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Razzo said:
20% wc twice per week should be plenty to keep nitrates down. If not, you need to find out why and correct that problem. 50% is too much at one time! And twice per week at 50% is way too much.
I heartily disagree. :wink:

There's nothing wrong with changing out 50-75% of your tank water, provided you match water parameters. Needing to change out that much to maintain NO3 at less than 10ppm is pretty normal in my experience. Particularly in this case where nitrates got too high, frequent large water changes are the only way to return to high water quality.

I applaud anyone who can keep a well stocked tank with low nitrates- keep in mind that natural lakes that are highly eutrophic (and non-point source polluted) still have NO3 below 5ppm. Most lakes that you'd swim or fish in have nitrates less than 2ppm.

So, sure- 20ppm is a reasonable goal, but 10 is better. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thanks for all the great advice again !!!

Yeah, it seems the general consensus on this site is that the more water changes the better, within reason of course. I have one of those hoses that make the water changes really easy (and I use Prime), so it's just a matter of waiting (it usually takes me about 2 hours per change, including my two Daphnia tanks).

Also, since I have a heavily planted tank I'll try to manage the Nitrates around 10ppm, per your advice. I clean out my filter once a month, otherwise it seems to get to clogged up. The one thing I don't do is vacuum too regularly, do not disturb the fish (especially when they're breeding) ... I'm sure there's much to debate on that, but my theory is I'm hoping the plants can use the waste as additional fertilizer.

BTW, I have about 50 fish now, including all the fry (including 7 adults)

All the best to everyone !!! :)
 

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If your nitrates are much above 15ppm then the plants are not using all the nitrates being held in your substrate and a weekly vacuuming will help. Surface vac for the rooted areas, and deep vac where plant roots don't have the gravel completely locked up.

I have not found vacuuming disturbs breeding in my Tangs. I just vacuum around the nest areas when new fry are present.

I have had planted tanks with zero nitrates, even without water changes. That's how I know problems develop if you let the nitrates drop below 10ppm. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I just remembered, I forgot to mention I sold my two 8" long Plecos about 3 weeks ago, which where creating, obviously, a ton of waste. I'm wondering if part of my Nitrate reduction might be due to their lack of waste creation? Since in reality, I also have so many rocks covering the bottom it's almost impossible to vacuum anyways.

Any thoughts?

Thanks, in advance, for any additional insights ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Razzo said:
DJRansome said:
10ppm is good, but if you have a planted tank you don't want to go lower.
I haven't done plants yet. I should try. I want to add some to my kilesa tanks.
BTW, I've had great luck with http://www.aquariumplants.com and have found, at least with the hard water I have, that my Anubias Barteri v Angustifolia, Anubias Hastifolia and Amazon Swords have done really well. I also use Flourish Excel daily and monthly TOTAL pellet fertilizer ... http://www.aquariumplants.com/AquariumPlants_com_s_own_SUBSTRATE_VITALIZATION_p/fert.htm

I hope this helps a little ... all the best :)
 

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olliesshop said:
I just remembered, I forgot to mention I sold my two 8" long Plecos about 3 weeks ago, which where creating, obviously, a ton of waste. I'm wondering if part of my Nitrate reduction might be due to their lack of waste creation? Since in reality, I also have so many rocks covering the bottom it's almost impossible to vacuum anyways.

Any thoughts?

Thanks, in advance, for any additional insights ... :)
Plecos do create a lot of waste - getting rid of them may have helped.

Waste will find places to accumulate and under rocks is a typical. You may want to plan to move rocks and vacuum if you just can't get a handle on the nitrates. I realize opinions on the quantity of water change differ. All I can say is that my nitrates stay low with a 25 to 35% weekly water change and I don't think I under feed.

Hope that helps.

Russ
 

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Prime will cause a false ammonia reading on your api test kit.Prime works great though!!

I do 40-50% water changes every 7-10 days in my Adult/breeder tanks depending on fish load.If it takes 2 water changes a week to keep the nitrates down, there are either too many fish or overfeeding.I hear from many people that overloading a tank is fine as long as you do massive/many wc but you have to think when a problem happens such as a power outage,the overloaded tank will have a much larger ammonia spike and not enough 02.

Adding another filter will not help with Nitrates.Getting rid of the big plecos was the best thing for sure.If you want an algae eater that does not get that big get a bushynose pleco.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
dmiller328 said:
Prime will cause a false ammonia reading on your api test kit. Prime works great though!!

I do 40-50% water changes every 7-10 days in my Adult/breeder tanks depending on fish load.If it takes 2 water changes a week to keep the nitrates down, there are either too many fish or overfeeding.I hear from many people that overloading a tank is fine as long as you do massive/many wc but you have to think when a problem happens such as a power outage,the overloaded tank will have a much larger ammonia spike and not enough 02.

Adding another filter will not help with Nitrates.Getting rid of the big plecos was the best thing for sure.If you want an algae eater that does not get that big get a bushynose pleco.
So that's why my Ammonia is so high on my API test kit. I have 4 Ammonia testing kits I've bought to double-check, just in case and the API will always be in the 0.5-1.0ppm range, while the others are 0.0-0.1ppm ... Thank you !!! I've been trying to figure that our for months.

On the Nitrates, I'll see where they stabilize ... I'm betting I'll be able to back off my water changes, though.

This is such a great site ... :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I just checked my water parameters yesterday and my Nitrates stayed at about 7.5ppm, with doing 45% water change twice a week. I think I'm going to try a weekly water change and see how much of a difference that makes in my Nitrates, since it sounds like (with advice from this site) that for my live plants, my Nitrates should be more about 15ppm. My plants are doing well, but they can always do better.

Any thoughts?

All the best ... :)
 

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50% once a week should be enough. If your plants look good with that, I wouldn't worry too much about your nitrate level. The only tanks I see with zero nitrates are heavily planted ones, where any nitrate produced is quickly assimilated by the plants.

Now- it's time to sit back and enjoy your hard work! :popcorn:
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
triscuit said:
50% once a week should be enough. If your plants look good with that, I wouldn't worry too much about your nitrate level. The only tanks I see with zero nitrates are heavily planted ones, where any nitrate produced is quickly assimilated by the plants.

Now- it's time to sit back and enjoy your hard work! :popcorn:
I hope once a week is enough, since I do have a relatively heavily planted tank ... it sure is more fun watching them than changing the water !!!

Thanks ... :)
 

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24Tropheus said:
I hear you can usually increase the effectiveness of powered filters by adding a pre filter (A sponge block on the intake that you clean each week or waterchange or any time it starts to block).
I'm not sure about effectivness, but what this does is keep some of the gunk from getting in your canister. If you look at the big nitrogen cycle picture... any time you feed the tank, you're putting nitrogen into the cycle. when you have nitrates and you do a water change, you're taking nitrogen out of the cycle. There are lots of things in the tank absorbing or eating nitrogen (plants, fish), but when parts of plants die off and decay, they release that nitrogen. Likewise when fish respirate or pee, they release it directly as ammonia. when they poop, that decays into ammonia.

So any organic matter that makes it into your canister filter will get converted to nitrates. You shouldn't see the more toxic ammonia or nitrite because your cannister is doing a bang-up job of converting those to the less toxic nitrate (that's it's job, after all).

If you put a prefilter on the canister intake, though, and clean it off every time you do a water change (maybe get 2 prefilters and just swap them, that way you can clean the other at your leisure), then you *remove* the nitrogen from the cycle, by removing the organic matter before it has a chance to decay. All the filtration in the world cannot remove nitrogen (denitrators aside, as they tend to be finicky beasts). Even a plant filter or algal turf filter isn't really removing the nitrogen -- you do that when you trim the plants or scrape off some of the algae. The only time the total nitrogen ever goes down is when you physicaly remove it (water change, trimming plants, fishing out a dead fish before it decays, cleaning your prefilters, cleaning out your cannister, etc).

There are lots of approaches to keeping your nitrate low, whether it's limit the nitrogen input (feed less -- which is often the natural outcome of a lighter stocking level), increase the nitrogen removal (more water changes, more frequent filter maintenance) or storing the nitrogen off into plants for later removal(algal turf, planted 'fuge, or even just a heavily planted tank). All are equally valid, and all require varying amounts and different sorts of work.

Sorry for writing a book here... I'll get off my soap (or is that nitrogen?) box.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)

<edit> LOL, I should learn to make sure there aren't 2 more pages of posts before I reply to something from page 1... looks like everything's under control and my rant was moot, so apologies for the bandwidth! </edit>
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Rick_Lindsey said:
24Tropheus said:
I hear you can usually increase the effectiveness of powered filters by adding a pre-filter (A sponge block on the intake that you clean each week or water-change or any time it starts to block).
I'm not sure about effectiveness, but what this does is keep some of the gunk from getting in your canister. If you look at the big nitrogen cycle picture... any time you feed the tank, you're putting nitrogen into the cycle. when you have nitrates and you do a water change, you're taking nitrogen out of the cycle. There are lots of things in the tank absorbing or eating nitrogen (plants, fish), but when parts of plants die off and decay, they release that nitrogen. Likewise when fish respirate or pee, they release it directly as ammonia. when they poop, that decays into ammonia.

So any organic matter that makes it into your canister filter will get converted to nitrates. You shouldn't see the more toxic ammonia or nitrite because your canister is doing a bang-up job of converting those to the less toxic nitrate (that's it's job, after all).

If you put a pre-filter on the canister intake, though, and clean it off every time you do a water change (maybe get 2 pre-filters and just swap them, that way you can clean the other at your leisure), then you *remove* the nitrogen from the cycle, by removing the organic matter before it has a chance to decay. All the filtration in the world cannot remove nitrogen (de-nitrators aside, as they tend to be finicky beasts). Even a plant filter or algal turf filter isn't really removing the nitrogen -- you do that when you trim the plants or scrape off some of the algae. The only time the total nitrogen ever goes down is when you physically remove it (water change, trimming plants, fishing out a dead fish before it decays, cleaning your pre-filters, cleaning out your canister, etc).

There are lots of approaches to keeping your nitrate low, whether it's limit the nitrogen input (feed less -- which is often the natural outcome of a lighter stocking level), increase the nitrogen removal (more water changes, more frequent filter maintenance) or storing the nitrogen off into plants for later removal(algal turf, planted 'fuge, or even just a heavily planted tank). All are equally valid, and all require varying amounts and different sorts of work.

Sorry for writing a book here... I'll get off my soap (or is that nitrogen?) box.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)

<edit> LOL, I should learn to make sure there aren't 2 more pages of posts before I reply to something from page 1... looks like everything's under control and my rant was moot, so apologies for the bandwidth! </edit>
Excellent Summary ... Thanks !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
FYI, just to let everyone know, I've been doing 45% water changes once a week, instead of twice a week, for about 3 weeks now. That, combined with the Plecos being gone, have dropped my Nitrates down to about 5ppm last week !!! Pretty amazing, since they were 40ppm about 2 months ago.

Also, I have about 40 Neolamprologus Brichardi in total, ranging in size from about 1/2" to 3 1/2", with 7 of them being adults. They haven't bred since April/May so I assume they've determined that's enough fish for my 125 gallon tank ... amazing how nature works.

So my plan is to keep with weekly 45% water changes, keep track of my water parameters, and see how it goes.

Thanks for all the help !!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I figured it would be a good idea to do an update to this post with my latest Water Parameter data. Since I now have about 200 fish (including about 100 fry and the rest being about 3/4 adolescents) and the parameters are changing (e.g. Ammonia and Nitrates are obviously going up). I plan on selling about half the fish (the adolescents) to my LFS, which hopefully will bring things back into check ... although I have a few questions:

1. What should be the maximum Ammonia and Nitrate levels in the tank? (FY, I'm currently changing 50% of the water twice a week)
2. Is there a best Ammonia and Nitrate test kit folks would recommend?
- For ammonia I'm currently using Salifert, Seachem test and Seachem Alert (sticks on side of tank). There is such a huge variance in the results, so I'd really like to know which one of those or others I should be using for Ammonia.
- For Nitrates I use an API kit and that seems to be reliable. Do folks have a favorite Nitrate tester?

FYI my parameters are running as follows:
- kH 9
- gH 7
- dH 15.9
- ph 7.47
- Ammonia (0 Salifert, 3 Seachem kit, 0 Seachem Alert)
- Nitrite 0
- Nitrate 10
- Oxygen 8
- CO2 9.15

The fish seem to be doing fine with these parameters (currently have 5 batches of fry growing), but my test kits are about a year and a half old and in need of replacement soon, So I wanted to get some expert opinions on what brand(s) are the best.

Thank you very much for any advice !!! :fish:
 
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