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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have discussed completing mini cycle on relatively new tank on other threads. Good news- that finally did complete itself. The tank looks great, all fish are happy and healthy, and all parameters stable and in range- except for Nitrate. In the earlier thread, some accurately predicted that this would become my challenge. Prophecy fulfilled!

The tank is deliberately way overstocked- I know that. At this point, I love the fish that I have and don't want to eliminate any. Upgrading to a larger tank is not an option either. With doing several (2-3) 40% water changes per week, my Nitrates are holding at 10-20 (difficult to differentiate with the API test kit). I did have to leave town last week for a family emergency, so it was a week between water changes. At that point, the Nitrates were at 40-80 (again, tough to tell). I'm starting to see small patches of brown algae on the slate rocks. My tap water has tested at 0 Nitrates.

Other than larger water changes, there appear to be several remaining options: plants, algae scrubber, nitrate filter. Not sure how many plants I would need to effectively win this battle, so I'm considering an algae scrubber or nitrate filter. Anyone have any experience with or suggestions for these? Not too wild about experimenting with DIY options that I've seen online. Am willing to spend the money for a permanent effective solution if it's necessary. The Aquaripure Nitrate filter looks like it will work pretty well. I'm not opposed to larger water changes but would also like to reduce the time and effort required for those to the extent that I can. I have become pretty efficient with those using a Python to remove water and then pumping in premixed replacement water batches with a small submersible pump and vinyl tubing.
 

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I did say you would have a battle on your hands keeping the nitrate levels to a safe range.
For a 36 inch tank 25 mbuna is far too many, 10-12 would be ample. As they grow your problems will only increase.

I have looked at algae scrubbers but not yet taken the plunge, however how much this would help I'm not sure.
Plants as well would help, personally I'm not a fan of real.

My rule with nitrates is if the test tube shows red then for me that's too much, the only colour I want to see is orange.
After a week mine is no more than 15-20ppm

How much are you feeding..?

I think you will have to continue with your 3 water changes per week to keep to safe levels or reduce your stock level.
 

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Daily 50% water changes so your nitrates can stay closer to 10ppm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys. I've reduced my feeding to just once a day (was doing twice). I've also "upped" the water change amount to near 75%. Did one yesterday and another today. Water crystal clear and Nitrates finally at 5 ppm. Will now just have to monitor and see what it takes to keep them below 10. If the water change schedule becomes too difficult, I will start reducing the fish population.
 

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The plants help a lot in maintaining nitrate down, but there are still times when they need a bit of help. I have water plants in my aquariums to keep the nitrate levels down, but occasionally, I need to use the API filtration media for lowering nitrates in a freshwater aquarium to a healthy level quickly. :)
 

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As you are probably discovering with this, that there is no 'silver bullet', or instant solution to fixing a high Nitrate problem in an aquarium.
Most us just simply push more water in higher percentage, higher frequency water changes to dilute the stuff out of our water. And yes, that is the biggest plus, and the ultimate solution for water problems in a freshwater aquarium.
Everything else you use or try, will merely help to mitigate the problem. How much - or how little - the beneficial Nitrate reducing effects will be in these things you use, kind of depends on how much effort you put into them.
And yes, the 'techie' De-Nitrator stuff I see you are interested in, do work. However, they are slow to get up to speed (sometime months) and even then, the effects are pretty small. Those things DO require a LOT of tinkering and adjusting and maintaining to work. I've seen through the years, that ultimately most people write those off as non-starters. The work required to make those things do their job just isn't worth the effort you have to put into it.
And then there are plants.
Once again, the results you can expect to achieve from plants will vary a huge amount, depending on how much effort you put into their care and horticultural needs. The sheer AMOUNT of plants you need for this, has a big effect as well. If a partially planted aquarium aquarium is not going to work (I don't blame you - those things just don't succeed in growing plants very well), you are faced with a decision to go heavily planted in the tank. Or, go heavily planted OUTSIDE the tank.
Huh....? :-?
This posting thread regarding a fellow in Arizona who is dealing with all sorts of problems may help to inform. His potential use of a planted refugium may help to get those runaway Nitrates in his aquariums under control. That, and I DO recommend different filtration, mechanical cleaning practices to him, to physically remove uneaten food and fish waste, BEFORE they break down into those toxic organic compounds in his aquarium water.

https://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/vie ... 3&t=454721

And, I know.... there is a LOT of Oscar based nonsense in that thread, that has little to do with your Mbuna. The STRESS on his Oscars is one important thing to note however, as the water conditions in his aquariums have definitely been compromised with high measured Nitrate levels. And unfortunately, those high Nitrate levels are almost certainly making his fish get sick. :(
 
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