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Old 03-04-2005, 12:17 PM   #1
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Nitrate levels through the roof still :-(

I have asked about this once before, and after advice from a few people, I did a few things to try and bring the nitrate down, but its still not at an acceptable level. Ok, so here is what i have

55 gallon tank with about 50 lbs of live rock
wet/dry sump with bio balls
I have an aquaC HOT protein skimmer,
Crushed coral
I have 2 cleaner shrimp, and about 10 small crabs.
2 damsels, 1 angel fish, 1 tang, and 1 clown fish

Since i initially posted, I have added 1 cleaner shrimp, and the crabs, and I also added the protein skimmer. Before I made any of the changes suggested earlier, I decided I needed to get things working correctly in my tank. The protein skimmer is pulling waste from the tank, and it seems to be a pretty good amount.

The nitrate seems to be arround 80-100 ppm. I have been doing a 10-12 gallon water change weekly, with almost no change. It was suggested that I clean my bio balls. When I did my water change a couple weeks ago, I took all the bio balls out of my sump, and cleaned them in dirty saltwater by swishing them arround in the bucket with dirty saltwater, and put them back in the sump. A good ammount of algae and other gunk came off the balls. After the cleaning, my amonia level went up slightly, but has sustained and is 0 now. My nitrite is also 0. It was also suggested that I remove my bio balls and replace it with live rubble. I have been reading alot about the bio balls, and everything I read says they are a good thing, but they are to efficient and drive the nitrate up. I want to get my nitrate to 0 so i can add coral, but I also am skeptical about just removing the bio balls.

If i replace the bio balls with live rock rubble, what is the process? Should I pull the bio balls out, then add some live rubble, then add my bio balls back, and then weekly keep doing the same thing until all the bio balls are gone? When I do that, do i still keep the water level below the live rubble so the water trickles over the rubble instead of the bio balls, or do I fill my sump up with water?
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:30 PM   #2
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I can tell you this, when I replaced my bioballs with lr rubble, which I was also skeptical about I have had only good results. Thing is, you want to remove the bioballs slowly. I would also suggest taking out the crushed coral and replaceing with sand. I love my sand bed and it will help keep the nitrates down. I had crushed coral and it was a pain to keep clean. Also, and I know these are some big changes, but they really do work....think about getting a fuge and some cheato. Works wonders. Your new corals will thank you for it . This is a link to where I got my fuge and it is really a nice set up, infact I replaced my wet dry with it.

https://www82.safesecureweb.com/weba...egory_Code=MSR
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Alex n Mary

150 gallon, 30g fuge/sump, 4.5 watt/gal VHO Lighting, 4" sand bed, 290 lbs LR, CDX-3 Nitrate/Phosphate filter

Female Naso "Isabell" or "Izzy", Emperor Angelfish, Flame Angel, Red Sea Sailfin tang "Bambi", Maroon Clown "Nani", 5 Chromis, 1 Aglae Blenny "Bengi" , Yellow Watchman Goby, pr of Banggai Cardinals, Lyretail Anthia, Six Line Wrasse

1 cleaner shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, lettuce nudibranch, 1 sand sifter stars, 1 tiny red brittle star "red", 1 tiny red and white banded serpent star, 2 tiny banded serpent stars, small orange Linkia starfish, assorted hermits and snails. Corals: star polyps, A ton of different types of mushrooms, yellow zooanthids, brown-orangish and light blue paly's, orange ricordia.

90g RR, W/D, 120 lb's LR SF eel, pygmy angel, pr sebae clownfish, 4 chromis. Star Polyps & Mushrooms
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:36 PM   #3
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The two biggest contributors to your nitrate levels are your bio-balls and CC subtrate.

I can't tell you how to switch your bio-balls out because I don't use them. But with CC you're definitely going to want to vaccum the entire substrate even if that means taking the liverock out of your tank completely.

IMO, you'd be much better off spending the extra money and switching to a sand bed.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:37 PM   #4
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Sorry, we posted at the same time.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:38 PM   #5
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Also, if you get the fuge you will not have to worry about keeping the rock submerged since the water level stays right below the intake. Either way you will want to keep the rock submerged. Also, I got my rubble from hirocks.com. It is not live, but will become live and it was about a dollar a pound. Also, when I replaced my bioballs, i just took them out slowly and added the lr after that to make it easier. Had no problems.
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Alex n Mary

150 gallon, 30g fuge/sump, 4.5 watt/gal VHO Lighting, 4" sand bed, 290 lbs LR, CDX-3 Nitrate/Phosphate filter

Female Naso "Isabell" or "Izzy", Emperor Angelfish, Flame Angel, Red Sea Sailfin tang "Bambi", Maroon Clown "Nani", 5 Chromis, 1 Aglae Blenny "Bengi" , Yellow Watchman Goby, pr of Banggai Cardinals, Lyretail Anthia, Six Line Wrasse

1 cleaner shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, lettuce nudibranch, 1 sand sifter stars, 1 tiny red brittle star "red", 1 tiny red and white banded serpent star, 2 tiny banded serpent stars, small orange Linkia starfish, assorted hermits and snails. Corals: star polyps, A ton of different types of mushrooms, yellow zooanthids, brown-orangish and light blue paly's, orange ricordia.

90g RR, W/D, 120 lb's LR SF eel, pygmy angel, pr sebae clownfish, 4 chromis. Star Polyps & Mushrooms
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clowninround
Also, if you get the fuge you will not have to worry about keeping the rock submerged since the water level stays right below the intake. Either way you will want to keep the rock submerged. Also, I got my rubble from hirocks.com. It is not live, but will become live and it was about a dollar a pound. Also, when I replaced my bioballs, i just took them out slowly and added the lr after that to make it easier. Had no problems.
cool, so now I have an answer about the LR. My sump is different than most peoples. My over flow does not come in the top, go over the bio balls then pumped out. Mine comes in the side, fills up the left side, and then the water spills over a seperating wall, onto a flat peice of plastic which has holes in it. It then falls through a flat filter over the bio balls down into the bottom and is then pumped out. I can keep my level full, or low in the sump. Money is not an issue for the most part. I dont have a problem spending money on the tank, if I know its going to cure my issues. I plan on doing another water change in the next couple of days, so what I will do is go and pick up some sand and when i do my water change, I will move the live rock into the buckets, and remove all of the crushed coral and replace it with sand. The only thing that sucks is that Im going to have to worry about my crabs getting thrown away :-|, but hopefully I can find most of them. When everyone says vaccuum my coral, what does that mean? Is there a special technique to remove the coral? I was just going to scoop it out with my fish net. Should I completely drain my tank, remove the coral and clean the bottom of the tank before adding the sand, or would that cause all of the bio to be lost from the tank? The lady at the LFS asked me what it looks like under my rocks and coral, but I didnt pay attention when I moved the tank. She suggested that it may be the crushed coral as well, but still thinks bio balls are fine. I also read somewhere that I can use sand from home depot even though it says its not for fish tanks. Is that true, and is there a specific type I should use?

I also was thinking about putting the LR in the sump where the sump fills, to get all of the bacteria on the LR. I was going to just let it sit there for a few weeks, then move it over to where the bio balls are, and increase my water level, slowly removing the bio balls at the same time. Is it safe to start removing bio balls withouth adding live rock? I have a friend that has a sump that does not have LR or bio balls in it, and his levels are fine, but he also has a sand bed. Can someone break it down as to the steps i should take to get all of this done, or can I just do it all at once?

Also for a 55 gallon tank, how much sand should I buy?
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:26 PM   #7
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That's a good idea switching substrates, but you don't want to do it all at one time. Try to do it over a period of 3-6 weeks. That's what I'm doing right now. I'm only changing the substrate 1/3rd at a time, giving the substrate time to grow it's benificial bacteria.

It's a pain in the @ss but it's well worth it. And I wouldn't worry about the crabs too much, they usually hide in liverock.

Good luck, and keep us updated!
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:36 PM   #8
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The sand from home depot that you want to look for is not silca based it is aragonite (did I spell that right?). It will say something like tropical play sand or southdown playsand, ect. What I would do is call the HD's in your area to see who has it or if they have it first. There is an article posted here about changing the substrate, it is very good. I would do this first and then the bioballs or vice versa. You have a very good plan for doing this. Vaccuming the sand is done to clean it. It is done with a syphon hose that can filter out the gravel (cc). here is the article for changing it out: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showqu...q=2&fldAuto=27. Also, do not be afraid to do agressive w/c's. a 10-20% everyother day to help reduce the nitrates will also help. Also, are you using RO/DI water?
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Alex n Mary

150 gallon, 30g fuge/sump, 4.5 watt/gal VHO Lighting, 4" sand bed, 290 lbs LR, CDX-3 Nitrate/Phosphate filter

Female Naso "Isabell" or "Izzy", Emperor Angelfish, Flame Angel, Red Sea Sailfin tang "Bambi", Maroon Clown "Nani", 5 Chromis, 1 Aglae Blenny "Bengi" , Yellow Watchman Goby, pr of Banggai Cardinals, Lyretail Anthia, Six Line Wrasse

1 cleaner shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, lettuce nudibranch, 1 sand sifter stars, 1 tiny red brittle star "red", 1 tiny red and white banded serpent star, 2 tiny banded serpent stars, small orange Linkia starfish, assorted hermits and snails. Corals: star polyps, A ton of different types of mushrooms, yellow zooanthids, brown-orangish and light blue paly's, orange ricordia.

90g RR, W/D, 120 lb's LR SF eel, pygmy angel, pr sebae clownfish, 4 chromis. Star Polyps & Mushrooms
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:40 PM   #9
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Must have posted at the same time again . BDAWG is right. It should all be done slowly. I would not change the bioballs and the sand at the same time either. I would wait to be done with one thing at a time
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Alex n Mary

150 gallon, 30g fuge/sump, 4.5 watt/gal VHO Lighting, 4" sand bed, 290 lbs LR, CDX-3 Nitrate/Phosphate filter

Female Naso "Isabell" or "Izzy", Emperor Angelfish, Flame Angel, Red Sea Sailfin tang "Bambi", Maroon Clown "Nani", 5 Chromis, 1 Aglae Blenny "Bengi" , Yellow Watchman Goby, pr of Banggai Cardinals, Lyretail Anthia, Six Line Wrasse

1 cleaner shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, lettuce nudibranch, 1 sand sifter stars, 1 tiny red brittle star "red", 1 tiny red and white banded serpent star, 2 tiny banded serpent stars, small orange Linkia starfish, assorted hermits and snails. Corals: star polyps, A ton of different types of mushrooms, yellow zooanthids, brown-orangish and light blue paly's, orange ricordia.

90g RR, W/D, 120 lb's LR SF eel, pygmy angel, pr sebae clownfish, 4 chromis. Star Polyps & Mushrooms
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:04 PM   #10
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i am going to change the substrate first, as that seems to be the easiest. Once I have done that, then i will wait a week then start with the bio balls....Where can I find how to calculate how much sand to purchase. I tried searching, with no luck. The article on changing substrate says there is a substrate calculator, but I can not find it. I really hope this helps, also how much should i expect to spend on sand?
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