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Old 06-11-2010, 05:19 PM   #1
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Tips For Reducing Nitrates Please!

Hello All,

I'm hoping people can chime in with the favorite tips to reducing nitrates.

Here's my current scenario.
Bought an existing 55 gallon FOWLR system that includes the following:

Blue Tang - I know, to big. Remember he can with the tank
Dwarf Angelfish (I think)
Mandarin Goby
Pajama Cardinal
Sea Urchin
Spiny Starfish

It has around 70 lbs of live rock, plus a new 2" - 3" sandbed. I ditched the old sandbed, but laid a thin layer of it on top of the new sand bed.

When I picked up the tank it was in pretty bad shape algae wise. I cleaned it up and it looked pretty good.

The fish were being fed every day. 1st day - 2 cubes of frozen brine shrimp. 2nd day - 1 frozen cube of brine shrimp and back to 2 cubes on day 3 and throughout the week the pattern was rotating like.

All it has for filtration at the moment is a 3 stage HOB filter that has a sponge, bag of carbon and some sort of bag of rocks.

When i got the tank home I added 20 gallons of new RO/DI premixed saltwater that I got from the LFS and the rest was water I had saved from the existing system.

I kept the LR submerged during transfer.

Days 1 - 4 were great. A pristine beautiful tank. On day 5 a thin layer of diatoms / brown algae appeared. I was running the 50/50 65 Watt Coralife lights for 12 hours a day like the previous owner

So, here's what I have done so far to correct the issue:

Reduced feeding to M,W,F - 1 chunk of frozen Mysis shrimp and a couple of flakes for the Tang. The food is eaten within 5 minutes.

Reduced light cycle to 8 hours.

Bought 7 Astrea snails and 7 Nassarius Snails

Bought 2 Peppermint shrimp to try to battle the aiptasia that was on the LR.

Purchased (have not received yet) a Reef Octopus BH-100F HOB Protein Skimmer that will hopefully get here soon.

I will do a 15% PWC change tomorrow as that will be 1 week since I had setup the tank.

Current water params:
Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 20 ppm
pH - 8.3

I don't have the means to create a sump system immediately.

So..let's have them.

I'm hoping the diatoms are breaking out cause of the new sandbed and will burn themselves out. But I'd rather not see it my tanks for months if I don't have to.

I'd love to hear any tips the you have employed to combat this stuff! I don't have the means to create a sump system immediately, but will be looking to in the near future.

Thanks for helping a noob!

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Old 06-11-2010, 05:31 PM   #2
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Some of the many things i have done
Defrost in a cup of your tank water, once completely defrosted, strain food, rinse with fresh RO/DI then feed in small increments letting the fish eat all the food.
Chaeto is an awesome nitrate removal tool, ask around, a lot of local reefers will just give you huge clumps out of their sumps.
I know adding one more fish seems counter productive, but a sand sifting goby will stir up your sand bed and eat/get rid of a lot of the diatoms. Plus they are an extremely entertaining fish to watch.
Don't be afraid to reduce your light cycle to as low as 6 hours. If you have seperate plugs it would probably be benificial even overall to have the blues come on 30 min or an hour before and after the whites. Also what kind of lights are you running? If it is PC and the bulbs are old, they will grow algae like you can't believe.

The food and algae are your best for actually reducing the nitrates, the fish and the lights will be better to actually prevent the algae that is subsidiary.


Links to old builds:
12DX LED Build
Frag Tank (Fixed Link)
Dorm Pico Tank
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:51 PM   #3
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Location: Belle Mead, NJ
Posts: 7,814
The diatoms are almost certainly from the move. It wouild appear that your only method of exportin nitrates is water changes. Many people do that. A 10% - 20% weekly PWC is all that's needed to ntrate reduction in a FOWLR tank.

NO3 of 20ppm is not at all bad for a FOWLR. If you decide to go reef you need to reduce that number and check for phosphates.

RODI water for top off and PWC water
Feediing every other day max
Rinse all frozen in RODI water
Sump or fuge with macro algae
I'm currently testing bio-pellets, a solid form of vodka dosing
CUC (clean up crew) sized for the tank (nassarius, cerith, and Strombus Snails)
Clams (sand bed as well as giant)
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Old 06-11-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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I have found that frequent PWC`s are the best way to dilute excessive nutrients.
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