High Nitrate Levels

danhutchins

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I'm having an issue with very high nitrate levels in my 55 gallon. Ammonia is a 0 as well as nitrites but for some reason my nitrates are reading 160 ppm. I have a lot of plants in my tank this is why I'm confused. I do 50% water changes every week and never miss one, I'm very anal about how my tank looks, any help would be great thanks.
 

RonJ

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danhutchins said:
I'm having an issue with very high nitrate levels in my 55 gallon. Ammonia is a 0 as well as nitrites but for some reason my nitrates are reading 160 ppm. I have a lot of plants in my tank this is why I'm confused. I do 50% water changes every week and never miss one, I'm very anal about how my tank looks, any help would be great thanks.
Stock?
Tank size?
 

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The "crapload" of snails could be the problem. Nitrates are a byproduct of nitrites, which are a byproduct of ammonia. Your beneficial bacteria is dealing with the ammonia and nitrites well, thats why theyre 0. But there's a big bioload causing your nitrates to be high. Youll need to do more or bigger water changes OOOOOOOOR lower the bioload.
 

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danhutchins said:
As stated above it's a 55 gallon I have 3 cory cats 6 gold barbs 1 rummy nose tetra 2 angels 3 raspboras 2 siamese algae eaters a handful of amano shrimp and a **** load of Malaysian trumpet snails.
Sorry missed out 55 part. Your stocking is okay for a 55. And is on the lowerend. A snail infestation also may mean you are feeding a lot?
 
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danhutchins

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RonJ said:
Sorry missed out 55 part. Your stocking is okay for a 55. And is on the lowerend. A snail infestation also may mean you are feeding a lot?
I usually only feed once a day but also give 2 days fasting during the week. So far I only count 25 snails and its only 2 more than I started with about 3 months ago
 

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danhutchins said:
I usually only feed once a day but also give 2 days fasting during the week. So far I only count 25 snails and its only 2 more than I started with about 3 months ago
That is strange then. And do you gravel vacuum? Any decomposing plant or left over food can cause Nitrate spike as BB convert all that ammonia generated to Nitrite and then Nitrate.
 

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Did you test Fresh incoming water Nitrate levels or ammonia levels? Do you use tap water?
 
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danhutchins

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RonJ said:
That is strange then. And do you gravel vacuum? Any decomposing plant or left over food can cause Nitrate spike as BB convert all that ammonia generated to Nitrite and then Nitrate.
Yes I do every water change. I'm wondering if the thrive is causing it? I may cut back on the amount I dose and see if that helps.
 

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danhutchins said:
Yes I do every water change. I'm wondering if the thrive is causing it? I may cut back on the amount I dose and see if that helps.
If u have ammonia or Nitrate already in tap water also this can happen.
 
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danhutchins

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RonJ said:
If u have ammonia or Nitrate already in tap water also this can happen.
My tap readings are 0. I'm really thinking it's the thrive. I don't know why but it makes the most sense to me. I started dosing the recommended dose on the bottle instead of daily because of how my stand is set up its easier to do it that way and now I'm getting high readins.
 
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danhutchins

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So, after much research on the matter I have figured out that my nitrate levels were due to the lack of anaerobic bacteria. No one ever tells you about this when talking about the nitrogen cycle. Its actually a pretty important part of it. Everything I have ever read only talks about aerobic which converts ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates. Anaerobic converts nitrates to nitrogen. If this doesn't occur nitrates gradually build up in the aquarium and before you know it your fish are dying and you don't know why your nitrates are so high. It's all because no one explains the nitrogen cycle the correct way and they leave out the very last and most important part. It's only achieved with proper filtration. Not all biological media can house anaerobic bacteria.
 

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danhutchins said:
So, after much research on the matter I have figured out that my nitrate levels were due to the lack of anaerobic bacteria. No one ever tells you about this when talking about the nitrogen cycle. Its actually a pretty important part of it. Everything I have ever read only talks about aerobic which converts ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates. Anaerobic converts nitrates to nitrogen. If this doesn't occur nitrates gradually build up in the aquarium and before you know it your fish are dying and you don't know why your nitrates are so high. It's all because no one explains the nitrogen cycle the correct way and they leave out the very last and most important part. It's only achieved with proper filtration. Not all biological media can house anaerobic bacteria.
The nitrogen cycle isn’t a cycle without that last step. I agree. Lava stones in the tank help. All my tanks are 0-5 nitrates with lava and normal filtration.. no need for fancy media in my opinion.
 
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danhutchins

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rainbowsprinkles said:
The nitrogen cycle isn’t a cycle without that last step. I agree. Lava stones in the tank help. All my tanks are 0-5 nitrates with lava and normal filtration.. no need for fancy media in my opinion.
Yes, when I say it doesn't live on most media what I meant was it needs a very Porous media with lots of surface area.
 

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It isnt talked about much because its an unnecessary part of the cycle. By all means have 18 kg of specialty media for a large tank but I wont be doing it. If you keep a lot of plants and they consume your nitrates then what is that cycle called? Biohome must be really stepping up their advertising game...

Your fertilizers will cause a higher nitrate reading. This is only true for macros though. If it were just a micro fert, it wouldnt increase your nitrate readings.
 

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Wraithen said:
It isnt talked about much because its an unnecessary part of the cycle. By all means have 18 kg of specialty media for a large tank but I wont be doing it. If you keep a lot of plants and they consume your nitrates then what is that cycle called? Biohome must be really stepping up their advertising game...

Your fertilizers will cause a higher nitrate reading. This is only true for macros though. If it were just a micro fert, it wouldnt increase your nitrate readings.
I disagree .. while not an emergency like ammonia or nitrites..having a naturally balanced tank will make your fish more likely to live longer. Not relying on humans and associated human error or a week of laziness or vacation or whatever... Plants help but are way less efficient than bacteria and can’t compensate as quickly with nutrient spikes. Most planted tanks have denitrifying bacteria though because it is harder for fish keeper to disturb all the substrate at once. And specialty media can help but not needed.. substrate management for a good microbiome can work too..
 

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rainbowsprinkles said:
I disagree .. while not an emergency like ammonia or nitrites..having a naturally balanced tank will make your fish more likely to live longer. Not relying on humans and associated human error or a week of laziness or vacation or whatever... Plants help but are way less efficient than bacteria and can’t compensate as quickly with nutrient spikes. Most planted tanks have denitrifying bacteria though because it is harder for fish keeper to disturb all the substrate at once.
No offense intended here but nitrates at or below 40 have shown to have no effect on lifespans of aquarium fish. And what you are describing as a "natural and balanced" system would be a walstead tank. Once you introduce high powered filtration, you are kind of over that. My heavily planted tank could go months without a water change, and I have to artificially raise nitrates so my plants dont die off and algae doesnt bloom. In addition to all of that, you will not have plants successfully in a "fully cycled" tank. Look at tanks that experiment with biohome. The plants turn to garbage pretty quickly. If you look at nature, that isnt a thing. A complete cycle isnt a thing in nature, or you wouldnt see those plants coming back every time the water warms back up. The anaerobic bb would be converting those nitrates all winter and the plants would never have enough to build biomass.

This thought process simply does not compute for a planted tank. For a non planted tank, sure!

And there are better ways to build massive anaerobic colonies than waiting 2 months for them to develop in tanks and filters. Reactors have been doing this for a very long time in the hobby.
 

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Wraithen said:
No offense intended here but nitrates at or below 40 have shown to have no effect on lifespans of aquarium fish. And what you are describing as a "natural and balanced" system would be a walstead tank. Once you introduce high powered filtration, you are kind of over that. My heavily planted tank could go months without a water change, and I have to artificially raise nitrates so my plants dont die off and algae doesnt bloom. In addition to all of that, you will not have plants successfully in a "fully cycled" tank. Look at tanks that experiment with biohome. The plants turn to garbage pretty quickly. If you look at nature, that isnt a thing. A complete cycle isnt a thing in nature, or you wouldnt see those plants coming back every time the water warms back up. The anaerobic bb would be converting those nitrates all winter and the plants would never have enough to build biomass.

This thought process simply does not compute for a planted tank. For a non planted tank, sure!

And there are better ways to build massive anaerobic colonies than waiting 2 months for them to develop in tanks and filters. Reactors have been doing this for a very long time in the hobby.
Natural ponds and lakes don’t have detectable nitrates. If they do they become eutrophic very quickly. And a nitrogen cycle that ends in n gas is most certainly a thing in nature. Other wise it isn’t a cycle. Your planted tank with stable nitrates has denitrifying bacteria. It’s a natural thing. Also it’s hard to get denitrifiers with high power filters. I use corner and sponge filters. By natural I mean ecological balance. I don’t know why denitrifiers are so controversial in freshwater.. in marine it is standard.. nothing wrong with using modern methods of fish keeping but I prefer ecological balance
 

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Natural ponds and lakes typically range from .4ppm to 3 ppm. Above 3 is where eutrophication can occur, which would be odd that the anaerobic bacteria wouldnt be able to catch up.

Marine tanks are an entirely different ball game. We borrow heavily from each other sometimes, but they are different beasts. They also dont grow plants.

We can easily change as much water as we want, and we can also have plants help us out with nitrates. We dont require massive denitrification.

What uses atmospheric nitrogen in our fish tanks? (Sorry, not picking a fight with that question, but we keep using the word cycle so it makes me wonder...)
 
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