General Aquaria Discussion • What level of nitrates indicates problem overstocking?

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At what nitrate level should a tank's stocking level be reduced or water changes be done more frequnetly?

20
7
17%
30
9
22%
40
10
24%
50
8
20%
60
2
5%
70
0
No votes
80
4
10%
90
0
No votes
100
1
2%
 
Total votes : 41

Postby Cich of it all » Tue Oct 30, 2007 1:52 pm

I could believe the unmeasurable nitrates in the water, but if the kit is not bad and you have no nitrates in the tank, you may have disrupted the cycle with the addition of those newer fish. Is the penguin 330 the only filtration that you have?
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Postby Paul_DLS » Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:00 pm

No ammonia per API test kit & Seachem Ammonia Alert (2 wks old).
No Nitrite per API test kit.
Nitrate test kit is API and brand new.

I have not updated my tank info in the last several months.
Filtration is a Magnum 220? H.O.T. canister & an in-tank hodgepodge of DiY.
My DiY background cuts off a corner of the tank for the USJ pump, heater, a tall bag of argonite with imbedded airstone, 15 pot scrubbers w/ airstone underneath them, and occasionally a sm. bag of carbon (not now due to meds.).

Scrubbers & argonite removed:
Image

Scrubbers & argonite in:
Image

Large view of scrubbers & argonite bag temp. in front of BG:
http://i186.photobucket.com/albums/x278 ... P_1846.jpg

I've since painted a black strip over the division of life support corner(LSC) & housing. Now I need a bit of something removable to cover LSC, then build a canopy ...
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Postby Shwaine » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:24 am

Shake the second reagent bottle of the API nitrate test kit thoroughly (ie if you think you've shook it enough, shake it again for another minute for good measure). That one seems prone to seperating and giving false 0ppm readings. Just because the kit is new to you doesn't mean it hasn't been sitting around the retailer's shelf long enough for the reagents to settle. I personally prefer the dip sticks for nitrate tests just because it removes user error from the equation and one does not need absolute precision for nitrate testing.

Now there are ways for nitrate to be removed from the tank without water changes, so that could be happening too. The major pathways are plant metabolism, nitrate absorbing resins (tend to only remove small amounts though), ammonia removal via resins or zeolite (so the tank doesn't cycle since there's not enough ammonia to feed the bacteria), low pH (converts ammonia to ammonium and inhibits the cycle bacteria) and anaerobic bacteria (converts nitrate to nitrogen gas, usually results from a thick, undisturbed substrate).
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Postby prov356 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:52 am

Shwaine wrote:Shake the second reagent bottle of the API nitrate test kit thoroughly (ie if you think you've shook it enough, shake it again for another minute for good measure). That one seems prone to seperating and giving false 0ppm readings. Just because the kit is new to you doesn't mean it hasn't been sitting around the retailer's shelf long enough for the reagents to settle. I personally prefer the dip sticks for nitrate tests just because it removes user error from the equation and one does not need absolute precision for nitrate testing.

Now there are ways for nitrate to be removed from the tank without water changes, so that could be happening too. The major pathways are plant metabolism, nitrate absorbing resins (tend to only remove small amounts though), ammonia removal via resins or zeolite (so the tank doesn't cycle since there's not enough ammonia to feed the bacteria), low pH (converts ammonia to ammonium and inhibits the cycle bacteria) and anaerobic bacteria (converts nitrate to nitrogen gas, usually results from a thick, undisturbed substrate).


That's what I'm looking for as well. Unless there's some means of nitrate removal as mentioned, or it's not being produced in the first place, it can't be zero. if the nitrogen cycle is running, it's being produced. If there's nothing in the system or system maintenance (100% water changes) to remove it, it's got to be there. Starting with 0 nitrate source water won't achieve 0 in the tank. I'd also suggest trying a new kit, different type. Instant Ocean dry reagent kit is another possibility.
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Postby Paul_DLS » Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:49 am

The bottles are dated 2006.
I took the bottles (solutions 1 & 2) and set them in warm water for 15 mins.
I then beat the bottom of solution 2 against the counter for 1 min.
I took both bottles and strapped them to the blade of a saws-all and ran the saw for 3 mins.
(The motion of a saws-all or reciprocating saw is a rapid back and forth movement.)
I then followed the instructions including all additional mixing and shaking required as I had before.

Tap = 0
Tank = 40ppm using freshwater chart/ 80 if I go by the salt water

I appreciate the persistence of several members.

Since I have less than 5 TBSP Epsom & 5 tsp sodium chloride in the tank and a marine tank would take over 14 lbs for a 55g I figure I should be going by the freshwater reading unless the presence of ANY salt alters the test rather then the amount of salt.

The 40 ppm is concerning since I did a 25% water change 40 hrs ago. I've got another change due tonight before doing the 2nd of 3 parasite treatments. The good news is that I have a lot of bacteria doing work in there. I have some testing and adjusting to do in the next few weeks to come up with a healthy and economical water change schedule.
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Postby Number6 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:34 am

Paul_DLS wrote:I took both bottles and strapped them to the blade of a saws-all and ran the saw for 3 mins.
Genius! I love it... will remember that trick...

Paul_DLS wrote:The 40 ppm is concerning since I did a 25% water change 40 hrs ago.

high nitrates for a prolonged period of time can increase the chances of an opportunistic disease.
I'd assume that the 40ppm is accurate. This can be checked by immediately doing a 50% water change which will help the sick fish as well as remove half the pollution. Test should now read at or very close to 20ppm if all is working right.

Your experiences with the test kit will make for a good reference for people who think they have 0 nitrate in a fully cycled and running tank. Thanks...
My WC cichlids are gonna be caught on rod n reel!
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Postby jrh » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:47 am

So if I'm showing <5 nitrates in a 12 gallon, moderately planted, with 6 multis and 1 small ancistrus, and some MTS, should I be skeptical about the test results?

I add the drops from the first bottle, shake. Shake the 2nd bottle, add drops, shake, and wait.

There's dense fern in the back, light fern in the midground (pictured), some moss in the foreground.

Image
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Postby prov356 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:54 am

should I be skeptical about the test results?


I'd say no for a few reasons. First one, you are getting a reading. Usually when the test isn't done right, you get a zero reading. You also have a fairly lightly stocked, moderately planted tank. With good maintenance (keep organics down), moderate stocking and feeding and regular water changes, 5ppm is very doable. I've got a 180 that stays under 10. Lightly planted (meaning a few java fern). Confirmed with different test kits over a period of time. Can be done.
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Postby jrh » Wed Oct 31, 2007 12:49 pm

prov356 wrote:
should I be skeptical about the test results?


I'd say no for a few reasons.


Thanks. Everything seemed to be going well, but I haven't kept a tank in 15 yrs, and we certainly didn't do all this testing back then. :)
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