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Old 12-03-2012, 07:53 PM   #1
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at a loss with nitrates

on this one folks....I have been trying to get my trates down for what seems like forever but has been about a month. I am doing 2 water changes a week..25-30%. Did my last 30% one on Saturday. They were as high as over 40 but now are down to like 20-25. All my fish are doing well. I only feed every other day and I am not sure but I don't believe I am over feeding. I only give them a pinch...a tiny one at that...of flake food and 1 cube of either mysis or brine shrimp (switching on and off for a little variety). About 2x a week I hand feed them a piece of seaweed salad 1 inch square (believe it or not, they all eat out of my hand--very cool My stock list consists of the following:

1 anthias
1 bristletooth tang
2 green chromis
3 blue sapphire damsels
1 clown
2 bangii cardinals
2 hermit crabs
1 astrea snail
3 nassarius snails

was asked by lady at lfs if there is anything dead in tank but I am not missing anything. using distilled water for top offs and to make my salt mix. I even cracked open a bottle and tested it the other day to see if that was the problem (sounds dumb I know). I can't afford a RO/DI system right now or a new skimmer because my hours got cut at work. I am thinking that the problem is my HOB filter. I have an emporer 400. The bio wheels are taken out but I still use the cartridges and I also have a bag of chemipure in each compartment. I know that alot of people say you can run a salt tank with just a protein skimmer and live rock but I am afraid to do that because I don't know if my skimmer is good enough.

My parameters are Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 and pH hovers between 7.8 and 8
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
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If you are trying to get nitrate to zero without adding equipment or live rock, you can get nitrates to zero using vodka dosing. It sounds unusual, but by dosing vodka will get nitrates to zero. Vodka dosing saved my friends tank once he figured out the dosage. I believe what he did was dose 0.5 mL vodka (the cheap stuff) every day for a week. At the end of the week he tested and if the nitrates were not 0, he added another 0.5 mL (so he dosed 1mL each day). Once zero nitrates were achieved, he noted the dosage and now doses that amount each day. His nitrates remain zero.

Definitely google vodka dosing saltwater aquarium.


Some questions that need to be answered to try and figure why you have high nitrates:

how long has your tank been running?

When you do water changes, do you disturb the sand?

How big is your tank?

Do you have any live rock in it now?
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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If you are trying to get nitrate to zero without adding equipment or live rock, you can get nitrates to zero using vodka dosing. It sounds unusual, but by dosing vodka will get nitrates to zero. Vodka dosing saved my friends tank once he figured out the dosage. I believe what he did was dose 0.5 mL vodka (the cheap stuff) every day for a week. At the end of the week he tested and if the nitrates were not 0, he added another 0.5 mL (so he dosed 1mL each day). Once zero nitrates were achieved, he noted the dosage and now doses that amount each day. His nitrates remain zero.

Definitely google vodka dosing saltwater aquarium.


Some questions that need to be answered to try and figure why you have high nitrates:

how long has your tank been running?

When you do water changes, do you disturb the sand?

How big is your tank?

Do you have any live rock in it now?
*tank has been running since August
*I vacuum sand a little when changing water
*75 gallons
*25 lbs live rock 50lbs base rock
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:56 PM   #4
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IMO a whole cube of mysis is a lot. I defrost a cube in a small Tupperware and turkey baste a small amount every other day. A cube usually last me almost two weeks. I keep it in the fridge and rinse it in a small fish net with tank water every other time use it.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:15 PM   #5
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IMO a whole cube of mysis is a lot. I defrost a cube in a small Tupperware and turkey baste a small amount every other day. A cube usually last me almost two weeks. I keep it in the fridge and rinse it in a small fish net with tank water every other time use it.
I feel like I am starving them to death There are 10 fish in there and I used to feed everyday and didn't have a problem with trates.....this hobby is so confusing
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #6
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Vodka dosing is certainly one way to go. Have you considered putting a refugium in the stand? You could pack in a deep sand bed, live rock, and macro algae. The dsb will help turn nitrates into gaseous nitrogen, as will live rock, believe it or not. The macro will consume the nitrates and you can remove it by throwing away the macro as it grows.
Slightly less radical, you could add more rock and some macro to the DT.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:58 PM   #7
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Vodka dosing works in conjunction with a skimmer. The methanol bonds with the proteins creating longer strings. Makes it cause larger bubbles and enhances the skimmers effectiveness. Worked for my 30 gal very nicely.

However, every week you fish produce a finite amount of poop, ammonia and eventually nitrates. You have to find a way to remove at least that amount or your levels will slowly rise. Your filter allows much of the poop to turn into nitrates between cleaning so doesn't help as much as you would think.

Cheato in a fuge, either sump or hob, removes those nitrates after they've been converted. The higher the trate levels, the better the cheato grows.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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Vodka dosing is certainly one way to go. Have you considered putting a refugium in the stand? You could pack in a deep sand bed, live rock, and macro algae. The dsb will help turn nitrates into gaseous nitrogen, as will live rock, believe it or not. The macro will consume the nitrates and you can remove it by throwing away the macro as it grows.
Slightly less radical, you could add more rock and some macro to the DT.
my stand isn't big enough for a fuge or a sump I wish it was and I should have chosen a different one to begin with. One of the lfs that I trust has beautiful live rock...although it's pricey. If I bought another piece or two, took a 5 gallon bucket of salt water with me to the store and brought it home in the water, would that prevent die off and avoid a mini cycle? and what macro do you suggest adding to the display tank? I tried chaeto in a homemade container but couldn't keep it in there and it was getting wrapped up in my koralias.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:15 PM   #9
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Some of the calcified macros work really well and won't get sucked into the pumps. Just be aware that they will soak up calcium as well as nitrates and phosphates.
Caleurpa grows very quickly, but if it touches a rock, it will try to anchor to it. Don't add caleurpa unless you want it in there forever.
Halimeda, shaving brush, mermaids fan, halymenia, and "green tufted algae" all have worked well for me. The halymenia trims itself! Lol
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:46 PM   #10
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Some of the calcified macros work really well and won't get sucked into the pumps. Just be aware that they will soak up calcium as well as nitrates and phosphates.
Caleurpa grows very quickly, but if it touches a rock, it will try to anchor to it. Don't add caleurpa unless you want it in there forever.
Halimeda, shaving brush, mermaids fan, halymenia, and "green tufted algae" all have worked well for me. The halymenia trims itself! Lol
don't like the look of caleurpa but the halimeda, mermaids fan and halymenia look very nice and I would love to get some color going in the tank. Maiden's hair is very interesting but it says on LA that it can't handle high nitrates but it doesn't say what high nitrates is for plants....do you think 25 is too high for plants or are they talking about readings that are off the charts?
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:16 AM   #11
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You could try a hob fuge made from an AC filter. I did this to have a place for pods to grow. I ordered a submersible 10w light from Intank, added a few small pieces of LR, golf ball size cheato, and cut some bonded filter floss to block the chaeto from leaving the filter. I'm gonna cut a piece of plastic and drill holes in it and superglue it to the filter so that I can get rid of the filter floss cuz it gets yucky too quickly. If you don't have room for an in sump fuge, you could try this. I like the looks of the shaving brush and saltwater fern too. Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:33 AM   #12
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The other option is a HOB refugium like Aquafuge. They can even have a skimmer in it. I had one on my 30 gal and it worked great.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:46 AM   #13
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thank you all so much for your replies....trying to find a few of the plants online but it seems no one has anything but halimeda in stock but I will keep trying. Any suggestions as to where to get shaving brush? Also, what about maiden's hair? would that work too? these will be going in display tank.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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25 is not that high to endanger anything. Take a breath have you tried purigen or dr gs nitarate remove I heard great things about both. They remove nutrient from the water.keep doing your water changes and if you are using API test they seems to run high. A hamster ball mini one can be used to put some chaeto in and keep it in back of the tank.or a hang on back refigium keep it simple.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:45 PM   #15
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IMO a whole cube of mysis is a lot. I defrost a cube in a small Tupperware and turkey baste a small amount every other day. A cube usually last me almost two weeks. I keep it in the fridge and rinse it in a small fish net with tank water every other time use it.
I feed my fish 2 blocks of my sis a day no problems I do use no pox by red sea it works a treat at keeping the levels steady I have ten fish in my tank and soft corals all our doing fine.
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:15 PM   #16
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You could dose vodka but it has two drawbacks one is its expensive and two it produces red algae but it works very well knocked my nitrates down to zero. I have since switched to vinegar it works on the same principle and doesn't cause red algae also much cheaper.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:14 PM   #17
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The best idea I can give you would be to take a hob filter get a pretty decent sized one then pull out the filter cartage and u can use that as ur fuge. U can get a light at Petco or petsmart for around 20 bucks then u can get some egg crate that is used for coral frags to put on top after u have ur algae and sand and live rock packed in this works great my sump is so packed full that I really don't have room to make the fuge I want so this is exactly what I did but try looking in to getting a sump set up for your tank u don't have to have it in the stand u can have in to the left or the right and put it inside of cabinet or make something to hide it u can even put it under the floor it's on I know someone who has a 90 gallon and his sump is 150 gallons in his basement his fuge alone is 50 gallons beautiful system but there ur options to convert a hob to a fuge witch is ur best bet and very simple todo or look into an upgrade with a bigger tank and a better stand its always fun to upgrade in the reef hobby good luck let us know what u do
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:56 PM   #18
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Have you tried live-plants.com?
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:50 PM   #19
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The best idea I can give you would be to take a hob filter get a pretty decent sized one then pull out the filter cartage and u can use that as ur fuge. U can get a light at Petco or petsmart for around 20 bucks then u can get some egg crate that is used for coral frags to put on top after u have ur algae and sand and live rock packed in this works great my sump is so packed full that I really don't have room to make the fuge I want so this is exactly what I did but try looking in to getting a sump set up for your tank u don't have to have it in the stand u can have in to the left or the right and put it inside of cabinet or make something to hide it u can even put it under the floor it's on I know someone who has a 90 gallon and his sump is 150 gallons in his basement his fuge alone is 50 gallons beautiful system but there ur options to convert a hob to a fuge witch is ur best bet and very simple todo or look into an upgrade with a bigger tank and a better stand its always fun to upgrade in the reef hobby good luck let us know what u do
I can't have a sump either in the stand or outside of it....live in a small ranch condo and this tank already takes up half my living room . I do have the marineland emporer 400 which has 2 compartments. I am thinking that is what is causing the problems combined with my lack of a big enough clean up crew. My protein skimmer is also a seaclone 100 by instant ocean and like most newbies do, I bought it before researching it and have read nothing good about it. It works "ok" but not as well as I want. I am planning on getting a reef octopus bh2000 when I get my tax return. If I changed my emporer over to a fuge, would that be ok? I am afraid that I won't have enough filtration, my parameters will blow up, and I will lose everything in my tank....really wanting to cry right now. I just want this to be right. I do use API test kit and as someone posted, they tend to read high. What brand would be a better test kit?

thank you all for tolerating my dumb questions.....
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:53 PM   #20
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You could dose vodka but it has two drawbacks one is its expensive and two it produces red algae but it works very well knocked my nitrates down to zero. I have since switched to vinegar it works on the same principle and doesn't cause red algae also much cheaper.
Started keeping vodka in the house on a regular basis when I picked this little endeavor as a hobby....
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