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Old 12-08-2014, 09:48 PM   #1
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Water quality apart from nitrates

What is another test of water quality besides nitrates? I have an understocked 55 that has a nitrates accrual of about 30ppm per MONTH. I have live plants, an army of snails, and I don't over feed. I've been slack with water changes because I do not have cloudiness problems and quite frankly I got busy during the semester and slacked. I have hardy fish and the tank had been established for nearly a year so I figured there really want much harm given my current stock of 1 kissing gourami, 1 rainbow shark, and 1bn pleco.

Are there any other ways to gauge water quality? I have a very stable tank pH and as far as I can tell, very happy fish who dine on veggies almost daily, with some flakes for the kissing gourami and the occasional algae wafer.

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Old 12-08-2014, 10:08 PM   #2
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What is another test of water quality besides nitrates? I have an understocked 55 that has a nitrates accrual of about 30ppm per MONTH. I have live plants, an army of snails, and I don't over feed. I've been slack with water changes because I do not have cloudiness problems and quite frankly I got busy during the semester and slacked. I have hardy fish and the tank had been established for nearly a year so I figured there really want much harm given my current stock of 1 kissing gourami, 1 rainbow shark, and 1bn pleco.

Are there any other ways to gauge water quality? I have a very stable tank pH and as far as I can tell, very happy fish who dine on veggies almost daily, with some flakes for the kissing gourami and the occasional algae wafer.

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Question: are you going to VCU? There is Ammonia, PH, Nitrate and Nitrite, carbonate hardness, general hardness, etc. This will get you started. As far as Nitrates...I try to stay 20 ppm or lower.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:17 PM   #3
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Do you know for sure it never goes over 30 ppm ? How often do you test it ? Many sources say that levels up to 50 ppm are safe for most fish. If yours never goes over 30, then chances are the fish are fine. The fact you have plants has helped a lot, they process a lot of nitrate.

Water quality is mostly about decent living conditions for the creatures that must live in it. Fish and even shrimp can be come habituated to higher than ideal levels of nitrate, over time, and would die if suddenly placed into water with normal levels.

Your levels are not dangerously high. I think keeping them at 20 ppm or less is better, but I know of a few keepers who haven't been able to keep theirs below 30 and their fish do not appear to be suffering for it. They eat well and are active, which is what most of us want to see with our fish.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:55 PM   #4
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Question: are you going to VCU? There is Ammonia, PH, Nitrate and Nitrite, carbonate hardness, general hardness, etc. This will get you started. As far as Nitrates...I try to stay 20 ppm or lower.
VSU, actually. My hardness is fine, while I haven't tested it lately, my tap is from a well and is very soft and monitor how much crushed coral is left in my filter during my monthly cleanings. I introduced a very fast growing water weed to my tank so that seems to help. I'm just asking what other ways there are to measure water "quality" apart from the nitrates and visual inspection.

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Old 12-09-2014, 12:08 AM   #5
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Do you know for sure it never goes over 30 ppm ? How often do you test it ? Many sources say that levels up to 50 ppm are safe for most fish. If yours never goes over 30, then chances are the fish are fine. The fact you have plants has helped a lot, they process a lot of nitrate.

Water quality is mostly about decent living conditions for the creatures that must live in it. Fish and even shrimp can be come habituated to higher than ideal levels of nitrate, over time, and would die if suddenly placed into water with normal levels.

Your levels are not dangerously high. I think keeping them at 20 ppm or less is better, but I know of a few keepers who haven't been able to keep theirs below 30 and their fish do not appear to be suffering for it. They eat well and are active, which is what most of us want to see with our fish.
Oh, it goes above 30. Right now it's about 30 and its been about 2 weeks since last change. I could probably stand to do bi weekly changes, but the fish have been okay and the levels have been acceptable.

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Old 12-09-2014, 02:44 PM   #6
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How densely planted is the tank ? One good way to help reduce nitrates is to add more plants, preferably those that grow fast, as you've done, but the more you have, the better t they work. Floaters like duckweed uses up a lot, but you may not want the hassle of duckweed - maybe some frogbit ?

One other thing that might help would be to clean the filter more often. Filters are actually nitrate factories.. nitrate is the end product of the bacteria in them - cleaning it may help reduce this output somewhat.

If the levels get much above 30 ppm with any regularity, then I'd be concerned. If it has been this way for a long time though, the fish are very likely habituated to these nitrate levels. If you decided to change something to greatly reduce nitrates, you'd need to do it gradually so the fish can adapt to the change.

There are filters you can buy that remove nitrates, but they are not cheap. There is one brand that advertises a lot online. They use a closed system, with anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, which is released into the air. Air is mostly nitrogen anyway, and there's no odour. But not cheap. You can look into these.
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Old 12-09-2014, 04:51 PM   #7
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Your Tank

Hello enr...

If you're not changing half the tank water weekly, then the water quality isn't as good as it should or could be. Stocking and plants has little to do with good water quality. The water degrades in time, just by going through the filtering process, so it has to be removed and replaced frequently, no matter what's in there.

The water may look clear, but if it sits in the tank for longer than a week or so, it's definitely not clean.

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Old 12-09-2014, 05:41 PM   #8
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Hello enr...

If you're not changing half the tank water weekly, then the water quality isn't as good as it should or could be. Stocking and plants has little to do with good water quality. The water degrades in time, just by going through the filtering process, so it has to be removed and replaced frequently, no matter what's in there.

The water may look clear, but if it sits in the tank for longer than a week or so, it's definitely not clean.

B
If that's true then your experiment at this link on a no water change tank is based on absolutely nothing.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...nk-318469.html
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Old 12-09-2014, 05:50 PM   #9
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I know there are no-water-change tanks. My aquaponics system doesn't require changes. I guess my question is more along the lines of "What defines water 'quality'?" then.

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Old 12-09-2014, 05:54 PM   #10
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How densely planted is the tank ? One good way to help reduce nitrates is to add more plants, preferably those that grow fast, as you've done, but the more you have, the better t they work. Floaters like duckweed uses up a lot, but you may not want the hassle of duckweed - maybe some frogbit ?

I have hydrilla, which I was going to plant the whole tank with, but I picked up the weed with it and it is much more prolific.

Also, duckweed would be preferable, but I haven't seeked it out yet. My goldfish would love to have it as a snack when I have to thin it out.

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Old 12-09-2014, 11:53 PM   #11
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Energizer,

Check out some of the topics on Total Dissolved Solids (TDS for short). Based on what I've learned, TDS is a good way to determine water quality.

Admittedly, I haven't delved into this topic very deeply, but from what I've seen TDS takes into account everything in the water, not just Nitrates.

Hope this helps!
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Old 12-10-2014, 12:04 AM   #12
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When you consider water quality there are a number of things that can be measured and some that really can't in any degree of practicality. It's certain that there are things that matter that we can't test with home kits.

I think that's why the 50% weekly change is a good standard ... All those things we can't measure. However, there are well documented situations of very very very heavily planted tanks remaining healthy and stable without water changes.

My own 2 cents ... Read up on Diana Walstad and Tom Barr. Then, if your tank is very full of plants, make your own choices about water changes. If you have "some" plants and don't understand all the aspects of water parameters (nitrates, tds, minerals, fertilizers, etc) stick with frequent large water changes because of those qualities that can't really be measured.




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