Bringing Down High Nitrates - Help Please

Cjmerk

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So I have a 54gal corner tank with fowlr and I got a big spike of nitrates at 180 the highest on the test killed 3 of my fish I did a 60% water change and my levels are still 180. Everything else is 0
 

Goldiemom

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Oops, read that wrong, Thanks for pointing that out. I agree with the water changes and Prime if you can use it. Gotta figure out what caused this nitrate spike. Anything new added? Different water source, etc.
 
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Cjmerk

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No nothing new everything that's in there has been since last year. And nothing has changed
 
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Cjmerk

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I did that as well I'm jus gng to wait til morning and see wat it reads
 

Lchi87

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Moved this to the saltwater section for you
 

Jesterrace

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Cjmerk said:
So I have a 54gal corner tank with fowlr and I got a big spike of nitrates at 180 the highest on the test killed 3 of my fish I did a 60% water change and my levels are still 180. Everything else is 0
How often are you feeding your tank and what are you feeding? (pellet food will produce more waste than frozen) How much are you doing for water changes? Are you using RODI water? 60% is too much for saltwater IMHO and for it to not be reading any change suggests something else is wrong. What test kit are you using? API is notoriously inaccurate for nitrates in saltwater. What filtration are you using? If you are using a canister filter that could well be the source of the problem as they are very prone to becoming nitrate factories in saltwater configs.
 
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Cjmerk

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Jesterrace said:
How often are you feeding your tank and what are you feeding? (pellet food will produce more waste than frozen) How much are you doing for water changes? Are you using RODI water? 60% is too much for saltwater IMHO and for it to not be reading any change suggests something else is wrong. What test kit are you using? API is notoriously inaccurate for nitrates in saltwater. What filtration are you using? If you are using a canister filter that could well be the source of the problem as they are very prone to becoming nitrate factories in saltwater configs.
I feed like every other day. It's a predator tank so I was feeding frozen krill and squid. And I was doing like 15% water change once a week. And yes I use rodI water. And I was using the apI test kit for saltwater. And I'm running a sump with my system with two filter socks and I have a little media in there
 

stella1979

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HI There is likely a build-up of detritus in this tank. It could be in the rockwork, the substrate, or more likely, both. Anywhere detritus is settling, (probably out of view), it is staying and then breaking down into nitrates and phosphates. I'd highly suggest that you take a look at your flow pattern, do your best to eliminate dead spots within your rockwork, and do really good vacuuming with your water changes. Also, pick up a turkey baster and use it often to squirt into the rockwork, which will allow anything that settles to get picked up in the water column and then filtered through your sump.

Speaking of the sump, any type of mechanical filtration should be kept very, very clean. In your current circumstance, I'd probably clean those filter socks daily, because if you adjust flow and blow/clean the rocks, lots of stuff will be picked up by your filter socks. Under normal circumstances, I would still suggest cleaning the filter socks twice a week. Any type of mechanical filtration will catch detritus, and this is exactly what it's for, but if we don't clean it out, mechanical filtration is actually adding to the problem. When it is full of gunk that is left there to break down, mechanical filtration is actually increasing nitrates.

Lastly, I'd suggest some type of nutrient reduction method be added to the sump so your system is capable of bringing nitrates down for you. This could be either a skimmer or a refugium. Big or heavily stocked tanks should probably have both. I don't run a skimmer, so am not much help with those, but I do run a fuge. A fuge is simple... It's just a place to contain macroalgae, (usually Chaetomorpha), where it will be allowed to grow. Chaeto 'eats' nitrates for its growth, just like plants do in freshwater. As it grows, it will fill its allotted space, so you will have to remove about half to throw or give away, making room in the fuge for more growth. When the chaeto is thrown away, nitrates are thrown away with it. All that is needed is the chaeto, a plant light, and perhaps something to use as a baffle that will allow water through, (so as to contain the chaeto but allow tank water to run through it like a filter.) Plastic canvas is cheap and works pretty well, but of course, there are nice acrylic containments available for purchase as well.

The only real danger that arises with refugiums is that if the algae inside is not well kept, and left to die, it will release all those nitrates it sucked up. Chaeto is tough stuff though so a little care goes a long way. I have a minI fuge going in an Aquaclear 70 HOB on my 20 gallon reef. Its light comes on at night for 6 hours, I toss about half of the chaeto per week, feed rather heavily, keep mechanical filtration clean and vac about half the sand per week. These methods keep nitrates very, very low.

Btw, I'm going to delete a bunch of posts here so as to clean the thread up a bit. Nobody did anything wrong. I just think it's best to keep things tidy and since the thread has been moved to the saltwater forum, I will be cleaning out the freshwater advice.
 
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Cjmerk

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stella1979 said:
HI There is likely a build-up of detritus in this tank. It could be in the rockwork, the substrate, or more likely, both. Anywhere detritus is settling, (probably out of view), it is staying and then breaking down into nitrates and phosphates. I'd highly suggest that you take a look at your flow pattern, do your best to eliminate dead spots within your rockwork, and do really good vacuuming with your water changes. Also, pick up a turkey baster and use it often to squirt into the rockwork, which will allow anything that settles to get picked up in the water column and then filtered through your sump.

Speaking of the sump, any type of mechanical filtration should be kept very, very clean. In your current circumstance, I'd probably clean those filter socks daily, because if you adjust flow and blow/clean the rocks, lots of stuff will be picked up by your filter socks. Under normal circumstances, I would still suggest cleaning the filter socks twice a week. Any type of mechanical filtration will catch detritus, and this is exactly what it's for, but if we don't clean it out, mechanical filtration is actually adding to the problem. When it is full of gunk that is left there to break down, mechanical filtration is actually increasing nitrates.

Lastly, I'd suggest some type of nutrient reduction method be added to the sump so your system is capable of bringing nitrates down for you. This could be either a skimmer or a refugium. Big or heavily stocked tanks should probably have both. I don't run a skimmer, so am not much help with those, but I do run a fuge. A fuge is simple... It's just a place to contain macroalgae, (usually Chaetomorpha), where it will be allowed to grow. Chaeto 'eats' nitrates for its growth, just like plants do in freshwater. As it grows, it will fill its allotted space, so you will have to remove about half to throw or give away, making room in the fuge for more growth. When the chaeto is thrown away, nitrates are thrown away with it. All that is needed is the chaeto, a plant light, and perhaps something to use as a baffle that will allow water through, (so as to contain the chaeto but allow tank water to run through it like a filter.) Plastic canvas is cheap and works pretty well, but of course, there are nice acrylic containments available for purchase as well.

The only real danger that arises with refugiums is that if the algae inside is not well kept, and left to die, it will release all those nitrates it sucked up. Chaeto is tough stuff though so a little care goes a long way. I have a minI fuge going in an Aquaclear 70 HOB on my 20 gallon reef. Its light comes on at night for 6 hours, I toss about half of the chaeto per week, feed rather heavily, keep mechanical filtration clean and vac about half the sand per week. These methods keep nitrates very, very low.

Btw, I'm going to delete a bunch of posts here so as to clean the thread up a bit. Nobody did anything wrong. I just think it's best to keep things tidy and since the thread has been moved to the saltwater forum, I will be cleaning out the freshwater advice.
So do u suggest I remove all live rock and sand and maybe just replace with new live rock and sand. I'm jus stuck and I checked my levels this morning and my nitrates are still reading as high as it can be.
 

stella1979

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No! Removing all rock and sand will also remove your cycle, and we wouldn't want that. You could clean all rock and sand but do so in steps (not all at once) so as to maintain your cycle. Live rock must always be wet, so you'll want a bucket of saltwater at the ready when you start your cleaning. Even a short period of dryness will start to cause a die-off of beneficial bacteria and other critters that make the rock 'live.'

I sense the desperation and know you're trying your best. This is not to be taken lightly, and should be done very carefully... but perhaps you'd like to do what's known as a rip cleaning.

How To Rip Clean The Correct Way Without Recycle

The author of the thread above is a good fishy buddy of mine, and one of two Fishloreans I have actually met in person. You can trust his advice on this, and he is very kind and approachable if you have any questions. xiholdtruex

Whichever method you choose, you will have to 'fix' things or this problem will just return. Just to reiterate, take a look at your flow and possibly increase or redirect it, keep mechanical filtration very clean, and look into nutrient export methods for your tank. I know you're stressed but you have come to the right place. We love to help, hope to get you back to enjoying your tank, and finding stress relief in it soon! Good luck and please keep us posted.
 

Jesterrace

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Cjmerk said:
I feed like every other day. It's a predator tank so I was feeding frozen krill and squid. And I was doing like 15% water change once a week. And yes I use rodI water. And I was using the apI test kit for saltwater. And I'm running a sump with my system with two filter socks and I have a little media in there
How often are you changing the filter socks and how are you cleaning them?
 
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Cjmerk

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Jesterrace said:
How often are you changing the filter socks and how are you cleaning them?
Once a week. I use a splash of bleach and run it thru washer about 3 to 4x
 
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Cjmerk

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stella1979 said:
No! Removing all rock and sand will also remove your cycle, and we wouldn't want that. You could clean all rock and sand but do so in steps (not all at once) so as to maintain your cycle. Live rock must always be wet, so you'll want a bucket of saltwater at the ready when you start your cleaning. Even a short period of dryness will start to cause a die-off of beneficial bacteria and other critters that make the rock 'live.'

I sense the desperation and know you're trying your best. This is not to be taken lightly, and should be done very carefully... but perhaps you'd like to do what's known as a rip cleaning.

How To Rip Clean The Correct Way Without Recycle

The author of the thread above is a good fishy buddy of mine, and one of two Fishloreans I have actually met in person. You can trust his advice on this, and he is very kind and approachable if you have any questions. xiholdtruex

Whichever method you choose, you will have to 'fix' things or this problem will just return. Just to reiterate, take a look at your flow and possibly increase or redirect it, keep mechanical filtration very clean, and look into nutrient export methods for your tank. I know you're stressed but you have come to the right place. We love to help, hope to get you back to enjoying your tank, and finding stress relief in it soon! Good luck and please keep us posted.
Thanks a lot. I'm going to try what you said. Hopefully all works out
 

Jesterrace

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Cjmerk said:
Once a week. I use a splash of bleach and run it thru washer about 3 to 4x
I personally found that every 3-4 days is best, especially with filter socks that are being re-used. Also, do you spray down your socks when you pull them out? Make a huge difference when most of the gunk is being washed out when the socks are first pulled out. What I do is pull it out and place them in a bucket where I keep my dirty socks and then take them into the bathroom and flip them inside out. Then I hit it with hot water from the shower sprayer and spray it until I'm not getting any dirty colored water coming from the sock. I then place it in the bucket and let it sit until it's time to do a load of filter socks in the wash and then use a process similar to what you described. It also sounds like you may be overfeeding (when you do feed). How long does it take before your fish eat the food that you put in the tank? If it takes more than 5 minutes and you still have bits floating around then you are overfeeding them and creating unnecessary waste.
 
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Cjmerk

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Jesterrace said:
I personally found that every 3-4 days is best, especially with filter socks that are being re-used. Also, do you spray down your socks when you pull them out? Make a huge difference when most of the gunk is being washed out when the socks are first pulled out. What I do is pull it out and place them in a bucket where I keep my dirty socks and then take them into the bathroom and flip them inside out. Then I hit it with hot water from the shower sprayer and spray it until I'm not getting any dirty colored water coming from the sock. I then place it in the bucket and let it sit until it's time to do a load of filter socks in the wash and then use a process similar to what you described. It also sounds like you may be overfeeding (when you do feed). How long does it take before your fish eat the food that you put in the tank? If it takes more than 5 minutes and you still have bits floating around then you are overfeeding them and creating unnecessary waste.
Well my fish ate everything I put in there. There's never nothing left maybe a micro size piece maybe left ova but that usually get eating too. I feed one fish at a time
 

Jesterrace

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Cjmerk said:
Well my fish ate everything I put in there. There's never nothing left maybe a micro size piece maybe left ova but that usually get eating too. I feed one fish at a time
Okay, I would go with the more frequent filter sock changes and what was recommended above. Are you using any macro algae or something like GFO in your sump to help reduce nitrates or phosphates?
 

stella1979

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While it's true that most of us could probably feed less and still have healthy happy fish, from the feeding routine you've described, it does sound as though food is not having a chance to settle and break down. This leads me to believe that detritus is building up somewhere and not making it out during your water changes... Which just leads us back to a very thorough cleaning and having a 2nd look at your system to see if you think changes could be made via the flow pattern, maintaining mechanical filtration, and nutrient export.

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here. Just don't want you to go through the work of a rip cleaning only to end up back where you are a few months later.

So, could you increase our redirect flow?

What are your thoughts on nutrient reduction? I can't even tell you how much I appreciate the chaeto in my system. I feed fish daily, a few corals daily, and a massive feeding of all the corals 2-3 times a week. That little ball of chaeto in my HOB keeps nitrates at zero... lower than I even want it. I've tried feeding even more to bring levels up a bit and it didn't work. Turning the fuge off though, that brings NO3 up to 15-20ppm in a week or less.
 

xiholdtruex

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When you put you tank together did you first place the sand down then the rock or put the sand after the rock?

It sounds to me like it is a detritus issue which is continually leaking into the aquarium. Could be built up under the rock work. Could be in the sand.

Did you rinse the sand when you set your tank up? How old is the tank?
 

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