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09-29-2013, 01:22 AM #1
MTS explosion raising nitrates in a small tank?
My daughter has a 15g tall tank that is admittedly overcrowded. We are planning on moving some of its inhabitants to tank two once it is cycled. Still, it has been stable for 3 months now with a weekly ( sometimes every other week) 30% water change. Suddenly the nitrates have been climbing more quickly during the week, and we have had to do water changes in the middle of the week as well. The only thing that has changed is that I am seeing more and more trumpet snails. And from what I have read, the ones I actually see cavorting aboveground are just a fraction of the in gravel population.
I am guessing that this is the problem with the nitrate spikes, but don't know for sure. Is there anything else that I should be checking? The plants are pruned regularly and aren't decaying in the tank. We haven't added any new fish since the first month of set up.
I have just read that feeding less can help get the population under control, but will that lead to dying snails? ( and what will that do to my water parameters?) I have tried a cabage leaf in a jar to catch some ( got a whopping two) but was wondering if there are any other methods that are effective in catching some of the little boogers...
09-29-2013, 02:51 AM #2
Here's is a thread about a home-made trap that is apparently a very effective way to catch MTS:
09-29-2013, 05:54 AM #3
09-29-2013, 07:44 AM #4
I'm not to sure that snails would have enough of a bio-load to impact your nitrate level. When you say the nitrate level is high, how high are you talking about ?
Perhaps you could try a few other things to help reduce and keep your nitrate levels down like:
-increasing the amount of your weekly water change. The amount of the water change should really be based on your nitrate levels
-cleaning your filter in old tank water
-keeping your substrate clean with routine gravel vacs (just don't disturb your plants)
-be careful not to overfeed (as you already mentioned).If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL="http://saltwater.aquaticcommunity.com/"]
09-29-2013, 01:19 PM #5
09-29-2013, 01:32 PM #6
Sorry about the snails but that has nothing to do with the high nitrate problem. Your nitrates are shooting up because the tank has had far too small water changes. A small 15 gallon with a lot of fish will create a huge bioload which the filter has been handling - but all biological filters do is convert ammonia/nitrite into nitrate. Water changes are the only way besides a nitrate processing filter (either algae or special low oxygen reactor) to remove nitrates.
By now your substrate is saturated with nitrates (sand especially will do this.) You need to vacuum out any bottom muck, stir the sand and then do a near 100% water change (the water will get very cloudy from the muck in the substrate.) Then that same week, do another very large water change (no less than 70%.) Than try to do once a week a 70% water change (otherwise, nitrates will build up again; a 30% WC once a week is just too small.) Otherwise, your nitrates will once more explode. In a small tank, nitrates can build up fast.
The snail problem will also be helped by keeping the bottom clean. Snails eat any food left in the muck that fish can not find.
You could consider an intank algae scrubber (uses an air pump.) These will process nitrates allowing smaller water changes but for a fifteen gal tank, that would be a bit pricey unless you made your own (parts are availabe.)
Last edited by Cermet; 09-29-2013 at 01:38 PM.
09-29-2013, 01:38 PM #7
Thank you for the input!
Nitrates usually stay under 20ppm between water changes, but had climbed to 80(100?) last week between changes. I tested this morning and it was around 40, after a water change on Monday, so I did a 45ish % water change just now. I do vacuum the gravel every water change, but hadn't been swishing the filter every time.
I don't mind the snails all that much to look at, and I am fine with them cleaning up the gravel, but I think I will try the trap and see if we can bring the population down a bit. It sounds like the bloodworms are more appealing than cabbage :D
09-29-2013, 01:52 PM #8
Thanks for the input Cermet. I didn't see your post when I replied. There is very little to be sucked up from the gravel. It gets a thorough digging every week except in the corner where the Val grass lives.
Hopefully we will have a less populated tank soon, but until then I can certainly manage larger water changes.
09-29-2013, 02:07 PM #9
I agree with Cermnt and Cliff - you need to increase your water changes and perhaps cut down on your feeding a bit. In a heavily populated tank, nitrates can increase dramatically without adequate water changes.30 g FW planted:corys, ABNP, blue angel, harleys, zebra danios, nerites & mystery snails
15 g FW planted: crown tail betta, neons, snails
90 g FW semi planted: Blood Parrots, severum, Jurupari, EBJD, congos, kribs, clown pleco, snails
90 Gal Journal: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ad.php?t=93939
Fishless cycling: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ead.php?t=5640
Cycling with fish: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ad.php?t=36492
09-29-2013, 02:25 PM #10
1When in d0ubt read it until it makes sense, then read it again!