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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, I posted this on the Substrate sub forum...and should have posted it here.

I have a log of my water chem. readings and my Nitrates have always been 10 ppm or below (usually around 5 ppm). Then I measured it the other day and it was up around 40 ppm. I assumed that it was because I recently started adding ferts (EI dosing). But then I read a thread about some one who was talking about having to up root one of his large Sword plants, which caused his Nitrates to jump up to 40 ppm. Hum? I was planning on rearranging my plants and experiment with other plants but I don't want to drive the Nitrates out the roof and kill my fish. What is the best way to do this?

My substrate is a mixture of Eco Complete and Flourite. When I up root a big plant, I get a high quantity of cloudy substrate in the water.
 

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Whenever you disrupt your substrate, you're releasing into the water column lots of the stuff that's in the substrate. Therefore, make sure you do a major water change and I always do a gravel vac in the area where I am working when I do that.

Make sure your test kit is calibrated, so you know your readings are accurate. You do this by making a known concentration of your nitrates, say 10ppm and see how it reads in the kit.

Fertilizing, be it EI or PPS, often times needs to be tempered and adjusted to take into account your tank's conditions - lighting, CO2, stocking levels etc. If I add full EI as recommended to my tanks, my levels go sky high. The key in any fert scheme is to provide all the plants need and maintain an equilibrium and balance to keep algae at bay and your plants healthy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I know that I'm have been adding 3/4 tsp of Potassium Nitrate (plus other ferts) 3 times per week. After seeing the 40 ppm, I cut that back to 2/4 tsp KNO3. Isn't the super high Nitrates really bad for the fish? Can they tolerate regular swings of the Nitrate levels reaching 40 ppm every week?
 

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Yes, I know that I'm have been adding 3/4 tsp of Potassium Nitrate (plus other ferts) 3 times per week. After seeing the 40 ppm, I cut that back to 2/4 tsp KNO3. Isn't the super high Nitrates really bad for the fish? Can they tolerate regular swings of the Nitrate levels reaching 40 ppm every week?
That is really bad for fish. But what I think BertH is recommending is that you calibrate your test kit so you know for sure that you really have 40 ppm. It's fairly commonly known on the forum that a lot of these test kits give inaccurate results, that's why you always need to calibrate it. This thread discusses calibration: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/fertilizing/46853-test-kit-accuracy.html
 

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Yes, I know that I'm have been adding 3/4 tsp of Potassium Nitrate (plus other ferts) 3 times per week. After seeing the 40 ppm, I cut that back to 2/4 tsp KNO3. Isn't the super high Nitrates really bad for the fish? Can they tolerate regular swings of the Nitrate levels reaching 40 ppm every week?
I do mark your name and your question :D

Now if you tell us the size of your tank and the fish that you have in them, it would be easier to advice you. You see I keep well populated tanks which are planted on the higher side of moderate and very high lit. Although I do add CO2 and Micros, I do not add either N or P, only some K as bicarbonate at water change as my supply is soft. You know you don't need to add either N or P as enough is produced if you have sufficient fish population. My plants do quite well and so do my fishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, my test kit is to add drops to 5ml sample of my water and then hold it up next to a color card. The scale has a color bar for 5 ppm, 10 ppm, 20 ppm, 40 ppm and I think 60 ppm. I can certainly not distinguish with any degree of certainty the difference between the 20 ppm and the 40 ppm, but what do I care....they're both way too high. As I said earlier, I have a log of my water chemistry and using this same test kit, my Nitrates have rarely ever gone as high as 10 ppm. The 40 ppm is a definite increase as I would expect because I'm adding a lot of Nitrates as the EI Dosing plans says to do.

Strangely enough, since I started with the CO2 and ferts, the algae is getting MUCH worse. I thought the CO2 and ferts were going to eliminate the algae.

I'm turning 2 of the 4 bulbs off to see that helps.
 

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Well, my test kit is to add drops to 5ml sample of my water and then hold it up next to a color card. The scale has a color bar for 5 ppm, 10 ppm, 20 ppm, 40 ppm and I think 60 ppm. I can certainly not distinguish with any degree of certainty the difference between the 20 ppm and the 40 ppm, but what do I care....they're both way too high. As I said earlier, I have a log of my water chemistry and using this same test kit, my Nitrates have rarely ever gone as high as 10 ppm. The 40 ppm is a definite increase as I would expect because I'm adding a lot of Nitrates as the EI Dosing plans says to do.

Strangely enough, since I started with the CO2 and ferts, the algae is getting MUCH worse. I thought the CO2 and ferts were going to eliminate the algae.

I'm turning 2 of the 4 bulbs off to see that helps.
My Nitrates have been 20ppm or so for more than 3 months now and I have no issues. AND I add 1/4 t. of dry N following an EI dosing regime on top of that. I tried to stop dosing N figuring with 20+ ppm I had enough but then my plants started suffering with curled leaves and poorer growth so I stepped it back up again. 20 ppm is high but not dangerously high. In terms of your algae increasing how certain are you that the CO2 is steady and consistent and is being adequately distributed and dispersed around the tank? Fluctuating CO2 and lack of it being dispersed may indeed cause more algae, especially BBA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
how certain are you that the CO2 is steady and consistent and is being adequately distributed and dispersed around the tank?
I turn it off a night and back on in the morning, so no it isn't steady and consistent. I feed it into an Aqua Medic Reactor 500 so I suppose I do as good as most on the distribution side.

I don't have the right check valve. Will be changing that out soon. No long have a bubble counter because the cheap JBJ one cracked. But since I started with the CO2 and ferts, no question, it's all going down hill....
 

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I wouldn't say that 40ppm is dangerously high at all, in fact there is no proof that high nitrates are damaging to fish, from what i understand nitrates well over 100ppm would be needed.

Some fish can be sensitive to nitrates. I keep discus, and my planted tanks have 20-40ppm due to ei dosing and all is well, and i'm not concerned one bit about the nitrates. Information i have read online as well as in The Barr Report lead me to believe this is true.

Stevie D
 

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I'm turning 2 of the 4 bulbs off to see that helps.
Has it? IME, while a little less lighting might hamper the growth of certain plants, overall, I have found the benefits of less algae issues far outweighs my ability to grow these particular plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I basically turned it all off. Stopped the ferts, turned off the CO2 and reduced the lights. Don't have a strategy or plan at this point. Waiting to see if I can return to normal. If I can get things stablized, I may try again. I'm really saddened by the whole thing right now and how difficult it is to get this thing working.
 

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Just a small update to my contribution above to this thread that may be of some relevance.

I mentioned above that I dose 1/4 t. of N even though my Nitrates have been measuring about 20ppm these last few months pretty much even without dosing N at all. I had mentioned that figuring my N and P were enough (tests showing 20-30ppm and 5+ppm, respectively) I tried backing off completely on N and P and only dosed P and micros, but after a few weeks of that all my plants were suffering so I started back up on the N and the P dosing.

What I did not mention was that prior to that little experiment I had been dosing 3/4 t. of N based on the basic EI dosing regimes recommended for my size tank (72 gal). When I started back up 3 weeks ago on the N and P dosing I was still fearful of too much Nitrates so I thought I'd try only 1/4 t. of N (dry ferts) along with 1/4 t. each of P and K, and then 1/4 t. of CSM+B on alternative days, again following the EI dosing for my size tank.

We'll it's now three weeks later and my plants are again showing signs of suffering: curled leaves, pinholes, sort of stunted twisted growth on some plants. I measured my Nitrates last night and found they tested at 10ppm so my reduced N dosing seems to have it down from 20ppm nicely. You'd think 10ppm would be enough, eh? But not from what I'm seeing in my tank.

So that's IT. I am ignoring my N and P testing kits and going RIGHT back to a full-blown EI dosing regime of 3/4 t. of N and 1/4 t. each of P and K and the 1/4 t. of CSM+B for micros. Theories aside for what my tank should need and what is adequate levels based on those testing kits are simply not panning out (and yes, I tried more than one kit including ones from Seachem with the calibrating solutions). I experimented twice now with the idea that the fish poop and uneaten food should be provided enough N and P for my plants but for some reason seem to prefer dry ferts at such levels dictated by a basic EI dosing regime. So be it. From what I read 20+ppm of N and 5ppm of P, while in theory are high, are not high enough to be toxic and problematic for fish so that's what I'm going with as my plants are not thriving otherwise....
 
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