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Light essential for liverock?
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2010.08.17(Tue)1:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

KMV021203 wrote:

Anyhow, now that my bubble has officially been popped, I guess I can just wait out the parameters to level out. I assume the light should help stable out the pH. Is there anything I can do to help level out or eliminate the nitrates?

If you are planning on keeping just a few hardy animals it may not be a big problem. But sensitive fish and invertebrates will not tolerate high dissolved organics and poor water quality.

You need to understand what is happening; you already have 40 ppm of nitrates and the tank is only 30 days old with no fish. The NITRITE level is going to drop soon. But your NITRATES are never going to "level out." For reef/invert systems, most target less than 5 ppm and they often keep sparse fish populations in those tanks to help limit nutrient input. A 20 to 40 ppm reading is common in fish systems and can usually be maintained/lowered with efficient skimming and scheduled water changes, UNLESS your substrate is stagnating; this will often create a nutrient sink that even regular water changes will not resolve. While many fish are likely not harmed by moderate or even higher nitrate levels, IMO higher nitrates almost always go hand in hand with a low pH; and pH/alkaline reserve is a much more serious parameter that requires careful attention in all marine systems. This is why I feel that substrates lead to the downfall of most marine aquariums.

Chances are, you already have a fair amount of muck and dissolved organics in that substrate from feeding it every other day, that is going to stagnate and keep producing more and more nutrients; your Penguin Biowheels are going to keep converting those nutrients into more and more nitrates until your pH begins to drop and your water gets dangerous.

Removing the "bio-media" and filter pads from that Penguin will help, (you can add them back in periodically for a few days to remove particulates) but this nitrate factory is not going to change until you determine to deal with the source of the organics; namely your stagnating substrate. You can remove nitrates with chemicals/resins, but that only deals with symptoms not cause. Time to nip this in the bud; stop adding uneaten food. I also suggest several rounds of partial water changes, and strongly suggest reducing the substrate to 1/2 inch or less; this should give your skimmer a chance to "catch up" and start exporting the nutrients as opposed to converting them. Make sense? Also, adding more live rock and a refugium down the road are good things to consider.

Again, the nitrates in themselves are not a huge problem if you are planning on keeping just a few hardy fish; but most inverts don't tolerate nitrates well, and unless you stay on top of it, nitrates tend to lead to bigger problems associated with dissolved organics and poor water quality.
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KMV021203
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Joined: 25 Jan 2007

PostPosted: 2010.08.17(Tue)3:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good to hear that for the most part I am on schedule with the cycling process. At the moment I do not have an operating skimmer. I am currently working with Coralife warranty department to get a few missing parts. A working skimmer, I think, could help clear up this matter with the NITRATES. I will continue with my 10% weekly water changes.

As of yesterday I quit feeding the substrate and for the moment the hermits as well. I have read that mechanical filters become nothing more than a nitrate factory. Included in my weekly water changes I have been pulling the filter pad out of the Penguin and washing it thoroughly in discarded water from the water change and re-installing the pad. Is it a safe bet that I can get rid of the Penguin all together and buy a powerhead? I was merely using it for water flow from the start.

I guess I made a nooby mistake and thought that more substrate would be better. I am going to remove about half of the substrate tonight and keep the filter going until the cloudiness is gone and remove the pads and bio wheel. Let me know if there is anything else I could do. Thanks again.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2010.08.17(Tue)11:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

KMV021203 wrote:
Is it a safe bet that I can get rid of the Penguin all together and buy a powerhead? I was merely using it for water flow from the start.

Sure, as I said, you can still make good use the Penguin's mechanical filtration on a periodic schedule. Definitely get the skimmer on there; it's a much more effective form of nutrient export.

KMV021203 wrote:
I guess I made a nooby mistake and thought that more substrate would be better. I am going to remove about half of the substrate tonight and keep the filter going until the cloudiness is gone and remove the pads and bio wheel. Let me know if there is anything else I could do. Thanks again.
Sure, like I said, it depends on what you plan on keeping for livestock. Some types of wrasses actually require deeper sand beds! As for removing it, I would proceed with caution; you can do this over a period of several weeks a little at a time, by vacuuming the extra sand out with your water changes.

Many hobbyists feel that sand beds, particularly live deep sand beds (DSB's) located in sumps in marine systems can be a real benefit in quickly reducing nitrates, if set up and maintained correctly... at the same time, I think "medium depth" sand beds and other substrates, crushed coral etc. can also be a complete disaster if they are not understood/maintained correctly; and there are different schools of thought here; some stir the sand with sifter species/critters, others advise never disturbing it... do your homework and proceed with caution before disturbing/removing or adding any sand. Some claim better success with no sand in the display at all. The general direction I have seen from people like Fenner is, sand should be less than an inch or more than 4 inches, which I have found puts most hobbyists in "no man's land," but it is beyond the scope of this reply to give you all the specifics... you will have to research it for your application, and I do wish you the best of success.
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