Nitrate levels getting worse after water changes

Discussion in 'Water Parameters' started by Waterwahine, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. WaterwahineNew MemberMember

    Tl;dr for below: I've been changing 25-40% of my saltwater daily for past week and my nitrates have gone from 40 ppm to 160+ ppm in four days. Jellyfish is suffering--losing mass. HELP!!

    My tank has the following stats:
    pH: 8.2
    Ammonia: 0-.25 ppm
    Nitrite: 0-.25 ppm
    Nitrates: 160+ ppm
    Capacity: 3 gallons, saltwater
    In tank: one blue blubber jellyfish, sand substrate, 1/2 pound live rock
    Tank features: filter, aerator. I added Algone brand water clarifier/nitrate remover 3 days ago. Filter also freshly changed 3 days ago.
    Feedings: 1/2 tab frozen brine shrimp or 1/3 cap Reef brand zooplankton once a day (down from twice a day).

    Readings were taken in fresh, clean test tube.

    My nitrates have skyrocketed from 40 ppm last Friday, 8/7 to 160+ ppm today, 8/11. Jelly is losing mass quickly and also losing energy. Not sure what to do with him since he's in a toxic environment. Any help is appreciated.

  2. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

  3. WaterwahineNew MemberMember

    I don't think so. If I'm reading up correctly, my tank doesn't have ultra filtration or reverse osmosis system--it's a Marineland tank with bio foam and an activated carbon filter system. Should I be using RODI water or have an RODI system? I don't think the water I buy is RODI water--it's allegedly from the waters around Catalina island.

  4. TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    I was thinking that if you used tap water (which you shouldn't for SW anyway), that some of the nitrates could be coming from the tap. You could still test the water you use for changes to see if it has nitrates in it naturally.
  5. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    Yep I heard that you are supposed to invest in a RO unit to do water changes for a SW tank. Think they go for around $150 is what someone in these forums said.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  6. WaterwahineNew MemberMember

    TexasDomer, you were completely right. Just did a test of the store-bought water, and it's somewhere between 40-80 ppm. Ok, so no more store water.

    What do I do now? Should I buy the boxed water from Petco/Petsmart? How difficult is it to mix saltwater on my own? I was totally suckered in by the salesperson's "saltwater's not THAT hard" and am kinda freaking out right now. As much as I would like to purchase an RO unit, I really don't know if it's worth it to invest $150 to keep one or two things in my aquarium, but if that's the way it has to be done, then someone please let me know.
  7. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    I heard it's really the only way to go long term as buying bottled RO water is costlier in the long run. LiterallyHydro can fill you in better on this.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  8. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    If you're currently unable to afford an RO/DI unit, definitely go with RO water from a grocery store or the pet store. You absolutely do not want to use tap water as it will only introduce nutrients into your aquarium, rather than export it.

    If you're using tap water, you also likely do or will have a lot of algae problems. It's nothing but an uphill battle using tap water.

    Just make sure you get the water from a reliable source, pet stores are usually pretty good for RO water.

    Are there anything that isn't getting maintained thoroughly enough? HOB filters and Canister filters need weekly maintenance to prevent them from becoming massive nitrate factories.

    And.. To answer as to why I prefer getting RO/DI water from my own RO/DI system instead of buying bottled water..
    AquaticBrandon gets his RO water from a grocery store for $.50/Gallon. I believe that's how much it was he stated.

    So assuming he does weekly water changes of 5 gallons in his 29G Biocube, that's $2.50 per week, $130 a year. Now assume he also tops off 1 gallon a week of fresh RO water in his tank to counteract evaporation. Now he's spending $3 a week, $156 a year.

    Now by purchasing the RO/DI unit for $149 on Bulk Reef Supply, the system will pay itself off within the first year. If you include maintenance on the RO/DI unit, after the first year it's nothing but saving money. And you are getting cleaner water. And you don't need to drive anywhere to get the water. And you know for sure the water will be safe for the fish, since you maintain the filter yourself.
  9. WaterwahineNew MemberMember

    Ok, I think I'm convinced and I've seen a pretty economical RO/DI unit online. Here's the next question: how "involved" is mixing up the saltwater? I've seen every direction online from "just mix one part with two parts water and stir" to "here are the seven items you will need before you even begin" including a special thermometer, pump, and hydrometer. Before I embark on the mixing journey, what's the best way to go about it?
  10. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    I'm going to first recommend you just go with a high quality RO/DI unit. This is an area you don't want to skimp out on, you want only the purest water going in your tank. That's why I recommend Bulk Reef Supply's RO/DI units. Available online starting at $150.

    For me to mix saltwater, I usually first roll/invert the bucket of salt mix to evenly distribute all of the minerals and elements in the salt mix. Then I just add all the of the salt needed to get my SG to 1.025 and add a powerhead and heater to get the temperature just right and dissolve the salt mix. Then make the appropriate adjustments after 24 hours to make sure the SG is just right and Ca and Alk levels are just right.

    The only thing I definitely recommend is having a refractometer over a hydrometer, they are just way more accurate.
  11. SlugWell Known MemberMember

    Agreed with the water post above. Also, jellies to my knowledge are not easy. Not something many people choose to keep because of it. Lots of Jellyfish have incredibly short life cycles, you could be seeing the end of this one and theres really not much even the right water will do to stop it. We are talking a calendar year max in the wild, a bit longer in an absolutely perfect tank setup.

    Is it beating itself up? The flow could be wrong sending it crashing into tank walls, the bottom, live rock etc. Or the flow may just be stressing it out. Keep in mind these jellies do need some lighting like a reef to help the algae growing inside of them. It's pretty essential to their food source. Losing mass is usually a sign of it not getting the food it needs. However in such a small tank you may be overfeeding just adding to the nitrates.

    My advice is to get a larger tank, 3gals can go wrong VERY VERY fast especially in SW. A larger volume of water is easier to correct and won't crash as fast. Not to mention it would give a jelly that gets a foot in diameter space to move. My suspicion is it's just way to new and small of a tank, especially for a jelly. ~2 weeks is brand new in SW, not established. Your bacteria may not have enough surface to establish itself. Pair that with a possible nitrate trap somewhere in the filtration system and it's a ticking time bomb in such a small tank. A tank at 4 months will still be working out it's balancing. I suspect like I said above there is to much food in the water, just gets into the filter before the jelly uses it and it festers. Remember jellies are nocturnal very passive eaters, a lot rely on stunning the prey so it can feast...zooplankton included. I bet that filter is trapping nitrates like crazy, you are just seeing it spike harder and faster due to water volume.

    Sorry to be so blunt.
  12. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    Everything is spot on. I couldn't have said it better myself.
  13. WaterwahineNew MemberMember

    Slug--thanks for the info, I don't mind you being blunt at all. Ok, it sounds like my poor jelly is not going to make it (although I will do everything in my power to save him).

    Alright. if/when that happens, I think I'm just going to start over with the RO/DI system, and get my levels in check first BEFORE buying something else that's easier. Thank you ALL for your help!!
  14. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    No problem. Sorry it didn't turn out the way you may have hoped. That's just reality in this hobby.

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