for a reef tank. Looks like your coral is doing just fine, so maybe there are no real big changes needed. Now, of course, as those fish grow, you may have more problems. But feeding can be the start of the solution.
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Old 10-27-2010, 12:20 PM   #6
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I'd agree, lots of fish for a 55. Your stand looks about the same size as my 55 FW, not much room under there for a sump unfortunately, and you'd probably have to take the tank off to make it work. If you have the room, you can always put a sump adjacent to the setup and enclose it separately. You could make a nice stand enclosing a 30 long and hide everything nicely. I started the ATS thread so if you want to check that out as an option (it's just ONE example, keep in mind), DIY is pretty easy but needs some forethought. It would help the nitrate problem once established. Then you can actually feed as much as you want, any excess uneaten food actually feeds the filter (algae). Some soft corals actually prefer a little excess nutrients (nitrate, phosphate) so it might not be that bad.

Also, just FYI that's not a Sergeant Major, it's a four-stripe damsel or Black-tailed Dascyllus.

Overall, your tank looks really nice though! Hard to tell that you're having any problems.
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:50 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the input. I think I'll try going to once a day feeding and see how it looks in 2 months. As far as anything else I don't have the room. I'll be getting rid of my tank in about 2 years as the wall behind it is coming down to expand the kitchen. My wifes choice...
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:04 PM   #8
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I would be careful as i mentioned earlier about cutting feeding because of those sea fans. I believe most are non-photosynthetic and get all of thier nutrition from supplimental feeding.

Do you have room for a 5 gallon bucket under the stand?
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:54 PM   #9
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5 gal bucket is too wide. I add about 2 tbls every other day of phytoplex and have had them for about 6 months.
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:56 PM   #10
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I would continue with the phytoplex and cut down on the feeding for the fish. If you still are having problems then you may have to do more frequent water changes.
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