Help What's going on with my nitrate?

Falena

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So I've encountered a problem with quickly increasing nitrates I've never had to deal with and cannot seem to get to the route of it. I'm hoping someone here can help me figure out what's wrong.
The tank is a 30 gallon planted that's been running for 5 years, it's got a fluval 206 canister filter and an eheim pickup internal filter. It only houses 8x java loaches, 1 giant betta and 1 bn pleco currently.
I've performed weekly 25% water changes and gravel vacuum every 2 weeks with monthly filter cleans like clockwork for the past 5 years and I've never had a problem.
Now about a week ago I accidentally left a piece of blanched zucchinI in overnight because I'd fallen asleep on the sofa.
The next morning I panicked, took the remaining veg out and tested the water. Everything was as usual PH 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate around 20 ( high for my tank, the plants usually handle that) so I performed a 50% water change. However my water source already has 10ppm nitrate as is. So I left it for about 12 hours and performed a 2nd 50% water change which brought the nitrate in the tank back down to 10.

Now 3 days later my pleco was hanging out near the water surface. So I tested again and my nitrates had sky rocketed to 80ppm! I spent the entire day performing a tank flush, worried for my 6 year old bn pleco. Tested, and back down to 10ppm.
Today, 3 days again since the tank flush. My pleco was up at the top again.
Nitrate was at 30!
I've just performed yet another 50% water change. But what on earth is going on?
I've done a body count, no dead fish. That one piece of zucchinI was removed a week ago. My plants are all fine, though I stopped adding ferts until I figure out what's going on.
I did just add new root tabs before this happened (osmocote which I've never had a problem with before) could it be related?
Any ideas?
any help is massively appreciated
 

TWiG87

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While your nitrate levels are elevated for your tank, they really aren’t at a concerning level. I have heard of ammonia spikes with Osmocote when a lot of it gets into the water column, but that means it would have to essentially navigate the nitrogen cycle to increase your nitrates. Did you perhaps switch to a different liquid fertilizer before the change?
 
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Falena

Falena

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TWiG87 said:
While your nitrate levels are elevated for your tank, they really aren’t at a concerning level. I have heard of ammonia spikes with Osmocote when a lot of it gets into the water column, but that means it would have to essentially navigate the nitrogen cycle to increase your nitrates. Did you perhaps switch to a different liquid fertilizer before the change?
Really? I panic because all my tanks are heavily planted and its rare I get over 5ppm in any, even with my source water being at 10ppm. And I've never seen my little pleco up there so I immediately connected it to the nitrate, he may just be exploring? He's not breaching or anything.
It is possible I may not have gotten some of the root tabs deep enough. Since I stupidly used my fingers instead of tweezers this time. If so would you recommend I top up my substrate to cover them?
No new liquid ferts, I just use seachem flourish comprehensive and apI leaf zone.
 

kallililly1973

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Definitely be sure to remove all uneaten foods. If your nitrates are up to 20 and you do a 50% then it'll only drop to 10, then your adding back the 10 nitrates with your tap, I would maybe feed less do 75%'ers weekly. Also there is Nitrazorb, which other members have used with positive results.
 
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Falena

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kallililly1973 said:
Definitely be sure to remove all uneaten foods. If your nitrates are up to 20 and you do a 50% then it'll only drop to 10, then your adding back the 10 nitrates with your tap, I would maybe feed less do 75%'ers weekly. Also there is Nitrazorb, which other members have used with positive results.
Oh I know, that was a silly mistake after a long day at work. I normally only put veggies in for a couple of hours at lights out then remove them before bed. I just crashed out. Hasn't happened before. As mentioned above , even with 10ppm source water my nitrates are rarely above 5ppm because my tanks are so heavily planted. I actually perform 50% changes when I need to replenish nitrates, as sometimes there's none at all. This is a new problem I've never had before that I think might be related to ferts more than anything. But thank you anyway the nitrazorb sounds like it could help in the short term, if I am having a leak from my root tabs or any other plant and fert related issue.
 
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Falena

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FinalFins said:
I don't know the root problem with the nitrate but if it persists you may want to consider nitra-zorb?
Thank you, I've never heard of it, I tend to avoid these kind of things as my plants normally take care of most, if not all the nitrate in my tanks, it's like they've stopped consuming it. But for the time being I'll deffinitely look into the nitra-zorb
 

kallililly1973

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Falena said:
Oh I know, that was a silly mistake after a long day at work. I normally only put veggies in for a couple of hours at lights out then remove them before bed. I just crashed out. Hasn't happened before. As mentioned above , even with 10ppm source water my nitrates are rarely above 5ppm because my tanks are so heavily planted. I actually perform 50% changes when I need to replenish nitrates, as sometimes there's none at all. This is a new problem I've never had before that I think might be related to ferts more than anything. But thank you anyway the nitrazorb sounds like it could help in the short term, if I am having a leak from my root tabs or any other plant and fert related issue.
What ferts are you using and have u been using the same brand all along or did u switch up you dosing?
 
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Falena

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kallililly1973 said:
What ferts are you using and have u been using the same brand all along or did u switch up you dosing?
I use seachem flourish comprehensive, apI leaf zone and osmocote at the roots. I've not changed any dosing however I did add new root tabs before this happened. The only thing I did differently was stupidly use my fingers instead of the tweezers. And because of how dense the plantation is, there is a possibility I didn't get them all deep enough. Since the tank flush I've halted the use of liquid ferts hoping my plants would consume the source nitrate quicker but it's still rising, my tank is lightly stocked imo and the fish are fed sparingly too so its the only thing I can think of personally. Is it possible for plants to go dormant? I've got some huge rhizome feeders in there that I assume are responsible for my normally low nitrates.
 

kallililly1973

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Falena said:
Is it possible for plants to go dormant?
That was the exact next thing I was also thinking. maybe natural light is hitting or reflecting off your tank with the change of the season. And if you haven't tested the tap recently there could possibly be changes in that as well over the weeks.
 
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Falena

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kallililly1973 said:
That was the exact next thing I was also thinking. maybe natural light is hitting or reflecting off your tank with the change of the season. And if you haven't tested the tap recently there could possibly be changes in that as well over the weeks.
Hmm, that is interesting. It has only happened in this tank, which is the only one in a room with a south facing window, deffinitely something to consider. I have tested the source water and that does still remain at 10ppm but I don't test it every time so I guess there could be fluctuations too. I've just done a 75% water change and the tank is back down to 10ppm. I guess I'll just continue to test it daily and keep it monitored. I won't add any liquid ferts until its back under control
 

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I've heard that osmocote root tabs can sometimes leach a lot of ammonia into the water, which will then convert into nitrites and nitrates. Some people swear by osmocote tabs, others say they're the worst.
 
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Falena

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Deku-Cory said:
I've heard that osmocote root tabs can sometimes leach a lot of ammonia into the water, which will then convert into nitrites and nitrates. Some people swear by osmocote tabs, others say they're the worst.
Yeah I've heard that too, I think that's highly likely in cases where either the substrate isn't deep and fine enough OR if you don't bury them deep enough which I think I may not have this time, because I used my fingers. So that may well be the case! But I didn't get an ammonia spike so its odd. I've never had a problem with it before and am very happy with it. I use it in 7 tanks. But if it's to be used in aquariums I think it should be used in at least 2.5-3 inches of small gravel, dirt or sand.
 

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