High Nitrates...what's the cause?

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Hiker4twenty, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. Hiker4twenty

    Hiker4twenty

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    Yesterday I helped my buddy Mike (mog64) do a large water change on his 46g FOWLR tank. He's been having issues with high nitrates for quite some time. His tank has been running for about 10months. He feeds the fish every 2-3 days. All other params are in good rage. He does a 10-15g water change about every 10 days. Prior to yesterday he was using 5g jugs of spring water. (He's buying an RO/DI unit asap) Yesterday we did 15g's of RO. Immediatly after changing the water I tested his nitrates and they were 15ppm. Today he tested and the nitrates shot back up to 50ppm for no reason. He did not feed the fish at all. What could be causing this? Tank is socked with 6 fish (2 clowns, 2 chromis, 1 yt damsel, and 1 scooter blenny) He also has a hob fuge with chaeto and LR. This is really frustrating to me since I help him a lot with his tank and he's a good friend of mine. I also have 6 fish in my 29g, but have 0 trates. What gives? :frustrat: I'm hoping maybe a bad test kit since it's about 10months old. Any advise and suggestions are appreciated. :bowdown:
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
    Hiker4twenty, Mar 9, 2010
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  2. Hiker4twenty

    AdeptMrSniffles I have a Blue Thumb

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    Did he ever purchase some kind of invert that could be dead and out of sight, i.e: cucumber, sand sifting star? Also, does he run a skimmer? 6 fish and no skimmer, that's a lot of poo collecting in the DT.
     
    AdeptMrSniffles, Mar 9, 2010
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  3. Hiker4twenty

    Hiker4twenty

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    He's never added any out of the ordinary inverts besides a horseshoe crab. He did have a chocchip star, but that died 3 months ago and he took it out of the tank. Yes, he's had a skimmer from day 1 and it's pulling gunk out of the tank. I think with water changes of that volume that frequently his trates should be much lower and not raise that quickly. There has to be something major going on here.
     
    Hiker4twenty, Mar 9, 2010
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  4. Hiker4twenty

    AdeptMrSniffles I have a Blue Thumb

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    Hmmm... interesting. I'd take a water sample to your LFS to double check the readings. Like you mentioned, the test kits are old, so ya never know if they're right or not. What kind of food is he feeding and how old is it?
     
    AdeptMrSniffles, Mar 9, 2010
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  5. Hiker4twenty

    VAreef

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    Do you have any snails and hermits to help with the clean up process? There is no telling how much stuff is still decaying and being transformed into nitrates. What were the nitrate levels before the 15gal RO change. If they were 50ppm then then a 15 gal change would not be able to lower them to 15 ppm and prolly got a bad read on nitrates. Also how old is your test kit. Good call on getting rid of the spring water.
     
    VAreef, Mar 9, 2010
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  6. Hiker4twenty

    reeffreak

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    You call that high?
    I remember reading something about Biff and having 500ppm or something like that.:12:

    I say keep doing what you are doing with water changes.Try using a powerhead and blowing around the live rock for clogged holes.Live rock can trap detritus leading to nitrate and phosphate problems.Blow the rocks with a powerhead before a water change.You can even stir the sand if it's shallow.
     
    reeffreak, Mar 9, 2010
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  7. Hiker4twenty

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Ahem. It was 150+. I guess it could have been 500. The color card only went up to 150 ;)
     
    Bifferwine, Mar 9, 2010
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  8. Hiker4twenty

    PRC Stop Quoting Me!

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    It's these little tidbits of information that make this forum the best...Simple, but something a newb like me doesn't think about..one more thing to add to the arsenal.
     
    PRC, Mar 9, 2010
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  9. Hiker4twenty

    sen5241b

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    I'll bet FLOW is Mike's problem. The need for good FLOW is greatly under estimated! Low or no flow will definitely contribute to nitrates. You want all detritus to get kicked up into the water column and then floss should filter it out. People also use a small softball sized chunk of chaeto in a tank like Mike's. You need more, like double or triple that and strong light. Cheato has an amazing ability to pull those nitrates out!
     
    sen5241b, Mar 9, 2010
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  10. Hiker4twenty

    beam3er

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    Mike has a ball of cheato the size of a large cantaloupe and has 3 power heads, one on the top of the tank, one blowing behind his rocks and one in front.
     
    beam3er, Mar 9, 2010
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  11. Hiker4twenty

    Hiker4twenty

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    I actually gave him 2 powerheads over the weekend so he has much more flow now. One is pointed right behind the rocks now. He has tons of snails and hermits...i'd say in the range of 30 each. On Sunday he bought 25 more snails. I know he feeds frozen food only....mysis and brine. I did advise him to take a few cups of DT water to the LFS and get it tested.
     
    Hiker4twenty, Mar 9, 2010
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  12. Hiker4twenty

    sen5241b

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    How often does he have to cut the cheato back?
     
    sen5241b, Mar 9, 2010
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  13. Hiker4twenty

    Hiker4twenty

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    I'm pretty sure he trims it about 2x per month.
     
    Hiker4twenty, Mar 9, 2010
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  14. Hiker4twenty

    Mog46g

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    Well i am mike.. I have been reading this all day... I have no clue why this is happening... i have never had a problem with nitrates ever... this has happened all in two months ... So any help would def be helpful ... i wish i could had more to this but dave and steve pretty much have said everything....i mean this is very annoying .. but thanks for all the help..
     
    Mog46g, Mar 10, 2010
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  15. Hiker4twenty

    VAreef

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    Hi Mike. I'm kinda assuming you got some bad test kits. How is the rest of your tank doing? No real nuisance algae growth? Nothing else to indicate an unhealthy tank except the nitrate tests suddenly changing?
     
    VAreef, Mar 10, 2010
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  16. Hiker4twenty

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    I think I would be questioning the test kit to.It may not be bad,but it is some place to start.
     
    yote, Mar 10, 2010
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  17. Hiker4twenty

    reeffreak

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    You always crack me up.

    You be surprise on how much debris gets trapped in and around live rock.
     
    reeffreak, Mar 10, 2010
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  18. Hiker4twenty

    Hiker4twenty

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    +1 Yote and VA. I'm thinking its the test kit as well. Mike, I'll bring all my test kits down and we can test all your levels. I tested my stuff last night and my trates were at 0 so I know mine is working fine.
     
    Hiker4twenty, Mar 10, 2010
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  19. Hiker4twenty

    sen5241b

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    Get an LFS water test!
     
    sen5241b, Mar 10, 2010
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