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Old 06-26-2016, 12:00 PM   #1
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Will adding more live rock to tank help bring down nitrate levels?

We have a 55ga saltwater tank that has been going for almost 3 years. As of right now we only have a clown and a chromis in the tank with the addition of a few hermit crabs. We had 2 fire shrimp for a little over a year and all of a sudden they died. I do routine water changes, but after the shrimp died I tested the water and everything was normal except the nitrate levels were crazy high. I have done numerous water changes (weekly) since then and it was still high. I spoke with our local saltwater store and they recommended doing a 50% water change. We have an over the tank filtration system (I know it's not ideal).. We are looking into getting either a canister filter or sump.. But for now they gave us some other filtration to put behind our normal filters that is supposed to help reduce the nitrate levels quickly. It has now been a week since doing that and I tested the water again this morning and the nitrate levels are still high. We only feed our 2 fish once per day, and honestly only a small pinch of food. I was wondering if anyone has any advice for what we should do. We would love to expand our tank and add more fish, but can't with these levels. Would adding more live rock to what we already have help with the nitrate levels?
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Old 06-26-2016, 12:31 PM   #2
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Your levels are high because you are feeding so much. Adding more live rock will add more room for bacteria to grow on, but it will not lower your nitrates. Your LFS is pointing you in the right direction, large water changes. If your nitrates are 100, a 50% water change will only bring it down to 50. This would still be high. So with all that feeding your nitrates have continued to rise over time even with small weekly water changes barely putting a dent into what you are putting in.
I would point you in the direction of a sump so you can add some additional filtration methods, like a protein skimmer, to help manage this issue in the future along with the large water changes that was already suggested.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:48 PM   #3
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I only feed once a day and only a small pinch... Is that honestly too much food?

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Old 06-26-2016, 10:10 PM   #4
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It sure can be. In your case you are adding more nutrients into the water column than you are removing and is most definitely part of the issue.
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:27 AM   #5
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So do I not feed my fish daily then?

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Old 06-27-2016, 11:57 AM   #6
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I would avoid it. I feed my reef tank every 3 days frozen food, and still sparingly at that since I don't have enough fish in there to need an entire cube and it usually lasts me a week.
One of the issues with flake and pellet foods is that they are jam packed with phosphates.
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Old 06-27-2016, 01:44 PM   #7
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Ok. We do use pellets

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Old 06-27-2016, 04:54 PM   #8
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pellets will just accumulate if left uneaten causing your nitrate issue , I feed pellets once in a while but I feed 1 at a time till it is eaten than add another, you never want any uneaten food left behind as it brings your nitrate level up and brings on unnecessary algae .
common practice 3x a week feed only what can be consumed
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:25 PM   #9
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Doesn't it depend on what fish you have, though? For example, my understanding is that wrasses (or some of them, anyway), need food a few times per day.

Also, to address the original post: I would avoid canister filters for saltwater, unless you are prepared to clean them out frequently, since they can become nitrate factories.
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:47 PM   #10
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I keep wrasses , clowns , damsels , tangs , blennies , gobies , sweet lips in my reef they eat 3x a week ,

same goes for my predator tank trigger , snapper , wrasse , harlequin bass they get fed 3 times a week .

I also run a canister filter on my predator tank but it is religiously cleaned weekly
I don't see a nitrate problem

weekly maintenance such as cleaning canister and good size water change will reduce the chances of nitrate problems , it's a matter of dedication and staying on schedule
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