View Full Version : Nitrates High - help!

09-10-2006, 09:03 PM
I tested my water today and the nitrates were 180. I did 25% water change and tested again a couple hours later. Down to 160. All stores are closed now so I can't buy anything to help. What else can I do tonight?

Ph 6.8
Alkalinity 80
Hardness 75
Nitrite .5
Nitrate 160

10 gallon with over side filter.
1 dojo loach, 1 mollie, 4 guppies and a few snails.

Thank you all for your replies.

09-10-2006, 11:13 PM
You didn't post your ammonia results, but with a nitrIte and nitrAte reading sounds like you are still cycling. If that is the case...the nitrates can be brought down by water changes, which should also help your nitrites. I have never used a product to help with nitrate reduction other than water changes, so I would suggest doing more water changes until you get it down to acceptable levels.....some say <20-40 ppm. If you are still cycling, you may yet again see spikes until all of your bacteria grows enough to handle the fish load.

09-10-2006, 11:32 PM
I have had this tank since December, is there any way it could be cycling again? I don't have a test for ammonia, but believe me I am getting one tomorrow. The one test kit I have suggested an additive used when setting up tanks? I can't remember the name, but I'll check. I will do the water changes. How often, how much at a time? Thanks for the quick response Kimmers.

09-11-2006, 02:34 AM
If you have had the tank set up since December there either has to be a reason that you are experiencing a cycling process, or too high of a bioload and the filter and your maintenance schedule isn't keeping up. It doesn't sound too me like too high of a bioload with a single molly, some guppies and the dojo....but I am not familiar with dojo's....so how big is it, and does it create a messy environment?
What is your maintenance schedule? How often, how big of water changes? How do you clean your filter media, and how often etc? A weekly water change of 10-20% is usually recommended, with filter media being rinsed in the tank water you removed. If you rinse your filter media in tap water the chlorine in the tap water can kill the good bacteria which can create a problem. If there is plenty of bacteria it shouldn't cause more than a small issue that I have found isn't usually noticeable when I have had to clean my filter media/canister a little more vigorously at times in the sink....but I also have biowheels on most of my tanks which I feel helps tremendously. For the type of filters where you replace the filter media regularly it usually helps to give it a rinse the day of the tank change....and then replace it a couple of days later giving the tank a chance to stay stable.
If none of the above seems to be creating the problem...move onto what you may have done recently that could have killed off your good bacteria. Were there any meds added to the tank that could have done it? Did you break the tank down cleaning too much of your decor? Sometimes people remove all of their decorations and clean all of the algae that has grown off of them because it does get unsightly and that can mean you might have washed away too much of your good bacteria too.
Were any of these fish just recently added? Although adding 1 or 2 fish at a time should cause a spike like you are seeing...it will tax the existing bacteria until it has a chance to "catch up" so to speak.
There are products that claim to help with the cycling process....most of which I haven't heard too much good about except for biospira...which is pretty expensive, and I haven't found too many places that carry it. It has to be kept refridgerated the entire time to keep the good bacteria from dying off. I personally haven't tried it, but most of my cycling has come from seeding from an existing tank since the first one was set up.

As for how often to do water changes right now...it is kind of a play it by ear thing. When I had some meds hurt my bacteria colony I was doing about 30% per day, plus added some gravel from another tank to help speed things up. Large water changes can be stressful for the fish...but living in ammonia or nitrite is harmful, and high nitrate levels over time are also harmful, so you need to take the lesser of 2 evils for the well being of the fish.

09-11-2006, 03:23 PM
The dojo is about 3 inches and not messy. He is a scavenger and cleans up mostly.
I do about a 20% water vhange once a week and clean the filter (change if needed) then. No new fish, no cleaning of decor.
Guess it is just one of those things. I will continue with the larger water changes until it settles. Thanks for the info. YOu are very helpful. :)

09-11-2006, 05:25 PM
how often do you change the filter? how do you clean it? Do you use hot water?

09-11-2006, 10:15 PM
As William asked....how are you cleaning the filter, and how often are you changing it? Using tap water can kill off bacteria, and of course completely removing the filter pad for a new one removes all of the bacteria that is cultured on the pad.

09-12-2006, 12:31 PM
but i thought that nitrates aren't that bad because its just the amount of waste that is in the water...i thought that NitrItes were bad because they are similar to ammonia or something like that...i was told that like 3 years ago....

09-12-2006, 12:48 PM
You are correct Lindsay...nitrates aren't the bad guys so to speak, the nitrites are much more harmful...but having nitrates way too high can still be detrimental to the fish. Most of the recommendations I have seen are to keep your nitrates below 20 (and some say 40) ppm....so a reading of 160 ppm can be damaging over time.

09-12-2006, 02:25 PM
yeah i guess your rite

09-14-2006, 12:40 AM
I clean the filter when I do water changes, and I rinse it in the aquarium water. I change it about every three to four weeks. I have been doing 30% water changes and everything is almost back to normal. I will check again after things settle down from this change. So far no one has seemed effected by the spike, except me that is. I appreciate how helpful you all are and how quickly you respond.

Lindsay - I don't blame you for quitting McDonalds!

09-14-2006, 01:38 AM
Glad to hear that things are settling down for you qwenkat....it is always scary when things take a turn for the worse and we don't know why.
Keep us posted as to how things continue to go and if you find any reason for the problem sometime down the road.

10-29-2006, 05:12 AM
Did you just add plants? that would make the nitrate go up. My store recommands I use Cycle( the liquid) regularly. It is meant for keeping the nitrate down.

Lady Hobbs
10-29-2006, 01:22 PM
You need to do gravel vacs and water changes more regularly. And feed less.
If you get on a schedule of weekly gravel vacs and a 25-30 percent water change, all levels should remain where they should.

Nitrates should not be more than 10.

10-29-2006, 02:24 PM
Put away your test kits. If everything looks fine, enjoy your tank. The only time to test is when something is wrong.

10-30-2006, 06:50 AM
i test my water every week just to make sure i'm still within the proper parameters. maybe i'm just being cautious. it's better to catch a problem before it gets worse.

Lady Hobbs
10-30-2006, 02:25 PM
Once a tank is cycled and established and you do regular water changes and maintenance, water testing is no longer needed, I feel. Now and a great while I will check but everything is also where it should be.