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Old 09-24-2005, 10:53 AM   #1
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nitrate problems

hey guys, i know i have a lot of problems.
my nitrate keeps rising. ive had the tank for about 1 mounth. it was set up for a bout 3 years before i bought it. since i moved it i noticed that my nitrate was high but keeps rising dispite my water changes. like i said, its been set up for a little over a month and ive doon three water changes of about 20-25 percent each time(ro/di water). the nitrate is still rising. i recently changed to a rena xp3 can and add a remora skimmer (a week ago) and my nitrate was at an all time high(40 ppm) this morning. i know this is high and dont really know how to fight it. water changes of this size this often are expensive not to mention stresful for my and the fish. should i use a sponge or is there anything that could be causing such an increase? much appreciative
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Old 09-24-2005, 11:05 AM   #2
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Do you have any filter media like spong filters or canisters that are running on the tank? They can be nitrate factories and are best used without any media just for water flow.

What fish and corals do you have? You could easily be feeding too much as well which builds up nitrates.

What are your amonia and nitrite levels, if you get these to come down, then you cannot still be adding to the nitrates so water changes will pull it down. If you still have high amonia and nitrite, it will get converted into nitrates and continue to rise.

You might want to consider adding some macro algae if you have a place for it to help control the nitrates. You still want to solve the cause of the high nitrates though, the macro will just help to pull it down to save your fish/corals.

Hope that helps.
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Equipment: 33G SW Reef tank (pic), 192W Coralife PC lighting, PHs for H2O circulation, Red Sea Berlin Classic Skimmer
Aquascaping: 3" DSB, 50lb live rock (~35 lbs home made Cement Base Rock)
Clean Up Crew: Blue Leg hermits, Cerith snails, Astrea Snails, Stomatella snails, Brittlestar, banded brittles.
Critters: Hawaiian feather duster, Coral Banded Shrimp, Emerald Crab
Corals: Open Brain Coral, Cabbage coral, 4 RBTAs, Melon mushrooms, green Zoos, yellow polyps, finger Leather, orange Zoos, Brown Zoos, Chocolate Zoos, Xenia, GSP, Kenya Tree Coral, 2 acropora SPS, blue sponge, candy cane
Fish/Inverts: Maroon Clownfish, Scooter Blenny, Coral Beauty dwarf angel, Sea Hare
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:15 PM   #3
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i just added a canister filter with foam, sea chem matrix rock for bio and active carbon with amonia crystals. i added this last week. the amonia level is at about .25 and the nitrite is right at zero. the only thing i have put in the tank in the past week is a little lemon jiuce that i injected into some aiptasia and a little leaked out. i noticed that my skimmer has not kicked in yet. its been running for 5 days straight and no skimmate at all. im using instant ocean salt and i think that its a good brand so i dont think that it has a contributing factors.
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:26 PM   #4
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Most likely this is all due to the age of the tank. There are a lot of processes establishing itself right now, which includes a lot of dieoff as the tank matures. Add into it the fact that you already have a fish bioload (which I assume you are feedining) and it is not surprising that you have nitrates. Have you tested your source water (after RO/DI, before adding salt) to see if you still have nitrates in the water? FWIW. if your source water checks out fine, large water changes are your best option and it will in no way stress out your fish as long as you have the water properly mixed, aerated, and brought to temperature.

In regards to what was mentioned, having 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites in no way means you are no longer contributing to nitrates. The entire "cycle" of the tank requires that ammonia and nitrites exist! The tank is "cycled" when there is a large enough bacterial population to handle the ammonia produced by the fish and other processes/animals in the tank. A reading of 0 does not mean that it does not exist, only that it is properly being consumed immediately by nitrifying bacteria. The end result of these bacteria is nitrates as oxygenated bacteria do not consume it, but it is a necessary element of a vital process in our tanks.

Do you have any liverock in the tank? Your canister filter media is going to most likely be a nitrate factory long term. The foam will trap debris, where is cannot be removed with water changes. It will rot and eventually form nitrates....same with the matrix rock. Both should be rinsed frequently if you are going to continue to use them. The ammonia crystals should be removed. They will simply pull necessary ammonia out of the water, giving you a smaller population of nitrifying bacteria. It is a waste of money purchasing ammonia removers when you will have bacteria that will do it for free
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Old 09-24-2005, 07:00 PM   #5
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I too have nitrate problems... did I understand correctly that foam media is bad in a canister? should I yank that out and fill the canister with LR rubble?
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Old 09-24-2005, 07:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
I too have nitrate problems... did I understand correctly that foam media is bad in a canister? should I yank that out and fill the canister with LR rubble?
Sort of. For the tank in question, I would say the NO3 spike is due to a disruption in the biological filtration from the move. Hight NO3 in most tanks is due to either over-stocking or over-feeding, this could also be a problem. Foam media in a canister will cause an increase in NO3 if not cleaned on a regualr basis. If you have the option of replacing the foam with LR rubble, go for it. It is a much better filter media.
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Old 09-24-2005, 09:35 PM   #7
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Compare your results with a different or fresh test kit. Take a sample to your LFS and have him test it. The reagents in nitrate test kits are highly volatile and subject to going bad and giving false readings.

It could be that you are chasing down a number that dos not even exist.

Most nitrate test kits work by first converting to nitrite, so any detectable level of nitrite will also give you an inaccurate reading for nitrate. If you have a detectable level of nitrite there is something wrong with the biological filtration of your tank, in other words its not really cycled.
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Old 09-25-2005, 01:33 AM   #8
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thanks so much for all the suggestions and advice. im removing the ammonia crystals due to the fact that i just reed in the fine print on the can that its for fresh water use only! maybe somthing to do with the problem? im lso getting new test kits and doing another large water change tommorrow after i test the ro water(thanks for the tip) and see what happens.
do you guys know what the effect of using the freshwater crap on this tank could be? also,i have alot of live rock. by "rubble" do you mean that i should crush a couple of rocks and chunk it in there? thanks again
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Old 09-25-2005, 01:54 AM   #9
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I wouldn't worry about the ammonia crystals...remove them and things should be o.k. In regards to the rock, yeah, break it into small pieces and add it to the canister in the media trays.
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Old 09-25-2005, 02:52 AM   #10
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right on! i had too much rock in the tank and have spent alot of time trying to arrange it. now i can put it to good use. thanks
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