how do i lower the nitrate levels in my tank?

Discussion in 'General Freshwater Information' started by Guest, Jan 23, 2004.

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  1. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

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    I completely disagree with Walter Adey and the more I'm not like him the better.  He is long on theory and short on success.  Him and Karen Loveland came out with a book a long time ago espousing ATS filtration called Dynamic Aquaria: Building Living Ecosystems.  Why?  Because he invented the algal turf scrubber technique in the 1970's to clean water in the Museum's coral reef exhibit, using fish waste to grow algae. The Smithsonian patented it in 1982.  He was the only person who could legally sell the ATS units.  Just a little self-interest involved there LOL.  However, he needed a better editor.....if I was trying to sell an ATS unit, I don't think I would have included the following sentence in my book.
     Woo Hoo....I want an ATS!!!  (Try to find one of his units now and you're gonna be dissappointed.  People had horrible results from using them and no one wanted to buy them anymore).

    He believed in setting up Mesocosms and used algae as it's basis.  Unfortunately, it didn't work at the Smithsonian and they modified their systems by adding carbon filters and protein skimmers and water changes.  http://www.sms.si.edu/SMEE/behindthescenes.htm
    It didn't work at the Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville either
    and they didn't just modify his plan....they abandoned his ideas altogether.  http://www.reefhq.org.au/takeatour.html
    Finally his mesocosm in Biosphere II was yet another failure. While pushing to get government funding, he said this
     After they got caught cheating and sneaking in supplies, Oxygen, replacement critters for the biosphere and after wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, he said this of his own mesocosm, "It was screwed up".  

    Maybe it should be mentioned that he has nothing to do with the marine exhibits anymore.  He is now in charge of Botany and not marine environments..  http://www.nmnh.si.edu/botany/projects/algae/Staff-wa.htm Think about that one for a second.

    It's a neat thought....build a whole ecosystem in a glass box.  However it doesn't work unless it is very simplistic.  A coral reef is extremely productive and complex and a whole mesocosm cannot be set up properly.  

    I have met Morgan Lidster and I have toured his fish breeding and coral breeding facilities.  There is no way on God's green earth I want my display tank to look like that.  Besides, he is doing tons of water changes.  Every fish, every coral that gets bagged up is an extremely small waterchange.  The discolored water is fine for a growout tank but not for a display tank.

    BTW....here's my ugly mug with a huge Sarcophyton at Inland Aquatics.
     

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  3. Birdlady

    Birdlady Finback Whale

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    sorry....didn't mean to start an ALL OUT WAR HERE!!! [smiley=argue.gif] [smiley=book2.gif] [smiley=computer.gif] [smiley=furious3.gif] [smiley=hammer.gif]

    [smiley=wave.gif] [smiley=wave.gif] [smiley=wave.gif]
     
  4. JohnO

    JohnO Moderator

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    [quote author=birdlady link=board=Freshwater;num=1074885859;start=30#41 date=08/15/04 at 22:31:59]sorry....didn't mean to start an ALL OUT WAR HERE!!! [smiley=argue.gif]  [smiley=book2.gif] [smiley=computer.gif]  [smiley=furious3.gif] [smiley=hammer.gif]

    [smiley=wave.gif] [smiley=wave.gif] [smiley=wave.gif][/quote]


    LOL, Not even close to a war Birdlady, just a vigorous exchange of opinions, that's all.  :)

    John
     
  5. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Wow! I thought I had a big leather coral! :eek: 8)

    While I agree with much of what you say inwall, I won't go so far as to say all people had horrible results with ATS units that were sold. I was obsessed with them for a while, mainly because I love surges and I found their design facinating, and in my diggings I did cross paths with somebody who likes his. He let me post a pic of it on the site some time ago. You can find it here.

    HOWEVER, as I recall this wasn't his only filtration and I believe he still used a skimmer. The units were definitely overpriced.

    Minor point though. From what I found as well, Adey's tank at the Smithsonian did go south. But I give him some credit for thinking 'natural' even if the execution didn't always work. I'll stay out of the cover up stuff. I just don't know.

    And when I went to the Biosphere, I was shocked and the algae overgrowth and the many dead corals I saw. I concluded, it definitely needed a water change. A big one. Heck, more than one. The fish looked ok, but everything else was a mess. Check out the pics in that link. The biosphere has changed hands once or twice, so I am sure this played a part in what I saw.

    Back to water changes, I think John qualified some of his posts by saying you need to find the balance and if you are heavily stocked with fish and don't have enough export via skimmer or plant/algae harvesting, etc., you should be doing water changes. Just want to reiterate it.

    In my case, I just have a dozen corals at the moment and zero fish, so I am not throwing fish food in there. So water changes only happen once in a blue moon. Corals are great. However my freshwater tank gets a lot of food and is only 6 gallons, so I need to do several water changes a month and cut the plants down.

    I think we have to be careful about making blanket statements because there are just too many freakin' variables going on here from one guy's tank to the next. Tank size, water source, filtration, sand bed, food, livestock, etc..

    I really think we need to get comfortable with a setup that works for you and be able to read the signs. (Excess algae, fin rot, heavy breathing, etc)

    If you are having an awesome summer and forgetting about your tank, things can happen pretty fast. Especially in a small tank. Husbandry is key.

    matt
     
  6. JohnO

    JohnO Moderator

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    [quote author=somethingfishy link=board=Freshwater;num=1074885859;start=30#38 date=08/15/04 at 08:22:27]Are you saying you add your LR and LS slowly to your tank?  I do find this interesting even though I disagree with the subject.[/quote]

    Sort of :)

    I normally only add 1 or 2 pieces of live rock and no live sand at all, just normal sand. Within no time at all the life in the original pieces of live rock populate the sand and the other rocks. That way I never get a huge initial spike of Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates and I have enough bacteria to add maybe a small fish. When that fish acclimatises and the bacteria population increases I add another fish etc. etc. Now IMHO if you start off with a hugh load of live rock, cycled or not you have a mass of biology to support( feed). You have no way of knowing how much you need to support the biology so you either over or under feed. The result, bacterial blooms, or worse, all the bacteria dies.

    John
     
  7. JohnO

    JohnO Moderator

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    inwall75,

    Nice rant :) , nice mug too :) , but what's your point? [smiley=confused1.gif]

    John :)
     
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  9. Jason McKenzie

    Jason McKenzie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought this was about Fresh Water so I haven't been paying attention. Very interesting thread, But I have little to add I just want to tag along

    J
     
  10. JohnO

    JohnO Moderator

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    Hi ya Jason LOL

    It was about freshwater, but has become interesting and informative.

    John
     
  11. Jason McKenzie

    Jason McKenzie Super Moderator Staff Member

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  12. inwall75

    inwall75 Giant Squid

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    (This started in the freshwater forum but the posts I read were all about saltwater.  I never looked to the top to see that this was about freshwater).

    Sorry for the rant.  Adey just rubs me the wrong way because I have had to answer a gazillion posts of "Algae is taking over my tank and killing my corals....what critter should I buy?"  He has done more damage to the hobby than anyone I know.  Everyone is running around trying to find the right critter to add to their mesocosm instead of dealing with the issue at hand.  

    Waterchanges aren't perfect either.  ASW mixes are typically high in P or N (pick your poison).  A mere waterchange can be adding things we don't want in our tanks.

    Nitrates aren't a big deal in a softy tank for the most part.  Nor are they a problem in a fish only tank.  If you follow Adey's recommendations of no water changes, no skimming, no Carbon, your tank is gonna have a LOT of VOC's, DOC's, etc. build up quickly.  

    Setting a tank up with the goal of no maintenance just doesn't work.  We cannot set up a mesocosm in our tanks...no matter how many worms, how many critters, etc.  You're gonna have to do water changes, or skim, or you're gonna end up with a mess on your hands.  Our tanks don't have tides, hurricanes, upwellings, etc.  For the most part, what we put into our tanks, stays in our tanks.

    This question is somewhat philosophical.....How do you determine balance?  How do you determine when this much of an unknown quantity is too much?  As a comparison of an open system vs a closed system, I'm going to use London, England.  The people of London were accustomed to living in hazy conditions caused by their coal fireplaces and automobiles.  There was a constant removal of pollutants by the normal weather system.  Then in 1952, a weird climactic thing happened and the pollution wasn't blown off.  Instead, it got stuck over London. Thousands of people died. http://www.metoffice.com/education/historic/smog.html

    No one was killed before so this smog must not be a big deal.  Then with the blink of an eye, it WAS a big deal.  I guess I'm a chicken....better safe than sorry.