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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Physical Filtration 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, Chemical 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

To remove and change nitrogenous pre-cursors... Physical Filter/ration Short List: Good Skimming, UV/Ozone (high ORP),

Nitrate Reactor producing ammonia  -- 11/08/11
Hi, hoping you can help.
<I as well>
I have an Aqua Medic NR1000 which was working fine until I had to take it out of action recently due to a faulty dosing pump, then a leak. The reactor was out of action for about 2 weeks.
I fixed it last week and set it running again, I got the usual rotten eggs smell but was not too concerned as this had happened before when I had it out of action for about 2 weeks, and it normally cleared after a couple of hours without any problem.
<Hopefully this H2S water was NOT circulating through your system>
I put the outlet into my tank and waited for the smell to clear (as before).
The lights were off so most of my fish were still in their hiding places.
I then noticed that my fuzzy dwarf was not looking to clever.
<Not too...>
I removed the reactor outlet from the tank and let the output flow into a bucket (the inlet was still being fed from the tank) and run the reactor constantly for 2 days, continually testing the water in the bucket.
I ended losing my Fuzzy Dwarf, Flame Angel and 3 Dispar Anthias (really gutted for them and me, but realise it was my own stupid fault)
The readings from the bucket are PH 8.0, Ammonia 0.5, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0 The readings from the tanks are now PH 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0 I want to start using the NR1000 again and have spoken to Aqua Medic about the ammonia, they have suggested that I clean out the reactor and start again.
<This is what I would do>
I will if I have to but this takes about 2 weeks to cycle which is really difficult and worrying when I have water being pumped out of my tank whilst I am at work (day) or sleeping (night). I don't have an auto top-up.
I am using Deniballs (which are fed with Denimar powder until ready) and Bactoballs.
My question is, do I really need to clean out the reactor and start again, or can I use something like AmmoLock or Amquel + to make the ammonia safe, or will there be some sort of reaction with the bacteria in the reactor.
<I would clean it out and start anew>
Also, I understand these treatments only make the ammonia safe,
<Only the ammonia present at the time of treating>
and it will still be read on a testing kit. How long will this continue for as I will have no way of knowing whether the reading I am getting is safe.
Sorry for the long post, any help would be gratefully received
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Nitrate Reactor producing ammonia  -- 11/09/11

Bob, thanks for your help, I will start again.
<This is best Ger... IS what I would do. Cheers, BobF>

Nitrates in Tapwater, removal methods  -- 07/17/10
Hello and Good Day To All WetWebMedia Staffers,
Number one today I would like to thank you all for the superlative source of information you folks provide for myself and my dear Malawian Cichlids. I mean that, WWM has helped me along the way to a happy and healthy tank more than I can convey. So, Thank You!
Here in a few weeks I will be moving to a new house and unfortunately, the water (according to Seachem test kit) contains around 40+ppm Nitrate,
<Mmm, please put the string: "U.S. federal limit on nitrates" in Google and read the first few references... this is too much>
Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, Ph of 7.6, and Gh and KH unknown as of yet. High Nitrate is my concern. The way I see it I have three options. Kati-Ani, RO, or KOLD ster-il.
<All three useful>
I am currently leaning heavily towards the KOLD ster-il unit because it has zero waste water, but am still open to other routes. However, I haven't been able to find sufficient evidence (forgive me if its already on WWM or polybiomarine.com, I did search) as to how well the KOLD ster-il handles Nitrate removal.
<By adsorption>
So, my questions are. Can anyone at WWM attest to the efficacy of the KOLD ster-il unit in reducing Nitrates in tap water?
<I can and will>
And, what would your personal preference/recommendations be in regards to a unit that can reduce the levels of NO3 to 5ppm or lower from my tap levels of 40+ppm NO3?
Thanks and Regards,
<I might use RO for your own potable (cooking, drinking uses), and try this for a while for your pet-fish uses as well. Bob Fenner> 

05/02/10 Nitrates, skimmer use, capitalisations   2/6/10
<I need somebody!>
I <I> have a 125 reef system with a 100 gallon sump with plenty of live rock. I <I> do a 50 gallon water change every 10 days with ro water. all <All of> my tests are in range except my nitrates they never get below 80.
<Very high and will cause you problems. Read here:
I <I> do have about 20 fish
<a lot>
which I <I> feed very little twice a day. I <I> run my skimmer 18 hours as it is overkill for the system.
<Really? You have 20 fish and nitrates at 80ppm. I would be running this skimmer 24hrs as well as looking at the whole system, top to bottom, starting with the stocking>
any suggestions ?
<As above plus reading, there is much to learn here:
thank <Thank> you for your help.
<No problem at all. There is a shift key on the keypad, and if it is pressed it will allow the use of capital letters, Simon>

Tank Crash - Sulphur Denitrator?   5/7/09
Hello, and thanks in advance for any help. I have had a 72gal reef tank running for about 4 years now. I have approx 100+ pounds of live rock which helps enable me to keep the following: 1 potters angel, 1 eibli angel, 1 Singapore angel, 2 African Flamebacks, 1 scribbled rabbit fish, 1 engineer goby, 1 candy hog and 1 black and white ocellaris. I know this is not typical but through careful planning and plenty of maintenance this has proven to be a very healthy and successful tank. About four weeks ago I built and installed a sulfur denitrator. I did not have the aragonite, so I placed the sulfur media in the reactor, allowed some tank water to flow through for a few hours to saturate it and then shut it down. About a week later I added the aragonite and started running as normal. At this point it gave off a very strong rotten egg smell which subsided after about 30 minutes but lingered for much longer. About a week later the fish started dying off in this order:
<Thank you for this bit of data... very impt.>
goby, potters, eibli, Singapore, clown fish, and the rabbit fish is in the hospital tank. None had any damage or lesions. The only thought I had was that the reactor bred some kind of bacteria or fungus while I had it off waiting for aragonite and this was then released into the tank when I turned it back on. Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated, as well as advice on what to do moving forward. There are still 3 fish in the tank.
<Could be as you say... or some other aspect of the S2 denitrator operation... i.e. simple chemical poisoning... Note that your fishes died in order of easier susceptibility to such. You want/need NO H2S presence.
Bob Fenner>

Aqua medic Nitrate Reductor   4/20/08 I have a Aquamedic Nitrate reactor 1000 (which I use both as a Nitrate reductor and calcium reactor) <Really? With what media?> on by 110 gall established tank. Few weeks I had a breakdown of my dosing pump and since I was traveling the unit just remained idle. Upon switching on back to action, I got the obvious Hydrogen sulphide smell which everyone mentions. I passed at least 10 gallons of freshly made saltwater through it and tested for ammonia, nitrate and nitrite straight from the reactor outlet. Everything was zero. Then I passed my tank water through it, immediately the ammonia hit about 10ppm, <Yikes...> though nitrites and nitrogen remained zero. Thank God I was not putting the output in my tank. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in my tank are zero. Very puzzled as to what's going on. Can anyone help please ?? Regards Jeff <A rinse through of metabolites from chemical and/or biological reaction series in the media in the hypoxic/anoxic contact chamber et al. of the reactor. Am glad also that you were still flushing the unit. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimming And Nitrates 3/19/08 Hello Bob and WWM Team, <Hi Eric> I have a question regarding protein skimmers and their ability to remove nitrates from an aquarium. <OK> I have had a moderate problem with BGA (Cyano) for some time now. It gets worse when my nitrates approach 5 ppm. My metal halide lighting (150 watt 14k) has something to do with it's proliferation as I have personally seen many similar sized tanks (50 gallon) with much, much higher nitrate readings without any problems at all. These tanks all have very low light (only 40 watts of fluorescents). All of my other measurements for the system including silicates and phosphates are 0. Currently I am not using a protein skimmer. I have been able to keep the water clean with aggressive filtration and water changes. However, the Cyano will not go away. Only when I have gotten my nitrates down to about 1 ppm did I notice that it wasn't growing any more. Reaching this low level took many water changes though and it doesn't stay there for long, rising up to 5 ppm over a 10 day period. More water changes are then necessary to reduce the nitrates. I don't mind water changes but am looking to not have to do as many. Will a protein skimmer remove the remaining nitrates from my system and keep them down at 0 or 1 ppm?  <Protein skimming will definitely decrease phosphates and dissolved nutrients and is highly recommended. The use of high quality chemical media such as Chemi Pure in tandem with skimming is ideal.> Thanks for the help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Oh, and Bob, have you ever snorkeled Electric Beach on the leeward shore of Oahu? <<Oh yes, I have. RMF>> <Eric, Bob is enroute to Malaysia and may not answer your above question. He vacations in HI quite regularly and I'm sure he has been there.> Eric

Re: Protein Skimming And Nitrates 3/19/08 Salty, Thanks for the reply. <You're welcome.> You mentioned phosphates in your answer, however my question was with regard to nitrates. <Dissolved nutrients are nitrates in effect.><<Vice versa... RMF>> Am I to assume that the addition of a skimmer will keep my nitrates at 0 then (or darn close to it)?? <Will also depend on husbandry of system...no overfeeding, occasional cleaning of substrate. I've always used a protein skimmer and have never read nitrates higher than the residual of the test kit. Keep in mind my system is not overstocked also. Do read here on nutrient control. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> I am already using the PolyFilter from Bio Marine. <A good product.> Thanks again. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Eric

RO water still high in Nitrates  12/24/07 Hello WWM Crew, <David> I am having issues with my RO water. I recently ran a test kit on my established reef tank and the kit showed all was in normal parameters with the exception of my Alkalinity which was low and my nitrates that were high at around 15 - 20ppm. I then looked to my RO water. I am using a  Kent Marine 60gpd Maxxima HI-S system. The nitrates were still showing high around 15- 20ppm almost the same as the reef tank. <Uhh... something amiss here> I keep my RO water in a covered 45 gallon rubber made trash can that is heated, aerated and running a circulation pump. <... Mmm, I would measure the water out of the device, and over days time in storage... either a membrane is shot, the rig is not plumbed correctly... or the container is imparting chemical change/s> This Kent RO system is only six months old. I went to my supply company and bought another membrane and still had the same results. <Well... I'd review the install instructions... something is awry> I finally bought a whole new 60gpd Maxxima RO/DI system again with the same issue. <!?> I then purchased three separate nitrate test kits... Red Sea, API and SeaChem. All three kits were basically showing the same high reading around 15 - 20ppm. I called Kent Marine support and they stated that the nitrate test kits can give a false positive reading and cannot be trusted. <... What? Not simply by testing... perhaps with the addition of some water conditioners/dechloraminators... Please write these folks and ask them to respond in writing... send their note along to me> They advised me that I should use a TDS kit measure more accurately. I find this hard to believe since I used the same test kits on my  cousins RO system (Kent as well) and the nitrate test was almost zero with all three tests.(city water) Even if the test kits were off, I don't think it would be by 15ppm....do you?? <No... there should be zip, nada, none...> My water supply is from a well which then passes through a whole house sediment filter,then a water softener, then the RO system. The only other thing I could  think of is that the well water nitrate supply is so astronomically high that it is still getting through the 4 stages of the RO system. <Not to be (too) alarmist here, but I would NOT drink, cook with... use such water for potable uses> The last time the well water was tested was a few years ago and the readings were at 23.5ppm at that time. My next plan of action is to have the well tested and if extremely high in Nitrate, connect to public water. <You are wise here> I will also run a TDS kit for arguments sake, but I think I don't think three test kits are that far off. Please let me know if you can think of anything else that I might be overlooking. Thanks! Dave <Either serially faulty filtration units... some consistent problem in the arrangement of set-up of same... or something very anomalous with "something" else here. I would try another brand of RO... have someone come over and look over your install. Bob Fenner> To denitrify or not!   1/16/07 Crew,     Happy New Year to all.  Have a question that I have been pondering for a while now.  The question is  regarding the last phase of the nitrogen cycle and what appears to be a fairly simple solution for mitigating high levels of nitrates in Wet Dry filters. <Okay>    The Bio Rocker Wet Dry filters have a "BioSlab denitrifying block", <Ah, yes... the old ceramic porous material...> which because the block is fully submerged in the sump, and I assume is anaerobic, supposedly converts Nitrate to Nitrogen gas and Oxygen. <Mmm, aerobic, hypoxic to no oxygen internally>     If this indeed is effective, why isn't the answer for reducing Nitrates in aquaria utilizing Wet Dry Filtration, simply to completely submerge biomedia or Live Rock in the Wet Dry to create this anaerobic zone? <Mmm, the various materials employed are almost entirely two-dimensional... one could use various ceramic (e.g. Bio-mech), glass beads (e.g. Siporax)... other choices like LR...>     What am I missing? Either this process is effective or the Bio Rocker concept is snake oil?  Any ideas     Thanks     Roy <Mmm, not snake oil... just one of the "Roads leading to Rome". Understanzee? BobF>

Re: To denitrify or not! Mention of "the way"    1/17/06 Bob, Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Based on your response, my question then really is ... Why hasn't this become the "Tao" of marine and reef fish keeping?  No one would ever experience a Nitrate problem! Thanks Again Roy <Gots me... folks would be able to keep their systems "wu wei" if they studied, thought about what they were doing, eh? BobF> 08/25/06 NitrateLock update   12/28/06 Just thought I would post a late follow up on the NitrateLock product.  I've been using it on my 2 tanks for 4 months now.  My aggressive tank that had the persistent nitrate levels of 160+ is now down to the 20-40 range. <Good> My 55 gallon tank that usually has 10-20ppm now registers at <5 ppm. Other than adding this product, I haven't made any other changes to my routine. <W/o replicate samples (many similar tank set-ups) it is impossible to ascribe changes here to any product, routine...> I do water changes usually once a week, but miss a week maybe once a month.  So it would appear that this product is helping, but I'm not entirely convinced.  Though my nitrate tests are positive, I've noticed recently that my 55g tank has been growing green algae on the glass practically over night. <... yes> I wonder if this product is really just reacting with the nitrate tests rather than reacting with nitrates. <A good question... how might one test for this?> Since we last emailed have you by chance had any experience with this yourself or had any additional reports? <Mmm, nope... just read through the maker/re-packagers site re: http://www.magnavore.com/media.html They give no real ingredients list... Reminds me of the "news"... id est politicized propaganda in the west... "They're terrorists, they're terrifying..." No sale. Bob Fenner> Re: 08/25/06 NitrateLock   12/28/06 I wonder if this product is really just reacting with the nitrate tests rather than reacting with nitrates. <A good question... how might one test for this?> I'm not sure.  I suppose there are different "indicator" chemicals that can indicate the presence of Nitrates. <Yes, certainly... but the test model itself is what I was referring to... Having replicate sets of circumstances... some w/ some w/o the media...> I'll see if a different brand test uses a different chemical reaction.  Otherwise, I'll have to clear the cobwebs off my chemistry minor and figure out my own test. <Heeee! Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Korallin Denitrator   12/18/06 Hey Bob! How are you? <Fine my friend> I know my question answers have been on-off as of late - this is due to my starting a new job as an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers and all the training and formalities resulting from that. I do what I can though no doubt I can do more... <Ah, good> I have also been busy upgrading my current aquarium set up. The plan is to have a nice Acro tank! <Can be challenging... commensurately rewarding...> In my current set up I have a continuous battle with nitrates (nothing extreme, but always around the 10ppm mark). <Should be fine> There is much talk that this will result in overpopulation of zooxanthellae and thereby browning of the corals, which is the last thing I want given the money I am spending on acquiring the corals! To combat this I am very much considering investing in the Korallin Biodenitrator (sulphur based). <Nice units... I just don't like their contactor closures... the nuts, what have you for getting into, sealing... just take care in their dismantling, putting all back together> This will apparently reduce all measurable nitrates and has the added benefit that the H2S produced is used to dissolve calcium media, thereby increasing calcium levels in the water. <Yes> So my question, which I hope you will not mind me asking you directly as opposed to via the forums, is whether this will be too much? More specifically, if the corals depend on zooxanthellae for their energy production and these zooxanthellae are a type of algae (therefore benefiting from the presence of nitrates/ammonia), will almost complete removal of nitrates result in the starvation of the zooxanthellae? <Mmm, a concern, but not really much of an issue... that is to say, nitrogen in useable formats is and will be available through the water, system... not all will be "instantaneously" removed via this reactor...> My gut instinct is to say that this will not be a problem, given the lack of nitrates in the oceans... but a second opinion would be appreciated. Thanks for your help Bob! Best wishes for the holidays and a very happy new year! Tim <And to you and yours Tim. "Not Tiny Tin, Zincing and Sulfuring into greater Argony...." Bob Fenner>

Skimmer for 29 gallon reef/fish tank- nitrates 8/17/05 Great Website. <Thank you> I just started my first reef/fish tank about 6 months ago. <Great> Currently I use a Skilter 250 on a 29 gallon tank.<mmmmmmmmmmmmm> I have about 35lbs of live rock, live sand, 130 watt power compact lights. I have a tomato clown, blackcap Basslet, torch coral, button polyps, open brain, carpet anemone, blood shrimp. Everyone is doing well. I do weekly water changes of 5 gallons.<Good> Recently my Nitrates have gone up (past two weeks). Currently are at about 20, previously always b/w 5-10. Algae has also been an issue.  All other parameters are fine. I do not feel that the Skilter 250 does an adequate skimming job. <It's not>I have decided to switch to A Bak-Pak 2R. I also have a PowerSweep powerhead. My question is can I use the Bak-Pak and powerhead only- or do I need additional filtration. I'd rather not use the Skilter at all if possible.  <Anthony, with the live rock present, I think you would be fine with just the Bak pak and power heads.  I would like to see a total flow rate of 300gph in your tank.  Keep in mind for skimmers to be effective, they must be cleaned weekly.> Thank you ahead of time for your help. <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> -Anthony

Re: skimmer for 29 gallon reef/fish tank- nitrates rising 8/20/05 Thank you for your quick response. I realize small systems like mine are not advisable. However, I have started it up and everyone is doing OK right now. At this point, I want to create the best system for my livestock since I did not start exactly right (Skilter 250). My nitrates are at about or slightly below 20. This concerns me b/c I have always kept them b/w 5-10 at most. I want to be proactive. With the Bak-Pak 2R and the power head of 160gph would it benefit my system to run the Skilter also? <Yes> Would a bio-wheel filter be advisable? I had heard that bio filtration could actually bring up nitrates. <Can... but I would use, run this, these with Marineland's products unless the side-issues you hint at became real issues> Or is it best for me to depend on the liverock, powerhead, and protein skimmer? Is there something else that I have not mentioned that would be more beneficial? <... there is much to discuss here... and conditional on what you know... aren't aware of yet... which I/we have little opportunity to assess... Hence the articles, FAQs files that are WWM> Also, at this point I was planning on increasing my water changes to 5 gallons (out of 29 gallon system) to every five days or so until the nitrates come back down (was doing 5 gallons every week). Is this OK? Should I do more? <Up to you, but more volume, and more frequency is what I would do as well as implementing contravening methods... Refugium/s, macro-algae, DSB/s...> Thank you again for your advice. I love this website. Very helpful and informative. -Anthony <Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

High Nitrate - III - 09/11/2005 Thanks again just one more question? You said get a more efficient protein skimmer. <If you can, yes.  Though anything is better than nothing.> What protein skimmer would you recommend besides the Prizm? <My personal preference is an Aqua-C or a Euro Reef, but I understand Turboflotors are great, as well.  An Aqua-C is probably going to be the least pricey of these options.> Am kinda on a budget :) <With skimmers, you really do get what you pay for!  Any of the skimmers listed are going to set you back quite a bit.  Try checking Reefcentral's forum of classified ads and eBay for used products, as this will save you some bucks for sure.  And again, something is better than nothing, so if price is a major obstacle, keep that Prizm going until you can save the cash for something better.> Thanks again. <Sure thing.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

- Nitrates and Skimmer Inefficiency - Hi Bob and Crew! Hope this email finds you all well.  <So far, yes.> I have a question about nitrates in my tank and potential skimmer issue. Research has not given me to much to go on, so thanks in advance for your input.  My tank setup is a 55 gallon FOWLR tank (no sump), including about 60 lbs. rock and 5-6 inches of live sand. The tank is minimally stocked with a clown, damsel, goby, Gramma, fox face, small puffer, and green anemone.  <That doesn't sound minimally stocked to me - between the puffer and the anemone, you've got two excellent sources for nitrogenous wastes.>  I have a AquaC Remora Pro hang-on skimmer, Filstar canister filter, and chiller keeping the tank at a constant 78. Nitrites are at 0, nitrates are at about 40, ammonia is at 0, pH is at 8.2. I use Catalina Water (ocean water sold by aquarium stores) for my water changes. I tested it last night and found it to be at about 20 on the nitrate level. Additionally, the Catalina water is a bit salty due to evaporation so I dilute it with filtered drinking water (not RO). Again, this water tested last night at about 20 for nitrates. So, I see that this is where some of my nitrates are coming from. I perform water changes of 10% every 1.5 weeks. Should I switch to RO and make my own water?  <I would because I do.>  I have gotten lazy just buying bottles of "pre-made" water - is making my own difficult?  <Not at all.> The tank have some algae, but not much. I clean the glass during each water change and use a tooth brush in the rocks to remove the whitish sort of film from the hard purple coating. The fish seem healthy and the anemone has been great for years. The nitrate issue has been ongoing for years as well. It will climb until I bring it down. What I have been doing is using the AZ-NO3 product from MMM for a long time and it actually does a pretty good job. However, the tank is almost acting like it is addicted to the stuff. Recently, I have gradually decreased the dosage to wean the tank from it. Unfortunately, the less I put in, the less the skimmer works. Now, I am down to 1mL per night and the skimmer is not working at all. If I increase the AZ-NO3 dosage, the skimmer starts up again. It has not been skimming for over a week and nitrates are increasing. Do you have any ideas on what can cause a skimmer to not work in this way?  <Well... it is very typical for mature tanks to stop skimming. Could be this is where you are at this point - skimmers don't remove nitrates directly, only the products that may one day become nitrates.>  Some type of chemical imbalance maybe?  <Don't think so.>  Oh yes, I also use one of the large blocks of Sea Lab #28 every time I do a water change.  <I'd stop adding this stuff... not necessary if you start making your own water. I'll recommend that you do two things - start making your own water, and stop adding stuff - the AZ-NO3, SeaLab slab - leave these out of your regimen, wait a couple of weeks and see if things don't change for you; both the skimmer and the presence of nitrates.> Thanks for the advice! John <Cheers, J -- >

Knocking Down Nitrate! Hey crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> Long time no write (things have been going fairly well).  I have been doing my regular water tests and found that last week my nitrates were up to about 40 from 20 ish (colors suck).  I did a 30% water change and this didn't seem to do a thing.  I took some water into my lab and am getting ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, pH, chloride as NaCl by titration, specific gravity and electrical conductivity tested to determine if my test kits are good or not.  In the mean time I'm going to keep up with the water changes.  What else can I do?? <There are a number of things that you can do. Water changes with quality source water a great, but they will take time to reduce the nitrate level significantly. Keep up with small, frequent water changes. You can also utilize chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or PolyFilter, clean and replace any mechanical filtration media that you have in the system, such as prefilter bags or "socks", and make sure that you are getting a couple of cups a week of darky, yucky skimmate from your protein skimmer. A properly constructed deep sand bed (DSB) is another proven technique that has shown a great capacity to reduce nitrate over time. You could also grow and harvest macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, in a dedicated section of your sump. And, you could even install a refugium to help process and export nutrients, including nitrate> My skimmer seems to be playing games with me, its a SeaClone 150, 4 months old.  Is there a way to clean the inside where the vortex is????   <Well, this skimmer has a reputation for being somewhat of an underperformer. Cleaning it is a good idea, but it may not be the only factor in it's problematic performance. See Steve Pro's review of skimmers in our new online magazine, "Conscientious Aquarist" for his thoughts on this skimmer.> I also only have about 63 lbs of rock in my 90 gallon, so upping this should help (I hope), my DSB is only about 2-3" should I increase the size of this?? <Yep...2"-3" is not really a "deep sand bed". Shoot for 4" plus. I've seen people increase their sandbed depth and notice a serious drop in nitrate in weeks. It really works!> I am moving in a couple of months so would it be ok to add some finely crushed aragonite to my already existing not so finely crushed aragonite when I move or will this to more harm than good? <I'd go for it> Are there any other "techniques" I could use?? <Ahh, I already touched on a few already...You could read in much greater detail about each on the WWM site> Thank you kindly, Todd Hawman <My pleasure, Todd. Hope that I gave you a few ideas to pique your interest. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Can a Protein Skimmer Really do That? >Hello again Mr. Bob, >>Ms. Harding in his place today. >As my previous letter, now I become one of the salt water aquarium moderator in my country, I know even though I have experience for about 10 years in keeping marine fish, but I still believe that my knowledge is still novice.  My question is does PROTEIN SKIMMER REMOVE AMMONIA, NITRITE AND NITRATE (later I write ANN)?   >>No, it doesn't.  It removes much of the waste that would later decompose into these compounds. >Because one of my senior told in the forum that this thing remove the ANN.  But, I strongly opposite him and told the forum that he was wrong, protein skimmer doesn't remove and never remove ANN, may be it will remove a very small part of ANN but ANN can only be remove by the Nitrogen Cycle process. >>This is correct, as I said, the best that can be hoped for with a foam fractionator is removal of waste products that later decompose. >Later he told to the forum again that he have a solution that can make water crystal clear and also remove ANN, so we do not need a Protein Skimmer. >>OH MY!  (I am laughing now.)  His nickname doesn't happen to be "saltcritter", does it?  (Search reefs.org for this individual, you will get a great chuckle.) >And at this point I opposite him again, I told to the forum that Nitrogen Cycle process can't be deny in marine aquaria, AM I CORRECT? Please advice and suggestion. >>Yes, remain confident in your assertions.  My own suggestion, as someone who's involved in another board's forums, is to state simply that the purpose of the board is to disseminate GOOD information, and if he has proof (scientific) of his claims, please make it available.  Otherwise, I might treat him as a "troll".  Enjoy!  Marina

-Nitrate: It's what's for dinner. Hi guy's <Hey there, Kevin here.>  Need your help. I have a 110 gallon FOWLR tank with 7 inhabitants...3 damsels, clown trigger, dogface puffer, Volitans Lion and a snowflake eel... About a week ago my eel stopped eating which of course sparked all kinds of activity around the tank to try and figure out what is wrong with my system <ok>  Possible problems are that I have about 1" substrate on the bottom (can't remember the name of it...it is crushed coral/sand) as well I only have about 5 lb of undoubtedly dead rock that I have probably killed off when treating with copper about 3 mths ago) another story in it's own right. Lastly I have the filter floss in my trickle filter that undoubtedly needs to be changed and will do so this week. Anyway, I tested the water for Nitrates and found them to be over 100 ppm. <There's your problem, eels don't stop eating for no reason.> Naturally began water changes in an effort to rectify, ..have done 2 changes at 5% over the past 4 days and have managed to bring the nitrates down to around 80 ppm as well reduced the amount of food being fed <You can do much better than this, how bout a few 50% water changes? You can change large amounts of water provided you are extra careful to make sure the water chemistry and temp are the same and that you aren't disturbing the biological filter too much.>  I believe that the root of my problem is that my skimmer is not working properly...Call me new but I have been having a problem getting the skimming levels down (had actually emailed you guys for help and was told that I should have a fine mist of bubbles about halfway up the neck of my skimmer...What I am finding is that I am either getting a ton of water in the collection cup, or very little with guck forming at the top of the cylinder. <Interesting, I'd try and give you some advice but that is dependant on the make/model of your skimmer. Try contacting the mfg or the place you bought it from, you didn't pay all that money to have a useless piece of plastic draining energy.>  I see it mentioned in your articles that you should work the skimmer hard...can you elaborate on this what should I be doing ?? Keeping the water level lower with maximum bubble activity ?? <You want to fine tune your skimmer to produce the darkest, driest foam possible consistently. You do this by getting the largest amount of the finest bubbles possible with the longest contact time. That's the theory, but every skimmer operates different, so how to get these things done depends on what you have. I hope this helps! -Kevin>  Thanks in advance for your help, Chris 

Tank setup problems-nitrates Where can I find information on adjusting the skimmer?  I find it very difficult to proper adjust the skimmer.  Sometimes it produce to water that is not thick enough and sometimes the foam just collapse. <Look to the owner's manual and keeping the water level constant with a skimmer box. Check out WetWebMedia.com for these, also Anthony Calfo's book.> (3) Replace the protein skimmer with a more effective one, such as AquaC. Will AquaC suffer from the same problem as the Jetskim that it only effective at a specific PH value? <Your pH should be 8.3, if not or you are having difficulty with water chemistry, you should get this in order as it can and will affect skimmer efficiency. I highly recommend Kalkwasser use to maintain calcium, support alkalinity and maintaining proper pH.> (4) Run the refugium 7 X 24 so that the skimmer works at its best all day long. <This could be done but with the refugium on an alternate cycle, your pH should already be stable 24 hours a day.....unless something else (water chemistry) is amiss. I'm beginning to suspect this is your problem. What is alk, calcium and pH in the late PM? Also check magnesium.> Actually, I got a calcium reactor, so I believe alk and calcium may not be the problem.  What's the best method to increase my PH to 8.3? Also, how is magnesium related? <You didn't mention this before, but with the reactor it depends on if you are using CO2 or not and how the reactor is set up. Your alk/calcium/mag is likely good with the reactor, combined with high nitrates points to acidic wastes in the system perhaps combined with an improperly adjusted or set-up calcium reactor contributing to depressed pH. What is the pH before the lights go off? It should be at it's highest then. The answers are : Better husbandry including better nutrient export, (skimming), vacuuming fouled substrates, feeding less, cleaning sponges and filters, using chemical media if needed. Your skimmer should be producing a good deal of skimmate daily.> >Clean sponges, skimmer, filters at least weekly and perhaps daily for sponges.> The sponges are only clean every two weeks.  The substrate are the fine one.  Maybe the sponge is part of the problem. <Very likely! Keep them cleaned out, improve nutrient export and check out your reactor functioning correctly.  Craig>

Tank setup problems-nitrates Hello WWM crews, Best wishes and happy new year. My tank recently is experiencing an increasing NO3 (about 40ppm) and I'm wondering how I may improve the situation.  My tank is a 80G tank with a 30G sump.  The sump is divided into several areas with about half of the area working a refugium.  The refugium is growing Caulerpa lighted by a 150W MH in reverse hour as the main tank.  The tank has 100 pounds of live rock.  The tank has one 5" powder blue tang, two 3" goby and one firebird and a couple of soft corals.  However, since I also got a few sea fan, I feed the tank with 4 spoons of ESV Phytoplankton every day.  The fish is feed twice: one with dry food and another with Mysis shrimp. I'm considering several options: (1) Decrease my feeding of both fish food and phytoplankton.  Is one meal a day sufficient to my fish?  Will this affect my sea fan? <I would reduce the phyto feeding and only feed small amounts of fish food that can be eaten immediately.> (2) Add another protein skimmer.  I'm now using Schuran Jetskim 100.  Will it help if I add another Jetskim 100?  For your info, the skimmer did extract DOC but they are not very black and not very solid.  Also, it seems only effective when the light on the refugium is on. <I am not familiar with this skimmer but it should be producing a cup or so of dark skimmate per day. If not, it needs to be adjusted or replaced with a more efficient skimmer.> (3) Replace the protein skimmer with a more effective one, such as AquaC. Will AquaC suffer from the same problem as the Jetskim that it only effective at a specific PH value? <Your pH should be 8.3, if not or you are having difficulty with water chemistry, you should get this in order as it can and will affect skimmer efficiency. I highly recommend Kalkwasser use to maintain calcium, support alkalinity and maintaining proper pH.> (4) Run the refugium 7 X 24 so that the skimmer works at its best all day long. <This could be done but with the refugium on an alternate cycle, your pH should already be stable 24 hours a day.....unless something else (water chemistry) is amiss. I'm beginning to suspect this is your problem. What is alk, calcium and pH in the late PM? Also check magnesium.> (5) Use chemical filter to absorb NO3 and PO4.  But it seems to me that this is only addressing the symptom but not the root problem. (6) More water change.  Now I'm changing 2% water every other day. Which option should I choose or are there any other better way? Thanks and regards, Manus <Test source water first, you may introduce nitrogen and ammonia in replacement water.  If so, you need RO/DI etc to eliminate.  Clean sponges, skimmer, filters at least weekly and perhaps daily for sponges.  What sort of substrate are you using? Coarse substrates trap detritus and wastes and produce nitrates. Keep vacuumed if this is the case or replace with fine aragonite. Reducing nitrates can be a multiple issue problem, overfeeding, inadequate waste export, retained wastes, etc. You may need to look at several causes.  Craig>

Re: nitrate problem/ livestock I have a 90 gallon reef tank well established overall everything has been great.  all the water chemistry is perfect except for the nitrates they are through the roof like 180 to 200.  I tried water changes and nitrate sponges I bought a sea clone skimmer from marine land the bigger it can do up to 150 gallon capacity <This is a "junk" product. Replace it. Please read through our skimmer selection FAQs starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and continuing on> still no better the collection cup fills up with dark clean matter real disgusting over all the corals are good not great but good.  What else can I do to correct this problem. <Many things. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the FAQs files beyond (linked, in blue, at top)> Second question is regarding my live stock. I have a lunar wrasse, purple tang, orange tail damsel, yellow tail damsel, tiger goby, marine Betta, royal Gramma, dwarf lionfish and a  Naso tang.  All of these fish I have had well over 2 years and have grown considerably in particular the lunar he must of been the red sea variety, because when I got him he was not too colored no tail trailers about maybe  3 inches he has grown to 9" full blown ultra colored bright green fuchsia long Anthias tail just a killer specimen. <Neat> In regards to the nitrate problem I am thinking about adding some clams I have the lighting metal halide 250 watt and 2 4 ft compact fluorescents with straight actinic 55 watt Coralife bulbs total I've got 470 watts of lighting on my 90 gallon.  The problem is I have had clams before crocea, maxima, deresa all died the first two I did not  have the halides the store said the flo's would be good "wrong" the last one I have was doing fine for about two months then I killed it by depleting the nitrates down therefore depleting his food supply and inevitably the lunar when to town and ate the clam up.  I did notice that the lunar nipped at the mantle from time to time can I control this with feeding to where I can add say 3 to 4 clams and let the bivalves do their worth after how do they survive in the wild right. <I would not place tridacnids with this Lunare Wrasse. Bob Fenner>

Re: nitrate problem/ livestock This is my second skimmer I heard it was pretty good so I gonna leave it be for now, reading the faq's everything is the same that I have read before, I have done the massive water changes 20 30 or ever 40% for my trouble I got the nitrates down to 100 ppm and killed various corals via shock. <... you're wasting your time, livestock's' vitality, money on water replacement by using this puny skimmer... Please send a note to our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ or others on the Net... or read where I just sent you...> I have another idea because the water thing is not working, I have a AMiracle wet dry on this tank what if I changed out the bio balls to some other matter like some of the CPRs ribbon material I have also seen other products like cell pore blocks from Kent and so on.  Or would I be better off converting the bio ball chamber to a refugium with mud and ruble. <Removing the plastic media would be of help, and it would be even better to do the refugium conversion.> I am assuming I would have to let the bio balls float for a good 30 days in the sump so that I would not interrupt the filtration before switching what's your opinion. <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm A note. If you don't want to read where you're sent, pretend that you have, disregard our advice out of hand, please don't waste the bandwidth, our time by writing us. Bob Fenner>

- Controlling Nitrates - Hey guys, <Hello, JasonC here...> I have a question regarding high nitrates.  Let me give you the specs first.  I have a 75 gallon tank FOWLR (about 70 lbs of live rock).  I am using a Eheim canister filter (rated to 94 gal which I clean monthly), a BakPak2 protein skimmer, and a Aquaclear 300 power filter.  I have taken the "BioBale" out of the skimmer and run it without this material (should I replace it or use something else in there?). <Is fine either way.> Also, I run the power filter with Polyfilter, carbon (which i change bimonthly), and Kent nitrate sponge (does this stuff really work). <Based on the information you list, it doesn't sound like it.> Ammonia-0ppm Nitrite-0ppm pH-8.2 salinity-1.023 nitrate>80ppm 1 small Sailfin tang, 1 flame angel, 1 2.5 in. Bluespotted Jawfish (my favorite), 1 purple Firefish, a cleaner shrimp, a few assorted hermits, and a few turbo snails (I used to have more of the snails and crabs but they seem to have slowly disappeared over the last year (because of nitrates??)) I have always had a slight problem with diatoms which just required some scraping, but recently I have had a large outbreak of some sort of dark brown algae that covers my live rock in a slimy film. <It sounds like Cyanobacteria - BGA - more information about that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > I couldn't find it in the FAQs, but I may not have looked hard enough.  I assume that this is due to the high nitrates? I typically perform a 20% water change with vacuuming of gravel weekly, but I admit sometimes it's 2 weeks between water changes. <That's ok.> In an effort to decrease the nitrates and prevent the algal blooms I have been diligent with weekly water changes of 25% for the last month and significantly cut back the feeding to once a day. <Yeah... but how much once a day?> Also, as mentioned above, I removed the BioBale from the skimmer and I don't run the power filter with a foam insert.  I thought that all of these things together with the canister filter might be a big nitrate factory. <I don't think so.> Is this assumption correct or am I mistaken?? <You clean it regularly... would prevent that problem.> Also, I noticed when vacuuming the gravel there is a huge accumulation of junk underneath the live rock, but I really don't want to tear apart the whole tank to get to these places.  Is that ok or should I get under the rock as often as possible as well. <No, you can get away with a good gravel clean about every six months.>  The skimmer only gives me about 1/4 cup of tea colored skimmate with lots of gunk in the collection cup neck.  I have never seen dark coffee like skimmate from this unit and was wondering your opinion of this unit? <That's about standard for this unit - it's not really a very good skimmer.> I should probably get another skimmer and was thinking of a Remora Pro when I get the money unless you have a better suggestion? <Nope, the Remora pro is what I would recommend.> Is there anything else I should do other than the water changes and decreased feeding to get the nitrate down? <You might consider increasing the flow in your tank to get some of that detritus into the water column and subsequently into the filter system... likewise, the increased flow would help get that water in/around/through the live rock which should help quite a bit.> Though I am not a fan of adding all sorts of chemicals I saw a product from Aquamarine called Nitrate Reducer which claims 97% reduction in nitrates in 7-14 days.  Such claims certainly can tempt the average aquarium keeper. <And I'm sure they do.> What do you think about such a product?? <Never tried it, never will.> Thanks in advance for your help.  You have a great site. Jeff P.S. After over a year of placing Bob's CMA on birthday, Christmas lists, etc I finally got it from my fiancé this past holiday.  I love it! <Cheers, J -- >

Nailing Nitrate Hi guys. <Hey! Scott F. here today> I'm setting up a 40 gal reef with an overflow, a great deal of live rock and MH lighting. In the sump I intend to escape the problem of creating a nitrate factory by only having water that has passed through the skimmer entering the wet/dry filter. What do you think? Thanks in advance, Tom. <Well, Tom, your intentions are good. However, by it's very nature, the wet/dry filter produces nitrate as the "end product" of the biological filtration process. Yes, skimmers do help export some nitrate, but, in my opinion, you will still be producing nitrate with the wet/dry, regardless of where the skimmer is located in the system. You should locate the skimmer where it will receive raw source water from the tank, for maximum efficiency. Also, it is best to utilize other means of nutrient export to help eliminate nitrate, such as using quality source water, regular small (like 5% twice weekly) water changes, use of a deep sand bed, chemical filtration media, and eliminating the plastic media in the wet-dry filter. These steps will go a long way towards helping reduce or eliminating nitrate in your system. God luck! Regards, Scott F >

Nitrate levels Hi guys <Cheers, Andy> I hope you can advise me, I have just returned to the hobby after a 15 year break. <excellent... welcome back!> I am starting up a marine tank, and going through the cycling process, ammonia has just dropped off the scale and nitrite is peaking now BUT the nitrate level is huge,  <yes... to be expected from the conversion of the large nitrogenous spike on cycling> despite several 10% water changes. <ahhh... too small for exchanges to reduce nitrate. Best to wait until the very end of the cycle and do one very large water change IMO (properly conducted with water that is pH, temp and salinity adjusted carefully)> I have no livestock, 1/2 inch of coral sand and some ocean rock.  <are you cycling with a batch of uncured rock which provides the material for cycling (decaying organic material)? Else, what are you using to cycle?> my filters consist of a Fluval 3 and a built in unit, both with sponges for biological and the built in unit with floss, a PolyFilter and carbon.  <excellent> my skimmer is a red sea 'Prizm'  <hmmm... definitely will want to add a second skimmer or simply upgrade from this model very soon. Much info to be heard about this model on the message boards. May I suggest a Euroreef, Aqua C, Turboflotor or Tunze instead? Euroreef being perhaps my first choice.> Due to the high level of nitrate (my tapwater shows minimal - and I use nitrogen so the freshwater is around 2-3 ppm) I tried clean water ion exchange resin to no avail. <do save your money on such products. "the solution to pollution is dilution". Water changes, my friend. Also, if you had a skimmer that performed consistently and well ( a full cup of coffee dark liquid every day) then you would have a lot less nitrate to handle> The only possible polluter is the 1/2 a fish stick I put in the tank to start the maturation process off (3 weeks ago), but the water changes have not really made much of an impact on the nitrate level. my questions are 1/ how to reduce dramatically the nitrate level <yep... biggie water change> 2/ when can I introduce living rock ( I will be putting around 45 pounds of it in when I feel the water parameters are safe for the life on the living rock)  <actually if the rock you buy if local and fully cured... the sooner the better! Else if air shipped, the curing process will take some extra weeks> I know that the rock will reduce nitrate but will the high level of nitrate and still high level of nitrite bar me from putting it in at the moment. <no impediment at all> 3/ once the tank has finally matured, and , when I can afford it, I want to add a fluidized sand filter - do I have to mature it separately or can it be hooked up straight away and allowed to mature in situ. <unless you are planning on large fish or overfeeding... the fluidized bed (or any other biological filter at this point) will be overkill and contribute to even higher nitrates. You will have plenty of bio filtration from the live rock and the Fluval sponges are a fine backup. The extra filter is more harm than good. Spend your money on a second/better skimmer and enjoy much better water quality for it> Thanks in advance Andy Davis Ashford Kent UK <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

High Nitrates/Phosphates Hi, I have a 75 Gal. marine set-up (since 12,2000) containing approximately 60 lbs. of Fiji Live Rock as well as a Red Sea Berlin Turbo protein skimmer. My showpiece resident is a Hawaiian Dragon Moray Eel. In addition have one Cleaner shrimp and four Peppermint Shrimp as well as a few Astrea Snails/Nassarius Snails. Lighting consists of tow Twin Tube All Glass reflectors containing URI Aqua-sun and Actinic Lamps. This week, following a 25% (25 Gal) water change water testing results for nitrates were off the chart high as well as phosphates registering 1.6 mg/l. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  Would the fact that my Berlin Turbo Skimmer failed on two occasions and as of this writing have replaced the impeller with the third design revision provided by Red Sea Inc. <The skimmer is a contributing cause... but the real producer is the Moray itself... Please take a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and on to the further FAQs posted on Phosphates... you might try a sump with a DSB, live rock, macro-algae there... and lighting this refugium... This would be the route I would go. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ron Allard

Nitrates/Phosphates Good Morning - Bob, Steve or Anthony <Steven this afternoon.> I have a 29 gallon reef tank. The inhabitants are: 1- Yellow tailed blue damsel, 1- pink skunk clown, 1-long nose hawk and 1-flame hawk, 1 six-line wrasse as well as 2-large cleaner shrimp and 1 large banded coral shrimp, 1 large Turbo Snail, 4 other snails that just appeared and various mushrooms, polyps, leather corals and a colt coral. All fish and corals seem very healthy and have good appetites and corals are spreading. I feed once a day sparingly. My water conditions are: PH=8.4, Ammonia =0, Nitrite=0, Nitrates=10-20, Calcium=450-460, Phosphate=.25-.50, Alkalinity=125 which is what the test kit says it should be but I can't remember what that's measured in. <Alkalinity of 125 is not possible. It should be 2.5-3.5 meq/l or 7-10 dKH.> I *change out 6 gallons of water per week. <Very good.> I have a SeaClone Protein Skimmer that skims 1/4 to 1/2 inches of skimmate per day which I think is a little low. <I would like to see more skimmate, but may not be possible with this skimmer.> A Penguin 330 bio wheel with charcoal filters and 2 Hagen power heads ( I think they are 300's) with quick cartridges. The quick cartridges have a foam insert. I would like to keep my Nitrates down to zero but with fish, I wonder if that is possible. <With this current bio-load and filtration, it will be difficult. a DSB may help.> Would I be better off as far as Nitrate and Phosphate to remove the quick cartridges from the power heads and turn one of them upside down low and blowing into the rock ? Would this perhaps increase the efficiency of the Protein skimmer? <Not likely to increase skimmer performance much. Do be sure to clean and/or replace the cartridges fairly regularly, at least weekly.> I would like to achieve the best conditions I can for my tank size which I know is small. I am going to set up another 29 gallon tank on the bottom of my stand (wall space is an issue) and take one of the hawks and two of the other fish (wrasse/damsel and some of the corals and put into the lower tank once it has cycled to lessen the bio load on the tank. Is this a feasible plan? <Sounds good.> Any suggestions would be appreciated. <I would look at the Prizm skimmers from Red Sea. Considerably more effective and about the same price.> I can send a picture if you think it would help. <Not needed at this point. -Steven Pro>

Nitrates bob thank you for taking my email! I just brought your book conscientious marine aquarist. <Sure you will enjoy, benefit from it> my problem is I have a 55 gal tank, using a emperor 400 filter using standard filter no extra carbon), a sea clone skimmer18 watt uv ster., and 2 03 power heads, 60 lbs of live rock, 60 lbs of live sand, using reef crystal mix and or water. my tank is about 6 mos. old, water changes 20% weekly. and RO top off. I have 1 naso,1 yellow tang,1 purple tang,1 dragon goby, 2 cardinals, 2 damsels, 35 shrimp, <thirty five? I'll assume either three or five> 2 starfish, 3 emeralds, 20 blue legged hermits and 20 snails, 3 anemones, <What types? Could be trouble...> 1 leather, 2 corals. I feed once a day lifeline for the tangs and formula 2 for the others. I do not use phytoplankton or should I? <I would... and be carefully observing this mix... a lot of life for a fifty five gallon tank...> I use reef complete for my calcium levels. no matter what I do I can not get my nitrates down, there running 80+ and very consistent. no matter if I do more water changes or what , tried a nitrate sorb in my filter with no change, I added another filter which is a Rena to help with the standard carbon sponge and fiber media. with no help! my amm. 0:, nitrites 0:, ph 8.2:, calcium 400:, phosphates .1:, I'm getting good skimming from my skimmer and clean the canister once a day and the tube once a week change my filter on my emperor every 2 weeks and clean the Rena once a week. I need help!!!!!!!! should I take out the bio wheels in the emperor? <Maybe... but I wouldn't... you need their help, steady, back-up nitrification here... There is much more you can/should do...> I just bought a 29 gal tank I was going to make a sump out of it with no bio balls putting my skimmer down there and use some live sand bed with plants so the water can run across and then return to tank is that good think it will help? <Of a certainty yes... this is a very good plan.> I'm at the last line now this is my goal in life to reduce my nitrates, LOL I'm at my wits end and really don't no what to do next. thank you , Gary Williams Abington, Va. <Do read over the "Nitrates FAQs" posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com, as well as "Algal Filtration FAQs" there... You're well on your way... and seem to have a good and growing grasp of what you might do here. Bob Fenner>

Green hairy algae and high nitrates 7/26/05 We have a 45 gallon, 16 month old reef aquarium which until about six months ago was perfectly balanced chemically.  Oh yeah, live rock, live sand, and Aqua Clear wet./dry filter, a CAP 1800 pump, an unknown protein skimmer, and some charcoal.  Then, around January, the nitrates went really high (200+), but now they are in the high O.K. range and we are getting a lot of green hairy algae.  I've been reading your chat board and you have mentioned the protein skimmer should put out a couple of cups of sludge a week and ours doesn't even need to be dumped but every couple of weeks.  The skimmer was suggested by the aquarium shot where we got our tank, I think it is locally made (Jacksonville, FL), it wasn't expensive ($100), and is installed in the sump as per directions.  I'm thinking we should get a better skimmer due to the stupid algae.  We have 6 fish, one clam, one spiny oyster, and four corals.  Any suggestions?  Thanks. <Depending on size, six fish could be a bit much for a 45 gallon tank.  For skimmers to work efficiently, they must be cleaned weekly by removing the brown sludge that builds up on the riser tube.  For algae control Google "algae control" on the Wet Web Media.  James (Salty Dog)>  

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