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Need advice on high nitrates


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Hello you guys

I wanted to see what I may be doing wrong here.

350 ltr tank (RSR) which was doing OK once upon a time,. Had a tank crash (corals RTNing all over) Due to work/life neglect and breakdown of some equipment for a few months.  

When i checked the nitrates / phosphates after a long time nitrates were at 80 and Ph = 0.5. So obviously there was trouble.  Back into full save-the-tank mode, i did the following :

1. Red Sea NoPox treatment of 10ml per day for arround a few weeks

2. 20% water changes every week for 3 weeks

3. Reduced my PE mysis from 2 feedings to 1 feeding a day ( i have 1 anthias, 1 copperband butterfly, 1 Yellow Tang who also gets sea weed every alternate day, 1 blenny and 2 bangai cardinals) 

I could see the nitrates reducing to arround 20 ppm (good!) but phosphates steady at 0.5 and loads of hair algae.

Lost 2 fish - the blenny and 1 cardinal( like literally lost them, cant see them anywhere in the tank, so i assume they RIPed due to the high nitrates and may be contributing to the nitrate buildup. 

Impatient for better results, i then did the following :

1. Added Zeolith stones from AF in the filter cups covered by the filter wool.

2. Restarted my fluidised reactor with GFO and Carbon.

3. Saw the phosphates reducing, was happy. Continued with the  NoPox and (again impatient for results) added Pro Bio S from AF assuming the NoPox will act as food for the bateria and assuming that more bacteria is always better

Checked my nitrates, saw they were 40 on the API test kit put it down to bad lighting while looking at the results. A few days later checked the nitrates again, seems like they are at the 80 levels :0 

 

So i am doing something wrong. Gave up and came to the forum for help. I have some options, help me out here :

1. Stop GFO immediately, i am screwing up with the Redfield ratio in some way and thats spiking the nitrates

2. Increase NoPox (but its at the max recommended limit of 10ml per day anyways for the 300 ltr of water volume i have)

3. Stop Pro Bio S

4. Get a Cheto / algae Reactor ? ( Refugium is not an option due to the small sump that RSR has)

Anything else ? Any idea would be appreciated. thank you all

 

 

 

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So why are your nitrates fluctuating despite your efforts?? I would look into these areas 1) Ammonia and Nitrogen sources - 2) Nutrient removal methods 3) Testing.

Ammonia and Nitrogen sources: Well your missing fish may have something to do with your issues. If they have indeed passed on to the great aquarium in the sky, then they will be leaching Ammonia. As we know from the Nitrogen cycle this will eventually show itself as Nitrates (this will be super quick especially as your tank is mature and has a healthy stock of AOB and NOB Syrians of bacteria). So you need to find the poor things and remove them. In the mean time do a big water change 50%. Because until they are removed or fully decomposed then you will continue to have this issue. However, I suspect this is what is preventing the tank from returning to normal after the first set of actions. As to how your tank got to high levels in the first place I would look at your nutrient removal methods

Nutrient Removal Imbalance. Whilst filter socks, skimmers and refugium probably remove out phosphate and nitrogen in equal measure. Chemical filter media that stips out individual sources such as ammonia nitrate or phosphate can cause an imbalance. GFO is very effective in removing phosphate and can strip it completely out of your tank, however it will do nothing about your nitrates. Your Phosphate is at 0.5?? this is still very high (unless you meant 0.05 which is ideal). I would not remove your GFO if you have 0.5ppm you still need it. But I would again encourage a large water change and for nutrient removal going forward i would certainly move to having an ATS or a Refugium. Both of these are well proven sustainable methods of a balanced nutrient removal regime.

Testing: Often if you get a spurious result, it comes from bad testing procedures or a funky hobby grade kit. API is notoriously bad at testing for Nitrate, Salafert is a better choice (For phosphate I would go with a Hanna checker). Do double check the instructions and keep those viles clean.

So basically find the dead fish, do large water changes, until water is balanced and invest in an ATS. Easy . Hahahaha. Good luck bro. Hope this helps. Keep us informed of your progress.

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Thank you Rob,  Yakh0o

I am going progressively try the suggestions and update here. I forgot to mention - i am having arround 3 ltrs of siporax and a marine pure block, which I thought was more than enough for the bacteria to control the nitrates  but like you said, mostly the extra sources of nitrogen is the culprit. 

I was actually looking at a cheato reactor (skimz / tunze) and not an ATS because i didnt see any in the online and local LFS. Any idea where i can get a decent ATS ? Any LFS sells the Santa Monica ones ?

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Im not an expert. For me rowaphos for po4 reduction and nopox with cheato for no3 control. I stopped feeding frozen food based on an advice from jake adams. For cheato i ran on my ios chamber eventhough many said that space is not enough. My no3 was 1ppm and have to dose to increase to 10 ppm now. Try a decent amount of cheato with 24 hrs light with recommended amount of nopox. Then may be every day or every other day test no3. See if it works. Control lightig hours to maintain no3. Also i think microbacter 7, vibrant also helps alot to skim out nutrients a lot. I dose every week. I did try a diy ats which reduce po4 and no3 and difficult to control. Btw my cheato didn’t do well at first until i dose some trace elements i used red sea. I this its iron that helps cheato grow. I was at 50 ppm last week due to excess no3 dosing back to 10 after 2 days. I feed 4 times a day and dose reef energy, acropower, min s and nyos amino everyday. Reef roid and coral dust every other day. Dose some other stuff too. For po4 i also dose phosphate rx to maintain as close to 0


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What is your concern for high nitrate? API tested is not accurate. Try salifert.

You may replace ur gfo with zeolite to lock up all the ammonia.

ATS you could also want to look at aliexpress. They have a few and they works great. Or chaeto is good.. naturally bring down those nutrients.

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Sincere thanks to everyone who pitched in with all the great advice. I really appreciate it.

Running GFO and NoPox have brought down the phosphates to 0.04 on the RedSea test kit and nitrates to 5 to 10ppm on API. I am also running the Nitraguard titanium but too early to see results yet. I dIdnt manage to get the Salifert test kits since didnt see it in stock 2 of my close by LFS. But since API test was showing 80 earlier i am happy!!

On a different note, i switched from Aquaforest salt to Tropic Marin Pro-reef, no real reason other than i just wanted to use their All-for-reef as a simpler dosing manual mechanism with just one measurement than use a doser, and i thought made sense to switch salts as well so the dosing is compatible with the salt.

All-for-reef is Powerful! I think i dosed arround 20 ml (in my 350 ltr tank which is very lightly loaded at the moment : 4 fish 1 big bubble coral and some zoas) and the Mag jumped from 1250 to 1365, calcium from 320 to 380 and alk from 5.8 to 6.8 : yes i have not been keeping my parameters in order but getting to it now after i have the Nitrate and Phosphate under control.

Now i need to tackle my bryopsis problem before i can finally go and add corals. Hair algae is growing all over (not crazy but it is over all the rocks and the back walls). And i saw bubble algae today (the horror the horror :(( )

So now from nitrates battle which i think i am winning, i need to win the algae battle:

I under dosed Vibrant last week to get rid of the hair algae. It did appear to weaken it but then i saw cyano start to appear so i stopped. (i had this previous issue with Vibrant and i think its more to do with my tank rather than the product itself which i am sure is great)  So i am going to do it the slow and steady way of blasting my rocks with a turkey baster everyday and scrapping it off the back walls with regular daily NoPox. 

I have to admit one more possible problem area : lack of cleanup crew. I didnt really pay much attention to it. I have like 2 turbo snails,  1 stomata snail, a few (maybe 3) nassarius snails and 1 red fire shrimp. A tuxedo urchin passed away due to the nitrate spike earlier. Looking at the wisdom of gurus from youtube, i think i need like 1 cleanup crew per gallon of my tank (ie arround 60 in all!?) Even if i dont get so many i will get i think arround 5 more turbo snails and a tuxedo urchin to help with the algae.

I heard emerald crabs are good as well and eat bubble algae. Any advice of which LFS i can get those?   Also any advice on clean up crew stocking for a 350 litre tank would be much appreciated!!

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the update. Aquaforrest and Tropic Marin pro have a similar level of elements with more natural Dkh levels. So this is a good switch and shouldn't cause any issues. But you have to be careful in switching some brands and do it slowly over time. But typically get a salt to match the element level your tank needs or is used to. Stability is key! So do be careful doing too many changes at any one time.

All for reef really is a game changer of a product. Calcium and Alkalinity and trace elements all in one bottle. Now whilst this creates a stable base, your tank may still need supplemention as 'all for reef' is about replacing consumed elements and not so much about dosing ADDITIONAL elements. A subtle difference which is part semantics but also key to understand. So keep testing. Once tank is stable invest in an ICP test that will help you understand if anything extra is needed to be supplemented.

Testing is key. If I had a little more spare cash I would certainly love to get one of those Reefbots. Although a little too pricey at the moment, however if your tank is stocked to the brim of high-end SPS I would see the value in testing twice or three times a day to really understand the character of a tank. In the absence of that little robot, please do test as much as you can without getting too bored hahaha. Information is key to finding issues early and correcting them.

Algae hahaha. Yes a battle. I personally think an ATS is essential unless you have a good refugium (by good I mean reasonable size but more importantly with a powerful grow light). An ATS would be a good long term solution for algae, but a treatment like vibrant is a good start. If you cannot find an ATS you can build your own. (I built one for about $120. Sounds a lot of but it is twice as big as those on the market, built as strong as rock and produces a decent amount of PAR and even has overheat protection in the electronics. PM me if you interested)

If you are getting a lot of different Algea in your tank I would look towards your quarantine methods as a potential source of initial introduction.

SAS typically have emerald crabs in stock. (Remember to try and get female crabs as less aggressive. Females have a beehive shape on their abdomen).

Good luck. Happy reefing.

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Thanks for the update. Aquaforrest and Tropic Marin pro have a similar level of elements with more natural Dkh levels. So this is a good switch and shouldn't cause any issues. But you have to be careful in switching some brands and do it slowly over time. But typically get a salt to match the element level your tank needs or is used to. Stability is key! So do be careful doing too many changes at any one time.

All for reef really is a game changer of a product. Calcium and Alkalinity and trace elements all in one bottle. Now whilst this creates a stable base, your tank may still need supplemention as 'all for reef' is about replacing consumed elements and not so much about dosing ADDITIONAL elements. A subtle difference which is part semantics but also key to understand. So keep testing. Once tank is stable invest in an ICP test that will help you understand if anything extra is needed to be supplemented.

Testing is key. If I had a little more spare cash I would certainly love to get one of those Reefbots. Although a little too pricey at the moment, however if your tank is stocked to the brim of high-end SPS I would see the value in testing twice or three times a day to really understand the character of a tank. In the absence of that little robot, please do test as much as you can without getting too bored hahaha. Information is key to finding issues early and correcting them.

Algae hahaha. Yes a battle. I personally think an ATS is essential unless you have a good refugium (by good I mean reasonable size but more importantly with a powerful grow light). An ATS would be a good long term solution for algae, but a treatment like vibrant is a good start. If you cannot find an ATS you can build your own. (I built one for about $120. Sounds a lot of but it is twice as big as those on the market, built as strong as rock and produces a decent amount of PAR and even has overheat protection in the electronics. PM me if you interested)

If you are getting a lot of different Algea in your tank I would look towards your quarantine methods as a potential source of initial introduction.

SAS typically have emerald crabs in stock. (Remember to try and get female crabs as less aggressive. Females have a beehive shape on their abdomen).

Good luck. Happy reefing.

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Hi Rob,

Your ATS is waterfall style? May i ask how you ensure even flow throughout the screen? My ATS always have higher flow nearer the inlet and towards the outlet is much less flow. Thanks.


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  • 8 months later...

I had started this query back in Feb, when i had a nitrate spike and then an algae bloom.
Lost track but thanks to the advice of the reefers have a stable tank now
Documenting nutrient control for reference
Reefer 350 sps dominant now
1. Red seas NoPox daily arround 5 ml
2. Siporax 5 ltrs and a block of Marine pure
3. Dosing daily 30 ml all for reef
4. Bio actif tropic marine salt water changes every week arround 7 percent tank volume
5. Activated carbon and phosphte minus in a reactor change wvery 3 weeks
6. 2 drops of polylab plus everyday
7. 2 drops of Acroglow from KZ
8. And the one thing i think truly helped ... 5 ml Vibrant dosing every week after cleaning the tank
9. Coral snow evry other day20201103_065547.jpeg

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I had started this query back in Feb, when i had a nitrate spike and then an algae bloom.
Lost track but thanks to the advice of the reefers have a stable tank now
Documenting nutrient control for reference
Reefer 350 sps dominant now
1. Red seas NoPox daily arround 5 ml
2. Siporax 5 ltrs and a block of Marine pure
3. Dosing daily 30 ml all for reef
4. Bio actif tropic marine salt water changes every week arround 7 percent tank volume
5. Activated carbon and phosphte minus in a reactor change wvery 3 weeks
6. 2 drops of polylab plus everyday
7. 2 drops of Acroglow from KZ
8. And the one thing i think truly helped ... 5 ml Vibrant dosing every week after cleaning the tank
9. Coral snow evry other day20201103_065547.thumb.jpeg.9aad241ae49aea6a31ec5d52776e9567.jpeg

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Forgot to mention.. the pic is before cleaning the tank .. so the tank is at its very worst. Considering that i am happy the algae is under control and the corals are showing decent color and growth

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