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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Nitrates  

Related Articles: Nitrates, NitritesAmmonia, Phosphate, SilicatesNutrient Control and ExportDeep Sand Beds

Related FAQs: Nitrates 1, 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, Chemical Filters... NitritesAmmonia, Establishing Cycling, BioFiltrationPhosphate, Silicates, Biological Filtration, Fluidized Beds, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Bio-Balls, Wet-Dry Filters, R.O./Distilled/Treated WaterChemical FiltrantsDeep Sand Beds

Don't feel too bad re having Cyano/BGA in your system... Happens even in the wild. 

A mystery... some nitrates, removing undesirable "worm", Aiptasia 7/14/05 Hello all.  It's been a while.  I have two questions.  But first, to give you a picture: 90  gallon 570 watts of a mix of 10,000K day and actinics 20 high sump under cabinet with Turboflotor skimmer UV sterilizer Incoming water Chemi-pure All in first chamber In second chamber, live rock and Chaetomorpha (with tons of amphipods) In third chamber, live rock In fourth chamber, return 1800 mag drive Chambers make "S" shape as water snakes through Plexiglas walls Above in the 90, 120 lbs live rock, crushed coral substrate (vacuumed thoroughly weekly), 2 power heads at 300 GPH each.  Half manifold for return flexibility.  Fish: Purple tang Blue tang Ruby-headed fairy wrasse Hawkfish Mandarin Sailfin blenny Coral beauty 2 clownfish Royal Gramma Corals: Kenya tree Xenia Button polyps Green star polyps Chemistry: PH 8.4 Salt 1.025 Nitrite 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrate 10 KH 11.5 Calcium 350 Husbandry: 20 gallon water change weekly (RO water) Sea chem advantage calcium and Sea chem Alk supplements Monthly clean of sump I think I gave enough information.  My question is, I went to a more natural filter system and my nitrate went up.  When I had tons of biological and mechanical filtration through the tidepool wet-dry, my nitrate was zero. Any suggestions? <Mmmm, no, not really... Your set-up, stocking looks good to me> I don't want that to get out of control.   <I would not sweat the ten ppm of NO3> I cannot bring it down even with my cleaning and water changes...what can I do?  I tried the Chemi-pure hoping it would help but it hasn't.   My second question is I have noticed this thing that looks like a flatworm.  I have been watching him and it seems to be eating my pretty coralline algae.  It is oval, maybe 1/4" long and less wide.  It is the color of the purple coralline algae and also on top centrally (not all the way to the edges) are numerous slits like gills.  So I finally had decided I want it out and I spy it and go in with tweezers expecting a mushy thing but it was stony! <Best not to squeeze such animals... but to gingerly vacuum them out> I couldn't get it removed even with metal tweezers!  Now what?  Will it eat all my coralline algae? <Doubtful> I'm sorry I don't have a picture.  O, one more thing.  My LFS dealer told me that in order to get rid of those pesky rock anemones (Aiptasia?) I could take Kalkwasser, mix it to the consistency of whole milk and with a syringe squirt it on its disc.  They are then supposed to disintegrate.  Is this true? <Is one approach... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/aiptasia/aiptasia.htm and the linked files above> Thanks in advance.  Thoroughly enjoying this hobby.  Awaiting your next book.  When do you expect it. <Perhaps a few to several months> Thanks to your other Reef Inverts book, I was saved from buying a blue Linckia starfish and starving it in my aquarium.  I was to buy it the next day.  But I went home and looked it up in your book.  The information was great!   Thanks again!  Renee' Dodson <Outstanding... do keep reading, enjoying... taking all in stride. I wish you well. Bob Fenner>

Nitrates still out of control Hello again, First, just wanted to throw a very cool link your way... very big news (no pun intended). I'm sure you probably already heard / read of this, but just in case: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20020225/squid.html To update you on my tank situation: we have emailed each other a few times on my nitrate problem. Okay, 'problem' is entirely too gentle a word. I have turned my sump from a wet/dry filter into a refugium. It has about 2" of aragonite for substrate, a bunch of live rock rubble, some hermits and a few snails. There is a small LOA PC unit on 24/7. I finally got my hands on some Caulerpa (prolifera, I believe it to be) and MAN did this stuff take off. If this was my yard, I'd be panicking, wondering how I was going to get rid the stuff. Seriously, looking at it in the morning and then again in the evening when I return from work, I can see noticeable growth. I also replaced all my old crushed coral substrate with a three inch bed of Southdown. After doing this, I did three water changes- the first was my scheduled water change, the other two were to try to help clear the tank a bit. In the span of a week, I'd say I did about a 50% change. It has now been two weeks, and I tested my nitrates this morning. They are still... well, my kit doesn't even begin to approach how high they are. If I had to guess, I'd say probably around 72,874 ppm. Give or take a few tens of thousands. ;) The tank is a 55 gallon FOWLR... well, a few inverts. Hermits and snails, two featherdusters, and quite a few mushrooms. The piscine inhabitants are a yellow tang, a regal tang, and a false Percula. I feed very sparingly, mostly for the Percula's benefit, as the tangs both seem very happy to graze on the hair algae (though that's been dying off rapidly since the introduction of the Caulerpa...). The skimmer I use is a Big Mombassa, and it seems to do a 'just-okay' job. I'm not getting a full collection cup every week. Seems to be about ever two or three weeks that I have to dump it. Would a stronger powerhead improve this? Is there something else I've missed here? Where can all these nitrates be coming from? I feel like I'm missing a big part of the equation here. <I do not believe your test kit. Do you have/can you get another nitrate test kit? Having done all of this work (major water changes, removing gravel, etc.) and not see any difference makes me feel suspect of your kit. Do you have a good pH and alkalinity kit? pH and alkalinity should be depressed if you do indeed have this much nitrate and the corresponding dissolved organics. Please double check. As for your skimmer, try cleaning the powerhead and skimmer body very well and run the powerhead in a separate bucket with hot water and vinegar to remove deposits. This may improve your performance. -Steven Pro> Thanks, ~John

Lowering Nitrates Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven pro this evening.> I have a 155 gallon tank, 20 gallon sump with 10 gallons in it and a 20 gallon refugium. 55 lbs live sand in the tank, 110lbs live rock the tank is 4 months old with 3/4 of the rocks coming from an established tank that was taken apart. I have approximately fourteen, 1 to 1 1/2 inch fish ( clowns, purple Pseudochromis, Banggai cardinal, etc) for a total of 18 fish in all. I have 50 blue leg and red leg crabs, 20 to 25 turbo snails, Caulerpa growing in the tank. I have mushrooms, Goniopora, star polyps, toad stool and a nitrate level of 20ppm. The refugium was just installed this week with reverse light cycle all other tests are in the correct range. Even with water changes I cannot get the nitrate level lower than 20. Will the refugium help? Please help me. Thank you, Nick. <The refugium will help somewhat. Aggressive protein skimming, use of purified water for top-off and water changes, as well as proper feeding will all help, too. -Steven Pro>

Re: Lowering Nitrates Thank you for your rapid response. <very welcome> When you say aggressive protein skimming, what do you mean ? I am using a Super Reef Devil made by AETech it usually produces about 8- 10 oz daily ( green tea colored ) .  <if you get that color darker like coffee and collect almost as much, I would call that fine and aggressive skimming> I am using a KOLD STER-IL filtration system by POLY-BIO-MARINE (I just started using this system 1 week ago).  <a fantastic unit> I feed 1 frozen portion of PRIME REEF ( not always prime reef but that same size portion of another brand) in the morning and very little flake at night. What do you think of the KOLD STERIL VS RO/DI ? <I like DI best because of cost effectiveness (cheapest production of high quality water), I wouldn't take an R/O unit for free (waste water produced is staggering and shameful) and the KOLD STER-IL falls in between for me. I do love Poly-Bio Marine products though...excellent Poly-filters! Anthony> THANKS FOR YOUR HELP NICK SWERBILOV NY NY

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>>

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>

Natural Nitrate Reduction in a "messy" FO tank. Bob, Anthony or Steven... <Steven this morning.> Hello there. I think that my question I emailed in may have gotten lost, because for the first time, I got no response. I'm assuming it wasn't deliberate. :-) So here it comes again... <Definitely not deliberate.> Anyhow, let me start out with my current setup. I have a 100 Gallon FOWLR tank that is plumbed to a 40G Rubbermaid sump that holds a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer. I have 1" of LS for aesthetics in the main tank that I'm considering reducing down to 1/2" from what I've been reading on the site. I just added 35lbs of LR to the existing 80lbs, for a total of 115lbs of Fiji LR. The tanks inhabitants are: Naso lituratus - Naso Tang - 5.5" Rhinecanthus aculeatus - Picasso Trigger - 3.5" Balistoides conspicillum - Clown Trigger - 3.5" Premnas biaculeatus - Maroon Clown - 1.5" Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus - Porcupine Puffer - 3.5" Now that we've got that out of the way... here are my questions. My main goal is better nitrate removal because they are over 70 right now, and I know I can do better, even if my fish are of the "messy" variety. 1) I want to add in another 18G Rubbermaid container, slightly higher than the sump. I would pump in water from the sump via a small RIO 800 and let it flow back via gravity into the sump, in a mini loop. What would you suggest I put in there? <Two options: very DSB (almost all the way to the top) or the Ecosystem method.> Can I get enough mud in a 18G container to make a difference? <Will have some impact though hard to measure with standard test kits.> I know I should have 20-30 lbs of Miracle Mud or the new Kent product, but what's more important, surface area of the mud or just shear quantity? Caulerpa? Both? <All of the above.> 2) Are the benefits of Caulerpa (nitrate reduction and refugium functions) great enough to outweigh the possible problems of it going "sexual" and possibly damaging the tank? <Allegedly the 24/7 lighting cycle makes going sexual less of a potential problem.> I've tried Caulerpa once before, and it was hard to keep alive. <Needs adequate lighting and nutrients, which you have in abundance.> 3) Should I convert my sump (which only holds water, heater, return pump and skimmer right now) to a 4" DSB? <I would not do this over adding the second vessel.> Will the surface area of the Rubbermaid 40G container be enough to help reduce nitrates in my 100G tank? <Again, hard to say how much the exact effect would be. It would do something, but hard to quantify.> Someone mentioned in an earlier email, that perhaps a DSB wouldn't be the best way to go in a FO system with such messy eaters, and that it can become overwhelmed. <That was me and is still a possibility.> How long does a DSB take to establish before I can notice nitrate reduction? <Probably at least one month or more.> 4) Should I just give up on natural nitrate reduction and face the fact that with such messy fish I'm gonna have to do a lot of frequent water changes? <Probably a better option. Do be sure that your skimmer is filling its collection cup at least several times weekly. If not clean the pump out and run it in some vinegar water to remove deposits. This is a much overlooked aspect of husbandry, skimmer pump maintenance. You may also want to consider a RO unit to limit nitrate and other contaminants from coming in with your source water. If you plan on making frequent water changes, make it easy on yourself. The easier it is the more likely the changes will get done. RO water into a large Rubbermaid garbage can, aerated, heated, and mixed with salt. Python or other device to drain water into a floor drain or toilet. Pump water from garbage can back to tank, no hauling buckets.> Thanks in advance... <Hope this email finds you this time. -Steven Pro>

Re: filtration and nitrates hi again thanks for advise on trigger I need more advice now on filtration and damsels filtration first I've a 100gal tank and its filtered on a Eheim 2217 with Eheim Media, Fluval 304 with Siporax and a AMiracle 50 sump which I've drilled and put in a 2ft aquarium I don't use bio balls only Eheim substrate and coral gravel also a beast skimmer and a QuickSand fluidized bed. I've seen a 4ft sump and thinking of using this or would u leave it as it is my ph is 8.3  <a bigger sump offers more stability... and it would be nice if you could get your daytime pH up closer to 8.6> and never fluctuates my nitrate is 50 how can I get this down. <dilution is the solution to pollution> damsels I bought 4 yellow tail damsels the other week and last night 1 of the damsels killed another h also bullies one more but teams up with my smallest damsel who he never bothers is it poss. they r gonna breed <most likely just a pecking order... damsels can be so fierce. Anthony>

Re: High nitrates and filtration questions Bob, Reread some of the book, and went back to your web site and re-read most of it. <!>  One problem is, I have read so much different info and much, if not contradictory, is biased toward only one way of doing it. <?> Particularly on filtration. I was trying to "just maintain" while I put all the info into perspective. I guess time has ran out. I copied some of our previous e-mail below: (my question are mixed in with the copied area and then more follow). I have a 75 gal. tank. I purchased it used about 6 months ago (it was about 3 years old then). It has a 1/2" plenum with about 2" of coarse crushed coral and about 2 more inches of medium crushed coral. It does have a protein skimmer and a fairly large livestock load. > I do hope/trust you added to or switched out the "old" substrate... likely rather depleted in the way of readily soluble biomineral and alkaline content> .... Sorry didn't know better back then. I had read that it might be a good idea to replace a portion periodically. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Any way, I consistently run 40 ppm or more and right now I'm at 80. Of nitrate. I do regular 10 gallon water changes every other week. I have good water flow, 3 powerheads and a Fluval 403 with just filter pad inside. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I was wondering if I have too much livestock (or a bad mix) or if I need something different in filtration (I hope). > <Could well be. The anemone, soft corals might be chemically, physically interacting (winning) against the stony corals here> ......If they are not physically touching each other, will better filtration solve this problem?? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This last water change, my nitrates were 40ppm before the change and 80 after, I also siphoned 5 gallons from the plenum, it took about 1.5 hours to siphon it. Could there be some problem with my plenum? > <Yes We have much to discuss, discover with you. Please set aside a few hours and become familiar with our principal site: www.WetWebMedia.com by reading through the pertinent sections on Coral Health, Refugiums, Plenums, the animal groups you mention... then we'll talk further. Bob Fenner> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Bob, I reread most of your book and your web site. I have been to your site several times since purchased my setup. I knew 40ppm of nitrates was too high, but the previous owner assured me that they were always that high. Ignorance on my part. <<Actually, the nitrates may well have been this high before.>> Now I want to try to set up correctly. I think I would like to drill some overflows in the upper back of my tank, have them run to one side of a sump, go through a protein skimmer and then over a drip plate / filter pad then pumped back up to the tank and be dispersed through a spray bar. All this would turn my tank 6X per hour. I would use approx 125 lbs of live rock in my tank for the biological filter. Would this be effective with my livestock load?  <Should be> Would any sand be needed? If so, could I reuse any of my existing, or need to buy new? <I would switch it out at this juncture, while doing all this other work> I would like to add a refugium in the future, but space is limited right now. Is there a better concept I am missing? <Mmm, not really> Is there really a problem with keeping hard and soft corals in the same tank? <Often, yes... particularly in small, crowded, under-filtered systems...> I have tried to keep those with sweeper tentacle separated from others and to watch what will and won't accept being close to one another. Is there a problem with keeping a long tentacle anemone with stony corals as long as they aren't touching? <Yes, can be... bits chemicals are free-floating in the water...> Thanks for your patience and willingness to share your expertise. Lee <A pleasure, honor to share. Bob Fenner>

Nitrates Dear Bob  <cheers, old sport. Anthony Calfo in your service> Thank you for answering my query about my flame angel so quick. I have another query about Nitrates (many apologies if this is like so many other queries you've already had about nitrates). My tank has various soft corals including Sarcophyton, button polyps, green star polyps etc, and live rock in it, the stock is thus :-  1 regal tang (you guys call it the hippo tang)  1 rainfordi goby (sand sifting species)  1 Banggai Cardinal  4 percula clowns  1 flame angel  1 midas blenny  My Nitrates are 25ppm (phosphates are zero), your book seems to recommend 10ppm or less, and I have had it down to about 10 to 15 from time to time. Hair algae is only present in a few isolated tufts, and purple corallines are growing well.  <nitrate can be measured as nitrate-nitrogen or as an ion. The actual nitrate level on most test kits is a multiple (4.4) of your given reading. As such, your 25 ppm is actually over 100ppm. You have hardy creatures, however, and have noticed that things are relatively fine for now. However, many inverts and some fish such as the Angels, butterflies and tangs will almost suffer certainly in time from exposure. Do aim for under 10ppm> My mushroom polyps are splitting and spreading, and my button polyps are growing very well, <exceptional among reef creatures in that they like lower light and higher nutrient environments> as are my soft corals. 25ppm to me is much easier to manage. Is this an acceptable level for the stock I have in terms of corals and fish? Or is 10ppm a strict figure to achieve?  <try another or better skimmer that produces a lot of skimmate daily to spare you excessive WCs to keep the nitrates down> Cheers, Jim  <kindly, Anthony>

High nitrates and filtration questions Robert, I really enjoyed your book. Lots of good info, but I still have questions. <Me too> I have a 75 gal. tank. I purchased it used about 6 months ago (it was about 3 years old then). It has a plenum with about 2" of coarse crushed coral and about 2 more inches of medium crushed coral.  <I do hope/trust you added to or switched out the "old" substrate... likely rather depleted in the way of readily soluble biomineral and alkaline content> It also has a siphon for the plenum. Plenum is about 1/2" deep. I have an older protein skimmer, seems to work well (lots of gunk). I don't have any surface skimming, and do have a lot of particles on the surface? <I don't know, do you?> Any way, I consistently run 40 ppm or more and right now I'm at 80. <Of nitrate> I am having a problem with my LPS, bracts dying on my anchor and torch. I do regular 10 gallon water changes every other week. I have a maroon clown and a long tentacle anemone, a blenny and approx 20 hermits and 20 snails. A green brain that's about 6", a jewel Goniopora about 6", a frogspawn with 6 bracts of a total of about 3"X6", the anchor had 6 bracts but lost one about 3X5 total, 2 bubbles about 2X4 each, a Sarcophyton about 7", a Sinularia about 5", 5 small SPS, several misc. leathers and some mushrooms. Some are old, but most have been in the tank for 4-5 months, a few 2 months, the anemone is new about 2 weeks. I have good water flow, 3 powerheads and a Fluval 403 with just filter pad inside. I was wondering if I have too much livestock (or a bad mix) or if I need something different in filtration (I hope). <Could well be. The anemone, soft corals might be chemically, physically interacting (winning) against the stony corals here> This last water change, my nitrates were 40ppm before the change and 80 after, I also siphoned 5 gallons from the plenum, it took about 1.5 hours to siphon it. Could there be some problem with my plenum?  <Yes> Would siphoning the plenum make the nitrates go up like this? <Possibly> Of course high still have the higher than normal nitrates that still bother me. If I wanted to change to a Berlin method and use live rock and a sump, how do I change over and handle the cycle that would occur?  <Just add the new materials, gear> (At least I assume getting rid of most of the sand would cycle the tank) Will water changes every day be enough? <No... not the route I would go> Won't a cycle hurt the corals? <Yes, likely so> Any input will certainly be appreciated. Thanks Lee <We have much to discuss, discover with you. Please set aside a few hours and become familiar with our principal site: www.WetWebMedia.com by reading through the pertinent sections on Coral Health, Refugiums, Plenums, the animal groups you mention... then we'll talk further. Bob Fenner>

Nitrite and nitrate Hi Bob, <Actually Steven Pro this morning.> Why is it always a Sunday when the problems seem to show up....!? I am cycling my rock in a new 75 gal tank. (I've written to you before about muscles and education) I had a 55 fish only tank that was fine with live rock and substrate etc. Only 1 clown and a yellow tail in it. I am concentrating on the new tank. Anyway we have been using the water from the fish only tank to help cycle the new 75. All was really going well with ammonia down to nothing and nitrite down etc. We added new rock to the tank last Tues and the clean up crew from Tampa Bay......All was good....by Friday all ammonia still at 0 etc. Then the fish only tank let go. Friday AM bright and early...pouring on the floor..... <Oh no!> Had to think fast so we took probably 25 gal from the fish only tank and the live rock and put in in the new tank....we didn't know what to do about the fish but 2 weeks ago a fish hitchhiked on a piece of rock that we moved from the fish only to the new and he seemed fine so we took a chance. We put our fish in it too This AM ... Ammonia .5 Nitrite NO2-N between 1 and 5 NO2 between 3.3 and 16.5 Nitrate between 50 and 100 PH 8 KH 9 LFS said yesterday (I saw the readings were starting to creep up) do nothing....maybe a little water change to help the fish but I'm actually prolonging the stress and I may as well get it over with..... <Not quite correct. You might prolong the cycling process by doing water changes. Not stress.> What do you think? Should I do a massive water change like 30 gal or a small one like 10 gal. Or sit in front of the tank and bite my nails.....skimmer is running like mad.....we have 2 charcoal filters on the sump and all life in the tank looks fine.....Thank you Helene <Do mix up and aerate some water to keep on hand. Keep a close eye on your fish and the test kit readings and be prepared to do a large water change (30 gallons). Good that you skimmer is performing well. Best of luck. -Steven Pro>

Re: nitrite and nitrate Thank you Steven, <You are quite welcome, Helene.> I ran in from feeding the horses and checked the email and there you were. I appreciate this so much. Not sure if I understand correctly. Should I do the water change now? How much worse should the nitrite and nitrate get before the 30 gallon water change? Or should I wait until the fish act funny and then change and check the readings.....Hope that you are having a nice Sunday...I'm about to entertain a friend from Ca that I've only seen 1 time in 30 years...She told me that she has a fish phobia.....this may either send her into orbit or cure her, huh? What a day for a visit.....Thank you again. Helene <I am going to make a few assumptions before I give you my advise. First, it sounds like you are going to be very busy and may not be able to watch the fish real closely. No offense intended, we all have busy lives. Plus, tomorrow is Monday and you may be going back to work. In that case, I would do the water change now, if you have the time and have good, aged water to use (mixed well and aerate for at least a few hours). Also, try to mix up some more water when you are done for future use if things get worse. You should get your friend to start the siphon hose. Ha-Ha! -Steven Pro>

Re: nitrite and nitrate Thank you and I'm beginning to think that you're never too busy to watch a fish....That's the problem and why (and I discussed this with Bob) the IRS gives you a tax break on the whole thing....I work at home....You pay your employees to watch the darn things too. Their heartbeat goes down and yours goes up!!! <I own an aquarium maintenance business. Everything I have fish related is a write off.> We are going to do a 15 gal water change now and make up a whole 32 gal trash can for later if we need it....sound OK? <Sounds fine.> Hope my friend doesn't need to shower after the siphoning 'cause that can is in the shower! <That made me laugh out loud!> Thank you. Helene <You are welcome. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your day. -Steven Pro>

Clarification follow-up, Re: Oops. Freshwater is the same as Marine in Denitrification Processes Anthony; I think I get it now! What confused me (I think) is the message I got from ??Robert??? bolded below. <yes...thank you for emboldening it. I believe I understand the source of confusion now. It seems that when Bob jumped into the middle of the emails he inferred that your question about nitrates and wet-dries referred to the common questions from REEF aquarists about that subject, and that's why you were directed as such (it really is an everyday question with marine folks and the advice is the same...remove the bio-media which generates nitrates and get live rock instead). Your question ironically included the word refugium as well which is almost only spoken by marine folks. And so with the tremendous amount of mail that Bob receives everyday, the history of the tank as freshwater seems to have got glanced over from the earlier e-mails we shared> That got me thinking that the wet/dry idea would make things worse since everybody was turning them into sumps. I guess I am still not seeing the point of adding a wet/dry if it is going to increase the nitrates??  <Mostly true... but still great filters. Under any circumstance, the better that they work, the more nitrate they produce. Sounds catch-22 but sometimes the very efficient ability of the wet/dry is necessary with heavy fish loads at the expense of water changes to control the nitrate by-produced> I was thinking that the Idea was to get rid of them. How about java fern or Anubias, have read that cichlids may not bother them much? <both very good choices, although all bets are off with some cichlid species> A little knowledge is a scary thing, in my case at least. <not at all...just a lot of mail to read through...that's why Bob let's a kook like me help answer it...hehe> Thanks Again, Peter <quite welcome...best to you, Anthony>

Re: Oops, Clarification, Freshwater is the same as Marine in Denitrification Processes Robert  < Anthony still here but I will make sure to pass this along to Bob as well> I look at the area you suggested and have gotten a little confused. Anthony suggested looking into a DIY wet/dry to help with nitrates in the tank below. <I mistyped/misread or you misunderstood, my friend (I can't find that previous reference at a glance). I thought you were asking on that specific point about how to contend with the inevitable nitrogenous matter from the waste of the cichlids (hence the DIY trickle filers)... nitrate is a given. And a wet/dry trickle filter will definitely generate more...you are correct> Most of what I saw is people removing wet/dry media.  <yes...but mostly in Nitrate sensitive reef systems with a low bio-load. The significant amount of waste generated by your colony of cichlids will necessarily bring on a significant amount of nitrate to contend with> Anyway I think I need another option as my tank isn't drilled and I am not sure I want a hang on overflow at present. <agreed. hanging overflows are miserable. If nitrate control is your goal, and remote filtration (coil/batch denitrators, plant refugia and the like) are not possible or desired...you don't have a lot of options besides dilution/water exchanges> I am planning on removing the fish in the tank at present and adding 12 2in. African in about a week. Need to increase the hardness. I plan on daily or so water changes of what 10%? due to the sudden increase in fish (see below). <test ammonia/nitrite to confirm need...but a reasonable start> Eventually I am thinking of like 24 3-4 inch fish in the tank. <Ok for a while...but not realistic in the long run with consideration for the number of fish and their adult sizes. Indeed a bit too much> I have a Magnum 350 with 2 BioWheel 60s and the moment. I was thinking of adding a large powerfilter and piping it through a spray bar aimed down from above the tank (surface agitation and increased gph). I could just add another Magnum 350 and split the return between the spray bar and 2 more BioWheels? Or there is most likely a better solution. What would you suggest? Thanks In Advance, Peter <again...I will be sure that Bob gets this message to share his opinion as well. Best of luck to you, my friend. Anthony> <Other than greatly reducing the fish population here, the most reasonable, inexpensive, sure way of providing complete, steady nitrification, removal of end-products is tying the main system in with a lighted sump/refugium with live plants... and doing regular water changes. Bob Fenner, who still refers you to the marine refugium and nitrates sections on WetWebMedia.com as the principals are the same for freshwater systems.>

Nitrates <<Howdy Ed, JasonC here doing a cameo here at the Fenner residence.>> I have a 300 gal reef set up that's a year old. Berlin sump with ETS 800 skimmer, A lot of Fiji live rock. <<lucky you... how much live rock is a lot>> I've been using in the sump a regular filter pad for water coming in and before the return pump another pad. I clean them twice a week. lot of brown washes out of them. But do you think the pads could be causing the high nitrates and algae . <<my initial thought is no, but what exactly is 'high'? let's read on...>> I have small hair and brown diatoms on the glass. am using ro di filtered water. I change about 80 gals a month. <<Is this the amount changed over the period of a month, or do you do one, large single water change?>> Yes the tank has a lot of corals. Not too many fish. I feed them twice a week. Any advice would help. THANKS!!!!!!! <<If I've read correctly, I would think you should try more frequent, smaller water changes - something like 5% a week or 10% every two weeks. Water changes are the best means of export of things like nitrates. Additionally, you could add some more live rock if you have the space. Cheers, J -- >>

Oops The nitrite actually is zero. <very good...as it should be> Seems to be a problem with my tank software. Suggestions for Nitrates other than plants, which are obviously out with these fish and lacking a refugium.  <considering the relatively low level of nitrate and the expectedly moderate to high waste produced by growing cichlids... regular partial water changes should take care of the matter nicely...else look into a batch or coil denitrator for a cheap solution for moderate nitrates> On the wet dry filter idea....any ideas for a wet/dry/refugium in say a 20gal or something under a 75 g stand. <numerous DIY plans on the net for this... an easy contraption to build. A heads up to all DIYers out there: www.ozreef.org is a killer Aussie reef/aquarist site with a link to a bazillion (more than three) plans for building aquarium components including the Wet/Dry you seek. An awesome site...knock yourself out. Anthony> Peter

Nitrates and Ph Hi Bob, <Steven Pro here answering for Bob while he is MIA.> Haven't written in a while. I hope you and your tanks are doing well. I enjoy reading Q and A on WetWebMedia site. Hate to bother you, but I couldn't find similar problem at the site. I have a 180 gallon reef with a plenum system. Four to five inches of aragonite and live sand, 200lb of live rock, a 30 gallon container beside the tank with a line to the sump with a float for evaporation. The system has been running for a little over a year now. I added a calcium reactor in August. Everything is doing fine. The corals are growing a spreading better than ever. I have three tangs, six green Chromis, one clown, one royal Gramma, one Banggai cardinal, and one six line wrasse. Numerous crabs, snails, etc. My water parameters are Ph 8.2. Output of reactor 6.4. KH is 8. Specific gravity 1.023. Calcium 425. Nitrates 100 (through the roof using a New Tetra Kit. I do a 10 gallon change every two weeks. But I since I found the nitrates so high, I just did a 20 gallon change yesterday. Tested again and readings were still high. I thought Ph was fine until I recalibrated my sharp ph meter. I found that the ph is lower than I thought. I add buffer to the RO water I use for evaporation in the 30 gallon container. Do I need to add buffer in salt water that I mix for water changes (RO water also) ? I use instant ocean salt mix that I mix in 5 gallon jugs with an air stone. Second problem: I am adding Kent Pro Buffer DKH every day. My calcium is at 425 and KH is 8. Should the calcium reactor take care of the KH? Do I need to use the Kent additive? <Your calcium reactor should maintain your calcium and alkalinity levels. I would recommend you add buffer to your RO water prior to mixing with the I.O. to reconstitute it.> I had an ick outbreak back in the spring. I tried to use the no ick marine, but had no luck. Gave up and quit treating and didn't lose a fish. Could the no ick marine have affected the anaerobic bacteria in the plenum causing the high nitrates I am now experiencing? I don't think I am over feeding (maybe a little) and as you can see in the photo, no problem with algae. <I would double check your nitrate test kit readings with another kit. It is possible your reagents are old or contaminated. Your corals look great and I would not expect that if you nitrates were really that high.> Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Double check your RO water, too. Make sure that the prefilters are getting changed offer enough and that your membrane is working properly.> Thank you very much, Robert McNinch <You are welcome, Steven Pro>

Nitrates Harmful I have just read several posts on your website regarding nitrates and thought I would throw in two cents from a couple of sources. <Okay, thanks> First, I called the maker of Novaqua and Amquel regarding the use of their products. Dr. Rofen (sp?) <correct> said that nitrates do not harm any aquatic life. Nitrates USUALLY are accompanied in the water by other organic compounds that are harmful to aquatic life. The scientific community do not have tests for these "other organic compounds". Therefore, we test for nitrates and assume that other harmful organic compounds are also present. <This is an approximately correct statement... Nitrates by themselves are rarely harmful to captive aquatic life> He did say that it is possible for the water to test positive or high in nitrates and not have high concentrations of the other harmful organic compounds. <Yes> I have read a similar comment attributed to R. Shimek (sp?)<Shimek> - nitrates are not harmful to aquatic life. <Again... in a manner of speaking, yes> Could this explain why my 65 gal saltwater tank regularly measures 80ppm in nitrates and the tank looks clear and free of algae? <Could be, but there are several other possible "reasons/explanations" that would account for this> It has been set up for years. No matter how many water changes I do, the nitrate level never comes down. Maybe, I do not have these other organic compounds. Maybe I'm lucky? <Could be either, both or neither> Maybe something in the new saltwater encourages nitrate growth? (The tapwater tests 0 for nitrates). <I do agree, concur with your conjecture re "something in new seawater" does encourage the accumulation of the end products of nitrification... on the one hand more "complete" sources of inorganic molecules... on the other a more noxious mix of chemicals that selectively poison/favor some groups of competing and bacteria-predatory organisms...> Just some info that may be helpful. <More outwardly leading. Bob Fenner>

Snowflake Moray, Nitrates, Clown Trigger Hi Bob, I have a 28" Snowflake Moray in a 180 gallon tank. I have had him for six years, during which time he has grown from 16". His appetite is great, eagerly eating silversides and supermarket-bought squid, scallops and shrimp. He is also pretty active for a moray, swimming about in the full light of the tank during the day. He gets along well with his tankmates, which consist of an 18" Jewel Moray, 4" Bursa Trigger, and 7" Clown Trigger. About four weeks ago, I noticed a white spot on the outside of his eyeball. I assumed it was the result of a scratch from the usual tussle at feeding time, or perhaps from accidentally scraping up against a rock. However, the spot has not gone away. It is covering 25% of his eye, and is the color of "whiteout" you use on typewriter paper (not really grey or cloudy). The shape is irregular. His behavior is still very good. He never scratches and isn't breathing heavily, nor has his appetite diminished. But, I'm puzzled as to how to rid him of this. The only step I have taken is to lower the SG to 1.017, hoping to discourage/ kill possible parasites. I'd rather not medicate if it is not necessary, and I don't have a quarantine tank large enough to house this bruiser should I decide to pull him out & medicate. Suggestions/ ideas on what this is? <Probably a bacterial infection from some sort of physical damage. Try using one tablespoon of Epson salt per 5 gallons of water. It will help to remove fluid from behind the eye and allow the eel's immune system to rid itself of the infection.> Also, considering the hardy yet heavy feeders I am keeping (with the probable addition of a fifth fish, likely a grouper or large angel), <The grouper would be a better choice.> what should my nitrate ceiling be? I'm consistently struggling to get it to 40ppm. Is that unrealistic? Is 60-100ppm acceptable long-term with these fish? <I do not think anything over 40 to be acceptable. Try increasing the frequency and/or amounts of your water changes, aggressive protein skimming (with these guys you should have a full collection cup of skimmate the color of hot tea to coffee daily, and possibly the use of purified water.> Also, how large and aggressive do you think the clown trigger will get in this tank? <Fairly large and fairly aggressive. I am frankly surprised you have had not trouble with him and the other trigger, yet.> He has a moderately bad trigger "attitude", ok with his present company, but with some temper tantrums (biting the glass when unfed, tossing shells around, etc.), and has killed a 7" Harlequin Tusk added to the tank. Thank you for your advice! You are a great resource! Steve <Thank you for the compliment. I will be sure to pass it along. -Steven Pro>

Nitrates and Substrates Hi bob- <Anthony Calfo in your service while Mr. Fenner has hit the road with the traveling Bob Show> Your web-site has given me info overload....in a good way. <now try browsing the site with only actinic lights on in the room and Pink Floyd music playing in the background> For starters, I have a 55 gal salt tank. Assorted tangs, choc. chip star, green brittle, 2 peppermint shrimp,2 small urchins and a feather duster. Tank is about 5 years old. <just curiously...how many tangs and what kind in the 55gall?> The substrate is a crushed coral, average size is about that of a bb. I have a big double wheel emperor filter on the back, a Prizm protein skimmer, a magnum 350 canister that is full of bio-balls and covered with a floss filter and 1 powerhead. Lighting is 2 55w compact flour. daylights and 2 55w blues. The stronger lighting and protein skimmer are new additions in past few weeks. <excellent...you'll appreciate them ever more in time> I did a 15 gal water change with the nitrates between 25-50mg/l. I use a vacuum siphon and dig down into the coral .  <the phrase "dig down" into the gravel is a bit scary... if you aren't already doing it, gravel siphon the top inch of a three to five inch substrate and no more than that. Particulates shouldn't make it much deeper if you are not overfeeding or have enough detritivores, and you stand to do more harm than good by compromising the fauna> On recommendation from my LFS I rinsed out half of the bio-balls in tap water because they were very packed with muck.  <I'm glad you rinsed them (although I would have used aged water from the tank from a water change before discarding it). However...for future reference... they should not accumulate any such muck. Either the pre-filter isn't working properly, there is a design flaw or perhaps you got busy or forgetful on prefilter maintenance> I was not sure water was getting through them. Anyway, The day after the water change the nitrates were off the scale, 100+, and the fish were puffing quite rapidly. I changed another 5 gal the next day and it may have brought nitrates down a bit. But the poor fish look like they are suffocating. I use tap water that is conditioned with a chlorine/chloramine neutralizer. It checked ok when tested for nitrates. I have had this tank for years with no major problems and my routine has not really changed.  <if the gravel siphon was aggressive, you may have liberated noxious elements. The fact that your bio-balls accumulated any matter at all on them suggests that you a problem with nutrient export processes (which are on the mend in part with the skimmer<smile>> The bio-ball rinse after 4 years was a first though. <not the immediate problem... couldn't produce nitrate that fast (takes days to weeks)... it was a necessary evil> And the recent addition of skimmer and new stronger lights. When I was siphoning the bottom this time I moved some of the larger rocks and some large amounts of dark green or brown matter came out. I have a feeling that it was good stuff. <not sure I follow you thinking...sounds like accumulated detritus/sediment (bad stuff most often)> My thinking (after long conversations and lots of time on your web site) is that the increased flow in the bio-balls is producing more nitrates and that I destroyed some (or a lot) of the good bacteria in the substrate that convert nitrates.  <I disagree on the first count if the time frame is hours to a couple of days, but I agree on the second count> But the LFS tells me that nitrates are not that harmful <Wow...a very broad statement ... more false than true. Small amounts of nitrate harmless or necessary for marine life, large amounts fatal... beginning with tangs, angels and butterflies> and something else must be causing the increased respiration. I feel that I am a bit out of my league on this one. HELP!!!! <it simply sounds to me like the misapplication of course substrate which easily traps detritus (as you have noticed) has finally caught up with you... you are making good changes to help the water quality> They also suggested that I push the coarse crushed coral towards the back and put a layer of finer coral on top of that and then top it off with a thin layer of sand. And then never vacuum the bottom again. Is that a good idea? <quite frankly the idea horrifies me. I am glad you are seeking second opinions. Crushed coral by virtue of its size is inherently going to trap detritus. The rule of thumb for many aquarists with a static bed of substrate (no flow trough) is 1/2 inch or less OR five inches or more. And with a deep substrate you'll need finer sand and/or adequate detritivores to keep it serviced properly. The advice of your LFS will only trap nutrients in this case> What are your thoughts? This is a new problem for me and I want to make sure I can correct it as soon as possible. <if it isn't now or going to be a hardcore reef tank, you do not need or want a deep substrate. You might consider siphoning most of the gravel out and only leaving a 1/2 inch behind. Any more will trap sediment too easily, but shallow media can be cleansed with good water movement which keeps sediments in suspension for nutrient export (skimmer, etc.) The poor fish are really working the gills I hope I provided enough pertinent info. I am sorry this is so long winded but I thought it would make it easier for you to help me. Thank you in advance Dennis <keep reading and asking questions, bud. Best of luck, Anthony>

Nitrates in a marine tank We have had a marine tank for 10 going on 11 weeks now and our water test has shown that our nitrites in our are too high.  <Nitrites with two "I's? Not good. In the subject heading above you call the compound: Nitrates with an "a"... I'll assume your concern is with the accumulation of nitrification products. Please read the FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm there are a few standard ways to reduce the nitrate concentration in captive marine systems. You don't mention specific concentration... I assure you that NO3 by itself is not a dire problem.> We have done a water change and a gravel clean but our levels are just not decreasing . What would you recommend? <Please read through the "Marine Set-Up" and "Maintenance" sections posted on WetWebMedia.com for background on the myriad of methods, causes that could be at play here... You will find that adding more live rock, substrate, photosynthetic life is a routine way to combat increasing nitrate, as is removing its source in mis and overfeeding, use of nitrification driving media (like those in wet-dries, fluidized bed filters), improvements in filtration (like skimmers)... Bob Fenner> Yours sincerely L?ay & Andrew Thanx!

Re: NO3 Test Kit and PH Buffer Hi Bob, Thanks again for your reply, which is very helpful for my understanding about pH control. Regarding the NO3 test kits, may be I have confused you with the names and numbers. To my understanding, both Tetra and API say they measure the same thing, namely, NO3-.  <Both do have test kits with this measure> One would expect both reagents to give same results. <Yes> As API states very clearly that it is not measuring N-NO3, therefore if anything, Tetra would give a reading 4 times lower than API. But in my case, I got an opposite result - Tetra is 4 times higher.  <Seems that one of their reagents are shot> A friend of mine told me that he had a similar problem with the Tetra test kit and somehow got to understand that API may be measuring free NO3 ions whereas Tetra may be measuring both NO3 ions and any Nitrate compounds in the solution, and that only free ions are our concerns. I have no way to know whether this is the case. <Mmm, a few ways... the easiest, most straightforward to contact Tetra for technical help, customer service: http://www.tetra-fish.com/ and ask for help in deciphering their test kit results. Bob Fenner> Regards, David

Re: High Nitrates Thank you for your very prompt response! I did actually forget to mention that we do have live rock in the tank but we will certainly look into the other suggestions you have made. <Ah, good. You may need more live rock... Bob Fenner> Thank you again!

High Nitrates Hi Bob! <Howdy> I use your brilliant site a lot and have a copy of your excellent book but I can't see anything relating specifically to reducing high nitrate levels. <I need to write, post a definitive series of expository statements re the topic... for marine, freshwater, pond... In the meanwhile, have been accumulating input and archiving it in a couple of FAQs files: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and the link at top> Since becoming the proud co-owner of a 75 gallon (98 US gallon) reef tank 6 months ago, things have been going quite well. The water levels are all fine (ammonia 0, nitrites 0, phosphates 0, SG 0.123, pH 8.2, dKH 12, calcium 400) except the nitrate level. No matter what we do, we just can't seem to get it below 80ppm (I can see you thinking "yikes" as I write!) <Yes...> After reading some info on your site we started using PolyFilter alongside our other filtration methods (Eheim biological filter, Eheim canister filter with activated carbon, phosphate and nitrate medium, protein skimmer and UV sterilizer) but the levels will not budge. <Time for more action in the "opposite" (denitrification) reaction series... Do read through the other links on the FAQs file above... on the use of macro-algae, DSBs, denitrification, live rock...> The fish, corals and invertebrates all seem happy enough and, in fact the Goniopora corals (yes, I know these are not a good choice but did not find that out until after we bought them, having consulted your site) appear to be thriving! <Yes!!! This is their "natural" setting... that is, they do appreciate higher soluble organic, inorganic "fertilizer"... This is the principal reason most folks have such dismal success in keeping "flower pot" corals... their systems are "too clean".> Is there anything you can recommend to help us reduce the nitrate levels back to <10ppm?.  <All sorts... as stated above... please follow the links, parts of the site listed as you read through the various FAQs... a sump/refugium that is lighted, with macro-algae... would be ideal... but/and there are other approaches to augmenting uptake, biological denitrification that are worthwhile> We have since realized that we have overstocked somewhat and are working on getting a 200 (UK) gallon aquarium ASAP to alleviate this and I suspect this could be contributing to the high nitrate levels. <To an extent, yes> I won't list our entire livestock here as I don't want another "yikes" - one is reprimand enough! :-) <Yikes! Sorry.> Meantime, I would be very grateful of any assistance you could provide to reduce our nitrates for the time being until we are able to get the new tank. Keep up the good work and thanks! <Will endeavor/endeavour to do so.> PS my husband loves scuba diving too! Lesley <Brrrrr, hopefully in the tropics, not just "off the coast"! Bob Fenner>

NO3 Test Kit and PH Buffer Hi Bob, I have a reef tank of about 180 gal and have been using Tetra's test kit for NO3 for some time. Recently I bought an API NO3 test kit and discovered a big difference in the test results. Very roughly, the Tetra test kit gives a result that is 4 to 5 times higher than the API one. Bob, are you aware of such a difference and why? How should I interpret these readings? <Mmm, there shouldn't be such a large difference as this... Do check for me if the "units of measure" are the same... "Nitrogen as Nitrate", Nitrate in ppm, what have you... and take a sample of your water to a local fish store and have them check your NO3 level... it may be that the reagents of one kit have "gone bad"> I have been using Ca Reactor for my reef tank since 2 months ago. Over the past 2 months, PH dropped from 8.5 to 8.1. It has stayed at this level (8.1) for the past 2 or 3 weeks. My KH is about 10 or 11. I am wondering whether I have added too much CO2 and is trying to reduce the amount.  <Hmm... the pH and KH levels are fine... you might experiment with letting the effluent pH (from the calcium reactor) be a couple of tenths of a pH point higher... and see what this results in pH and alkalinity wise over a few days...> My question is: would the use of Ca Reactor, with the right amount of CO2, be able to maintain a stable PH of around 8.2. <... yes... given one more principal factor... the type, amount of "feeder stock" that you're melting in the reactor> I also understand baking soda can be used to maintain the PH, but not sure whether I should go for this option together with the use of Ca Reactor. Your advise is much appreciated. Regards, David <Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate won't raise the pH in settings, levels of use in a situation like yours... you could add some calcium hydroxide solution (Kalkwasser), calcium chloride... but I wouldn't, am not concerned... a pH of 8.1 is fine. Bob Fenner>

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

Questions (small marine system, nitrates, seahorses) Mr. Fenner I have a few questions, that I hope you can help me with. <I'll try> I have a 29 gal seahorse tank. has 35 lb. LR and about 5" of LS. 6 Sea horses, 3 shrimp, 2 starfish, crab, misc. snails and some hitch hikers.3 corals, 2 sponges, & a plant. I have a cheap hang over filter, Prizm protein skimmer. My problem is NITRATES.......... I just added 40 lbs of LS (from Petco) total of about 5". Did a water change 8 hrs ago and my Nitrates are 30ppm already. They usually run @ 40ppm I do a water change (20%) once a week. What can I do??? Need a better filter? <Possibilities... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and the links beyond> What is the time frame for the sand to start working? <Weeks> Kit for the sand? <Not necessary or advised at this point> I really don't want to put junk in my tank. (chemicals) <Then don't> Hope you can help. I have almost gave up. Thank you Joan PS I'm don't under some of the big words and meaning. <No worries. Use your on-line dictionary to look them up... learn the roots of words, their meanings through associations... Bob Fenner>

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

Hagen test/ tang /DOC questions Greetings and happy holidays Bob! I have written before about the 100 gallon tank that has the hair algae problem (440 w of VHO, T1000 skimmer, 2' sand bed, 100 lbs. LR, a decent amount of feather Caulerpa in tank and lots of Sargassum). I did take your advice and added a Salarias fasciatus a week ago. He's a funny little guy. . . so far he has managed to make the pump returns spotless and the tank walls but I never see him eat on the LR.  <Time will tell... whether the species on the LR is palatable to this animal> Other than a few mushrooms and some button polyps there is no other live stock. Therefore, the 2 3/4 month old tank has never been fed. <Mmm, sufficient nutrient for much life can/does come from seawater, tapwater, substrate, the rock, other organisms being "cycled"...> The skimmer is still pulling a considerable amount of DOC out of the water and I've done a 40% water change in the last month. Yep, I still have hair algae and there's a fuzzy kind of algae that grows on the front glass. Any suggestions for getting rid of the DOC?  <Just keep doing what you're doing> More water changes?  <Some... if the nitrates become too much (tens of ppm)> Right after Christmas I plan to add a purple tang (after quarantine) . I currently have" 0" readings for all the bad things and a 4 for nitrates. Does DOC affect tangs? <Affects all living things> I also want to add a few aquacultured Sarcophytons. Is the hair algae bad for them?  <Not necessarily... their presence may in fact reduce the algal growth> Lastly, my KH test is from Hagen. Every reference I find refers to KH in terms of small numbers (1-12 etc.) My test expresses the KH as mg/l. How do I convert to the numbers used in reference materials. My current KH is 120 mg/l. Thanks for all you do Bob. Have a happy and safe holiday season. <KH can be converted to mmol/l of CaCO3 by dividing by 17.9 Bob Fenner> David Dowless

High Nitrate Hi Bob, I know I already wished you a happy holiday, but as you know salt water systems often throws us curve balls. The ick is gone, but now my nitrates are about 80ppm in both my display and quarantine systems. Two weeks ago I realized my nitrates were high in the quarantine systems which is a 55 gallon with a Sweetlips and Kole tang. I assumed it was the filter pads in the emperor400 and the Skilter 250 filters, so without thinking I changed them both at the same time. I am thinking that the reason for the nitrates not reducing is because the pads are new and not fully cycled. What's your take on it?  <To some extent yes... What countervailing denitrifying activity to you sponsor? Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and the links, files beyond> All other parameters are fine. On Monday I did a 30% water change and the nitrate was <ppm until, I tested again last night and it's back up to 80ppm. This system is 13 mths old and has been through the nitrogen cycle before. The fish seem Ok. Obviously water changes aren't doing the trick is there any thing I can add (Chemicals) or any thing else.  <Lots... read where I've sent you> The same problem with my display system, except, I have a sump with about 30lbs of live rock. the only thing I can think of is about 3weeks ago I realized that the pump to which the protein skimmer was attached wasn't working well. I got a new one and the nitrates have been high since then about 80 ppm, been doing weekly water changes for both systems since then. The nitrates reduces for a couple of days to not consistent. Is there a quick fix (I know there is no such thing with a saltwater system, just pulling your leg). <Mmm... no need, desire for quick fix... but do enjoy leg-pulling> I have been reading your section on high nitrates, and I am wondering if my live rock is too old? Please offer your advice and Blessings. Thanks again Bob. Gillian <Maybe (too old, not me, you, the rock), and adding macro-algae would help... perhaps a DSB... more? Bob Fenner>

Re: High Nitrate Where can I get micro-algae, <Macro-algae... from livestock fish stores... etailers... other hobbyists.> is it a live organism. <Yes... please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and the links beyond.> What is DSB?  <Deep sand bed... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm> Do you think adding a couple of pieces of new live rock would help, The ones I have been in for over a year.  <Yes, would help> I read the articles on the web site yesterday. I thinking of using Cycle and maybe a nitrate reducing chemical. Gillian Please excuse my ignorance to some of the abbreviations used <No worries... we are all ignorant of things... entirely understandable... Only arrogance, hatred, discourtesy are inexcusable to me. Bob Fenner>

Re: High Nitrate Thanks Bob, I'll keep you posted and I will continue to study, I'll get it one of these days. Till then thanks for the advice. Have a good weekend. Gillian <Thank you my friend. Questions, problems or suggestions? Please contact me. Bob Fenner>

Re: High Nitrate Hey Bob, How are you? I think you'll like this one.  <Hmm, hope so.> Well I went to my LFS to get some macroalgae and live rock for my nitrate problem. I have been going to this store since I first set up my system. So I tell the owner about my nitrate problem and explained to him how my nitrate level have been weird, he suggested getting a new test kit, because something didn't sound right. So I got the rock and algae any way, just to be safe, when I tested my water the nitrates in my quarantine was less than 10ppm and in the display tank with all the live rock it was 0ppm. Is that unbelievable or what.  <What> So for the fun of it I tested the water using my old kit and sure enough the nitrates in both systems came up as over 80ppm. I still wanted to be sure so this morning I took a water sample of both systems to my LFS and had them test it and it was the same as what the new kit read. Needless to say I am happy.. Have a good weekend. Gillian <You as well my friend. Bob Fenner>

Skimmers I have had a high nitrate problem for about a week to week and a half as high as 80 ppm down to 40ppm. Might not be very long but never were above five, amm and nitrites 0 and phos trace to none. Lost one fish over the weekend not sure if from this or something else. Have done two 10 to 15% water changes. I do have a problem with algae that is going away, cut food way down and keeping lights on at a minimum for now. I do have a Prizm skimmer and wondering if it may have been my best choice for a 48 gal with LR, inverts and fish.  <Not a good choice for this size, type system. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and the files linked beyond> One because of the noise and the constant tweaking it needs and poss. performance. Not many funds available but if this could be a problem cheaper now than later. Can you enlighten me on some know experiences with the BakPak, remoras or similar, need a hang on because of space. Thanks <These are posted on the WetWebMedia.com site  Please peruse the Marine Index... including the FAQs on Nitrate: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no2probfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Nitrates I wish there was someone else we could bother with our serious to the commonsense questions and give you a break. <There are indeed. Check out our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ very nice, knowledgeable folks... seemingly with boundless energy, enthusiasm...> But here goes nothing. I had a Fluval die on me last Sunday but was smart enough not to wait on a new Eheim, set it up Saturday. Water is good all except nitrates, never been so high 40 mg/l and I am sure it would approach 80 if not more. Have hit a 5.0mg/l a few times and seldom 10mg/l or higher. Did not even wait for test to finish. All fish, shrimp and serpents are doing fine have lost a few snails but that is it. Before I do a major water change again could this be from the new filter not have much if any bio filtration in it and should I do the change just in case? <Likely the new filter not being cycled. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm Bob Fenner>

Nitrates Like I said in an earlier question sent to you today about changing over to an Eheim and high nitrates I wish there were more like you to burden with some of this stuff. Well I did the test again with another kit same brand but purchased a month later or so. The kids got a hold of the key cards. Tested at the same time, old kit is pinned 100mg/l or better and the new is at 10mg/l. So now I am really screwed up, I know I have to now go and get a third test done. <Yes... I think the lower (ten ppm) value is likely closer. Bob Fenner>

Nitrate Levels I have had my tank set-up since the end of April. I got a reading of 5-10 mg/L for nitrates. what is a good reading for a salt water tank ? <For fish-only... this amount is fine... ideally for "reef tanks" a "handful" or less of ppm/mg per liter is ideal (not zero... unless the metabolism of the system taken together is rabidly removing nitrate as fast (rate) as it's produced)...> My Bak-pak 2R isn't producing very many bubbles. Is something wrong ? I can turn the air hose wide open and still not get hardly any bubbles. Before when I got the skimmer, there were a lot more bubbles and my nitrate reading was 0 mg/L. <Likely your system has reached a "balance" where the amounts, kinds of foam fractionable materials is so low, the skimmer doesn't seem to be doing much. No problem> I just got a mandarin green goby and I have seen him eat brine shrimp. How long do they live if they are eating. <A few years... 2-3, up to 4-5> What else would they eat ? <Mmm, most any amphipod, copepod... small crustacean and worm life you can engender... with live rock, enough space/substrate, lack of competition... Have you considered adding a sump/refugium? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm> I also have live sand and rock for him. <Ah, good... look at this specimen's apparent health... is it "full" in profile? Moving about, curious? This is life. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Cheryl

Saltwater Nitrate reactor Bob I have a 100 gallon three feet high style saltwater tank. I have been into the hobby for 5+ years. I have been very successful with my fish. I do regular water changes 1/3 ever 30 days, and clean 40 % of the Coral and vac the coral gravel each time I do a water change. I consider myself well educated the hobby . My fish have great Coral cover ( fish only ) and I feed them a variety of foods . I don't over feed them. They get Broccoli & Parsley for constant gracing and one leaf of lettuce am only. Evenings I alternate flake, meat, sponge, etc..... Now onto the problem which might not me a problem but it has always bothered me. I can not get the nitrate ( red ) down to a orange / yellow level........My fish are all very health, have good color. Water temp 79.8 / UV / wet /Dry with Fathom Skimmer & CPR back pack, little Giant 1240 flow, Azoo temp control, two 48 inch top lights, one 100 % Actinic with cooling fan and the other 100 % Daylight. There are two power heads inside lower corner, one only runs after evening feeding to remove excessive flake etc. both shut down 10 pm until 8 am to allow fish time to sleep.......Lights on timer and tanks 4 years old. French Angle , Imperator Angle changing 20 % , Power Blue Tang, 2 Coral Beauties, Foxface, Honeycomb Puffer, Yellow Tang, Humu Trigger, 2 Gold Band Clowns, Blue Regal, Sail Desjardin Red Sea. These fish have been in tank only 5 months. However I had the exact same fish for three years. We turn off the pumps prior to evening feeding. I travel and my wife and kids helps feed, one night they forgot to turn the tank back on next morning I lost all my fish except the Huma Huma. Very very sad........ <Yes> Now my question : I have been considering installing a Nitrate Reactor......will it work and reduce the Nitrate levels ???........I want my fish to have the very best environment I can provide but I don't need to buy something that's not effective. Also the true story on the maintenance of the Reactor......... I enjoy reading your responses and articles many of which have helped me become a better fish keeper......... Thank you..........Bill Culver <Ah, a pleasure to serve. There are nitrate reduction tools on the market that can/do work... Most are anaerobic/hypoxic bacterial culture facilities that require (IMO too much) testing, adding of sugar, alcohol... other feeder stock. Some electric, electronic devices are out there too... For such a size, type system as yours and the good, regular maintenance you perform, I would put my money, time into either a Deep Sand Bed/Plenum and/or an external sump/refugium with live rock, lighting, macro algae set-up to reduce nitrates (along with many other benefits). Some input on both ideas can be found in various places on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com). Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/Plenums.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and the links/FAQs beyond to formulate your plan of action. The pre-made denitrators on the market are not worth the money... and the approaches mentioned are far more steady, beneficial in action.  Bob Fenner>

Experimenting Bob, I have a 240 fish only system with 100 so lbs of live rock, 2.5 in. of aragonite "nonliving" substrate. Below wet dry system with bio balls. Turboflotor skimmer inj. 50mgh ozone , and UV sterilizer. The tank has excellent circulation the return pump that Am using is a MAK4. Which creates awesome water movement. Here I'll list the fish for you please look carefully, as I would also like your opinion regarding my livestock load. 1- 9" Vlamingi Tang 1- 9 " panther grouper 1- 7 " Miniatus grouper 1- 3" Atlantic blue tang 1- 6 " Naso Tang 1- 2" common cleaner wrasse 1 4" Huma trigger 15-20 ass. hermit crabs for clean up crew <Looks like a nice grouping for a 240> Here's my current water parameters ammonia=0 nitrites=0 nitrates = 25-45 ppm PH = 8.0 Ok finally here's my main question. Last night before I did a water change I tested the nitrates. My nitrates are always at between 28ppm- 38ppm. Always around that ball park. On my calendar it was time to do a water change. I usually do a 20 gallon water change every 12 days. Last night I decided to do a 40 gallon change. This morning when I got up . I did a water test on nitrates. How come my nitrates didn't budge AT ALL ? They were at the same , about 35 so ppm. <Your system is "getting old"... the nitrifiers on your bio-balls more "efficient"... the denitrifiers losing "space" as your substrate "melts", becomes more "rounded", smooth... The balance of the nitrification/dentrification equation is shifting to the left... you can nudge it back the other way by adding/replacing substrate, placing more rock, ditching your plastic biomedia, adding a sump, macroalgae, refugium, mud filter...> The water change that I did last night was pretty massive. Also I never over feed my fish. I Feed them small portions once a day, making sure that the food is being eaten up right away. My groupers eat only about 3 times out of the week, little each time. I remember you told me before that 28 ppm of nitrates was no problem for a fish only system. Then how about 38 ppm?? <Getting up there> My fish look great. Excellent color, behavior feeding etc.. Should I let my fish give me the signal if my water is good enough?? Can you give me a specific range?? <Under twenty is about right for a FOWLR system...> PS I plan on getting a Emperor angel, that will be my next fish. Are my nitrates ok for large marine angels??? <I would wait till this is lower... Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Linstun Lee

Re: experimenting Bob, My 240 system is only been up and running for 2 months. Officially its only 2 months old. What could be the problem with the nitrates?? <What do you mean, "trouble"? Why are nitrates accumulating in your system? More nitrification than use (like by photosynthetic life) plus denitrification... minus dilution by water change... minus precipitation... minus extraction by skimming... A few more factors can/could be written into a linear equation... Simple categories of input/output.> I use RO water , and vacuum up the substrate good each time I do a water change. Thanks <Study my friend... calm yourself. You will know. Bob Fenner>

Adding Siporax/ceramic beads in the sump to lower nitrates. Bob, I don't get it. Aren't bioballs the same thing as ceramic beads?? <No... one principally favors aerobes (the plastic two dimensional materials called "bio-balls" et al... the other harbors anaerobes... is three dimensional... entirely opposite reaction series> In your Nitrate FAQ. You recommend adding ceramic media in the sump to lower nitrates. Aren't ceramic media the same as bio balls?? <You're repeating yourself.> Aren't they both suppose to both harbor beneficial bacteria? <Ah! Yes> In your articles you say remove the bioballs. Isn't adding more ceramic media defeating this purpose? Please explain. <Keep studying my friend. Perhaps a complete book on the marine aquarium hobby... Like Baensch' Marine Atlas v.1... Bob Fenner> Linstun

Ceramic media Reading your FAQ in the nitrate section. I have added some ceramic media in my sump to try and lower my nitrates. I have a 240 go FO system, wet dry filter/bioballs. Should I turn off my ozonizer, skimmer and UV sterilizer so that my new ceramic media can colonize bacteria? Or is it ok to leave all of my equipment on? <Just leave all this gear on... the new media will be inoculated, populated soon enough... and the benefits of running all these mechanicals far outweigh anything you might get by shutting them off. Bob Fenner> Linstun

Nitrates high! Bob, Help! Our nitrates are off the scale. <Wonder what the cause/s is/are?> We've had this tank 8 months. It's a 125 gallon with a trickle filter,  <With the wet-dry media still in it? Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm> 1 carbon Rainbow Lifeguard canister filter and a UV sterilizer. We have 20 lbs of Fiji LR. <You need more. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrfaqs.htm> We have 4 florescent lights --2 actinic, 2 full spectrum. <Hmm, how many watts?> The base substrate is approximately 2 inches of fine crushed coral. ammonia=0, PH 8.1, nitrite=0.1, SG=1.022, temp=83.5 <Nitrite should be zip, zero. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/no2probfaqs.htm> We're sparsely stocked with 4 damsels, 1 Naso tang, 1 cleaner shrimp and 1 voracious red hermit (which we think is responsible for the disappearance of 1 of the damsels 1 week ago). <Yikes, possibly... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/hermitcrabs.htm> I read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toxictk1.htm and your nitrate section.  <Oh! And considered what action/s? Maybe adding more LR, growing some macro-algae, removing the "bio-balls"...> I see the LR coralline algae is receding a bit but it is reasonably thick on the LR. We've had it for several months. Pieces break off occasionally and I often see a bug or two on top of the tank, dead (copepod?). What about that black fine substance at the bottom of the sump (under the BioBale). Should we take all that bale out and clean that junk underneath it out or would it disrupt the bacteria?  <Best to keep it reasonably vacuumed away from time to time... We even remove the BioBale in systems that are up and fully going>> Aside from that little damsel being somewhere in the system, do you think this will pass?  <This? The nitrates? No, they won't "go" anywhere w/o your management/action... they're accumulated in a balance of foods, anaerobic denitrator activity, light, photosynthetic metabolism... and a few other factors... your present set of circumstances favors the "forward reaction" of nitrification and hence concentration of nitrates... You likely "know" what would shift the balance in reverse... use of nitrates, less production, more denitrification...> We've changed 30 gallons in the past few days and the nitrates are way off the scale (50mg/l+). I dug deep into the sand and tried to rustle up anything dead I could find--nothing. <Shouldn't be> We tested nitrates twice, once with a new kit. We're going to change another 15 gallons tonight.  <No real sense, except dilution...> Everybody looks OK but the tang might be getting ick again. We're not sure since if he's got it, it's subtle. We've made it through some rough ick outbreaks (thanks to you). Raising temp and lowering salinity too. We added some Prime (15 drops diluted in 2 cups water). <Okay> Not that we expect this to help but we added 1 small block of Sea-lab 28 nutrient supplement to help our LR/coralline algae. <No problem> We've been adding liquid calcium supplement every day for the past few months. Thanks, Allyson <Do consider the above suggestions... Your system is just a bit out of balance. Look to longer, permanent fixes, not adding chemicals here. Bob Fenner> Allyson C. Rosen

Re: nitrates high! Bob, OK, you convinced us. We're getting 45lbs of LR this weekend but it will take a few weeks to cure. Is there anything (e.g. chemical?) we can do to keep down the nitrates in the meantime given that one damsel died and another was distressed and was removed to our hospital tank (where we intend to cure the LR-- expect ammonia spikes there so want to re-introduce it). Water changes in the main system did not touch this. <I would severely curtail feeding... and likely "risk" (minimal) at least a few to several pounds of the live rock curing in the main system. Smell the pieces... rinse the nicer smelling ones (sort of like the sea, and the sink is fine) and place them in the display system.> Thanks, Allyson <Service to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: nitrates Bob, I know your a busy guy, but one more question. is mg/L the same as ppm???? My nitrates read 25 mg/L , is that the same as 25 ppm??? Thanks again <Yes my friend... these are equivalencies... a milligram is one millionth of a liter... Bob Fenner>

Nitrates HI bob, I have a 240 gal. FO tank with 100lbs liverock, under the tank wet dry system, plus a protein skimmer. My nitrate level is 25mg/L. This is with a Tetra test kit. I cant seem to get the nitrates any lower. All of the fish are doing well. Is 25mg/l of nitrates too high of a level?? Thanks <Good question... some nitrate is inherent in almost all systems... indicative of too crowded, overfed, under filtered/aerated/circulated conditions... Aquariums with Wet-Dry filters have much more nitrate as a consequence of over-driven nitrification... But 25 ppm is no problem for a fish only system... and the reality (or at least in my opinion and experience) the state of health of your fishes is not just more, but all-important, compared with any given test/s. I wouldn't worry, and don't believe 25ppm is a problem here. If you want to lower this, the use of live rock, a refugium/sump, macro-algae, a deeper sand bed, perhaps a plenum... even pulling out/discarding the plastic bio-media in the wet-dry would all accomplish this. Please read over our site re these ideas starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Lee

Re: question (nitrate accumulation in crowded tank, Ginglymostoma Shark) <Take out your wet-dry biomedia, > Don't you need to use a wet dry or do you mean the bio balls? Also the shark we are going to return because even though he hasn't grown in the last month I know that he can grow rapidly. Thank you again. Jenn <The bio-balls... please read over the WWM site here... you can use the Google Search tool with this term on the site. Bob Fenner>

Re: question (new to hobby, nature of knowing) Thanks for your feedback. I was told by the owner of the fish store to change water that's why I did and he said that the nitrate was high from overfeeding. <<You need to make your own decisions...>> <How much "off" is your nitrate? ... Well, the nitrate was the highest color on the chart <<Again, I need to know how "much" this is... as in ppm, mg/l... different test kits have different scales... Did you read about nitrates? What leads you (other than someone else's opinion) to believe there is a menace here?>> . Again I was told by the owner that the sponge would help; that's why I bought it. I don't do things on a whim. I'm very observant of my tank and try to get good advice (i.e. you, shop owner) before I do anything. As for the urchins I'll look on the site now <Do get a good reference work or two> Was in your last paragraph and I'm not sure what that means. Thanks again <<A good, general Marine Aquarium book... Your enjoyment in the hobby will be amplified considerably by a more complete overview. A study of two people, the internet is not a good foundation. Bob Fenner>>

Re: question I can not get over how quickly you reply.. <I key quickly> Ph is 8.2 Nitrate is 160 ppm if not higher <Yikes! This IS high... wonder why?> Ammonia is 0ppm NO2 is .25 ppm <Hmm, and this should be zero> In the instruction manual it says maintaining a low nitrate level improves the health of fish and invertebrates.. A high nitrate level indicates a build-up of fish waste and organic compounds resulting in poor water quality and contributing to the likelihood of fish disease. <As a general "rule" this is correct... but many approaches to keeping marines greatly add to nitrate accumulation... i.e. wet-dry filter media, fluidized bed filters, a dearth of substrate, not enough or any live rock, a lack of livestock that take-up this nutrient... like macro-algae> So that is why I thought there was a menace in the high nitrate. I also thought that because I read most of the faq's on WWM I thought asking you would be the beginning to starting a good foundation. I'm trying to learn form a reputable source. <I understand... but, can you imagine learning any subject area in this way? Let's say arithmetic math... Instead of learning "tables" and "math theory" to simply ask "what is... 4 plus 5?" and so on and commit this to memory... instead of having a grasp or principles and relevant examples? I want to insure you are successful by having a thorough enough understanding of underlying cause/effect> Also I noticed the endings in your help to others you say my friend. You don't end mine that way. Should I be concerned? Thank you Jenn <No my friend... as I term folks who "turn me on to the good they've found in their lives and away from the bad"... Just my rude hastiness in responding. Forgive me> Here's a layout of my tank if it matters 125 gallon 2 sea urchins, 2 lionfish,3 yellow tangs, 1 nasal tang, 1 Picasso trigger,1 blue jaw trigger,2 blowfish, 1 toadfish, 1 golden spotted eel and a nurse shark <Wowzah! This is a lot of life in a hundred and twenty gallons... do hope you have plans for a MUCH bigger system... and soon! These fishes will produce enough nitrate for the biggest of aquarium filtration gear. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: question Well hello my friend... I'm still stumped with the high levels of nitrate. Even after reading through No3prob page. I'm not sure of my equip. I know our wet dry is one for a 250 gallon tank we got lucky a divorce sale) <This device is a primary source of your nitrate. Not divorce, the w-d> a protein skimmer, and I have 2 powerheads on top and 4 water jets coming out of the bottom of the tank through the live sand. I only get algae it seems on the back wall that reddish brown one and all my fish seem really happy except for the yellow tangs. They've been fighting the last few days. and all my fish are not big except for the lions. I didn't think all my fish would give you a Wowzah reply because my tank looks so empty. <It won't be for long... that shark can grow about a foot a month at first...> Also I couldn't seem to find on the urchins page what those little things were crawling around. Thanks again my new found friend for helping me learn my 4 plus 5 Jenn <I use a calculator... Bob Fenner. Do read about nitrification/denitrification... your system is going to continue to do more of the former unless you modify the gear and reduce the bioload.> 

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