Puzzling Nitrate Problem...

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Guppykid101, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Guppykid101Well Known MemberMember

    So two weeks ago on a Tuesday I took dead fish and a water sample to the LFS to get a refund. I got the refund but they told me my nitrate was above 160 ppm. Puzzling, because I have 3 swordtails and two GBRs doing just fine (in fact they were spawning at the time). So the following Wednesday and Sunday, and the Wednesday and Sunday of this week, I did 50% water changes (as opposed to my usual 25% once a week on Sunday) and I have yet to see my nitrates drop below 160 even though all other parameters are completely stable at 0. What could be causing this and what can I do more than 50% twice a week to see results?

    Also, to save time answering further questions in this thread here are the answers to some things i can see being asked:
    -Yes, the only stock so far is the GBR pair and the 3 swordtails and they are showing no signs of illness
    -This is a 60 gallon aquarium
    -I am using an API master test kit, got one when I found out i had such high nitrate
    -The tank is cycled and has been for 3 years now

    Thanks in advance for any help!!
  2. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    Test your tap water, do a vac really good on the substrate and really rinse the heck out of the filter floss, keep it in the tank water and then take the filter apart and clean everything in it and see if that doesn't help things out!

  3. dcutl002Well Known MemberMember

    I would up the ante on the water changes to 80% everyday until that level comes down. vacuum the substrate. Those Nitrates are too high and are killing your fish. Does your tap have Nitrates that high?
  4. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi, I agree to test your tap first thing to see if thats where its coming from. If it isn't then the reason you're not seeing much in the way of nitrate drops after water changes is it must have been much higher than that and the test could not go that high. Your stocking is very light though so that would surprise me unless you have some rotting plants or fish or are not cleaning your filter media every week to two weeks in old tank water or are not vacuuming the substrate regularly.
  5. Guppykid101Well Known MemberMember

    I have tested the tap already and should have mentioned that: 0,0,0
    I do regular weekly cleanings, vacuuming the bottom and cleaning filter media as well as changing out my mechanical and chemical filter media once they get too dirty or used up.

    Unfortunately I have school and extracurriculars that take up most of my time, meaning I'm usually restricted on time until the weekend, these Wednesday water changes are already barely doable with my schedule so a 2-hour water change with buckets every day would be a bit much :/.

    I'm not sure why or how the nitrate is as bad as it is with this extremely light stock.
  6. AWheelerWell Known MemberMember

    See about getting a python :) I'd take the actual filter apart and clean the inside of it, the intake thing, If you are using activated carbon, I'd take that out and not use it until the nitrates are under control as well.
  7. CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Did you get behind on water changes? I agree to pick up a python or DIY water changer. You'll need to do several more water changes until you see them start coming down if they're really that high.

    One thing you can do is try a dilution test with the nitrate kit. Use half tank water and half tap water since you said it doesn't have any nitrates in it. See what the diluted test shows and post that.
  8. Tiny_TanganyikansWell Known MemberMember

    Theres something wrong if you are doing water changes with clean (no nitrate) tap water snd still have 160 nitrates. First off this would never pass municipal standards which generally are 10 and in heavy farmland areas around 20. Are you on a well?

    Do you have potted plants that could be contaminating the water with fertilizer. Do you have root tabs or any fertz dosed?

    I'm suspicious of the actual 160 numver because GBR can barely stand nitrates over 20ppm for any extended period.

    If it were me I'd do a gradual acclimation of the GBRs to a tote or bucket or another aquarium of pure fresh water. I'd break down the entire aquarium to find the problem and fix.

    Are you sure you've done the nitrate test correctly. . The 2nd bottle is an emulsion and if you don't mix it thoroughly it will be incorrect. Incidentally if you've tested with a poorly mixed solution the whole reagent will be toast. You can test a mix of your aquarium water and tap (if really 0 nitrates) to find out if it is indeed working, and what percentage of water needs to be changed.

    Though just changing the water I have no doubt will not solve the problem it sounds as if there's a contaminate if your test is indeed not toasted
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  9. dcutl002Well Known MemberMember

    Concur with @APierce pertaining to the python. You can make your own hose to refill the tank. I have have a fitting that fits the shower hose and I run the hose out to the garage. No buckets, but I have to get the temp right and dose Prime for the whole tank.
  10. Tiny_TanganyikansWell Known MemberMember

    I made my own python from pvc, irrigation fittings, and vinyl tubing, I also included a dosing chamber for prime and liquid/dry fertz so I can dose inline. It's similar to a miracle gro attachment.

    I doubt poor gravel vaccing is the issue as usually it will result in an ammonia spike. Your nitrates wouldn't be that high with such a light stocking in a large aquarium unless you've done no water changes in an extremely long time or there's a contamination.

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