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Thread: Nitrates - Problem and Solution?
06-17-2012, 05:01 PM #1
Nitrates - Problem and Solution?
Well, I just can't deal with the nitrate issue anymore - my tap has between 5 and 10 ppm and with my fish, no amount of water changes is gonna do anything. Worse, black algae has started on the sand and plants - the fish are heavy and messy eaters and produce a lot of waste – both fish and food. Worse, I am not here in the mornings so no one cleans up after they eat (they’ll feed but not vacuum – ugh!)
Chemical treatment is out of the question - phosphates are hard enough to deal with (using an absorber) even with plants cleaning up all the remainder.
As such, I have decided to try the biological route - I notice there are two brands that use very different approaches. I've decided to try the one that just requires feeding the bacteria culture once every three/four days. This unit requires that my other biological filters be slowly removed so the canisters will just become simple filters (no bio-media.)
I will see over the next few months if this system works - if so, I may try the other type in my other discus tank to compare results. I'll let everyone know if this system works, now well it does work, and if there are any problems or issues.
I intend to do a major tank clean up to stop the algae but notice that getting play sand is impossible now because everyone is sold out ... start of summer? Glad I opted for regular sand (still looks white so didn’t see the point of the special white play sand.) My main objective for the tank clean up is to add some peat to my sand (between the heavy gravel layer and sand (that is the top layer)) - I would never have dared do this in the past due to the nitrate issue but now with the biofilter specially designed to remove all nitrates (and all other fish wastes) I can see no reason why I shouldn't try this approach. Since the plants do do a good job on phosphates I want them to grow well. So if my nitrates do fall to zero, then these plants will be stressed enough and a good layer of peat should help.
I also have to add that I would like to have less issues with water changes and this should help in that area. I am getting pressed for time and this nitrate issue has really caused me major issues and I finding it harder and harder to keep up with the tank. If this fails, I may have to consider a continuous flow system - ugh.
06-17-2012, 05:32 PM #2
Just a thought, but I love my barebottom tank. I have lots of wood and anubias attached to it and some floaters. The tank looks planted but without the work of trying to keep the bottom clean. Do you think if you just used PhosBan and had no sand in the tank that it might help?
My nitrate sponges are those AC sponges! Those things get dirty and I know my nitrates will go sky-high and I get a bit lazy about rinsing them as I should.
Those nitrate reactors are supposed to work really well, too. About $40.
06-17-2012, 06:59 PM #3
Curious to know how it goes with the nitrate filter, please keep us posted.Mucky
Unusually I have nothing more to add...
06-17-2012, 11:29 PM #4
Nitrate itself should not be a problem, it is all the other things that also build up and correlate with nitrate that lower water quality. If you are within 5-10ppm of your tap they should still thrive.
Some people with discus do water changes with half tap and half RO water. This would cut the starting nitrate in half, as well as effectively soften the water for the discus.
06-17-2012, 11:50 PM #5
In my grossly overstocked 190g, I use pothos to suck up nitrate and such. the plant sits in a hanging basket in the kitchen window while the roots are in my sump. works great!Thar she blows!!!
06-18-2012, 01:50 AM #6
0Originally Posted by Crispy
Last edited by Cermet; 06-18-2012 at 01:58 AM.
06-18-2012, 01:56 AM #7
0Originally Posted by Fishguy2727
The issue for me is that with my nitrate level, I do get an algae problem even with cleaning and water changes. Lady Hobbs is correct and a bare bottom would mostly solve the problem ... I just love a planted tank with a substrate ... and I am paying for it!!! I guess if I have them skip morning feedings I could have also prevented a lot of problems but that would be rather mean to the fish ... . As for ractors, the cost of chemicals exceeds a simple bio-nitrate reactor in the long run. I do use a phosphate chemical reactor and that only really worked when I added the plants. I hope this bio-nitrate filter really does work ... maybe.
Last edited by Cermet; 06-18-2012 at 02:02 AM.
06-18-2012, 02:06 AM #8
Sand would be just as clean as bare bottom but a lot more natural for them.
Black hair algae will grow no matter what, even with no detectable nitrate and phosphate. Low levels of nitrate (5-10ppm) should not give you an algae farm. Siamese algae eaters to keep the algae under control may be the best option.
06-18-2012, 12:52 PM #9
0Originally Posted by Fishguy2727
All breeds of algae eaters but especially Siamese algae eaters are deadly to discus due to their desire to get a free, high quality meal off the slime coating of the discus - this kills discus after a while due to stress. However, for most other fish keepers this is an excellent solution to that alga! Siamese as you pointed out (but some there may not know this) are the only algae eater that will consume black hair algae.
My problems really started when my tap water began showing nitrates - so, I will experiment and see if getting these down to zero is worth the effort. If I can do just bi-weekly 50% water changes (and for discus, that is really asking for trouble with nitrates), then I will call the filter well worth the cost (feeding the filter every three days is trivial.)
Everyone here has offered excellent advice - some I have tried in the past and due to issues/preferences, I have decided aren't right for my setup. Some I'd love to try but they are beyond my current space limitations and/or desire to add another level of complexity.
If this does not solve the issue of black algae I will consider either a constant flow system (easier solution for me with well water) or maybe a forced CO2 system in order to try and burn the nitrates off with plants.
Still, I like all the input and this once again demonstrates both the value, the wealth, and deapth of knowledge here at this forum!!
Last edited by Cermet; 06-18-2012 at 12:58 PM.
06-18-2012, 12:57 PM #10
That is not true. Bristlenose plecoes are perfectly safe with discus and I have had them eat black hair algae (you may need more than the one or two like other types of algae) . I have never even heard of one going after discus (or fancy goldfish, also an easy target). In fact one of the local breeders I have visited keeps them in with his breeding pairs. I think you would have to try to starve them to get them to go after fish.
I would be very surprised to find Siamese algae eaters do it, but it would surprise me less than a bristlenose doing it.
Again, sand is just as easy to clean as bare bottom but much more natural. It won't trap food like gravel. Everything is on top just like bare glass, and is easily vacuumed.