Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 20 of 55 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
After using PPS-Pro fertilizing for the first time and after the first week, I decided to test the nitrates as was recommended by a senior member because my tank is not fully planted. I looked at the test tube and the solution was a very dark red. Before I started the program my nitrates were about 20. I immediately did a 40% water change, waited a day and tested again; no change It's been a week of daily water changes probably between 20-25% and the nitrates are still very high. I cleaned the sump, filter, overflow and of course the substrate. Everytime I turned on the filter after the water change a lot of muck came into the tank. The last time I did the water change, it looked pretty clear.

I took a sample of my tank water to the LFS and they confirmed that my nitrates were very high. I have a fully stocked tank with about 25% of the tank planted. Right now, the water looks very clear and the fish are all healthy. My other parameters are also OK, nitrites 0, ph 6.4, ammonia 0. I have a phospate remover because our tap water has very high phosphates. I usually have a schedule of cleaning the tank (gravel vac) every 3 weeks with about a 20% water change.

Why can't I get my nitrates down? I know that once this mess is cleaned up I am not going to add any phosphates or nitrates when I fertilize. Right now I am using Seachem Excel and iron only until my nitrates are down to 20.

Any suggestions?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,096 Posts
If you do multiple, serial water changes without adding nitrates, the levels should come down. Try 50% water changes - after 4 of those, that should bring your nitrates down to a decent level. If you over-feed your fish that's fully stocked, that can add to the nitrates....otherwise it should come down soon....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
My tank better be cycled, it's almost 3 years old!! :D

It is also a 90 gallon tank. So, the 50% water change will be OK for the fish?? I really don't think I overfeed. I also have some amono shrimp to help clean up. They are always stealing the algae wafers.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
732 Posts
After using PPS-Pro fertilizing for the first time and after the first week, I decided to test the nitrates as was recommended by a senior member because my tank is not fully planted. I looked at the test tube and the solution was a very dark red. Before I started the program my nitrates were about 20. I immediately did a 40% water change, waited a day and tested again; no change It's been a week of daily water changes probably between 20-25% and the nitrates are still very high. I cleaned the sump, filter, overflow and of course the substrate. Everytime I turned on the filter after the water change a lot of muck came into the tank. The last time I did the water change, it looked pretty clear.

I took a sample of my tank water to the LFS and they confirmed that my nitrates were very high. I have a fully stocked tank with about 25% of the tank planted. Right now, the water looks very clear and the fish are all healthy. My other parameters are also OK, nitrites 0, ph 6.4, ammonia 0. I have a phospate remover because our tap water has very high phosphates. I usually have a schedule of cleaning the tank (gravel vac) every 3 weeks with about a 20% water change.

Why can't I get my nitrates down? I know that once this mess is cleaned up I am not going to add any phosphates or nitrates when I fertilize. Right now I am using Seachem Excel and iron only until my nitrates are down to 20.

Any suggestions?
With PPS you only add 7 ppm of NO3 per week. If your NO3 went from 20 to infinity you are either adding too much NO3 or something is dead in your tank. My feeling is the former. My feeling is that you have somehow not made your solutions correctly.

I'd recommend checking how you made your stock solutions and remake them. Don't add any more fertilizers until your NO3 is down below 20 ppm. Do as many water changes as you feel comfortable with until the NO3 drops.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I am not sure that it was only the fertilizing as their was a lot of plant stuff coming out of the filter. There shouldn't be any dead bodies as any fish that have died (which is very few), have always been recovered. My fish are a pretty good size so it is easy to take inventory. In any event, I'm not going to add nitrates or phosphates when everything is back to normal. I really think that I mixed the solution correctly and only dosed as suggested. In fact, I dosed half of the amount during the first couple of days. But in any event, I did discard the solution and will plan on only dosing Excel, flourish, flouish iron and create a solution of potassium. I want to be very conservative as I don't want this problem to happen again.

I posted a question to Seachem and they advised me that it was OK to continue dosing excel and iron. Do you suggest that I stop that also until the nitrates are normal?

Thanks everyone for your help.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,623 Posts
well whats normal? There is no real danger in high nitrate levels. A lot of people with plants keep their nitrate level at 15 to 20 ppm. Every time you dig up the substrate, you are unearthing crud thats probably high in nitrate and dumping it into the water column. You said your filter is also dumping crud into the water... that will raise your nitrate levels too. I think you just need to let things settle down. Do a large water change and then leave things alone. If you have nitrifying bacteria in there it should break down the nitrate if the plants aren't using it.

Question is why aren't the plants using it? Either you have all slow growing plants or not enough light. Stem plants use up nitrate the fastest, but only if you have bright enough light and adequate C02. If you are lacking in those areas then the plants will not use the nitrate very fast or none at all.

25% planted is not a lot.
I agree. Thats part of the problem too. You don't have much plant mass vs fishload. What is that, 4 or 5 plants?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I have 2.4 wpg but it is less because of the depth of the tank. My nitrates are probably around
100 right now. About a month or so ago, it was 20. I have about 12-15 plants and floaters. I do have some stem plants, slow growers, moss balls, but mostly crypts. OK, here are some questions.

1. Should I do a gravel vac or just 50% water change? The last time I did a 20% water change without a gravel vac. Since I have done 7 waters changes should I just stop now and not do any for a period of time? What period of time should that be?

2. When should I test my nitrates again?

3. Should I start my fertilzing program (excel, flourish, iron and potassium) again or add nothing and wait until the nitrates are down?

I know my tank is "out of balance" but I still want to try to have live plants. The plants actually look pretty good, in fact, better than they have ever looked. I think the excel has really helped. I do have some algae which I think is gsa but it is not a major problem. However, I am realistic and realize that because of my "challenges" it will never look like a "beautiful planted tank" like a lot of the members have here. I will go out and buy some more plants and hopefully that will help bring down the nitrates. I am concerned for the fish as I will just be crushed if I lose any of them because of this problem.

thanks again for your help
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,623 Posts
100ppm of nitrate, seriously? That is high enough to be toxic, and your nitrite is 0? This is really screwy, wierd. You sure you are not exaggerating just a little? I don't know where all that nitrate could be coming from.

I would forget about gravel vacs for a while, and do a 50% water change, wait a few days, test it again, take a sample to a store and have them test it to confirm the accuracey of your test kit.

Everytime I turned on the filter after the water change a lot of muck came into the tank
Its not still doing that right? Did you rinse out the filter so there is no more muck to be released back into the aquarium? You didn't use soap or anything that would kill the bacteria right?

If you mostly have Cryps, I would stick to fertilizer tablets in the gravel, with just the occasional trace mineral additive to the water. Keep the daily addition of Excel going. As long as your nitrate is above 10ppm you don't need to add any more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
So did you start adding NO3 when your natural levels were already 20ppm?

Cause I know in my tanks that have a high enough stocking level, I add maybe a 1/3 of the recommended EI dose for nitrate and phosphates, but I go full strength with K. But again I use alot of stems for their ability at sucking up nutrients and keeping my slow growers free of algae, as they are usually the centerpiece of the aquarium.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Ok i didn't see this suggested at a glance if it was im sorry, but try this. Run a cup of water Straight from the tap, and test the Nitrate in your tap water, it could be the problem.Also if you want to get Nitrates in the tank down, way i see it you got a couple options, Add fast growing plants as suggested above OR do your water changes with RO/DI water, Distilled water from the grocer or wal mart is a good replacement for RO/DI if you dont have access.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
732 Posts
Run a cup of water Straight from the tap, and test the Nitrate in your tap water, it could be the problem.
If your tap water has 100ppm nitrates, you have way more of a problem than your tank! Anything above about 20 ppm is considered contaminated and if your water comes from a public source it is in violation of Federal EPA rules and the water company would have had to notify you by mail that they were in violation.

If your water comes from a well and it is indeed 100 ppm you really need to do something about it fast!

Testing your water is not a bad idea as at least it can tell you what you can get to with enough water changes.

Change water every day and don't add anything to your tank without first testing it for NO3. (Its possible that one of your solutions is contaminated with lots of NO3).

This will get your nitrates down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
If your tap water has 100ppm nitrates, you have way more of a problem than your tank! Anything above about 20 ppm is considered contaminated and if your water comes from a public source it is in violation of Federal EPA rules and the water company would have had to notify you by mail that they were in violation.

If your water comes from a well and it is indeed 100 ppm you really need to do something about it fast!

Testing your water is not a bad idea as at least it can tell you what you can get to with enough water changes.

Change water every day and don't add anything to your tank without first testing it for NO3. (Its possible that one of your solutions is contaminated with lots of NO3).

This will get your nitrates down.
Just saying that if the tap is nitrate rich, doing water changes wont lower it. Even if the tap is 30ppm, the lowest you can get from a water change would be 30ppm. So you would need a more pure Source, RO/DI is one way to get that, so is Distilled. Also you could buy Kents Nitrate Sponge, that would help lower Nitrates.

http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_ViewI...edia-Saltwater_Aquarium_Supplies~vendor~.html
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
732 Posts
Just saying that if the tap is nitrate rich, doing water changes wont lower it. Even if the tap is 30ppm, the lowest you can get from a water change would be 30ppm. So you would need a more pure Source, RO/DI is one way to get that, so is Distilled. Also you could buy Kents Nitrate Sponge, that would help lower Nitrates.
Maybe I didn't make this clear. It is illegal for a water co to sell you water with 30 ppm NO3. By law it must be below 20 ppm and most likely it is around 10 ppm. So if your tap water has 30 ppm of nitrates you have a serious complaint with your water co. If you are getting water from a well, your well is contaminated and you should do something about it.

High nitrates in your tap water are a serious health concern that has nothing to do with keeping aquarium plants.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,877 Posts
Even if the tap water only has 5 ppm nitrates, this still could have led to the issue. A 90 gal tank very lightly planted may have been able to live on just that. So, everything added by fertilizing would just keep building up.

-Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Even if the tap water only has 5 ppm nitrates, this still could have led to the issue. A 90 gal tank very lightly planted may have been able to live on just that. So, everything added by fertilizing would just keep building up.

-Dave
Thanks Dave that was the point i was getting at, if your plants are sucking up 1ppm nitrate per week, and your doing a weekly water change with the legal limit 20ppm water you are still going to have a build up of excess nitrates. Because you arent removing them, your simply adding more. I think RO/DI would be best in this situation, if you add 0ppm in your change water you can then Dilute whats already in the tank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everyone for your comments. I tested my tap water and the nitrates are zero. I am going to do water changes at 50% with no gravel vac for the next couple of days. I will also go out and purchase some more plants. If I don't see any improvements after a couple of days, I will bring another water sample to my LFS to verify my findings. In addition, I will also look into getting the Kent Nitrate sponge and/or using RO water for my water changes. Thank goodness my fish are all doing well.

Robert, no exaggeration, my nitrates are 100. It was confirmed by my LFS when I brought in a water sample last week. I have a sump as my filtration system which I drained and cleaned the sponges and filter (no soap, just rinsed)

I am still a novice at this fertilizing and now have a much better understanding of what I did and how I need to move forward once this nitrate problem is resolved. I've learned so much from this website and all of the members who are trying to help me. I will keep you all posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Robert, no exaggeration, my nitrates are 100. It was confirmed by my LFS when I brought in a water sample last week. I have a sump as my filtration system which I drained and cleaned the sponges and filter (no soap, just rinsed)
I think we may have just found your cause and problem. A Sump is a Nitrate Factory, Most in SW use a sump in conjunction with a refugium packed full of Macro Algae to suck up the nitrates that the sump produces.

Sumps gather all the excess crud,fish food,fish waste etc and convert it from ammonia to Nitrite and then Nitrate(i think that's the order not 100% sure though) I have never ran a sump in Freshwater, but that isn't to say you should remove your sump, i think its a good idea for a planted tank considering the amount of nitrates it produces, i would get more plants, high light and Pressurized co2 if you can afford to and put that nitrate factory to work for you! If its within your budget that is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I think we may have just found your cause and problem. A Sump is a Nitrate Factory, Most in SW use a sump in conjunction with a refugium packed full of Macro Algae to suck up the nitrates that the sump produces.

Sumps gather all the excess crud,fish food,fish waste etc and convert it from ammonia to Nitrite and then Nitrate(i think that's the order not 100% sure though) I have never ran a sump in Freshwater, but that isn't to say you should remove your sump, i think its a good idea for a planted tank considering the amount of nitrates it produces, i would get more plants, high light and Pressurized co2 if you can afford to and put that nitrate factory to work for you! If its within your budget that is.
What is a "refugium packed full of macro algae" Is this something I can add? I am not in a position of adding pressurized c02 at this time. I will talk to AH Supply and ask them if I can increase the lighting for my setup. I know then I will need to increase my excel dosing if the lighting is increased. However, I want to be careful not too increase it to a point that Excel alone is not going to be able to handle my lighting. In the meantime, I will definately go out and purchase some more plants.

Once question, how come the nitrates didn't go down when I cleaned the sump? Shouldn't it have had some effect on the situation?
 
1 - 20 of 55 Posts
Top