Jump to content

Nitrate troubles


Recommended Posts

So i have had some serious nitrate issue.  I have never had this tank stable, I set it up july of 2019.  But over the last year or so I have had some major neglect issues not doing frequent enough water changes and was just doing topoffs for a long period of time.  

In any case nitrates got extremely high.  55 gallon tank with canister filter. Lots of rocks and sand so actual volume is less.  Over the course of a few weeks I've been doing frequent water changes. 10 gallons at a time.  I think I changed out about 50 gallons and got nitrates down to between 80 and 160ppm.  Yes I know now that is extremely high. The color was between those readings on an api test kit. Closer to the 80ppm.  Ran chemiclean through it at the advice of the reef shop (removed gfo and carbon) .  After 48 hours measures nitrate again and it was above 160ppm according to the api test kit.  Changed out 25 gallons of water at once. Replaced gfo and carbon. And tested nitrates again.  Api test read between 20 and 40ppm.

Also purchased a hanna instruments colorimeter nitrate tester and the water tested at 28.7ppm which was inline with the api test kits.

29 hours later I tested the water again and nitrates are 32.5. So it went up 3.8 in just over a day.

Tank occupants include 1 damsel, 2 clown fish, 1 turbo snail, and one unidentified hermit crab.  There was once a sandsifter starfish as well but haven't seen him since he was put in at initial setup. No idea if it's dead or alive. 

 

I'm concerned with the level the nitrates are rising.   At the current rate if it continues nitrates will be back up to about 50 in a week. And I would have to do 50% water changes weekly to maintain it.

Canister filter consists of a few different sponge filters of different coarseness, bio balls, filter floss, carbon, and gfo.

Also have a IceCap 50 PRO Hang On Back Turf Scrubber.  

20230116_113748-min.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How often do you clean out the canister filter? How often do you feed? Do you feed heavy? Just a few things to try and help identify any possible areas that could factor into the nitrates. You may also look at dosing bacteria on a regular basis to help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How does the turf scrubber work for you? Are you seeing a lot of algae growth in the scrubber and are you then harvesting that algae with any frequency?

You may want to "find" that star fish as its demise might be part of that rise in nitrates. I agree with SilentKnight you may want to consider some form of bacterial additive and get into a regular schedule with filter cleaning. I still occasional use Bactiv on my 20+ year old system and there are other bacteria additives in the market that are good. 

Also, I see you have a fairly deep sand bed. Many people like and advocate for that type of system however, given past neglect, you may want to "vacuum" a section of the bed with each water change. Maybe 20% of the sand with each water change. (just a guess but do it small stages).

Before I began with corals 5 years ago, and just had a fish and live rock tank, my nitrates also ran very high. It never seemed to bother my fish, but algae grew like crazy. Keeping up the water changes will help (they certainly helped me)! It will just take more time, be patient. You may find in the future that more changes to your system are needed depending on what you are wanting to achieve.

You should come to our monthly meeting, its mostly experienced reef keepers socializing and having fun. Usually there is an educational topic, but meeting the group you will find they are happy to help you. You'll also see some really nice reefs and learn how the host of the month is running their system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Turf Scrubber seems to do its job. It grows algea.  Usually dark green to blackish.  Very gross looking.  Then scrape it off and it grows again fairly quickly.

Vacuuming the sand is an issue. Whenever I try to vacuum it, a lot of sand gets sucked out with the water.  Maybe I need a siphoned with a filter or something?

 

How much should I expect nitrates to rise on their own on a daily or weekly basis. 

Should I expect to continue to need to do 50% changes weekly to keep them in check?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update. Still waiting in the nopox.  In the mean time nitrates have slowed down building up.

Jan 15th 910pm: 32.5

Jan 18th 320pm: 34.9ppm

However having some more bad luck. My Turf Scrubber pump died. I know it was working on the 15th and noticed it dead kn the 17th. Just got a new pump today.

Phosphate has jumped. 

Jan 8th around 0.25ppm based on api test kit.

Jan 18th between 1.0 and 2.0 based on api kit, got a hanna tester and got 1.3ppm

Nopox should arrive tomorrow.  In the mean time I'm going to do a 5 gallon change and replace the gfo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you make your own RODI water or do you buy it? Have you tested your water befor putting it in your tank? When I first started in this hobby I had a 55 with a canister and had nothing but Algee issues and I also did not make my own water I started making my own water and still had algee I eventually went to a 75 gallon with a sump and so much better 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, so first off, I have a few questions. The algae turf scrubber, is the algae slimy or stringy? You could be growing the wrong algae, which will not benefit your system. It absorbs some nitrates and phosphates, but not as much as the hairy one. If you are only feeding a pinch a day, the hair algae should keep up.

Second one is how much do you enjoy your canister filter? Personally, I do not like them because they are a lot of work. I would increase the amount of rock in the system and get a hang on the back skimmer.

For the nitrates nopox is great, though some people have problems if they stop dosing it and it can always be overdosed and hurt your tank. I'd definitely look more into this.

For the phosphates, I highly recommend PhosphateRX. The stuff works wonders. Please keep us updated so we can help! Also do not be embarrassed about it... We have all been there!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/18/2023 at 6:35 PM, DZIDLICK1 said:

Do you make your own RODI water or do you buy it? Have you tested your water befor putting it in your tank? When I first started in this hobby I had a 55 with a canister and had nothing but Algee issues and I also did not make my own water I started making my own water and still had algee I eventually went to a 75 gallon with a sump and so much better 

I have been making my own water and test it occassionally. Zero tds, 0 ammonia. 0 nitrates last I tested it.  This latest 25 gallon exchange I purchased it as saltwater, and also tested every bottle before using it.  0 ammonia, 0 nitrates. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Apeterson said:

Ok, so first off, I have a few questions. The algae turf scrubber, is the algae slimy or stringy? You could be growing the wrong algae, which will not benefit your system. It absorbs some nitrates and phosphates, but not as much as the hairy one. If you are only feeding a pinch a day, the hair algae should keep up.

Second one is how much do you enjoy your canister filter? Personally, I do not like them because they are a lot of work. I would increase the amount of rock in the system and get a hang on the back skimmer.

For the nitrates nopox is great, though some people have problems if they stop dosing it and it can always be overdosed and hurt your tank. I'd definitely look more into this.

For the phosphates, I highly recommend PhosphateRX. The stuff works wonders. Please keep us updated so we can help! Also do not be embarrassed about it... We have all been there!

The srubber producing a thick slimy paste of an algea.  It's gross. 

I absolutely hate the canister filter.  Some due to my setup, have to angle it 45 degrees to get it out and unplug it.  Also the canister is a pain because the direction of flow means the corsest filters are at the bottom. Everything has to be taken out to clean it.  I'm considering replacing it with a refugium kit with sock filters that works with a 10 gallon tank. That's the largest I would have space for.

Could you discuss the reasoning kn adding more rock? I do have some more large pieces I could add. Just thought it would look over rocked.  

 

would you suggest the phosphateRX in addition to or instead of gfo?

 

No updates on the tank today. Between work and children was busy for 14 of the last 15 hours.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'd definitely fix the turf scrubber. Do you have hair algae in the tank? If so, scrape off that nasty stuff every 3 or 4 days and keep trying to get the hair algae started on it.

A refugium kit would be amazing. I would personally add more rock because if you take off the canister filter, it will decrease the amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Adding more rock would increase that surface area a ton. This will help make sure you do not have a ammonia or nitrite spike. You do have a very small bio load on that tank, so it is not needed, but if you plan on more fish, I would. You can break up those big pieces and organize the rock to make it not look crowded.

GFO is great, but very difficult to control. Too much and it will crash a tank. It also adds more complexity to the tank and one more thing that could fail. If used correctly though, it is amazing. I recommend PhosphateRX because it is just easier for me and what I use. I test weekly and if I see my phosphates getting out of hand, I'll dose a little to drop it back down and from there change something to try to stop the trend from going up. Once you get that turf scrubber corrected with hair algae, you might not even need it.

Also, I do like what @cmrun stated about cleaning your sandbed. That will help a lot and will make sure you have long term success.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today's update

Nitrate 37.1

Phosphate 1.2

Did 5 gallon change, and vacuumed algea of surface of half the sand

Nitrate 30.6. edited, accidentally had 1.2 here it is actually 30.6.   If only a 5 gallon change would have dropped it that much.

Phosphate 0.8

Dosed with 3ml of NoPox.  

Edited by cmbaker82
wong info on final nitrate count
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, cmbaker82 said:

Today's update

Nitrate 37.1

Phosphate 1.2

Did 5 gallon change, and vacuumed algea of surface of half the sand

Nitrate  1.2

Phosphate 0.8

Dosed with 3ml of NoPox.  

That is a great start. Monitor your nitrates.

 

I am not sure how good the nopox will be without a skimmer. I would at least get an aquamax hob 2.0. It will cause an algae bloom in your tank and can kill stuff due to taking up a lot of oxygen. The skimmer filters it out and reoxygenates your tank.

 

I would vacuum the whole depth of the sandbed, but only do 1/4 per week. You don't want to disrupt too much at a time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, cmbaker82 said:

Here are some pictures of the hair algea I have and the slime in the Turf Scrubber (recently cleaned)

20230120_181106-min.jpg

20230120_181126-min.jpg

20230120_181318-min.jpg

Definitely take some of the hair algae out with your hand and rub it all over that. You can even try to thread some through.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Apeterson said:

That is a great start. Monitor your nitrates.

 

I am not sure how good the nopox will be without a skimmer. I would at least get an aquamax hob 2.0. It will cause an algae bloom in your tank and can kill stuff due to taking up a lot of oxygen. The skimmer filters it out and reoxygenates your tank.

 

I would vacuum the whole depth of the sandbed, but only do 1/4 per week. You don't want to disrupt too much at a time.

I accidentally had the wrong final nitrate value there. it is currently 30.6.   

So should I not do the nopox at all until i get a skimmer?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, cmbaker82 said:

I accidentally had the wrong final nitrate value there. it is currently 30.6.   

So should I not do the nopox at all until i get a skimmer?

Personally, I wouldn't. It would be too risky for me.

 

Also that is a good start for the hair algae.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/20/2023 at 7:39 PM, Apeterson said:

Personally, I wouldn't. It would be too risky for me.

 

Also that is a good start for the hair algae.

Ok I decided not to do the NoPox until I get a skimmer.

Changed out charcoal and GFO today and cleaned filter, will take measurements tomorrow.   

Also this canister filter is really getting on my last nerve.   Wouldn't start back up this time, until i plugged it in with it slightly open, which of course made a mess.  On a positive note, I got a 10 gallon aqueon tank to use as a sump/refugium and it fits in my cabinet.  going to order the kit for it

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As of 1/25 at 930pm,   52 hours since last measurements 

Salinity 1.023

Nitrate 23.5 (dropped 7.1)

Phosphate 0.19 (dropped .61)

Algea is still growing like crazy.  I had removed most of the algea off the left side of the sandbed during the last 5 gallon change on the 23rd. And it's all grown back.

 

20230125_212504-min.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Purchased a cheap protein skimmer, probably too small for my tank, but it's what I could afford right now. 

It's very touchy in getting the right amount of bubbles to reach the top but not fill the cup quickly.  

 

20230126_161609-min.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...