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I have a 50 gallon that I do 1/3 to 1/2 tank water changes weekly, but my nitrates still spike really quickly. Is there any special gear I can add to my tank or in my filter (Marineland 350B) to get this under control? I've tried a Tetra Nitraban addative with no luck.

1 black convict
1 firemouth
1 sailfin pleco
 

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You can try house plants. There's a thread in the decoration page about using plants as a fix. Just stick house plant roots in your tank somehow and it seems to help.

That's crazy that it spikes so fast with 3 fish. Try cutting back feeding. Adding additional filtration only helps the nitrogen cycle work better, not get rid of the final product any quicker. Good luck!
 

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There is something breaking down causing higher levels of ammonia, which is then quickly converted into nitrates. Whether its poop built-up on the substrate or under/around rocks, dirty filter media, withering plants, uneaten food, dead fish, or something else.
 

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I am assuming you have checked for nitrates in your tap. Have you checked for ammonia in it? Iif there is even a little, these large water changes are adding it in, and your filters are turning it into nitrates.
 

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You might also try a new test kit - they sometimes can go bad.

It would be bad to go through a ton of changes and ideas, only to find out that it was a defective test kit. BTDT
 
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