Steps for nitrate removal

  1. uncclewis

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Hi everyone! Are you struggling in the battle against nitrate?
    Ok. So what I found that works wonders is denitrate! This will allow even very heavily stocked tanks to only need water changes every 2 weeks or less. This needs minimal continued maintainace

    Let me tell you what I have learned, in setting it up so you do not waste ANY money or time.

    Here are the supplies that you will need, these can be found on Amazon:

    A) For more than 30 gallons use the aquatop MR 30 reactor; OR
    B) For less than that use the MR 20 reactor OR;
    C) For more than 65 gallons use 1-2 MR30 reactors (depending upon fish load and plant life). I started with 1, but ended up with 2

    1) Buy 4L of denitrate from seachem (you will have enough to last more than one of these fillings, but you will eventually use this and this is the cheapest way to buy it!);
    2) poly filter floss made for an aquarium, and 1 cut to fit 50 micron filter material.
    3) A water flow meter for tubing/aquariums. OPTIONAL, but I highly recommend this for this setup:
    4) Seachem matrix 5) Optional: Seachem stability

    Please let me know if you cannot find any of these materials!

    Now that you have all of your material, these are the steps in putting the reactor together.

    STEP 1) Leave the sponge material in there. At the bottom, stack the poly fill material and push it down tightly (compress it) the best and most you can without breaking something. Now fill the MR 20 and 30 with material until a little under 1/4 of the bottom of the container. If you use less, then your denitrate won't last long and it will be an expensive quick replacement. If you do not compress the poly fill material, then when you start the reactor, with its contents, you will notice a gap- you dont want that gap- that is a gap for air, which is bad in our denitrate.

    STEP 2) Cut the 50 micron filter in a circle, but make it a bit bigger than the container diameter so that when you stick it in there, that it won't have gaps. Then stick a small amount of poly fill material over it so that the 50 micron filter is pushed to the walls...

    STEP 3) HIGHLY Recommended step only- this will make sure that any oxygen still left in there at this point will be used by nitrifying bacteria. In this step: place about an inch to two inches deep of matrix....

    STEP4) Now, you should be a few inches below the half mark (recommended rising of denitrate first) Put in your denitrate!
    You can use the dentirate to pack down the material further, as you go, but use caution not to allow the circular pieces which pushes the water up the reactor to get too far off center. If you do, you will need to re-place the contents of the reactor.

    STEP 5) Recommended step: Fill the denitrate until the last 1.5-2 inch. This is when I recommend using more matrix. A very small amount of air will escape from top, into the container at this point. This will kill the denitrifying bacteria here, so this matrix will cause the oxygen injected at the top to be used here by denitrifying bacteria.
    Or just fill denitrate to the top and it will be less efficient.

    Step 6) Close it all up.

    Step 7) First set the adjustable flow, to its highest flow setting. Leave it here for a few days.

    Step 8) Measure nitrate levels. It should be lower or 0! This initial lowering is not from the bacteria most likely, but because it adsorbed it. But the next steps will ensure the bacteria work and thus denitrate over a longer period of time!

    Step 9) Once you see the filter material getting a little dirty (e.g. a few days), measure the flow. You want to have it between 20-40 gallons per hour. Stick the outflow from the reactor tubing into it and set a timer for 2 minutes. See how much it says flows into it in 2 minutes and multiply that value times 30. If your gallons per hour is not within that, adjust it so that it is!

    Step 10) Optional step: Following the flow adjustment: use a small amount of seachem stability and put it right at the pump intake for the reactor(s). Make sure the aquarium light is off so that it doesn't harm the bacteria (UV light). Also turn off any dedicated UV light for a few hours.

    Step 11) Measure nitrate after a few days, it should be 0 or close.

    From now on as long as your nitrate stays under control then you are ok and water changes aren't really necessary, unless you do not add trace elements. I still however, do monthly water changes- but it is normally because of nitrate creeping up. I then have to do water changes and do something with the reactor (e.g. change the flow, denitrate, or filter material).

    Troubleshooting; If nitrate isn't under control, you may have: 1) run out of trace elements for the bacteria/fish (add some consistently- every week or two), 2) how dirty is your denitrate? Is it very dirty- if so replace it. 3) Check your flow- is it lower than 20 gallons per hour? increase the adjustable flow, and if that is not sufficient-change the filter material

    When cleaning these reactors, they are going to stink a little, but this is because of the bacteria in them removing nitrate; they house TONS of denitrifying bacteria; and bacteria stink
  2. TexasDomer

    TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    You really should do regular (ideally at least weekly) water changes, but this is a great idea if you have nitrates in your tap!
  3. slayer5590

    slayer5590 Well Known Member Member

    Water changes do more than just remove nitrates.
  4. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Yes they do, however, if you add trace minerals- then you should be OK! Basically you could go longer without changing, assuming that you do not have sick fish. The tank will also be more stable. The problem is without this sort of system it is very hard to do that. I add trace minerals weekly and monitoring your TDS is important in this process, but I did not want to get too technical.

    In other words, I change according to my TDS alone, with this system. Which is 2-4 weeks (or when my nitrate creeps because something is wrong with my system)

  5. slayer5590

    slayer5590 Well Known Member Member

    Your clown loaches will grow slower than they normally would. With less wcs you aren't removing the pheromones from your tank. One of your loaches will grow and the rest not so much.
  6. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    I honestly hope that would happen!!! In terms of life expectancy, I think the life expectancy is not affected by size. I read research articles that showed that growth is mainly proportional to how much you feed them: in particular high protein foods. Because fish grow forever, more food will be the limitations factor- also trace elements in the water.

    But, I highly doubt it. 1) It is unknown if the alpha secretes anything, 2) My loaches are growing very fast, 3) I am again using 1 liter of purigen, which binds to waterborne organics.

    Which reminds me! Do not use activated charcoal, especially not on this SORT of system. You will kill your poor fish and plants! If you want to know why, I will explain it. But there is a reason why when you use AC that you need more water changes.
  7. TexasDomer

    TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    I don't mean to get into an argument, but this is frustrating. You have fish dying on you left and right (you told me you've gone through 100 otos so far), yet you're advocating for infrequent water changes and adding in trace elements instead? They're not replacements for water changes. I can't help but think your reduced water changes have something to do with the deaths. Please do weekly or twice weekly water changes, especially while your fish are sick and dying.
  8. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Well, to be honest. I have only been doing this for a month to two months. But most fish are getting better. As for my otocinculus, nope. They seem to die and always have no matter whether I change it weekly or not.

    Haha, I was changing it 2-3 weekly without denitrate (blood worms have a lot of nitrate). I was still losing fish. They had infections and stuff.

    I really think this can work and work well... But you still have to keep an eye on the nitrate to see if the system is working, your TDS, Ph, and add trace elements. If you dont, they can die. They signal for water changes to me.

    Basically it creates an ecosystem more similar to the one used in lakes

  9. TexasDomer

    TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    We can agree to disagree. Lakes and tanks are completely different, and what works for lakes doesn't work for a (relatively) tiny tank.
  10. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    My fish say it works!! Lol. [​IMG]

    They love clams lol. [​IMG]

    They pry them open


    Right now even with all that I have, I still have nitrate lol. But only 5 ppm. I'd have as much as 80 before.
  11. TexasDomer

    TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    Right, because you have lots of fish and you don't do water changes often enough to keep the nitrates low.
  12. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Well, it would happen when I would feed them the bloodworms. For some reason it skyrockets my nitrates. Plus, I love my loaches but they are pigs and eat like it. lol... But they are growing.

  13. TexasDomer

    TexasDomer Fishlore Legend Member

    As we discussed in previous threads, you overfed, and that will of course make the fish create more waste and more nitrates are produced.
  14. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    Well, you know also, some of these things like twigs when I got some of them! you should see how much they have plumped out. A few still look twigish- but getting there... The most ill ones would only eat either live food or blood worms and they would aggressively take food if healthier so I needed to feed more so the lower ranked ones could get more, which for clown loaches if you are on the lower totem pole the best chances I have learned that you get to eat is if a bunch of food is stuck in there at one time. Or higher ranked ones say you are SOL
  15. OP

    uncclewis Well Known Member Member

    thats mainly why I call them pigs hehe... they are such fun creatures, like their personality you can never fully know. Whereas other fish are much more predictable