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Old 10-17-2011, 02:39 AM   #1
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final nitrate thread - Must be solved!



This is what I stare at every time I test for nitrates. I cannot get it below 20ppm no matter what I do. It is very infuriating as I have been doing this for 8 months now and have been wanting to start my reef building for at least 6. As my activity on the forums indicates, I am trying to do everything and trying to do everything right!

So, I will explain the set up, in detail, and what I do, in details, in hopes someone can shed some light on this problem.

Firstly, I use only RO/DI water. This tests 0 TDS (just tested tonight). Tested that pure water, 0 nitrates.

I use Instant Ocean Reef Crystals salt. Tested that after mixing, 0 nitrates. I aerate/mix for a full 24 hours using a pump and heater. I make and mix in a rubbermaid tote that I use only for water mixing. I like to keep my water at 1.024.

I change roughly 30% of the water every week on sunday (though with an 18 gallon sump holding probably 15 gallons, that would make it 70 gallons.. with me changing out 15-20 gallons that would be around 25%). During this nitrate problem, I have changed 30% twice a week on more than a few occassions.

My stocking is as follows
2 blue/green chromis
2 b&w clownfish
1 bicolor dotty back
1 coral beauty
1 kole tang
sizeable cleanup crew - as far as i can tell they are all alive, haven't spotted any that i can't see moving at one time or another

I have 50 lbs of base rock from reefcleaners.org. I never bought any live rock, just made this rock live through the process of cycling.

I don't have any decorations in the tank.

My filtration consists of an 18 gallon sump. An eshopps 300 gph overflow box and a flex tube that enters the sump.

The first sump container contains a filter sock at the end of the drain tube. 100 micron. I used to have a 200 one that I rinsed out every couple of days. But for the last month or maybe a little longer I have been using a new 100 micron sock every week when I do my water change.

Then I have the water skimmed with a HOB reef octopus BH-100 hanging onto the side of my first sump chamber. This cup fills every 2-3 days and I empty it. So far it's never spilled into the water. I also have just added a media reactor with activated carbon and GFO.

The second chamber is my fuge. It has about 2-3 inches of sand, 5 lbs of rock (again, base rock made live), and chaeto macroalgae.

The third chamber used to contain a bag of carbon, but that's been removed since the addition of the media reactor. In this third chamber I have an auto top off system (only use RO/DI water in there). Then the return pump sends it back up to be repeated.

In the sump I have two small foam blocks and a block of filter floss, in case I need to set up an emergency tank sometime.

Also, the return pump has a sponge inside to keep debris out.

I feed once per day. I rotate between pellets, veggie flakes, brine shrimp, and formula 1 cubes. I make sure that the fish eat all of the food I give them (except the meaty ones, they kinda go everywhere. i'm sure my clean up crew gets the leftovers, though).

For the tang, he has a veggie clip that I alternate between Ocean Nutrition garlic marine algae, red seaweed and green seaweed.

If I left anything out, or you see anything that might be causing my problem, please ask or comment!

I am desperate!

EDIT| I have some pond filter floss between the second and third chamber of the sump to break the waterfall noise and trap microbubbles. I rinse this out every week with cold tap when I do the PWC.

Also, I used to have 3 chromis, one disappeared. It's possible he's rotting somewhere (i'd never find him!) but I think the cleanup crew has eaten him by now. I have searched a lot.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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Anyone have any ideas?
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:33 PM   #3
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Try a better test kit...like a Salifert. That looks like an API. Like anything else, you get what you pay for and test kits are no different.
API = aprox $7
Salifert = aprox $25
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:31 PM   #4
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I have thought it might be the test kit. But when the water I mixed tested 0 I figured the test kit was probably ok.

It could possibly be overreacting to the presence of nitrates though. I am considering investing in one of those pinpiont digital nitrate readers.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:20 AM   #5
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I'm going to have the LFS test my water tomorrow and see what they say. If that shows nitrates as well, I'll buy a Salifert test kit and start vodka dosing. Will that have a negative effect if i'm running a GFO reactor? The guides I have been reading say it's for systems without an effective phosphate/nitrate remover.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:38 AM   #6
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my nitrates read between 0-20ppm and my corals are all fine. My LFS owner as well as many other hobbyists i know all say 20ppm is nothing to worry about. Sounds like you are doing everything the right way. Try using a different test kit or a digital one, or just up the water percentage on your weekly water change.
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Old 10-18-2011, 10:54 AM   #7
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You did leave out tank size.. but I've been reading your posts for quite some time so I know it and I know the trials and tribulations you've gone through on this hobby... pick up another test kit.. see if reading are same.. feed ur tang every three days with just enough that you tang enjoys himself .. I usually do enough that the tangs eat it before it breaks off the clip.. just use regular io salt not reef .. I wouldn't do reef crystals till its heavily stocked... get rid of the beauty they are not reef safe.. what else....... you can still cut feedings back.. go every other day.. or third day... to see if u see improvement.. and you could always use more rock...
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:05 AM   #8
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Hold off on the vodka dosing... I don't believe it to be a science yet.. you could end up with one heck of a algae boom .. and I mean boom with a capital B double O m.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:14 PM   #9
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Did you look at Dr Tims np active pearls? They remove nitrate and phosphate and are easy to work with.
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Old 10-18-2011, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
You did leave out tank size.. but I've been reading your posts for quite some time so I know it and I know the trials and tribulations you've gone through on this hobby... pick up another test kit.. see if reading are same.. feed ur tang every three days with just enough that you tang enjoys himself .. I usually do enough that the tangs eat it before it breaks off the clip.. just use regular io salt not reef .. I wouldn't do reef crystals till its heavily stocked... get rid of the beauty they are not reef safe.. what else....... you can still cut feedings back.. go every other day.. or third day... to see if u see improvement.. and you could always use more rock...
Thanks! I've read the coral beauty is reef safe with caution, so I would wait until I see him nipping at something to remove him.

I've cut back feeding to every other day.. will feed the tang every 3 days. Think I will get some more rock too. If I add real live rock it will cause a mini cycle i think, would adding more base rock be fine?

Thanks for reading me!
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