Nitrates too low, can I space out my water changes

  1. vasyat Member Member

    Hi. I have 6 platies and 4 amano shrimp in a 16 gallon tank. For the past 2 weeks I have been doing 25% weekly water changes and my parameters are ammonia 0, Nitrite 0. Nitrate 5 (1 week after the last water change). It's a moderately planted tank with anacharis, java moss, java fern, and anubias. I was told I need to keep the Nitrate at 10 for the plants. Should I space out my water changes?

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  2. Pikachu13131 Member Member

    My plants don't seem to mind what the nitrate is they grow fine.

  3. qchris87 Well Known Member Member

    I don't see a problem with it being at 5. Adding new water adds minerals that the plants also need.
  4. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    You're nitrates aren't too low for those plants - they're doing their job and keeping it low. 25% weekly isn't that big of a change, so I wouldn't do less.

  5. vasyat Member Member

    The anacharis have slight yellowing at the tips which is why I was concerned about the low nitrates. Should I add a small amount of Flourish comprehensive or nitrogen?

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  6. Pikachu13131 Member Member

    It might be because of it being covered up by a another plant also.
  7. uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    As long as the nitrates are controlled it is perfectly fine to do monthly or less water changes. I would add planter fertilizer and seachem fresh trace weekly. Basically you have a self sustaining ecosystem.

  8. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    If you still have nitrates showing up, then they're not using all of them. I don't think you need to dose if the nitrates aren't 0.

    I disagree. Weekly changes are better than monthly changes.
  9. Pikachu13131 Member Member

  10. uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    I oversimplified it, yes, texas is a bit right in that you need to monitor TDS and add trace elements. If you do this, I say if you nitrate is controlled- it is just fine!

    When your TDS goes over 500 do a water change which depending upon your starting may be 1-6 weeks from the last change.


  11. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    Please do weekly water changes. It keeps your fish and plants healthier. Adding trace elements weekly does not replace the need for water changes.
  12. uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    I guess this is where I disagree. I think that you can do them according to the TDS, if you are adding trace elements and the nitrate is fine. You will see that TDS at the level for change is dependent upon the level that you had to start, your feeding schedules, fertilizing, stocking... Etc. Basically, if you are sure to have the correct elements in the water (adding) and your parameters are fine, but you do not have excess TDS (which happens when water evaporates), that puts your fish outside of freshwater normal (above 500TDS), then you should be ok in my book!

    Basically i am saying this gives you a more controlled way to look at the water to see when it actually needs changing.

  13. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    I understand your point about TDS and I know what you're trying to say. I'm saying it doesn't work like that, and I think your fish are paying for it.
  14. Pikachu13131 Member Member

    But it doesn't get rid of the waste in the tank.just because the tds is above 500tds doesn't mean it takes the waste out of the tank,the waste is still going to build up in your gravel and sand.
  15. uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Well waste breaks down into nitrate... Other than that, the only other thing you are thinking of is total dissolved solids (which are important), and a good filter like my denitrate catches those!

    Also, you can use seachem clarity occasionally if you really want too. They use flocculants like that in water treatment, but they break down over time in your aquarium... If you really wanted one you can add one yourself to enhance their clumping even further.
  16. vasyat Member Member

    Assuming the Nitrate level is ok, I should address some other potential issues to deal with the slightly yellow anacharis tops. I currently have a flourescent T8 light and a Finnex Stingray on a siesta schedule (4 on, 4 off, 4 on). I was thinking I can:

    1) Increase the lighting, maybe 6 hours on, 4 off, 4 on?
    2) Start adding 1/3 recommended dose of Seachem Flourish comprehensive weekly?
    3) Both 1 and 2.

    Any thoughts on the best approach?

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  17. TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    I might try the third option to see how that goes.

    Also, what's the GH and KH of the tank?
  18. vasyat Member Member

    I'm not sure what my GH and KH are since I only have an API master test kit. I do know that our area has very hard, alkaline water, so I'm guessing they are both quite high.

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  19. uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Also. Plants don't usually need much nitrate. I overlooked at aspect of your question. They want ammonia /ammonium that's always constantly present. Just in cycled tanks it stays below. 25. They use that for energy preferentially. But will use nitrates if that's all they can get. Just ever so slightly less energy from it.

    I still stand by my WC schedule. But if you are worried about 5vs0 nitrates for WC, I wouldn't.
  20. CindiL Fishlore Legend Member

    Hi, I find if my leaf tips turn yellow adding in flourish does always seem to help :)

    What you're overlooking here are the things you cannot test for and TDS only gives you the total, not the break down. One of the most important things that build up in water that is not constantly moving like in nature or being changed out like in our tanks are growth inhibiting hormones and many others. Your fish will not grow to their true potential if you are not giving them fresh water consistently.

    There was this experiment they have done with carp (I'll see if I can find it) where they put a small fish in a cage within a constantly running fresh water system, like a creek would be. The fish grew to be so large he couldn't turn around any longer in his cage. What inhibits growth more than anything are there own hormones in closed water systems.

    My nitrates are low but on the occasion I have to skip a week of water changes which is rare I definitely see a difference in my fish and it's probably coincidence but it seems like every time that happens one or more end up sick.

    Don't get me wrong, I think TDS is a pretty good measurement after you know what's in your water and I have a meter myself but it is not the be all to end all measurements :)