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So here's a question I've been pondering lately...maybe there's a simple solution but I'd like to see what others think.

We are all familiar with the Ammonia Cycle at this point. We eventualy end up with unwanted nitrate that we do regular water changes to get rid of.
Live plants help with the nitrate levels as well as the ammonia but it doesn't get rid of all the unwanted nitrates.
Don't get me wrong, I love my fish and I love the benefits of keeping my tanks. I do however find it difficult to keep up regular water changes with my busy schedule.
Is there a product, a plant, a filter or a chemical to get rid of the unwanted nitrate without doing all the water changes? How do natural lakes keep nitrate levels in check? We don't all go out and start doing water changes at our lakes and ponds...what do they have in there to keep everything in check?

Thanks in advance,
D3
 

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I'm pretty sure it has to do with the fact that an aquarium is a closed system. No water coming in and no water going out (except that which is evaporated). Therefore nitrates build up and have nowhere to go. Lakes and ponds have runoff, and are constantly moving. New water is flowing in from a stream or river, or by runoff somewhere - and old water is flowing out of the lake the same way. It's almost like the lakes do their own water changes with water flowing in and out all the time.
 

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We also tend to keep our aquariums at a MUCH higher stocking level than you find in a natural lake or pond. There may be particular spots that have lots of fish at them, but for each of those spots there are hundreds of gallons of water with no fish in them at all.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
 

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The problem with nitrate removal is that it's a much slower process than getting rid of ammonia and nitrite. Our filters, especially wet/drys do this at a very fast rate and the rate of nitrate reduction just can't keep up. Plus, nitrate reduction needs low water flow and little oxygen to occur and that just doesn't happen in our tanks. In the reef tanks, it takes place mostly within the live rock. But, because it is such a slow process, stocking levels are severely limited since otherwise the removal of nitrates would not be able to keep up.

If you do want to keep your nitrates at or near zero though, the best product I've seen and use to date is a sulfur based denitrator.

You can check them out here: http://midwestaquatic.com/

I've got one on my 54gallon saltwater tank and nitrate is always at or near zero,

I just set up another from what was my 450g saltwater on my now 450g cichlid tank. This is the first time I've tried one on a freshwater tank and wow, is it working great so far.

I've got a pic here showing the test results as of about a week ago:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/view ... p?t=171681

I need to take another pic to follow up but that shade of orange is much more pale as of this morning. I expect near zero within a week.
 

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Is there a product, a plant, a filter or a chemical to get rid of the unwanted nitrate without doing all the water changes? How do natural lakes keep nitrate levels in check? We don't all go out and start doing water changes at our lakes and ponds...what do they have in there to keep everything in check?
Keep in mind too that there are other reasons to do water changes besides nitrates, like removal of dissolved organics. We just use nitrate levels because they're easy to measure. IMHO there's no substitute for water changes in a freshwater tank. If freshwater tanks could make use of protein skimmers to remove organics, that'd be a different story.
 
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