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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Chemical Elimination of Nitrate

Related Articles: Nitrates in Marine Aquariums, NitritesAmmonia, Establishing Cycling, BioFiltrationPhosphate, SilicatesNutrient Control and ExportDeep Sand Beds

Related FAQs: Nitrates 1, Nitrates 2, Nitrates 3, Nitrates 4, Nitrates 5, Nitrates 6, Nitrates 7, Nitrates 8, Nitrates 9, Nitrates 10, Nitrates 11,  & FAQs on: The Actual Science Re: NO3 Compounds, Importance, Measuring, Sources, Means to reduce: NNR (Natural Nitrate Reduction, Anaerobic Bacteria), Algae, Other Biota, Physical Filters... NitritesAmmonia, Phosphate, Silicates, Biological Filtration, Fluidized Beds, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Bio-Balls, Wet-Dry Filters, R.O./Distilled/Treated Water Chemical Filtrants Deep Sand Beds

Go biological... Most chemical denitrators just plain don't work.

Re-stocking after fish death     3/8/17
Hi there.
<Hey Les>
I hope all is well with all the crew.
<Thank you; yes>
I have had my 350 litre FOW(some)LR for over 10 years now. It's a "planted" tank with several species of macro algae. I had six lovely fish in there (clown, yellow tang, flame angel, royal gramma, diamond goby and a blue Chromis). About four or five weeks ago I added another macro algae which came with a mushroom!
I haven't kept corals of any sort as my nitrates are always a bit too high for them, however, as this little chap had made his way in, I wanted to do my best for him and came across Red Sea's No3 PO4
<Mmm; how high was NO3? I would NOT use this product>

in my local LFS, which claims to lower nitrates and keep corals looking at their best. The LFS said it was a good product so I bought it and I added a lower dose than the recommended one for my tank size - that evening. The
next morning all of the fish were dead :(
I was, and still am, completely devastated. I can't remember the last time I cried so much. They were such lovely little personalities and always came to greet me. I can't believe at how stupid I was to add this stuff.
I feel like a murderer.
Anyway, I have since done some research on this product (I know I should have done this before adding it to my tank, but hindsight is 20:20 as they say) and discovered that this product can reduce oxygen levels in the water! I think my fish suffocated, especially given that this is a planted tank and I assume that macro algae would give off CO2 during the night, reducing the oxygen level still further?
<Yes; tis so>

We've removed all the dead fish but I still have the macro algae, the mushroom and loads of snails and little worms and other life forms in there which are all fine (presumably, due to smaller oxygen requirements).
Obviously, I want to restock my tank but I would like your advice as to how to go about it and what to do in the meantime to keep the other life forms (and bacteria in the filter and on the rocks etc.) alive meantime.
I have been adding a little flake food every morning since this happened (Sunday morning - 5th March). Is this enough?
I don't want to lose anything else, and I want to keep the beneficial bacteria alive so the tank doesn't end up cycling again.
Also, how soon can I re-stock? I miss my fish :( I am hoping to get the same fish as I liked them so much and they all got along.
<Then this is what I'd do>
Should I add all six at the same time while there is sufficient beneficial bacteria and, if so, when? They will be smaller fish than the ones I lost as mine were mature specimens and the LFS stocks "babies", or should I add
three one week and then three the next week?
<Either way will be fine. Add as many as you can find good specimens for; the others when you come across them>
Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.
Thank you.
Kind regards.
Lesley Saxton
<The species you list are fine to introduce in any order. Anima bona fac/Life to you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Re-stocking after fish death     3/8/17

Thanks Bob
<Welcome Lesley>
Yes, I won't ever be using that product again!
The nitrates hover around 40ppm, even with water changes, and have done for years. I know is too high for corals so I've never kept them.
<The value, measures of Nitrate concentration alone aren't that indicative of bad conditions... their change, rate; what they may portend is. There are assuredly "corals" (e.g. Goniopora) that live in water of hundreds of ppm of NO3 for instance>
I would certainly like to add all the fish at once to save any bullying issues, but am I ok to add them this week or should I wait a couple of weeks? The water is fine (apart from the nitrates of course!)
<Either is fine; no need to wait>
Thank you.
Kind regards.
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Question for Bob about using some Ammonia absorbing media      5/13/15
Hi Bob!
I was thinking about using some Ammonia absorbing media, on my 210 mixed reef/fish tank, in a little fishs 550 reactor in the sump, to remove total ammonia, that is available for conversion into Nitrate.
<? Why this proposed use? >
Thus, lower overall Nitrate....so my question is, would that actually work?
<Can; but there are dangers; some serious>
<Removal of ammonia may result in a sudden die off of nitrogenous microbes... and the exhaustion of such media may result in a dangerous NH3/NH4OH spike.... I wouldn't do this>
Nish (guy with serpent starts that did the spawning thing..met you at GIRS spring fest)
<Cheers! Bob Fenner>
Re: Question for Bob

Thanks Bob. By the way, what do you think of some of these Nitrate reducers such as AZ-NO3.
<This is a worthy product. IS real, does work; safely and effectively>
Ok to use on mixed reef; corals, inverts, anemones, fish?
<Yes; this and Nualgi are faves
Thanks, Nish
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question for Bob


using sugar to reduce phosphate and nitrate    4/27/13
Hi Crew.
Have you guys ever experimented with using table sugar or vodka to lower levels of phosphate and nitrates?
<Ah, yes... for quite a few years. Both have their limitations; dangers of overdosing>
 I was on a couple of blog sites and they were discussing this.  Apparently the Germans are doing this.  I don't know what nationality has to do with anything, but since the Germans are doing this, this seems like a good thing or a well kept secret.
Thank You
<Mmm, search on WWM w/ the combination of ingredient and nutrient words.
Bob Fenner>
Re: using sugar to reduce phosphate and nitrate     4/27/13

Thanks Bob.  I will do so.  Unfortunately  I wrote you guys after I had added some table sugar.  The pH dropped from 8.4 to 7.6 or there  about.
 I corrected it and left for a couple of days and came back to find an Acropora that succumbed to RTN.  The pH is still fine, the dKH was around 12.0.  Ammonia and nitrite at 0. Nitrate was around 5.0 ppm.  Well anyways I'm finished with trying to keep SPS in a small system.
<Hard to do>
 Any other coral does fine.
<Cheers, BobF>

nitrate removal product   4/2/13
Greetings all!  I couldn't find this particular type of treatment on your site; if i missed it, I'm sorry to be redundant!  I have black hair algae among some kind of brown gunk, and I have read all of your articles and have been trying to 'fix the problem' rather than use a chemical for a quick solution as you advocate. I have been doing 30% H20 changes every month and 15% every 2 weeks in between, and did 10 gallons every 2 days for awhile.
<These water changes will only serially dilute such issues; not solve>
  (I have a 125 FOWLR) with a 12 inch anemone.  Cut feeding way down, turning lights off around 8 hrs.  Still no luck with the algae, and the Nitrate still runs around 20ppm.  I am looking at a liquid product by Red Sea called NO3:PO4-xbio nitrate and phosphate removal.  My phosphates are 0.  Ever heard of a liquid product other than vodka (which I have not read great things about)?
<Oh yes; there have been several/many such products and home-remedies over the years. However/still utilizing modes of denitrification (DSBs and much more) and purposeful nitrate uptake (macro-algal culture in sumps/refugiums w/ RDP, much more) are preferable... More reliable, constant>
 If so, if you would be so kind as to give me any more suggestions about my problem?  I have beautiful coralline algae on all of my rocks, even on the protein skimmer, so I think my tank and my 'kids' are all happy and healthy.  They probably don't give a flip about the algae, but it drives me nuts.  I have been trying to find out if I can use black live sand because my substrate is getting very thin even though I don't vacuum it but try to roll the gunk with my hands.  I figured the black wouldn't show the algae as much, but worry about getting it in the tank safely.  Anyway, I have probably asked too many questions, as usual, but know how very much I appreciate your help!
Jo Anne from Maine
<Mmm, you don't mention any specific methods, so will refer you (back) to reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above, and:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Seachem Alpha.    7/2/12
Hi, I was wondering how effective Seachem Alpha is?
<Mmm, "does" what it's labeled to do... a greater concentration of their "Prime" product>
My ammonia is zero but I want to add a relatively large fish and I am worried about an ammonia spike. Are there any adverse effects with this product? Regards, Adam.
<Mmm... these sorts of nitrogenous metabolite counters can't be relied upon to continuously neutralize ammonia, nitrite, nitrate... at any dose concentration. See WWM re. Bob Fenner> 

dosing to maintain some nitrates using Knopf's recipe    6/2/12
Hello lively crew,
I'm in the situation of having zero nitrates and have purchased some food grade sodium nitrate to begin dosing. I am going to use Knopf's recipe,
<For meat prep.?>
but I don't know how much of the pre-made solution to dose my tank with to try to maintain 10 ppm.
  I have a 4' long 70 gallon mixed reef(several SPS at the top,  a few LPS in the middle to lower areas, three different types of Zoos in middle area, yellow and orange sun corals on bottom, Dendrophyllia on lower half, Purple Blastomussa, Maxima Clam and a Derasa Clam, one Bleeding Apple Scolymia and a few Chalice corals on the bottom) with a lot of live rock, Cerith snails, fancy Nassarius snails, Bumble Bee snails, Red Linckia Starfish, Yellow Sea Cucumber and an Abalone.  I have two Orphek PR-156W LED light fixtures on my display and T5's over my refugium on an alternate light cycle with 4 hours total darkness. In my 40 gallon refugium, I have a DSB, live rock rubble, a Harlequin Shrimp, large mass of Chaetomorpha Macro Algae housing many copepods, mostly Tisbe for my Mandarin, although he loves frozen blood worms too!  All of my corals are smaller frags and are out of stinging distance of each other. The SPS have room to grow.  When they grow large enough to be cramped, we are upgrading to one 1000 gallon which will combine the inhabitants of my husband's tank and mine and then some. I have a Yellow Tang, Flame Angel, Blue Mandarin Dragonet, and an Ocellaris hosting RBTA. I feed my Sun Corals 3-4 times per week, my Anemone and SPS corals 2 times per week and my lps once per week. I spot feed oyster feast or Cyclop-Eeze to everyone, then I also feed small pieces of shrimp, silver sides, or krill to my LPS, Sun Corals, Nassarius snails and Dendrophyllia.
I put some Phytoplankton drops in the display and refugium about once a week. I have Cyano under control, but have come up with this nuisance blue leafy algae I can't get rid of.
<Likely the brown/Phaeophyte Lobophora... see WWM re... the search tool>
 I manually pluck it out with forceps,  flake pulls off separately. I will spend hours manually plucking it off my corals and rock, only to have it return a week later. I need to get rid of this stuff. It was growing around my blue Acropora and the area it was growing on looked like it was paling up, so I pulled it off, and the color returned, but I am struggling to keep it off my healthy corals. It seems to grow on my Acropora mostly, although it is growing on most of them, just not as fast. My Tang doesn't eat it, and it doesn't seem my Abalone does either. He prefers to devour the Macro-feast I clip on for my tang. Anyway, any suggestions? Lightening up the feeding schedule is not really an option for me with my livestock. For my parameters:
Calcium         460
Alkalinity          11
SPG              1.025
temp            79-80
Nitrates         -0-
Phosphates   -0-
PH                  8.2
Water is crystal clear.
I use Kent Marine reef salt, which gives me a high calcium reading at first when SPG is at 1.025 usually about 480-500 with an alkalinity of about 11.
I have to dose for alkalinity the first couple days as it drops after the first day of the water change, then my calcium comes down to normal (I strive to maintain in the 450 area), and I am able to maintain for a day or two with B-Ionic two part until I do another water change which I normally do 20% water changes weekly, change carbon, etc. then it starts all over again. I have sponge filters on my intakes in both my refugium and display.
 They get cleaned 1-2 times per week with my protein skimmer. I thought about changing salts, but my corals and livestock are all healthy, growing and eating so don't want to mess up a good thing. I don't mind the meticulous maintenance schedule.
I have read that zero nitrates are not good, and even though my corals look really good and are eating, I've read that they need some nitrates.
<They are getting them...>
Is it possible they are getting enough nitrates with all the nitrate eating livestock/conditions I have?
 My tests are always zero using different test kits so I am thinking I should be dosing. Thanks again for all your wise advise.
<... I wouldn't "fool" w/ direct chemical addition for raising NO3... best to add indirectly as foods for your purposeful livestock and leave it at that. You can/could use expanded notation, molecular weight... to figure (with an accurate gram scale) about how much of nitrate-containing compound to add. Again, I wouldn't. Not of practical use and too dangerous in terms of overdosing. Bob Fenner>

Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11
Hi crew,
You have been most helpful with my previous queries and I was hoping to get your advise on an issue I am facing with my Aquael ReefMax system.
A bit of background on the issue - I set up the tank completely stock with a 1 inch sand bed and live rock. The tank is flourishing with all livestock looking and behaving healthy. I knew from early on that the skimmer was the weak link so I have been doing weekly water changes (15%-20%). I was initially using drinking mineral water but have since moved to RO (4-6 TDS). The tank is setup as a reef and stocked as such.
Based on my previous queries to you about my stocking, I understand that I am okay on stocking though, if anything, topped out. This is okay since I don't plan to add anything.
Parameters - SG. 1.025, Temp - varies between 25 and 26 degrees C depending on the lights. Ammonia - 0, Nitrites, - 0, Nitrates - "the issue", PH - 8.1, KH - 9, CA - 450
The issue I have been facing is that I cannot seem to get my nitrates under control. I moved to RO in an attempt to do so but to no avail. As a result, I have green hair algae popping up in the sand. My nitrates rarely read under 70 unless measured the day after a water change.
<Have you tested your source water just to make sure it isn't adding to the problem, even with an RO/DI it can sometimes add to your problems.>
I have come to the conclusion that aside from the skimmer (which I cannot upgrade because of space constraints in this all-in-one setup),
<The downfall to these all-in-one systems.>
the problem lies with the sponge filter cartridge that the manufacturer recommends be changed every six months. This I assume is a nitrate trap?
<I would guess it is definitely not helping, rinse it out every week with your water change.>
Since the tank is based on a flow system whereby the filter cartridge compartment is on the back-right and this is where the water renters the main tank, I was considering few alternate options if this is indeed the 'source' of my nitrate issue:
1) Keep the filters but replace them much more often.
<Could do but may get expensive, a good rinsing may do the trick.>
2) Convert it into a refuge of sorts my adding some macro algae. My concerns here are that if it grows like crazy, it may impede water flow.
Also, the area is not well lit so this might not work (would perhaps even have the inverse effect if the algae died?). I could address the lack of lighting quite easily.
<Probably too small an area to do much good.>
3) run it completely empty and use it as my syphon area so I can get the dirt out regularly. I have fine sand so cant really siphon the sand much. Soak the cartridges in old tank water for a while and then return them to their spot.
<The easiest way to go, as long as you have adequate live rock the filter isn't really helping much so just getting rid of it may be helpful.>
4) seek chemical intervention in this compartment. Have done a lot of reading but to be honest I am confused and skeptical about the options (Bio-Pellets or Seachem Denitrate etc.).
<These are just band-aids, won't really help solve the problem.>
What has me even more confused is that my phosphate readings are nowhere near as bad. Typical reading is 0.2. Have seen it at 0.5 but not since I moved to RO and revised my feeding of frozen foods.
<The algae may have it tied up.>
Few insights on my feeding routine (which I assume is of relevance here)
- I feed a mix of mysis, brine and Cyclops once every day. Each cube lasts me almost 3 weeks. I dice the cube into daily helpings while still frozen and put it in individual containers that remain frozen until they are to be used. In addition, I feed the Perculas around 3 dry pellets every morning.
<How quick is the food being consumed? What animals are you feeding?>
Would really appreciate your thoughts on what I should do about the sponge filters and what else I might not have thought of to help control the nitrates.
As always, thanks for entertaining queries. It is incredibly encouraging to know one has a place to go when stumped.
<I would just lose the filter pads and see if that helps.>
Re: Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the quick response. I currently have 2 Perculas, a purple firefish and a clown goby. Also have a cleaner shrimp and fire shrimp and 3 turbo snails. The Perculas are tiny and one will move to my new 65 gallon in 3 weeks. The food is consumed almost instantly (2 minutes tops). All the coral I have is photosynthetic.
<I would probably leave out the frozen food for the time being if all the fish are eating pellets, just make sure you are using quality foods.>
From your advice below, it seems like getting rid of the filters completely may be worth a try. I will remove 2 per week so in 2 weeks they are all gone. I have over 25 pounds of rock in the system and am happy to add more if you think it is needed.
<I think you should be ok as is.>
I wonder what the manufacturer's rationale for these pads was. Should have used the space for a better skimmer perhaps.
<Filters are necessary for fish only systems, plus skimmers are expensive, the filters not so much, add you get to buy replacement pads all which put money into the manufactures pockets, which is the name of the game.>
Oh one other maybe relevant fact; I lose almost 750ml of water a day to evaporation so need to top up every day. The source water tests 0 for nitrates (desalinated water here)
<Sounds normal.>
Thanks again!
Re Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11
Hi Bob,
In regards to Simon's statement below.
"Have done a lot of reading but to be honest I am confused and skeptical about the options (Bio-Pellets or Seachem Denitrate etc.).
<These are just band-aids, won't really help solve the problem.>"
In my opinion, Simon is incorrect stating Bio-Pellets are just a band-aid. They may not solve the nutrient producing problem but they will definitely lower the nitrates/phosphates. There will always be some carbons present in newly mixed seawater but they are quickly absorbed by the bacteria that converts waste into nitrogen gas. Increasing the bacteria by feeding a carbon source increases the bacteria population to effectively remove nitrates/phosphates from the water. This is not an overnight process as it
can take three to five weeks (depending on the nutrient load) to develop a large enough bacterial colony to effectively do the job.....but it does work. Just my two cents Amigo.
Let's ask him to elaborate. One's Band-Aid may be a lifesaver to another.
Re Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11
Hi James and Bob,
Is this a statement that you think came from me? Is there another Simon in the crew? I did not make this statement, I am fully aware of how carbon dosing, be it vodka or pellets works... it is related to the 'Redfield ratio' that was originally described for plankton... ie a take up ratio of C:N:P 106:16:1. So by dosing 106 parts carbon you will encourage bacterial growth that reduces nitrogen (nitrate) by 16 parts and phosphorous (PO4) by 1 part.
This is my view on the subject not the one stated below.
Re: Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11
Hi James and Bob,
Is this a statement that you think came from me? Is there another Simon in the crew? I did not make this statement, I am fully aware of how carbon dosing, be it vodka or pellets works... it is related to the 'Redfield ratio' that was originally described for plankton... ie a take up ratio of C:N:P 106:16:1. So by dosing 106 parts carbon you will encourage bacterial growth that reduces nitrogen (nitrate) by 16 parts and phosphorous (PO4) by 1 part.
This is my view on the subject not the one stated below.
Re: Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/23/11

Bob, Simon,
Accept my apology. Why I thought Simon wrote this is beyond me. Was actually Chris that answered this query. Sheesh!
Your very gracious apology accepted James, no hard feelings!
Well, let's ask Chris then. B
Re: Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/24/11
Hi all,
Yes it was me causing problems again. I am not opposed to carbon dosing through the addition of alcohol or some other method, although around my house there is rarely spare vodka for the fish. It's just that in a small FOWLR tank there is little need to feed heavily like a coral heavy or heavily stocked tank thus creating higher nitrates. Plus I hesitate to recommend carbon dosing to someone who's experience level I don't feel is very high, next thing you know they are doing shots with the clownfish, and if you have ever experienced a Premnas biaculeatus after a tequila bender you never want to do that again. While Bio-Pellets and Denitrate are better and safer alternatives in my opinion, in this particular case unnecessary where a little better husbandry would probably do the trick. Anyways, just my 2 cents, and if you think I'm wrong then just continue to blame Simon for the response.
In an unrelated note, James did you finish the LED review, I was at a local shop yesterday looking at a couple of systems, but the kid working there couldn't give me any relevant information other that "they don't get hot or use much electricity". He said testing it with a PAR meter was too expensive so I have nothing to go on there.
And in a note unrelated to the previous unrelated note, Bob I think I found a new WWM crew recruit, I'll put you in touch with him shortly, he has several nice tanks and seems to know what he is talking about. He was also interested in writing articles for the mag, so that could be helpful.
So long and thanks for all the fish,
Thanks Chris. B
Re: Aquael Reefmax question, Nitrates 8/24/11
Just my 'two penneth worth' also... I would agree with Chris and hesitate myself to recommend carbon dosing to reduce nutrients (although it is a valid method of doing so) until all other more traditional avenues had been explored, and especially to inexperienced aquarists... there is always the danger that with the advent of low nutrient systems due to these methods, the casual or inexperienced or UN-conscientious aquarists (of which there are many) are encouraged to overstock their systems with inappropriate fishes.
You can continue to blame me if you like, I am married and quite used to it, and also guilty so never mind!
Cheers, Simon

Maintaining a favorable level of nitrates and phosphates    8/9/11
Greetings again, Crew. I'm writing to you (again) with some questions over some information I've gleaned from your site over the last few days.
In particular, upon reading Bob Fenner's article on stony coral feeding posted to your site in February of last year, it has become abundantly clear that the "aggressive protein skimming" that magazines and LFS's endorse as the industry standard may, in fact, be robbing our system of DOC's completely in removing the still organic debris in our systems. I am currently seeking a way to allow an acceptable level of Nitrates and Phosphates to enter into my system, in order to promote better health/growth/color for my Cnidarians.
I have a Biocube 29, running a CPR SR3 skimmer which, in this lidded system, is the main method that I'm adding oxygen to the water (so I've been told, this is a great benefit of skimming).
<This is so>
I also run a bag of Chemi-Pure Elite, and a bag of Purigen. This is a direct result of trying to starve out a diatom and Cyano bloom that occurred in two separate instances. It was suggested to me prior to allow the chemical media to age, and not replace too frequently.
<Yes; a good idea/practice>
Would it be acceptable in a system of this size to only run one bag of chemical media?
Also, Mr. Fenner's article suggested running punctuated skimming (particularly to shut off the skimmer during feeding for a short while).
What is a recommended period for skimming, and will this have a large impact on the oxygen levels in my system?
<As long as the system is "not too crowded, overfed..." you should be fine to run the skimmer on/off every few hours; particularly off during nighttimes...>
(Unfortunately, testing for dissolved oxygen is still out of my reach at this point.) I am hoping that with a few minor tweaks I will be able to afford my underwater acquaintances with a more suitable environment.
On an unrelated note, I am eager to give back to the community in the only way I know how: observation and documentation. To do this, I have set up a personal page on a website that allows me to post pictures of my tank and write up my observations.
Would it be permissible for me to occasionally post links to articles on WWM?
I have learned so much through your helpful articles, and would like to be able to point others in the direction of your expert advice and care (while of course maintaining that I am in no way affiliated with those who operate WWM).
<Ahh, I hope in time you may join us, as a Crewmember, mentor... dive/adventure co-traveler>
Thank you for all you do!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Zeolitic Media/Nitrate Control 4/6/10
Dear crew,
You always give me a great advise, and your web is super informative.
Thank you very much!!!
<You're welcome.>
I did research about Zeolitic media, but could not find an answer.
<Two> 2 months ago my clowns took one spot to breed, making <a> big mess around since. All corals in that area <are> covered with sand. It is impossible to blow sand out every 2 hours. So I decided to put some gravel
there, and by mistake put 2 cups of Kent Marine Nitrate sponge above sand ( I had a gravel and nitrate sponge in the same looking jars). Is it save <safe> to keep Nitrate sponge pieces there or I need to remove?
I understand that this media is a substrate for bacterial growth, but don't know if it will release some undesirable elements into my tank.
<Will not release anything harmful. If it's safe to put in a sump/filter, it's safe anywhere in the water.>
My tank is 75G, heavy <heavily> stocked. Is was my mistake when I started it 1 year ago, but everything is doing fine, including my SPS and Goniopora.
I have to fight with nitrates using protein skimmer, Chemi-Pure, Aquaripure denitrator, biweekly 10g water change, Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge, sump with live sand, mangrove plants and algae. But it is still around 15-20.
<Your nitrates are being imported faster than they are exported. You will need to reduce your fish load to lower your nitrates and consider upgrading your skimmer to a more efficient model. Have you read here?
<As an aside, have you compared your nitrate reading with that of another test kit, such as your LFS's?>
Thank you very much for you time and help.
Best wishes,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Zeolitic Media/Nitrate Control 4/6/10 -4/7/10
Hi James,
<Hello Igor>
Two big thanks : it is a big relief that I don't need to pull Zeolitic media from my tank, and for correction of my English ( not so often people like to help others to improve some language skills :). It is my second language.
<Geez, you do much better than many Americans that write in to us.>
I took my water sample many times to a local fish store, and their reading was 5 or less, once they used an electronic device. I learned how they use a kit, then got a new one ( API) and ... It is still around 20. I use Marineland in-sump protein skimmer. It is compact, perfectly fits in my little space, and produces about 1/2 of cup daily. But it was always my concern. What brand of compact in-sump skimmer would you recommend?
You are absolutely right. I have too many fish for my 75 g tank : two adult clowns, six adult Green Chromis, one 3" Flame angel, one 4-striped Damsel, one 5" Yellow Mimic Tang, one 5" Blue Tang. I tried to catch some of them, but could not . I have too many places to hide :)
<Yikes, way too many fish for that volume of water. It appears that your skimmer is working properly and I honestly do not know of a good efficient skimmer that would fit in the same space as your Marineland. The best one that comes to mind that may fit in your sump would be the Tunze DOC Skimmer 9206 which measures L280 x W157 x H195 mm (L11 x W6.1 x H7.7 in.). If that's a no go, then you would have to go with an external or an in tank skimmer if you want to improve skimming efficiency. Here is a link to the Tunze skimmer I mentioned.
I believe it would be less expensive to reduce your fish load and would be much better for the health of the remaining fish by reducing the stress level that assuredly exists in that small area.>
Thank you very much for you help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Best regards,
Re Zeolitic Media/Nitrate Control 4/6/10 -4/7/10
Hi James,
Thank you soooooo much. I shall follow your advice.
<You're most welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

protocol for ethanol dosing to reduce nitrates in a large system Dosing Ethanol to lower nitrate 11/16/08 Crew- <Wes> Thanks for all previous help I have received, I currently maintain a thriving 40br SPS tank and a 12g nano softy/LPSs tank thanks largely to knowledge gleaned from your pages. <Great!> Anyway, I recently began work at a LFS, mainly to maintain/care for the SW critters. Not so surprisingly, I have found high nitrates (100+) in the FO systems and in the invert system. <Sad, huh.> Softies and LPS seem to be doing well, but fish losses seem to be higher than I have previously experienced (I used to work at another LFS with many individual systems--time consuming but easier to treat with a large water change or otherwise). The first system I would like to try reducing nitrates in would be the coral/invert system. It is a ~700g system with a large down draft/ets skimmer (rated for 2000g I believe). My hypothesis is that over the years the nitrates have crept up due to lack of maintenance, improperly tuned skimmer, etc. I will of course apply my rigorous husbandry efforts to this system now that it is under my care; long term I believe I can manage the nitrates through simple general husbandry techniques. <Should not be a problem with a properly setup system.> I have read several threads on message boards as well as this article regarding nitrate/phosphate reduction by way of ethanol (vodka) dosing. http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-08/nftt/index.php I was wondering if you had any experience with this or other methods for one-time large system nitrate reduction. <I do, it does work.> Secondly, would long-term ethanol dosing be an option in a FO system? <Many do this, the greatest danger is O2 depletion, as you mention below. With vigilance and control (not too much in one sitting, just like us!) this can work.> Skimmer is over-powered and bio-balls are utilized to ensure 0 ammonia (hence nitrates are up). I would be less worried about O2 depletion in this system because of the bio-balls system providing such a large agitated surface area for gas exchange, but I am more worried about continual nitrate control long term. Anyway, let me know your opinions regarding this technique in this situation. <It can work, but you do also have to ask yourself if you are willing to assume the risk in somebody else's tank? Done correctly this can work great, a mistake and...> Thanks, Wes <Welcome, Scott V.>

Vodka Dosing -- 08/19/08... not really a filter, but the best fit area Hi -- <<Hello>> I've searched your site and a few others and read some interesting articles about the concept of vodka or ethanol dosing to reduce/eliminate Nitrate and Phosphate in reef tanks. <<Indeed>> Most of it was fairly dated however and I was curious as to whether the idea still has currency. <<Possibly, with caveats'¦ Firstly, this methodology is not without danger...the right combination of circumstances can be catastrophic (I speak from experience). Secondly, this method only treats the symptom and is not a cure-all for what ails your system re buildup of nitrogenous/organic compounds. Are you aware of how this method works? The premise is the addition of a concentrated form of carbon (Vodka/ethanol) provides a food source that promotes the artificially high production of certain strains of bacteria for a limited period (until the carbon/food source is depleted). Some of these strains of bacteria have the ability to 'double their populations every 20-minutes.' As this mostly aerobic bacteria population grows, along with the carbon source, excess nutrients are also oxidized. As implied by the name, this process is driven by oxygen consumed by the bacteria to drive their metabolisms'¦and therein lays the greatest danger in my opinion. Coupled with the wrong conditions (already low oxygen levels from overstocking, inadequate water movement, etc.) or unfortunate circumstance (loss of power/sump pump circulation) the artificially high bacteria population can rapidly consume all the available oxygen creating a severe anoxic condition>> I'm home in the middle of a vacation for a day or two and just tested my nitrates which are disturbingly high as I had to shut down my skimmer while I've been gone. <<Hmm'¦don't know what 'disturbingly high' is>> I was thinking that it might be a way to bring them down quickly and give me time to deal with it when I return home in a week or so. <<As stated, this method only treats the symptom'¦and then only briefly. One or two 'doses' before leaving the tank for a week or so will have little overall impact. I think your system would be much better served here by a canister filter filled with cut-up Poly-Filter>> So my questions are: 1) does it work? <<It can, yes'¦ I have found it especially good for removal of Cyanobacteria'¦after determining and attending to the initial cause/source of the outbreak>> 2) Should I do it in this circumstance? <<I would not'¦for reasons already mentioned>> 3) Can you suggest a dosage; <<Would rather not as I wish to discourage your use of this methodology>> and 4) are there any risks since I won't be around to monitor anything but the short term effects? <<I strongly urge you to find/use a different method to bring down your Nitrates in this situation. And the obvious'¦keeping the skimmer running and having someone check on/feed your system and empty the skimmer while you are gone. A week is too long to leave your reef system unattended, in my opinion>> Thank you for taking the time to share your most valuable experience and expertise. Eric <<A pleasure to assist. Eric Russell>> Ps disturbingly high is around 60-70 ppm <<Ah'¦yes indeed. I would confirm the validity of this test (new/different test kit) and if accurate, determine the reason/fix what is causing such a high reading'¦skimmer on or not. Regards, EricR>>

Renew or Carbon? NO3 control... NOT through chemical filtrants   3/15/08 Hi I have a question, I have a stingray only tank, my ammonia and nitrate is almost always 0 but my nitrate is in between 10-20 <Typically hard to rid the accumulation of this metabolite in the presence of large, metabolically active fishes> the rays are fine. Healthy. But I started reading about Seachem Renew. Should I try using this instead of carbon? Will it help with nitrates? Michelle <Not likely, no... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sulphur bead nitrate reactor producing instead of reducing nitrate -- 11/24/2007 Hi folks, <Hello Rob.> I contacted Marc Langouet about this. He kindly informed me that that most hobby test kits convert nitrate to nitrite. This would explain why I was seeing the unexpected spike in nitrite. <You also measured nitrites. Since nitrites test kits almost exclusively measure nitrites, you can see how reliable your nitrate measurement was. 110 ppm in the outflow and 25 ppm in the tank would be quite toxic, if you assume you actually measured nitrite instead of nitrate or even a combination of both.> After the unit matured, everything went very well (nitrate was unmeasurable) <Good to hear.> until the powerhead supplying the unit dropped the flow rate. This resulted hydrogen sulphide production and I narrowly avoided losing a lot of stock. I only notice when I saw my SPS dying rapidly from the bottom up. <That's exactly why the RedOx potential of these reactors is often measured. If the potential drops below --200 mV the flow needs to be increased or the reactor has to be turned off until it is fixed.> I'll start it up again after I move. All the best, Rob <Best wishes for your future endeavours. Cheers and thanks for the update, Marco.>

Nitrate Troubles 2/27/07 Hi Bob, <James for Bob today> I am considering using the DIY Nitrate reactor outlined on Carib-Sea's website, in conjunction with their Sulfur/Aragonite media. I have a 125 gallon lightly stocked reef tank in which I cant seem to get my nitrates to drop below 25ppm, despite great skimming and frequent water changes. I have had issues with high pH and dkH in the past, resulting in the burning of a few corals. This problem was a result of adding Tropic Marin Bio-Calcium to raise my calcium levels, but resulted in a large pH and Alkalinity spike. I stopped using this, and just left the tank alone (Water Changes only) to wait for these levels to come down on their own. My question is this: Are there any significant dangers I am exposing my tank to in using this sulfur nitrate reduction process? <Do not believe so, but using such products just puts a band aid on the problem. Is best to go after the root cause.> The PDF on the Carib-Sea website gives good direction on construction of the reactor, but nothing with regard to use (flow rate, amount of media, etc.). They recommend that the outflow from the reactor be directed over a sump, in order to degas the effluent. Would putting the outflow hose into the skimmer chamber or the filter sock of my Berlin sump be enough? What about flow rate? Any help would be greatly appreciated! <Generally, these products require a slow flow rate to be effective.  I would contact Carib-Sea and ask their advice on their DIY reactor.> By the way, I am a sales associate at a LFS in Brandon, FL and I send my customers who are new to the hobby home with your book all the time, and have gotten nothing but success stories and educated customers as a result. Thanks for making my job a whole lot easier!!!! <Bob thanks you for this.  Do read here and related links for help on the nitrate problem and thank you for writing us.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm James (Salty Dog)> Thomas R.

Nitrate Soup Hello WWM! You might have the best website out there for this hobby!  To start here are my marine tank specs: - 55 gal setup - Amiracle wet/dry filter - 25 lbs of LR (working to get more!) - SeaClone 100 Skimmer (will be upgrading to a Aqua C Remora after reading your site) - 1 power heads for circulation. - Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer The tank inhabitants are a porcupine puffer, clown trigger, peacock puffer, choc. chip star fish, and a gold damsel. All of the water tests are fine (0.00) except the nitrates.  The reading is always between 20 - 40 ppm.  I do a 10 gal water change every 3 weeks, and also put a carbon filter in the sump 2 wks on/2 wks off. As a last effort I bought some of the Nitrate Sponge and put that in the sump as well, and the nitrates haven't decreased.  I should have read on wwm.com about the stuff before I bought it. I will be adding another powerhead to the set up to increase the water flow in the tank, buying more LR, and upgrading my skimmer.  I will also be changing water every week instead of every three as well (5% a week). Is there anything that you would also recommend to get my water quality down to all 0.00? <The skimmer will help a great deal...But there is really nothing wrong with that nitrate reading.  In fact, it's quite satisfactory for the animals you're keeping.  The regular water changes are really the key to maintaining a healthy nitrate reading.  Now, for the scolding.  No trigger belongs in a 55, it's just too much fish for too small an area.  The puffers also will need the largest of aquaria in their adult years...Think of the long term health of these animals, as well.  Good luck! Ryan> Shane

- Use of Chemicals - Hi Crew, Thanks for your help in the past and now for a question regarding the use of a type of product. Dr. Foster carries it and it is called HyperSorb and the pitch is: A synthetic absorbent that removes organics, stabilizes the ionic balance, helps control ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. There are other similar products. Would a product like this cause a reduction in the bacteria population of a fully cycled system by reducing the available ammonia? <It might - would be a competitor for the resource.> I am looking for a way to reduce nitrates but I do not want to lose the natural cycle I already have which results in zero ammonia and nitrites for the load in my tank. <Best to up the amount of live rock and also step up the water changes - perhaps 5% a week. Cheers, J -- >

Nitrate Problem (8-24-03) Sounds crazy- but we had a recent catastrophe when tank temp was at 95F for two days when our ac went out (live in FL). By the time I hooked up the chiller I had been prev contemplating, all corals most fish were dead. I had two clowns and a clown trigger still alive. LFS said the rock/sand might still be alive- we hooked chiller up and went thru many water changes, spikes etc. Finally some 2 months later, water seemed to stabilize, saw algae growing, some coral growth came back from some rocks. Purple coralline still looks purple, not sure if that means it is alive though. Tank actually looked really good. The three fish survived all. Thought we were out of the woods. Added some fish/corals- all ok. Added more- and major nitrate problem that I cant seem to get rid of. All other water params good/great. nitrates fluctuating from 50 to 100 despite water changes nearly every other day. sometimes 10 % sometimes as much as 50% depending on the nitrate level. <I would be helpful to add some new LR to the existing stuff to seed the old with whatever was lost.> LFS said maybe the rocks/sand are harboring nitrates and causing the levels to go right back up. Suggest using a denitrification product of no harm to corals/inverts. What do you think?<I would not add any of these chemicals.> I don't have the best protein skimmer set up, but I cant imagine this is causing the prob to a value of 100.  I rinsed the bioballs with system water, cleaned every bit of detritus I could find, discarded every pad/filter pad/foam block that could be contributing, and still nitrates rise. Any suggestions?<Get rid of the bioballs.> 90 gallon reef tank, 6 fish, anemone, cleaner shrimp, 120lbs rock, wet/dry (set up for 2 yrs), marine life aquatics Aggressor -AIS150 skimmer that I can't seem to get to produce much gunk (overflow goes to bioballs first unfortunately), chiller, Mag pump that turns water over 4x/hr. ph 8.2, sp gr 1.023, ca 400, 10 dKH, PO4 .2, 0 amm, o nitrite, 100 nitrate, temp 86F. <I would slowly get rid of the bioballs slowly, like a handful every couple of days.  Also look into a RO unit or see if your LFS sells this water.> Thinking about adding a few new live rocks to accelerate, changing water flow to go to skimmer first, maybe trying the denitrifying product, want to buy the Euro-reef skimmer. <I would do all these except adding the denitrate.> Someday want to get rid of the bio balls- but am afraid to do that right now. Your thoughts on what to do? Thanks. Your site has been such a great source of info. <A deep sand bed would also b helpful for reducing nitrates.  You can learn more about all this at our site.  The Euro reef skimmer would also be a very good idea.  Cody>

Purigen for Nitrate Issues? >Was wondering if you knew anything more about Purigen?   >>Sorry, never heard of it, shall Google. >I currently have a 55 gallon fish only system.  My nitrates are through the roof, anywhere between 80ppm to 160 ppm.  I change 10 gallons of water about every other week.   >>Well, you won't see results using that method.  Do a 75% w/c (do test the makeup water both before and after you mix the salts for nitrate), then retest.  Then, address initial nutrient export and conversion issues. >I bought Algone to see if that would help with the problem, I've only had Algone in the filter for about a week now.  Does Algone even work?   >>HIGHLY doubtful, tossing in one chemical to remove another when we can utilize naturally occurring microbes doesn't make much financial sense to me, my friend.  Consider a deep sand bed (for its denitrification abilities using anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrate to nitrogen gasses and other components), as well as a refugium for initial nutrient export issues that are leading to such high nitrate readings in the first place. >I figured I would buy it cause for 8 dollars where could I go wrong.    >>I'm an exceedingly frugal woman, Scott, and you'll be hard-pressed to get me to throw away $8!  It makes more sense, in the long run, to address these concerns (have you skimmate?  If so, is it efficient?) via other methods, and in the short term do at LEAST one 75% w/c.  You very well may have to do two, back to back, in this situation, but honestly, if you're gonna toss the money into the Algone, it's better spent on fresh water for your wards.  Just Googled it, it's a Seachem product, and I DO like Seachem, but again, it makes MUCH more sense to address these issues from the get-go, rather than go to such a product.  However, being Seachem, I would expect it to do as purported. >Thank you again for your time.  Scott >>You're welcome.  Marina

- Nitrates Be Gone! - Hi Bob/Crew, <Hello, JasonC here...> Just a quick question. I wonder if you heard of a denitrifying gizmo called Nitragon and produced in the UK. <I have heard of it, but have no experience with it.> I hear it gets rid of about 90% of nitrates and phosphates, but nothing else. <I wouldn't expect much else with a name like that.> Purists here in the UK advocate the use of RO units instead of it - Nitragon ok for LPS and soft corals but not LPS-, and as I am getting a new tank I wondered what you thought, whether they are worth it, or if I prepare the water in advance- a week or so- that would be ok to get rid of chlorine/-amine and other toxic stuff. <Nitrates in your mix water are really the least of your problems. Typically they come from natural processes in the system and your job is to make sure they don't accumulate. This can be accomplished via more natural means - a deep sand bed or large quantities of live rock. Both methods are discussed in our FAQs here and beyond: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm As for preparation of mix-water, that is also discussed in our articles and FAQs but I will quickly add that RO does have its uses, but is not essential unless your tapwater has got other things in it not easily removed by aeration over a couple of days. Do check out this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm > Thanks, Brightonreefer <Cheers, J -- >

Using chemical nitrate removers - 02/17/03 Hello all: <Hello! Ananda here'¦> A question I'm a little embarrassed to ask as it seems rather simplistic; but in regards to chemical filtration (if that's the correct term) I currently use 2 products: Chemi-Pure and Cleanwater.  (Opinion on second?  I know the first is recommended on this board) <No experience with it whatsoever -- the only information I could find on it was on a Spanish-language retailer's site. Thank goodness for online translation pages'¦it sounds like it's a souped-up carbon replacement, if the manufacturer's claims can be believed.> My big question is proper placement and application. For instance: My big filter is the nitrate king Penguin 400. <Hmmm. The Emperor 400 has the spray bar; the Penguin only goes up to 330. I have one of each, with the Emperor on a freshwater system and the Penguin on a brackish system. Nitrates are easily removed via water changes.> My placement here was to move the carbon filters forward a notch so that there was room to place the bags of above product behind them (in other words they are second in the flow) of course they promptly sank out sight... note these are not in any sort of cartridge - should they be?? <It would keep them from sinking out of sight'¦I would try putting them in the open-topped V-shaped media bins if you have them. The water will still move through them.> The other bag (total of 3) is in my Skilter (modified) and it is in front of the carbon filter there as there was no way to move the filter from it's slot.  It also sank right to the bottom, so I pulled the top of the bag up a little and hooked it on the Skilter lid so that the bag hung in the middle instead of them bottom, but there seems to be no way of "flattening it" as the Manuf. Suggests... <Is there any room in the Skilter to hang a (possibly modified) refillable media cartridge made by some other manufacturer? That's about the only idea I'm coming up with.> So - point me in the right direction here if I'm off Next:  Am I wrong with thinking these things are effective at controlling nitrates? Or are they a sink in themselves??   <Some might work, some won't -- and I suspect most could be a nitrate sink if left in place too long.> I ask because I pulled my carbon filters from my Penguin the other day to rinse them off and upon reinstalling them I had to lift the Cleanwater bags up a bit since they had slid under the slot where the filters go, and when I looked down in my tank there was a cloud of "junk" like detritus floating around... a "Quick Dip" nitrate test showed them up to 160!!  (Up from about 40 the night before) <The detritus not caught by the filter cartridges and the carbon in the filters are both potential nitrate sinks. You might consider rinsing them more frequently.> I have a very lightly stocked 55g FOWLR so I would have noticed if something died - I accounted for all of them - there was no overfeeding, etc. as well. Could these things have dumped all this in my water? Xeones <Could be from the filter cartridges not catching the stuff'¦ but the original source is your fish and their wastes. You don't mention how much live rock you have, or what you are using for substrate, so I would suggest you do some reading about deep sand beds and live rock. And do consider a skimmer upgrade. --Ananda.>

Raging Nitrates! Good morning all! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Thank you once again for the valuable information provided on your site and the always (well, usually) great answers provided by email - hehe.  Let me begin by providing tank info: Marine FOWLR, 50 lbs live rock & 3 inches sand, 55 gal, 15w AquaUV, Teclima chiller, Remora Pro skimmer, FilStar canister filter, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 25 nitrates, 8.3 pH, good alk, 1.022 sal. <Sounds good so far!> One month ago the tank started growing furry green algae and blue-green algae out of control.  I ran out to get a nitrate test kit and found the levels to be >100. <Yikes! And that's on a hobbyist-grade kit, which usually reads a bit lower than the actual level...!> After successive large water changes and levels have dropped to 25 but I cannot seem to get them lower than this.  I realize that water changes should keep bringing the levels down but they seem to be stuck here.  I use Catalina water for changes and RO fresh water to bring it down to the proper salinity.  The Catalina water tests 0 nitrates when I get it.  I am not quite sure of the source. I clean the filters in the canister every 3 to 4 weeks and the protein skimmer seems to be functioning adequately - about 1 cm worth of dark yellow water in the cup every 3 days. <Good to hear that! Try to tweak it to get it darker...like coffee> The algae problem is a bit more under control but still quite annoying. <As you see me say "ad nauseum"(!) on the WWM Site, "It's all about nutrient export!"- it really is...Keep working it!> Although, the fox face fish seems to love the green furry stuff. <I've got some ideas....> In an effort to rid myself of this nuisance I found a product from m3 called AZ-NO3 which I have seen used by some in the faq sections of this site.  It is stated, however, that a UV unit running at 50,000 microwatts - sec/cm2 or greater will negatively effect the efficiency of this product.  I am in that category.  I got the UV unit about 8 months ago when I was combating a recurrent marine velvet infection.  Whether the fish just gained immunity or the UV made a difference I do not know.  But, shortly after getting the UV the velvet went away.  I have been running it ever since. <UV can certainly kill free-swimming parasites/bacteria, so it's entirely possible that it did the job effectively!> Here is my problem/question, do you think I can safely disable the UV unit during the course of this treatment without causing ill effects to the fish through whatever biological processes will be given a chance to take hold? <If the fishes are otherwise healthy, I can't imagine that the interruption of UV for a period of time would lead to a sudden disease outbreak..> In other words, these fish have had UV cleaned water for 8 months now, do you think that turning off the sterilizer for a month will have negative consequences?  If so, should I consider cycling the UV in 12 hour shifts between doses?  Or, am I totally on the wrong path here at wanting this liquid to get rid of my problems for me? <Well, not the wrong path, but I would bet that if you added a 5" layer of live sand, that you'd see the nitrate plunge to undetectable levels after a few weeks. Properly configured deep sand beds really work!> Thank you again - I look forward to hearing your insights. John <I'm sure that you'll get things under control with a few minor adjustments...I wish you continued success with your efforts! Regards, Scott F>

New Set up w/o NO3 Gentlemen, Great web site, first visit. I used to have a 55 gallon reef tank with old style wet/dry and skimmer. Now, as I am setting up a new 72 gallon bowfront with overflow. My internet research indicates that the w/d, trickle filters are too efficient at removing ammonia and nitrites and that the resulting NO3 might have been responsible for the algae that I fought in my old system. <Correct> I tried nitrate and phosphate sponges, etc but is a lot of expense without too much results. <Agreed, not cost effective.> Although, I have already purchased most of the equipment for the new tank there is nothing there that cannot be listed on eBay with good reason. I plan to have 120-140lbs of LR in my tank. Based on my research I think I want to go with some sort of Berlin/LS combo. But I do not want any sand in my tank! I like the bare glass and easy removal of debris. How do I practically place sand in my sump? <You can create what is referred to as a refugium in your sump.> I would like to go the Rubbermaid route for the sump as my old acrylic one from the w/d is kinda small. In the sump, I will also have Berlin Turbo skimmer and Mag-Drive 9.5 pump for return to the tank. My concerns are that I do not want sand going through the skimmer, pump and into the main tank. <The best designs I have seen using tubs were to have two tubs, one mounted slightly higher than the other. The higher tub having sand and liverock and gravity feeding into the lower tub with your skimmer, heater, and return pump.> Also, that denitrification needs a slower flow than what will be found in my sump. My idea is to fill a 1 gallon Rubbermaid bucket with aragonite sand and run a drip tube with valve from my return hose to drip into the top of the bucket of sand, which would sit inside my sump. One side of the bucket would have a hole near the top that is screened by a filter pad from the inside so that sand would not escape but a slow flow of water would? <Ok> I am hoping that this rig would have areas of both aerobic and anoxic activity. Would this set up complement my LR with enough no3 removal or would it be a bigger risk for h2s? <You should be fine. Anthony Calfo actually details this method in his book "Book of Coral Propagation."> Would I need critters besides bacteria in it to keep it aerated or would the highly oxygenated water from my sump be enough to prevent excessive anaerobic activity. <Worms and possibly some snails will do the work you want.> I am starting anew. Your insight and recommendations would be welcome. Thanks for your time. Mike Sorry, additional information is that I was planning on using a tidepool three w/d but will go another route if its going to be no3 problem. <The tub or even another tank would be a better choice.> My lights are 6 x 55w pc. I would like most natural, least maintenance, non-chemical additive filter system. I would like my cake and eat it too. Thanks again, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Nitrate/Phosphate Removers Was recently looking at two products PO4-Minus and AZ-NO3 sold by Marine Monsters and several mail order places. They claim to reduce Nitrates and Phosphates by bringing them into a form that can be taken out by the protein skimmer. The chemical process by which this happens is somewhat vague, but the product seems to be endorsed by several seemingly reputable places. Sounds almost to good to be true!  <Agreed... don't know the chemistry, physics behind/which are these products, but do know the two young men who are MMM... they are honest, hard-working> I am not a big fan of additives beyond recognized supplements but was curious if your or any of your associates have had any experience with this product. <Only know what I have read, heard second or more hand... Am much more a fan of "nutrient transport" mechanisms for consolidating, making unavailable such nutrients in closed systems. Various general attempts at making this known can be found on WetWebMedia.com under the terms named. Bob Fenner> Thanks Randy Carothers-Las Vegas

AZ-NO3 Nitrate removal cure... I wanted to get your feedback on this product AZ-NO3 (http://www.marine-monsters.com/front/products/azno3.html). I have never tried any "wonder pills" for nitrate removal, and have a feeling you won't recommend this either, but I had to ask. I've read through your FAQs about nitrate removal sponges, additives, etc... but I just had to ask. Thanks for the info. <I have never used this product and I am guessing no one else here has either as this question is still here. Either way, any nutrient removal product is not as cost effective nor as good for your animals overall health as good protein skimming, DSB, proper feeding techniques, use of purified water, regular water changes, etc. -Steven Pro><<This product works... and is non-toxic. RMF>>

Question (Urchins... danger of "Internet" learning/knowing...) Hello there, I have a few more questions for you if you don't mind. The first, my water seemed a little cloudy Sunday so I tested it. All the #'s were off except the ammonia. I changed 20 gallons of water (have 125). The nitrate never went down so I got this nitrate sponge to reduce it. The bottle says it takes a couple weeks to make a significant change. The water is still a little cloudy today. do I need another change or do I wait or do I need to buy something because all my #'s are OK except the nitrate. <How much "off" is your nitrate?... I wouldn't change any water till your system clears... and I would not rely on a sponge to do anything here. Please read over the FAQs on NO3 on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm> Do I not feed them for a few days?  <Feed what? I would continue to feed... and look into countervailing strategies for avoiding nitrate accumulation, culturing organisms that utilize these compounds> It's irritating. Also my friend brought me some sea urchins the other day. Another friend said to get rid of them because they let off a zillion babies. Well, now around them crawling all over the glass are these little things. Babies?  <No... please read over the WWM site re Urchins, Echinoderms in general...> well how do I get rid of them? I wouldn't think it's too smart to have all those things in there. Your input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again Jenn <You really will be happier and your system more successful by "taking a few steps back" here... do get a good reference work or two, and stop "doing" anything with this system till you have a better grasp on what is going on in your tank. Bob Fenner>

Bailing On Bioballs? (Nitrate Reduction)  10/6/05 I have a 54 gallon 3-4 month marine tank with 55 lbs of Fiji live rock. I have 1 maroon clown, 1 Yellow Tang, 4 Eel Gobies, 1 Black Star Damsel and 1 Maroon Clown Fish. All the fish are very small-2-3 inches. I have a wet/dry trickle filter with bioballs. I am using a AquaC Urchin protein skimmer in the sump. I also have 3 powerheads in the tanks and am using a current USA power compact with dual 65 watt bulbs- one full spectrum daylight and 1 blue actinic. I have about 2 inches of crushed coral aragonite as a substrate. Water parameters are Ammonia zero-Nitrite zero-Phosphate zero- calcium 400-ph 8.0 and salinity 30 * Total Nitrate levels are NOW at 80*. <Yikes...> I have easily maintained my Nitrates under 10 with a weekly 3 gallon water change. 2 weeks ago my Phosphate levels were 2.0. I added a phosphate sponge to the trickle filter at that time. This is the only thing different I did to my setup. Within 2 weeks the Phosphate levels dropped to Zero and the Nitrate levels sky rocketed. (Is this coincidence or does this Phosphate pad have something to do with it?) My well water used for water changes has zero phosphate and zero nitrate. <Glad to hear that you have great source water. That's usually one of the leading causes of nitrate and phosphate in closed systems. The phosphate in your system, of course, was coming from somewhere...The most likely source is feeding. It's often a good idea to revisit husbandry practices which could have lead to this problem in the first place. I'm glad the phosphate has been eliminated...Keep up the good work.> I am unsure why my Nitrates were below 10 for 3 months and then skyrocketed in 2 weeks without increasing the bioload. My question is should I remove the bio balls? <I would> Will the live rock and protein skimmer be enough. My thought is that maybe this nitrate build up is from the bio-balls. How about replacing the bio-balls with live rock. Will this prevent nitrate build up that occurs from a bio-ball type filtration system? I do not want to do a Refugium at this time. I will purchase a Nitrate remover if necessary. Thanks, Wayne <Sounds like you're on the right track, Wayne. I'd avoid using a nitrate removing product until you've tried other controls. Do remove the bioballs, as they are extremely efficient removers of ammonia and nitrite, but nitrate tends to accumulate faster than it can be removed in bioball-based systems. Victims of their own success, so to speak! Also, if you are using any mechanical filtration media (such as filter pads, "socks", etc.), be sure to replace/clean them very frequently, as the organic matter and detritus contained within them can degrade water quality. Also, If your intent with the sand bed was to foster denitrification, you probably need to go deeper (3 inches plus). Otherwise, no worry. Just keep up with good husbandry and observation, and you'll be fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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