Cant control nitrates

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by kutsujutc, Oct 26, 2012.

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  1. kutsujutc

    kutsujutc Spaghetti Worm

    Aug 30, 2011
    Nitrates are going to be the death of me. I can't seem to get them to stay down. This problem has been going on for about a week now. They are at 160 right now and are down from over 200. I have had one fish death, which was my first death in this tank in months. I lost a flame angel after being in the system for about 2 1/2 weeks.

    Tank is a 210G and Sump is a 40G
    Ammonia, Nitrite: 0
    Salinity: 1.024
    Nitrates 160

    In the sump is a sock of carbon, a refuge with LR, live sand, chaeto and i'll be adding two mangroves today.

    All my corals are bigger than ever, frags have doubled in size, polyps propigating, leather/frogspawn look to be thriving.

    I'm doing 20G water changes every Friday with RO/DI water (which I have tested already).

    I'm feeding a strip of selcon and a half cube of mysis or prime reef a day.

    The only two problem's I have come across but I cant think that this is the problem, my t5 lighting needs new bulbs. They all need to be replaced. My flow is not enough. I have two hydor 1400GPH and two 1050GPH and I think there may be some dead spots. I have somewhat of a deep sand bed. Maybe 3 inches? I have rearranged my rock twice to try to fix this but hasnt helped. I'm thinking of adding two more powerheads. My return pump is the quiet one 6000 (1664GPH) and im thinking of upgrading it to a mag18.

    Please someone give me some insight
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  3. barbianj

    barbianj Hammer Head Shark

    Sep 27, 2009
    Port Washington, WI
    High nitrates won't kill a fish. They seem too high for corals to be happy, so I would double check your reading. Is it with a liquid test kit? I would agree with increasing the flow in the tank as well as the return pump.
  4. schackmel

    schackmel Giant Squid

    Jun 4, 2008
    St. Louis
    in order to get nitrates down you need to increase the amount of water used during the water changes. Nitrates are very frustrating in the fact that it is such a small fractional decrease in numbers with each water change. In a 210 maybe try 20g-30g a couple times a week. But remember it will be a slow process. Like said above, nitrates are not as bad for fish, they become used to it (I wouldnt add new one to system yet). What type of corals do you have? Lot of times you will just have more brown corals than anything with the nitrates

    Like you said, i would add additional powerheads also. I tend to have too much flow in my tanks, but that way prevents dead spots (plus gives sps cool growth pattern)

    Try to avoid moving rock around too much.......that is leading to your nitrates going up. Everytime you move rocks and disturb the sandbed you are actually causing a mini-cycle that will lead to higher nitrates.

    good luck
  5. 2in10

    2in10 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 6, 2009
    Sparks, NV
    I would do a very heavy cleaning of your sump and refuge to remove detritus in them also. Change your carbon often and clean/change the sock often also. You will need 1 mangrove per gallon of water in your system to get much nutrient transport. Cleanliness is your best friend. Watch how much food you are adding to your system too.
  6. kutsujutc

    kutsujutc Spaghetti Worm

    Aug 30, 2011
    My corals are:

    Leather Toadstool
    Colt Coral
    Rose Bulb Tipe Anemone
    Colony of GSP
    Different rocks covered in mushrooms
    Kenya Tree

    I have a reef cleaners CUC crew as well that I didnt mention

    My sand bed turns a brownish color by end of light cycle for the day in certain areas.
  7. PghSteeler

    PghSteeler Tassled File Fish

    Feb 7, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    Did this problem pop up overnight?? OR did they slowly go up over time??
    Agreed that high nitrates dont kill fish, nitrates are more an issue with corals and inverts than fish.

    What kit are you using and how old is it?

    If your corals look better than ever than I doubt your nitrates really are over 160. Do you have algae growth all over your tank? When was the last time your changes your carbon?
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  9. kutsujutc

    kutsujutc Spaghetti Worm

    Aug 30, 2011
    I changed my carbon this past Monday.
    I do have a brown tint over my sand bed (which I figured is due to the lack of flow)
    I get a brown algae on the glass that I use my magfloat on every other day or so. No hair algae or anything like that. I assumed the algae is also due to my lighting getting dull due to needing new bulbs.

    I noticed my test registered nitrates and then they steadily started going up. I'm using a API liquid test. Use 10 drops of each bottle and let it wait 5 mins.
  10. ccreviston74

    ccreviston74 Astrea Snail

    Oct 26, 2011
    How old is the tank? The tests for nitrite and nitrate can show false readings in newer tanks, from what I've read.

    You might try a carbon dosing method - either bio pellets or Red Sea No3Po4X. With either one, you will need good skimming? What's your skimmer like.

    I'm currently using the new XL biopellets from Reef Interests that don't need a reactor, and having good luck.
  11. Marshall O

    Marshall O Giant Squid

    Jun 19, 2012
    Central MA
    How many pounds of live rock do you have?
  12. Newreef15

    Newreef15 Horrid Stonefish

    Jul 21, 2009
    Tallahassee Florida
    Like stated above i think the test kit is off there is no way that your nitrates are at 160 and your corals especially your rbta is looking ok. take it to a lfs and have them test your water to make sure