nitrates are high!

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by whitney, May 26, 2009.

  1. whitney

    whitney

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    High nitrates....I am doing a water change tomorrow. i have my water mixed in buckets they have been mixed for 5 days now i put a heater in one. How can i be sure not to put my fish in shock. My zooanthids are browning!!! I have green alge on my tank back should i clean it all off or let it grow? I have crushed coral. I plan on cleaning it too. Is a 5 gallon water change good enough for a 55tank???
    :DThanks in Advance!!!!:D
     
    whitney, May 26, 2009
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  2. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    How long has the tank been up? How high are the nitrates? i would do a 20% change to get them down. Scrape the algae and siphon out when doing the water change. Are you using RO/DI water?
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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  3. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    Get some more turbo snails too. What type of filtration are you using on your tank?
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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  4. whitney

    whitney

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    Tanks been set up For 5 mos. They are in the stress level. Its an aquaclear aquatics has a sump and bioballs... my water im using is regular tap water and i use chlorine remover.
     
    whitney, May 26, 2009
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  5. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    The tap water is causing the nitrates and probably phosphates. Also, tap water has heavy metals that are toxic to your tank, especially with corals. Are you using a protien skimmer? Get your water from a LFS or get distilled water from the grocery store. Or even better, get an RO/DI unit. You can get a decent unit for $109 from Air water and ice. Its called the mighty mite. I use the same one and love it. It will save you time and money, and will eventually pay for itself.
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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  6. whitney

    Rcpilot

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    Whitney,
    Tap water isn't good. Most likely, some of your high nitrates are coming from the tap water. Humans can drink nitrates but your tank can't handle it.

    I'd buy an RO unit right away. Thats going to be the first step in reducing your nitrates and assuring you are putting only the best quality water in your tank.

    Scrape the algae off the glass right before you clean the tank. The thought process here is you will suck out some of it after you've scraped it off the glass. Not all of it, but some. Every little bit helps.

    On a 55g tank, I'd be doing about 5g every week. That would be a regular maintenance schedule. But right now you are having water problems so I'd start out with 10g every 4 or 5 days until you get the water chemistry straightened out.

    Reduce the bioload in the tank. Remove some fish. Reduce feeding for the remaining fish.

    Are you feeding flake food or pellet food? What kind of fish? You need to be careful about what foods you introduce to the tank. A lot of flake foods have phosphates in them. Phosphates will feed algae. Also, some foods will have ash. Ash breaks down into phosphates eventually (sort of) and that causes long term phosphate problems. You can switch food now and still battle a phosphate problem for months.

    If I was you, I'd take out 10 pounds of crushed coral and replace it with about 15-20 pounds of fine sand. You don't need live sand. The tank is alive and the good bacteria in the tank will spread to the sand in time. Patience. Also, live sand is 3 times as expensive as dry sand. Just use dry sand and it will all be "live" sand in a few months.

    Slowly remove the crushed coral. It's just a big sump for all kinds of decaying matter in the tank. Crushed coral holds fish poop, uneaten food and other dead or rotten stuff. In short - crushed coral = BAD for a reef tank. Sand = GOOD for a reef tank.

    What type of filtration do you have on the tank right now? If you have a canister filter or a wet dry filter you are kinda working against yourself. Both of those can be used as SUPPLEMENTAL filtration, but are really not the best for your primary filtration system in the tank. Your best bet is using plenty of live rock and a good protein skimmer. IMHO the protein skimmer is the most important part of your filtration system. You can do more with a protein skimmer and a few powerheads than ANY canister filter.

    I prefer a more natural filtration system. My little 30g tank has about 4" of fine sand in the tank. I also have a hang on refugium with a skimmer and about 5" of sand. The tank had 60 pounds of live rock in it when I started almost 2yrs ago. As the tank became more stable I was able to remove about 10 pounds of that rock, but I did it slowly and only after the tank was stable for at least 1yr.

    The deep sand beds in the tank and refugium provide biological filtration. They are also handling any nitrates. I never test nitrates in my water. I just don't have nitrates. Thats from having 2 deep sand beds.

    The skimmer gets rid of any dissolved poop and food in the water column.

    The live rock provides biological filtration.

    I use a couple powerheads in the tank for water circulation and good gas exchange on the surface of the water.

    Thats it. No fancy filter. No canister filter. Nothing complicated. And it works better than 95% of the reefers I've talked too in person and conversed with on the internet, like this forum. I'm always reading threads about people with nitrate problems. Most of them are using a canister filter or a wet-dry filter. 100% of the people with nitrate problems DON'T have a deep sand bed to convert the nitrates into harmless nitrogen gas.

    Nitrates are caused by:
    Poor water source (tap water)
    Poor filtration (canister or wet-dry....... and no DSB)
    Poor food quality (loaded with crap your fish aren't going to eat..... but it settles to the bottom and turns into nitrates)
    Over-stocking the tank (1" of actual fish body per 10g of water in the tank - MAX)
     
    Rcpilot, May 26, 2009
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    twisted likes this.
  7. whitney

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    You should be changing 5 to 10 gallons every week. But if you are using tap water to do water changes, you are probably not doing yourself any good, as tap water contains nitrates and phosphates, and thus leads to algae problems. Like BigH said, you should only use reverse osmosis water. You can buy this at a grocery store, fish store, or even Walmart. It is usually more cost effective to buy an RODI unit and put it in under your sink (they cost around $100 -- check out www.purewaterclub.com).

    There will probably be no easy way to fix your water quality problems as long as you are using tap water. Also, crushed coral and bioballs tend to lead to high nitrates. They are not very good for saltwater tanks. You will need to keep your bioballs and crushed coral very clean if you want to keep nitrates low.
     
    Bifferwine, May 26, 2009
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  8. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    I dont understand why LFS's dont push RO units. If I owned a store, that would be the first thing I sold customers. Also, I used tap water for years and wondered why i could never grow corals. At this point a 50% water change might even be a good option. I do agree that your tank is very overstocked. A 55 may look big, but they are very easy to overstock. Sounds like you need to add a sump to your tank with some reef goodies down there.
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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  9. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    Oh and you may consider running a phosban reactor to get those phosphates down too.
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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  10. whitney

    cthegame

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    +1 all of the above
     
    cthegame, May 26, 2009
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  11. whitney

    sen5241b

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    Wholefoods and some other grocery stores have a RO machine. Its usually like 39 cents a gallon. Call around. If you don't have access to RO water, at least use a good carbon filter --it will help.

    I would consider a 40% water change out. The higher the percentage of water change out, however the more important it is to match the salinity and temperature precisely. If you are only doing a 5% change out and the temperature is off by a couple degrees, the overall change to the tank won't be much.
     
    sen5241b, May 26, 2009
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  12. whitney

    sen5241b

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    Also, if you take the bioballs out, then take out 20% of them every 5 days until they are all gone. Do NOT take them all out at once.
     
    sen5241b, May 26, 2009
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  13. whitney

    whitney

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    Thanks!!!!! I am using marine flakes and new life spectrum food. Should i replace the bioballs with l.r??? I just got done cleaning the bioballs with water and vinegar. I am gonna go and get some water from the store untill i get a R.o. Do i just mix the salt in there and thats it, Do i need to use chlorine remover still???
     
    whitney, May 26, 2009
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  14. whitney

    daugherty part time reefer

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    you are getting a lot of nitrates and phosphates from the flak food i would change to frozen mysis shrimp or marine cusine frozen food
     
    daugherty, May 26, 2009
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  15. whitney

    Rcpilot

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    Switch to frozen foods immediately.

    Cleaning bioballs with tap water and vinegar is pointless. You might as well not even have them at all. The tap water and vinegar kills any good bacteria that were living on the bioballs. At this point, you have no biological filter. So, just take them all out. They're no good to put back in the tank now that the bacteria is dead.

    Get RO water from the store and add your powdered salt crystals. Use your hydrometer to test the salinity and make sure it's correct. Put a heater in the container and get the water to the same temp as your tank. A spare powerhead or at the very least an airline hose and bubbler stone. You need something in there to mix the water up while it sits overnight.

    Always let your newly mixed water sit for at least overnight. Make sure the salinity and temp are okay.

    You do not need a chlorine remover if you are using RO water. All RO filters will have a pre-filter of activated carbon that takes out all the chlorine and other nasty chemicals.

    Others in this thread indicated your tank is overstocked. I don't know how many fish you have. My rule of thumb:
    1" of fish per 10g of water. If you have a 55g tank, then you can have 5" or 6" of fish. Thats all. So you can have 3 or 4 damsels. OR you can have a couple chromis. OR you can have one small trigger or angel. Thats it. Pick one or two fish and thats it. Not 8 or 10 fish. Thats just too many.
     
    Rcpilot, May 26, 2009
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  16. whitney

    whitney

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    Now i feel like an idiot!!!!! Ok my tank is definetly overstocked!!! My bioballs are pointless and my tank is gonna crash! ...LoL... I already put the bio balls back in there. My nitrates w/o the water change have gone down from 80 to 40..
     
    whitney, May 26, 2009
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  17. whitney

    wontonflip I failed Kobayashi Maru

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    Looks like everyone has you covered. Everything they've said about your set up is pretty much on point. Dont' feel like an idiot. At least you spoke up and now you can get great advice from the livingreefers :) No doubt we've all been where you are at one point (I had nitrates up to 120ppm in the beggining! -- then I got advice from here, and now, I have 0 nitrates!). And the good thing is, now you can make changes to have an even more successful tank. Keep us posted!
     
    wontonflip, May 26, 2009
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  18. whitney

    Rcpilot

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    You're not an idiot. Just lacking in experience.

    Start reading:
    http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/bionitrogencycle/a/faqbiologicalcy.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/bionitrogencycle/a/aa073199.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/bionitrogencycle/a/aa073199_2.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/aquariummaintenancecare/ss/cycledwhatsnext.htm

    http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/filtration/l/blbac_bioloadch.htm

    Read that stuff. You will have a much better understanding of whats going on inside your tank.
     
    Rcpilot, May 26, 2009
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  19. whitney

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    +2 All the above
    If you dont have access to RO water,then get some of the wal-mart brand distilled water.Its not as good as RO,but its a lot better than straight tap water.Another option is get a couple of those water jugs in the camping section of wal-mart,then use the water from the RO machine at either wal-mart or you local supermarket.
     
    yote, May 26, 2009
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  20. whitney

    BigH55 I'm that guy

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    Your not an idiot. I would replce the bioballs with LR rubble. You need some type of bio filter in there.
     
    BigH55, May 26, 2009
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