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a Nitrate Discussion
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MarkLehr
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Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Location: Taylorsville, KY

PostPosted: 2005.02.08(Tue)19:52    Post subject: a Nitrate Discussion Reply with quote

In a recent exchange of private messages between myself and FloridaBoy, the following response I feel will be very beneficial to most anyone reading the threads concerned with Nitrate buildup in a marine fish only aquarium.

FloridaBoy: "At any rate, I'm not a chemist but I guess the answer would be not only organics but anything harmful to the fish and accumulating over time will be a problem, whether or not it ends up as nitrates; I.e. an older tank with higher nitrates will often contain metals, phosphates, various acids, yellowing agents, toxins, detritus, residual medications, uneaten foods all best described as "pollution" in various stages of being slowly or quickly dissolved/adsorbed/broken down, etc. Nitrates are an end product of sorts yet also a symptom of other problems basic to long term marine keeping. I was trying to help a fellow on another board last week with nitrate reading of 160ppm (!) Surely if his nitrates are that far gone, it stands to reason his general water quality/bio load/understanding is also way out of whack...
sure enough, he had 21 inches of fish in a 75 gal tank.

From Fenner: "In reality, nitrates by themselves are not "that" deleterious. What accumulating nitrogenous wastes in the form of nitrate compounds indicates may be symptomatic however, and signal a need to react (slowly) in changing ones management/maintenance of captive marine systems."

Mark, as you know, it appears we are seeing "filters" (more often traps as we know them) replaced by refugiums packed with mangroves, algae, other DOC removers. I may be off here, but I suspect that for nitrate reduction in fish systems we may see a shift away from rock and sand to plant solutions, if for no other reason than the outrageous cost for the LR."

I agree completely with FloridaBoy and his assessment of Nitrates in a marine system. I would carry the comments further and say that fishkeepers often are overly concerned with the exact reading of Nitrate, Phosphate, Alkalinity, etc. and use these readings to justify their systems. We would be far better off to practice good aquarium husbandry and stock our aquariums lightly in an effort to be successful long term in the hobby. Even our best attempts to keep Nitrates low with modern filtration will not eliminate the necessity or benefits of doing regular water changes on our systems.

I have found that FloridaBoy and I both have a passion for fish only setups and are both believers in simple marine setups. It is interesting that our concern with Nitrates buildups is similar. Just some thoughts from 2 long term successful marine hobbyists.

Happy fishkeeping everyone!
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: St Louis

PostPosted: 2005.02.08(Tue)23:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with all of that...but I wonder how much "plant solutions" it will take to remove enough of the nitrates from a robustly stocked tank of size. Chaeto is wonderful stuff, but it would take a lot of it make a large enough impact. It has taken me a few months to remove the nitrate from my system...a lot of rock in my 29 gallon, close to 60 lbs. The 10 gallon fuge was cute, but there wasn't really enough volume for the DSB to perform effeciently. I have since switched to a 30 gallon fuge, more room for plants and a larger surface area for the DSB.

I am still skimming, but hope to slowly remove it from the system. I have my doubts that will ever happen completely, and will still skim from time to time. The tank is still very young, but doing amazingly well.

The corals are doing very well, removed all of the fish except for the Percula and the Purple Firefish, the smaller bio-load has helped with the nitrates.
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Jack
29 gallon planted various fish
58 gallon salt, 30g fuge
75 gallon planted, 5.45 wpg
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.02.09(Wed)21:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points Jack, I see your refugium is now larger than your display, eh?
We are talking slow processes here... I think the plants would need to be added early enough to account for that; is is possible that often we see the guy adding plants/lr/dsb to a 2-5 year year set up where nitrates have gotten a huge lead? You were wise to get this going early in your tank. From what I am reading on red mangroves, lots of opinons out there; some claim nitrate problems non-existent, others claim their slow growth proves them a weak nutrient export solution, plus problems with cracked fuges due to massive root growth; I think Julian Sprung still offers them, and the macros you mentioned I see are used a lot.
As you know, I have very little interest in invert maintenance/headaches; give me your tusk wrasses, your lionfishes, etc., that said, I am researching the use/benefits of plants/LR/DSB etc. for DOC removal in fish systems...
(not always an easy task, with so much reef chat going on).
My concern is the LR will decline in a non-reef, moderate/robust fish system; I have seen this MANY times, but perhaps not a problem for inner process of denitrification (if that actually happens/not just LR marketing)? The DSB holds great promise, but as I have written in a previous post, many differing opinons on sand also. Perhaps all three in combination will prove effective;
I see that you saw a decrease in nitrates; can you elaborate how much, and to what do you attribute this (aside from the fact that you diluted your pollution by more than doubling your water volume) do you think it was the sand bed or rock more than the plants?
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: St Louis

PostPosted: 2005.02.10(Thu)18:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw the nitrates go from 10-15 ppm to undetectable in under a month, long before the upgraded fuge. I attribute it to mainly the large amount of rock, the plants and lastly skimming. The nitrates had got down to 5ppm before the skimming took place. It is important to note that even though the tank was only set up in early Dec. that is was seeded with close to 10 lbs of good established sand, full of pods and creatures. The fuge was also seeded well with the gunk and grunge from a lfs's rock bin, which was mostly rubble and goo that had collected there for a long time. It was in that goo that the most quantity of pods came from. Yes I do think the small 10 gallon fuge had an impact, but over time it just would not have a large enough area for the DSB to perform as it should. The current fuge has a DSB spot of 24"x8"x6" deep...plenty of room to be of benefit to the 29 gallon tank.

I really wanted to go skimmerless...was my goal, and have seen it work, but after spending the bucks for the softies, shrooms and the anemone, I wasn't going to take that chance. I wasn't ready for an anemone, and I knew that, but the one I got was a rescue. I got lucky with that one, within a week it was getting it's color back and eating nicely. It could have very easily gone the other direction. He was mostly bleached when I got him. This is what it looks like today.



The fuge upgrade will also help keep the water quality stable, and provided me a place to put the overload of rock I had in the display tank. Honestly, I had too much rock in there and the lessened water amount worried me. That won't be a problem now. Cool It will mean less work with the larger water volume.

Nitrates are still at zero, and I think they will stay that way. The lower bio-load helped there too. The Mollies are cycling my Quarantine Tank, are healthy and happy not to have been eaten by an Oscar. lol They will remain in the QT unless they show signs of stress then back to freshwater they will go. The female did give birth in salt and the fry were quickly consumed, this was in the 29 gallon, Mollies do work for cycling...and work well.

One note...the skimmer is a small one. It is an Amiracle PS-3 which is airdriven by two limewood stones and a Schego 250 l/h air pump, not the best skimmer around, but it works great with the 90 gph powerhead and the Schego air pump...which by the way is one of the best airpumps I have ever seen. This is dead silent and the volume of adjustable air is amazing. I have long been concerned about overskimming, esp. a small tank, and for what I gave for this skimmer...10 bucks, had the powerhead and the air pump was an awesome deal, another reason to frequent the lfs in your area and spend money with them. I get discounts!!!! Total amount in this skimmer is less than 40 bucks and it does skim well.
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Jack
29 gallon planted various fish
58 gallon salt, 30g fuge
75 gallon planted, 5.45 wpg
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.02.10(Thu)21:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhh, a quality post AND great photo.
Very good to see any anemone success, esp. a rescue.
How long have you had it now, and while I'm bugging you my friend, can you remind me and for others benefit; what is your lighting, your sand type and depth (in the display) are you feeding the anemone and are you using any addititives/kalk/buffers/supplements? I seem to remember seeing a post with your fuge pic I think; does the fuge have lighting also?
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: St Louis

PostPosted: 2005.02.11(Fri)18:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

FloridaBoy wrote:
Ahhh, a quality post AND great photo.
Very good to see any anemone success, esp. a rescue.
How long have you had it now, and while I'm bugging you my friend, can you remind me and for others benefit; what is your lighting, your sand type and depth (in the display) are you feeding the anemone and are you using any addititives/kalk/buffers/supplements? I seem to remember seeing a post with your fuge pic I think; does the fuge have lighting also?


Display tank is a 29 gallon AGA, a mixture of 3 granular sizes of aragonite, about 4" thick, lit by 220 watts of pc's. I dose Kalk weekly and Kents Reefbuilder. No other additives at this time other than a weekly dose of Kents Phytoplex. The anemone eats the flake he catches plus Formula One Gel, frozen. I have had him almost 3 weeks now.

The old 10 gallon fuge that had a pic is gone, replaced by the 30 gallon, which in it's former life was an Oceanic Trickle Filter. I added baffles to the trickle filter part to house the DSB. Currently it is lit by the hood from the 10 gallon, but am attending a saltwater auction tomorrow and hope to pick up a better light. Here is a horrible pic of it.


My next project is a custom stand made from Ipe, a south american hardwood, which I distribute to lumberyards...the price is right. lol

Full tank shot.




It is definately a work in progress. I have battles algae on a few rocks, but the snails keep it in check.
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Jack
29 gallon planted various fish
58 gallon salt, 30g fuge
75 gallon planted, 5.45 wpg
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nikilynn02
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005

PostPosted: 2005.04.27(Wed)13:30    Post subject: High Nitrate levels Reply with quote

I have a 55 gallon tank, upgraded from a 29 about 4 months ago. I have a trigger, blue tang, clarki clown, black clown, and maroon clown. At one time I had more than 100 snails in the tank until my stupid trigger ate about 80 of them. My question, I have struggled with my nitrate levels for a month now. The tang got very sick so I immediately started treatment for one week, and did a 25% water change after. The nitrate was at 20 when she first got sick, after treatment it was down to 12. That was one week ago today. I used to do a 10% change every 10 days, and filters cartriges every 2 weeks, but now with the tang I do water changes (10%) every 7 days. So I just changed the water today, and checked the level before I changed it, its up to 30!!!!! Funny thing is, the tang is perfect, looks great! But my black clown is sick. NO clue how this is happening. I have the penguin 330 and 170 on the tank, heater, air pump that has twice the capacity for the tank. 15 lbs of live rock. I feed the trigger a goldfish (smallest available) about every other day, and same with seaweed for the tang. I have searched everywhere, asked pet stores and they said I am doing all that I can do. I do NOT have a skimmer, am poor enough as it is, but its the next thing I will get once summer comes and I can work more hours. One little catch that could be hurting the tank, but hasn't in previous months. I have gone to my local lake and picked up some cool rocks, brought them back and scrubbed as hard as I could to clean them, then cooked them in my oven at 450 degrees for more than 20 mintues, waited for them to cool and put them in the tank. Rest assured I did this more than 4 months ago and everything was fine, but got rid of those when I got the tank and went out to find new ones. I do not know how I am hurting the tank so bad and really feel terrible about it. So much money has gone into it as we all know, and being a college student, keeping this kind of tank up has used up all of my money! I don't want it to go down now! PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!! The poor fishies just want to feel better! Thanks for any help anyone can possibly offer!
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