Best Plant For High Nitrates?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by Beeman, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. BeemanNew MemberMember

    My tank has a turtle and 2 common plecos. They all are healthy but my tests continually show 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and around 40ppm nitrate. I decided to find why my level is so high even after weekly 50% water changes and it appears my tap may be the source. My tap water comes in around 10-20 ppm nitrate. Because of these high nitrate levels in my tap water and the high waste producers (turtle/plecos) I want to get into plants.

    I'm looking for a good plant that won't require anything like CO2 or fancy stuff, it also can't require substrate because my turtle would make a mess of it. I want to hear your advice on the best beginner plants that will do a good job consuming nitrates in the tank.

    (Other random information), my current tank light is the Aqueon Deluxe Full Hood with a T8 Full Spectrum bulb (24in model). My tank is 55 gallons with dimensions of 12.5x48x20.5 (in).

    I have never tried adding plants to the tank and have no idea where it starts. I'm hoping this will get to a point where I have so many I'll have to start dosing fertilizer (I'd rather have the problem of not having enough nitrates instead of having too many).
  2. Al913Fishlore VIPMember

    The best plant will be pothos! I believe any actual aquatic plant will be eaten by the turtle. With Pothos you can either put it in the filter or hang it on the back of the tank. What type of turtle is it?

    Some plants that may work are hornwort, java moss, moneywort, water lettuce, elodea, and arrowhead

  3. BeemanNew MemberMember

    I have a canister so it would have to be inside the tank, how would I even plant this in the tank? Does it just float and doesn't this grow out of the tank, how would I light it?

  4. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    Algae. If you make a DIY algae scrubber you can lower your nitrate to 0.

    Here's an article I wrote on nitrate reduction:


  5. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    Most aquatic plants that don't require co2 won't remove any noticeable amount of nitrate.
  6. ashenweltWell Known MemberMember

    So to remove nitrates remember CO2 is the limiting factor. So plants that float usually are going to do the best, but more lightg means more nitrate removed.

    Water lettuce, duck week, floating anacharis or water wisteria... and most other floaters will impact nitrates. Here is the way to tell... does it rapidly grow? Yes? Then it is cleaning your water.

    So two weeks ago I took 3 gallon bags of wisteria to a club meeting. My wife made me trim again today because I was going to a killifish meeting. So two more gallon bags of water wisteria. Note that the meeting two weeks ago to today had completely regrown.

    I don't float mine, I just use excel... still it grows insane. For some reason my wife doesn't want it always night at the bottom of the tank.

    Oh and it's only a 40 gallon.

    Why does it grow? Because Rob has a heavy feeding hand... and has Excel and knows how to use it lol.
  7. angelfishguppieValued MemberMember

    I have a canister so it would have to be inside the tank, how would I even plant this in the tank? Does it just float and doesn't this grow out of the tank, how would I light it?[/QUOTE]

    I just rinsed the dirt off of the roots of a pothos I bought at a big box home store. I tucked the roots in the back of the tank and it has taken off. My tank is unfortunately near a window and I use a finnex 24/7 over a glass lid so the plant is getting light from both sources.
  8. Al913Fishlore VIPMember

    Agree with above! Pothos can grow under almost any lighting, however it is best to still have a good light source.

    Attached Files:

  9. BottomDwellerFishlore VIPMember

    Duckweed and salvinia both work well for lowering nitrates. I really recommend seachem matrix. I have 80ppm nitrate in my tap water and I have salvinia or duckweed in all my tanks along with matrix, most of my tanks have 10-30ppm nitrate.
  10. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    If anyone read the article I made, they would have found ways to reduce their nitrate to 0, and for less than $100 too. The solutions I listed were also much less of an eye sour than pothos.

  11. Jonathan1259New MemberMember

    Hey how's it going man , I see what's your problem and my recommendation would be to get cambomba, I used to keep them ,and they brang my nitrates and ammonia levels down man ,their very hardy plants ,doesn't need a whole lot of light and CO2 , and it grows fast ,easy to propagate and replant . Their probably the cheapest plants you could get with so many benefits man .
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  12. BeemanNew MemberMember

    I actually have Matrix added so hopefully that will help once fully cycled, also do you think my lighting will be sufficient for the plants you guys mentioned?
  13. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    When placed in low flow areas, matrix can grow anaerobic bacteria that converts nitrate into nitrogen gas. It's the last form of bacteria in the nitrogen cycle that is often not found in aquariums. The bacteria basically removes nitrate from the aquarium.
  14. Al913Fishlore VIPMember

    Should be
  15. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    This may be helpful to anyone who has nitrate issues:

    Many people may find it difficult to control their nitrate, as many have too many fish, overfeed, or just don't feel like doing water changes. Nitrates can also be an issue in larger tanks, as it's harder to change out such large amounts of water. This thread is the solution to nitrate - These nitrate reduction methods can reduce yearly water changes from 50+ to less than 10.

    The rating system for each method is from 1-5, with 5 being the best, except for cost, as 1 means lowest cost. This thread covers just the basics of each method, and more research may be required for anyone looking into using one.

    Method 1: Pothos

    Pothos is a hardy plant that can use nitrates from aquarium water to help it grow. It can be placed in a sump, or in a container, which is then placed in the aquarium. The pothos should be placed in an area with good enough flow for it to reduce as much nitrate as possible. Depending on the size of the tank, pothos can reduce up to 10ppm of nitrate per week. This may not sound like a lot, but it can be enough to delay a water change by a couple days. Pothos is budget friendly, as a 6" pot can be bought at Home Depot for $15. A grow light can be used, but it's not necessary. Pothos does well with normal aquarium lighting or sunlight.

    Cost: 1
    Effectiveness: 2
    Reliability: 5

    Method 2: DIY Algae Scrubber

    Algae Scrubbers that are sold commercially can go for hundreds of dollars, but the DIY method gives the same results for a fraction of the price. Algae scrubbers can usually only be used in sumps, as they have to be completely submerged. To create an algae scrubber, knitting mesh is placed in a high flow area of the sump, and a grow light is placed near the mesh. Algae will soon grow on the knitting mesh, and the water will be forced to flow through it. Just like pothos, the algae will remove nitrates, except much more effectively. The total cost of the materials, including the light, is about $40. Depending on the size of the scrubber and tank, the scrubber can completely remove nitrates, leaving them at 0.

    Cost: 2
    Effectiveness: 4
    Reliability: 5

    Method 3: Anaerobic Nitrate Filter

    This method involves a filter that uses anaerobic bacteria to covert nitrate to nitrogen gas. Commercially sold units can sell for up to $350, and they aren't effective for larger tanks, but just like algae scrubbers, nitrate filters can be made at home. Large diameter PVC pipe, end caps, 1/2" tubing, a low flow pump, foam, and pumice will be needed to create the filter. The parts will cost about $50-75 in total. The bacteria in the filter require low flow, as they are anaerobic, meaning they thrive in low oxygen environment. The pump used should be 50gph or less. 30-40gph is best. Low flow allows oxygen to leave the water. Pumice creates the low oxygen environment for the bacteria, as it is extremely porous, and the center of each piece has very little to no oxygen. About 100 ml of pumice should be used for every 10 gallons of water, or 1 gallon of pumice for every 300 gallons of water. The bacteria should start to colonize in the filter after 4-6 weeks, although products like Prodibio Biodigest can speed up the process. This filter can reduce the nitrates to 0, and can keep them consistently at 0.

    To create the filter, a cap should be placed on one end of the PVC, and glued on. Next, a hole should be drilled for the tubing. After that, 3-6 layers of foam is placed inside of the PVC, as small debris need to be removed before the water reaches the media. The rest of the PVC should be filled with pumice. Next, the PVC is capped off with another drilled cap. 5-10 feet of tubing should be placed in each end of the filter, and the tubing on the side of the filter with the foam should be placed on the pump. The water should go through the foam first. Once the pump is attached, it should be placed into the aquarium, and the other end of the tubing should be put in the tank as well. Once turned on, the filter should begin to function like a canister filter. The pump is the intake for the filter, and the tubing on the opposite side is the outtake.

    Cost: 3
    Effectiveness: 5
    Reliability: 5

    Method 4: Nitrate Reactor

    This method is very similar to the nitrate filter, and even uses the same bacteria to remove the nitrate, but there's one key difference. Nitrate reactors use a media called bio pellets, which provide a source of carbon for the bacteria to feed on. With a source of carbon to feed on, the bacteria can live in aerobic water, which is rich in oxygen. Since they are able to live in oxygen rich environments when introduced to carbon, a higher flow pump can be used, and therefore the nitrate reduction can happen at a faster rate. Another difference is that the media tumbles, which knocks the dead bacteria off, allowing room for new bacteria. The only downside is that the media has to be replaced every 6 months, because the bacteria feed on it, and the media slowly decreases in size. The bacteria will colonize the bio pellets in about 4-6 weeks, although products like Prodibio Biodigest will reduce the wait. The materials in total will cost $40-80, depending on how many bio pellets are needed.

    Although many companies sell nitrate reactors, it is, once again, cheaper to make your own. They are quite easy to assemble. Start with a bottle of any size, but preferably 500 ml or larger, and drill holes around the entire diameter of the bottle, near the bottom. The holes should create a circle around the bottle. After that, a hole should be drilled in the cap of the bottle just large enough for the pump outtake to fit in it. Next, the pump should be glued in place. Once the pump is secured, a piece of knitting mesh should be cut to the size of the bottle cap, and place on the inside. This will prevent the media from entering the pump when it's not running. After that, the bottle should be filled halfway with media. This should allow room for the media to tumble. Next, the bottle should be placed in the sump upside down, and the water should flow through the cap, and out of the holes near the bottom, now the top, of the bottle.

    Cost: 4
    Effectiveness: 5
    Reliability: 4

    Overall, I recommend the anaerobic nitrate filter, as it reduces the nitrate to 0, consistantly keeps it at 0, and it doesn't require a sump, whereas some other methods require a sump.
  16. BeemanNew MemberMember

    I have read your post and appreciate your help but this is the 3rd time you have posted this...
  17. BeanFishWell Known MemberMember

  18. Stephen HiattWell Known MemberMember

    No one else read it. If they did they would be discussing things other than pothos. I'm not trying to show off the article I wrote, I just want everyone to know that there are better, more efficient ways to reduce nitrate.
  19. ashenweltWell Known MemberMember

    I just prefer in aquarium plants to have an impact. It was an interesting article though.
  20. aquatickeeperFishlore VIPMember

    They read it (including me), it's just that the members don't want to discuss about it.

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