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FAQs on Marine Water Quality involving Nitrates 10

Related Articles: Nitrates, NitritesAmmonia, Phosphate, 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 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, Bio-Ball, Wet-Dry Media 1 Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Wet-Dry Filters, RO./Distilled/Treated Water Chemical Filtrants Deep Sand Beds

Nitrates - 5/17/2006 Hello crew, I have a 29 gallon saltwater tank. The tank is about a year old and I have always had trouble with nitrates! Here's what I have 29 gallon tank, 55 gallon bio-wheel filter, 20 lbs. of live rock, 1 percula clownfish, 1 blue damsel, 1 engineer goby, a few snails and crabs.   Recently, I added a Current Fission protein skimmer and my nitrates shot up even more! I now am dealing with 40ppm, and can't get rid of them. I do a 15% water change every 1 1/2 weeks. And all my other levels are fine "Ph, nitrites, ammonia". Please Help! <<Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm. Lisa.>>

Re: High Nitrates in a Fishless Tank  6/5/06... barnacles, alkalinity, sw maint. Lisa, <Mmm, Bob this time> Back again.  It has been a while, I wanted to test the water and just watch and wait to see if I could get it together.   <Okay> The water I have been changing faithfully once a week between 5-7 gallons in a 55 gallon tank and a 29 gallon tank.   <Sounds about right> The 55 gal. has no fish still, just the live rock and inverts which seem to be doing very well.  The Caulerpa is thriving as well as all the inverts.  The sponge is growing and the feather dusters are fine.  We do seem to have a lot of barnacles.  Is there such thing as too much? <Mmm, can be... Cirripedians can be pests/parasites to fishes as larvae...> I just do not like. Going on 12 weeks now after losing all fish... The Nitrates were high and now seem to be stable at 20 ppm (tap water registers 10ppm)  We do not see a lot of waste in the media of the Fluval. <Canister filters can be problematical... transient pollution sources>      Ammonia sometimes shows 0 and sometimes goes up to .25  The nitrites are always 0.  The PH is what really fluctuates.  The last check was between 7.8-8.0   It always seems to drop. <A lack of buffering, restoring chemical make-up... Alkaline reserve>   I am checking the PH on the new water that I am changing out as it is low and actually raise it high to balance out the low PH of the tank. <Good... but need to check the alkalinity, not simply pH> What other suggestions could you recommend.  I am leery of starting over until certain all the water issues are corrected.      <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the linked files above> The 29 gal.  has live rock and 2 damsels.  The water registers 80ppm nitrates, <Way too high>   0 nitrites, 0-.25 ammonia and Ph also fluctuates low in this tank as well.  Any help is greatly appreciated. Sandy <... please learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... A link/beginning to nitrates: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm Bob Fenner>

High Nitrates in a Nano System - 05/14/06 Hello everyone, <<Hello!>> Thanks in advance for your help and all the great information on your site.   <<Quite welcome...glad you find it useful>> I have a 12 gallon eclipse system that has been set up for a little over 4 months with about 15 lbs of live rock and 1 1/2-inch sand bed. I've also upgraded the stock light to a 32w SunPaq 50/50 and added a sand shark internal filter for extra flow.  After reading about the bio-wheel I took it out and am now running the stock filter with Chemipure and some filter floss changed every few days.   <<Great!>> My inhabitants are: 2 firefish, 1 percula clown, 2 feather dusters, 1 open brain, 4 crabs, 1 red foot snail, 1 sand sifting star, <<The star will not live in this small system...please do some reading here and among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrfaqs.htm >> 1 skunk shrimp, zoanthids, and 4 mushrooms.  Even with  twice weekly 1 - 1 1/2 gallon water changes, I am constantly battling high nitrates. <<Mmm, your source water maybe?>> They stay around 60 ppm. <<Yikes!  This should be having deleterious effects on your livestock.  Check your test kits...use new/kits of a different brand to confirm>> My ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0.  My feeding schedule is as follows: 2 or 3 flakes of Formula One broken up into edible pieces, 4 times per week, 1/4 inch of Liquid Life Marine Plankton, 3 times per week, <<I would suspend feeding this product (any/all liquid foods) until you determine/correct your nitrate problem>> 2 pellets of Formula One, twice per week, hand feed brain one small piece of frozen scallop twice per week.  All the inhabitants seems to be doing well.  The Zoa's are multiplying, the brain is nicely colored and eats well, and the fish do not seem to be distressed at all.   <<Which makes me suspect your test kit all the more>> My question is, would it be beneficial to also add Purigen in the filter with the Chemipure?  Any suggestions in battling this nitrate problem would be very helpful. <<The Purigen could prove useful on this system...but more important is determining the source of your nitrates.  If the nitrate reading is true, it will soon start to malaffect your livestock.  Firstly, confirm the validity of your test kit, if accurate, check your source water (are you filtering your water?)...if both test kits and source water check out, start doing 50% water changes every other day to bring the nitrates down until you can determine/eliminate the source...and have a read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >> Thanks, Debra <<Regards, EricR>> Nitrate Control/Overstocking  - 05/10/2006 Hello Crew, <Hello Don> I have a 55 gal. saltwater reef tank, with a Jaubert plenum DSB, <NNR> plenty of live rock, a HOB refugium w/mineral mud, Chaetomorpha, and grape algae. (3) powerheads on a wave timer-(1) 400 down low, (2) 1200's at opposing ends of tank. For lighting, I have (2) 150W 10K MH, along with (2) T5 fluorescents, I believe 65W ea., actinic and 10K white. I run them about 8 hrs on. Filtration is just a Aqua Remora Pro skimmer HOB. This tank is well established, around 10/05 was when it was set up. Inhabitants are as follows: (2) tangs, one Foxface Rabbitfish, one percula clown, (2) damsels, (1) skunk tailed cleaner shrimp, (1) lawnmower blenny, (1) Mandarinfish, (1) fairy wrasse, assorted large and small hermit crabs, assorted snails, detritivores, (1) host anemone, (1) pulsating xenia grown from frag and split into two, (1) starburst polyp colony, (1) tube coral, (1) fire coral, (1) maze brain coral, (1) finger leather coral, assorted mushroom coral, (2) feather duster worms, (1) blue Linckia sea star, and maybe something I forgot about. Anyway, my community has been functioning pretty well since inception, as I have slowly added livestock and let the biology catch up. I normally run an RO water change of 10% per week, which has been adequate, and I don't overfeed.  I keep careful logs on what happens, and what maintenance is done on the tank. I was running a Magnum 350 canister filter, with UV sterilizer, but pulled it off on 3/11/06, as I felt it was a nutrient sink, <If cleaned/changed weekly, shouldn't cause any nitrate problems.> and had read some literature stating that a lot of people only run a protein skimmer. My nitrates at that time were running at 10 ppm, which was about as low as they ever got. I noted that on 4/8/06, my nitrates had climbed to 20, which was higher than they have ever been. I have not had these nitrate problems before, as the tank usually ran steady at 10 ppm. In the last month, I have noticed my livestock not looking well, and I lost my Tridacna maxima clam that I was really fond of today. My nitrate level tested on 5/7/06 at 40! I then started accelerating the water changes, changing 20% on 5/7, and 10% on 5/8/06. I have tested in between those changes. They virtually had no effect on the nitrate level! In fact, it is climbing! I have a Dr Wellfish test kit for nitrates, which I am not impressed with, and it is hard to tell whether the color is at 40 or 80 now! I am now noticing the Linckia sea star has a leg delaminating. Please help! What the heck is going on? The only other change beside filtration that I can think of, is that I noticed on 5/7 that one of my MH bulbs had burnt out, and I have a replacement ordered, but not here yet. I notice now that my pulsating xenia has all but stopped pulsating. I have not talked about all the chemical properties of the water here, as all of the other properties are within standard acceptable ranges, and the obvious one is the nitrates. I did, however, test for ammonia today, and found none. Please help! I have put a lot of work into these animals, and have grown attached to them. I don't want to lose any more animals, and am wondering what to do next! <Don, your 55 is seriously overstocked with fish.  I can see where the nitrates would start rising and the fish increased their size.  In effect, you are slowly poisoning your tank.  For starters, I would re-employ the UV and canister filter using Chemi-Pure of Poly-Filter as the chemical medium.  You will then need a larger tank or find homes for some of the fish.  The Jaubert NNR System which you employ can be difficult to maintain a proper operating environment for its effectiveness.  Personally, I think they are more trouble than their worth.  A hang on refugium such as you employ, along with 10% weekly water changes can be a very effective tools for nitrate control with normal fish stocking levels.  I've pasted a link on a very good review/experiment of the Jaubert System.  It is worth reading. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2005/7/aafeature Thank you. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Don Laskey

Over/Mis-Stocking and Nitrates - 05/05/2006 Good morning. <<Morning.>> Many thanks for providing such a helpful website! <<Gladly ;).>> I have had my 46 gallon marine tank for about a year now.  It has a Fluval 305 filter, Seaclone 150 skimmer, <<A poor product, in my opinion.>> 1 175gph power head and 1 300gph power head.  My substrate is 2" deep and I'm estimating I have about 50-60lbs of live rock.  I have 1 Yellow Tang, <<Your tank is MUCH too small for this fish.>> 2 Percula Clowns, 1 Cleaner Wrasse, <<These guys should never be collected.  Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm.>> 1 Valentini Puffer, about 10 sand sifting snails, Daisy coral, and 1 Toadstool Leather.  I have about 200 watts of light from my power compacts which are on for 12hrs/day.  The tank has run perfectly for the last year.  I have been very dedicated to maintaining it.  Each week I do a 10% water change, clean the skimmer cup, vacuum a portion of the substrate, and blow off the detritus from the live rock.  I also clean the filter media once a month.  The tank has run perfectly up until about a week ago.  The nitrates have risen (to 40-50) and there is a thin layer of green algae on everything, including the substrate.  All of the other water levels are within normal ranges.  The alga on the substrate has formed a thin crust layer which I have to keep vacuuming/braking up.  Nothing has been added to the take recently (fish/corals).  Why would the nitrates and algae spike like this if I have made no changes? <<There have been changes- your fish are growing.  I recommend you re-house the tang and buy a good skimmer.>> I've been doing 10%-20% water changes every 2 days over the last week or so to resolve the problem.  I also added the 300gph power head to increase circulation.  These things have helped slightly.  Any advice would greatly be appreciated. <<Better stocking, better circulation, better skimming, light feeding, water changes/nutrient export.  All are posted on WWM.>> Thanks! Mark <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Re: nitrate/algae control/improper stocking - 5/5/2006 Thanks for the help.  I'll work on it.  One clarification.....Its a Sixline Wrasse, not a Cleaner Wrasse.  Sorry for the mistake.  Brainfart on my part. <<No problem, that's good news! Lisa.>> I was wondering if my skimmer was the problem.  Can you recommend a "best bang for the buck" skimmer?  Thanks again! <<I like the AquaC line of skimmers.  Lisa.>> Mark

Holy Moley-Yes Folks Aquariums Need Maintenance To Function'¦'¦  - 04/19/06 Hello, <Hi Dan.>      I have very high nitrate levels in my 55 gal. tank. <Uh-Oh!>   Can I get rid of these levels by using a combination of Aquarium salt and Cycle? <Huh? No'¦'¦?   I don't want to, but if I have to I'll do the water changes, <What? Not wanting to do water changes. Sir, excuse me if I sound bold but if you don't have the time to do at least weekly (ok maybe bi-weekly)'¦.then you should not own any type of aquaria.> the only question I have about the water changes is...How long do I wait after refill to start again, assuming I will need to do more than one water change to bring the levels down? <Read WWM re Water Changes for your answers my friend. I will say a few consecutive daily water changes (10% to 25%) over the next week.> Thank You, <Mmm-hmm.> Dan C. <Adam J.>

Re: Holy Moley-Yes Folks Aquariums Need Maintenance To Function..  - 04/19/2006 I'm sorry I didn't mean I don't do the water changes at all, what I was saying was if I have to I will do the rapid water changes.  I read where you can reduce the nitrates in the tank rapidly by doing a 60% reduction, filling it back up to 80% capacity, then doing a 40% reduction, filling it back up to 100% capacity, then doing a 20% reduction and again filling it to 100% capacity.  This is the water changes I was talking about,  I own two tanks and have had them quite awhile, so I'm very careful of my levels in both tanks. <Okay, sorry for the confusion. I don't like to perform LARGE changes in one swoop, I would perform 25-30% water changes, but do about 5 of them, one a day or one every other day over the course of the week or two. Also find the root problem that are causing these nitrates to be so high.> Dan C. <Adam J.> High Nitrates in a Fishless Tank - 4/14/2006 I am once again back with more questions.  I have gotten the Caulerpa and have done frequent water changes and still my nitrates are high.  They seem to be 80ppm and possibly higher (depending on who is reading the results- I tend to think they are higher than my husband does.) Anyway, I was searching the site and it says that canister filters can be a nitrate culprit and that is what we have a Fluval 404 on a 55 gallon tank. Does the media inside need replacing? <<Have you noticed large amounts of waste accumulating in the media?>> I tested my tap water and the nitrates registered 10-20ppm.  What other suggestions could you tell me for the high nitrates? <<Many are posted on WWM.>> The ammonia and nitrites are fine. <<Do you mean zero?>> The PH fluctuates high and low and we still have no fish, just the live rock and inverts-Is there such thing as having too much sand in the tank? <<Not in this case.  Is your live rock curing still in your tank?  This may explain the nitrates.>> Thanks! Sandy <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Re: High Nitrates in a Fishless Tank - 4/24/2006 Thanks again for the answers but back with more questions. <<You're welcome.>> It seems the more I read the more confused I get.  I was reading in Mr. Fenner's book about the use of live foods from pet stores.  This is when the whole tank went one by one to their deaths.  I will not be using live foods any more when we start up again!   I also read in his book about pods and worms.  Please explain how you know the difference between good and bad? <<On an individual basis.  No set 'rule' to judge by.  Most live rock critters are harmless or helpful.>> I have lots of small 'bugs' that you said were copepods.  They are good.  We also have what look like gray "bugs' with antenna that seem to live in and around the sponge. <<Also good.>> We also have many bristle worms that since the tank has been fallow seem to be bold and come out when the lights are on.  Can you have too many in a tank? <<Yes, some have population problems.  There are some fish that will happily consume these.>> Also we seem to have small (mm sized) white worms that I have seen crawl on the glass. <<Don't worry about them either.>> How do you differentiate what is good and what isn't. <<No real rule, but to observe them, see if damage is done, is a good way.>> As I stated, sorry but I am really confused and want to make sure everything is 'perfect' before reintroducing fish. <<The confusion will ease in time, I promise!>> We have let the tank run fallow for about 5 weeks now.  Still never found the six lined wrasse.  My water is still high on the nitrates-between 20-40 ppm without fish and the ammonia which was at 0 is now a .25.  The nitrites are at 0 and the ph registered this AM-(usually test at night).  The salinity is at 1.0195 which I know is low. <<Not incredibly, but I would raise before adding livestock.  You do not list pH.>> The Caulerpa seems to have knocked it down a bit and I am feeling that the culprit could be our tap water. (Our other tank with two damsels and 15lbs of live rock also has high nitrates and .25 ammonia) <<This ammonia is a real problem.  Have you tested your source water?>> Do you think that the Nitra-zorb would be beneficial as well for the nitrates? <<I don't like to rely on such products.>> Also, could you please explain the reasoning to aerate the water before changing the water? <<To stabilize pH; promote gas exchange.>> Why would the ammonia raise? <<Check your source.>> Is the PH change due to the water changes? <<You don't list your pH.>> I am once again sorry for all the questions, but feel like a saltwater tank for dummies is what I need! Thanks again, Sandy <<Not a problem Sandy! Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Nitrate Control    3/29/06 Dear Bob!  <James today.> Can a UV sterilizer make the nitrate level lower in an only fish saltwater aquarium?  What do you think? <Won't do much for you in that regard.  A good protein skimmer will help.  Read here also. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thank you for time!  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Sonny. My nitrates are now high in the tank   3/27/06 Once again thanks for your great answers. <<You're welcome.>> My nitrates are now high in the tank, do you think it is due to the unknown demise of the six lined wrasse possibly? <<If he's rotting in the tank, you would likely see an ammonia increase first.  The nitrates you are seeing are likely from other causes as well.>> Anyway, have been reading the WWM site so much I think I have just confused myself even more.   I see that Caulerpa was one way to reduce nitrates. <<Macro-algae refugiums are a popular way.  I employ water changing as well.>> Also my ammonia level is at .25ppm. <<This is too high, and is likely from the Wrasse dying.  If there are no fish in the tank you can let it cycle through, otherwise get on those water changes.>> Any other advice? The live rock and the inverts seem to be all doing well without the fish and I am getting a lot of coralline algae growth without adding anything. My questions are about UV sterilizers and RO/DI's.  Why don't they make the UV Sterilizers small enough to go on a quarantine tank, wouldn't that be the best place? <<Could be.  I personally don't use them.>> As far as the RO/DI units, are they really necessary? <<No.>> I would like to just do the DI part.  The RO seems to take a long time and wastes so much water.  There is an add-on deionization canister in a magazine (That Pet Place) that is Pure flow II deionization unit that states it can be used stand alone.  Is this better that the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals tap water filter? <<If you decide to use one, I would go with an RO/DI unit.  I do not use them, but I am lucky to have good tap water.>> Thanks again so much this web site is a must for anyone new or old to the hobby!!! Sandy <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Bio De-Nitrators  3/23/06 Hey! <Hi>     How's it going? The other day at the LFS I came across a Azoo Bio-DE-Nitrator. These are 2 cylindrical things (1feel long) next to each other. <Yep, am familiar> As per the box you are suppose to add some De-Nitrator liquid to it, which comes along with the box to the de-nitrator once in 3-4 days and you will see a good drop in the No3 and in long run will come across a stable pH. I was just wondering if these things work? Thanks for the help! Keep Rocking <Keep reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/denitrification_erfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> Nitrate Problem - 03/17/06 Hi Guys, <<Some sharp Gals here too!>> Recently I have asked several questions regarding problems with my main tank. <<Sorry, but your quota has been exceeded...just kidding!...please proceed.>> My nitrates are elevated 80 to 160 ppm. <<Yikes!!!...>> I attributed this to the following things: <<Faulty test kits?...loss of nitrifying bacteria?>> Dead star fish, removing fake rock, disturbing substrate and skimmer malfunction.  Bob suggested that I do the usual water change in conjunction with carbon and a Poly-Filter. <<Sound advice...>> Over the last four days I have changed 50 gallons of water.  I have a 75 gallon tank. <<Ok>> I continue to have incredibly high nitrate readings. <<Much agreed>> I use a liquid test kit.  I do believe that the nitrates have come down a little but quite honestly it is rather difficult to determine the exact color of the water when you compare it against the color card. <<Try a different brand of test kit.>> Suffice to say that it is between 80 and 160. <<That's a heck of a spread.>> After reading additional information I checked my tap water and found that the nitrates were 10 ppm.  These findings make it a little clearer to me why the nitrates have not dropped considerably with such a large water change.    <<Mmm, but not to me...even at 10ppm nitrate, replacing two-thirds of your water should have shown a marked difference from the previous readings.>> I am at a loss.  Should I simply go buy distilled water? <<Your money will be better spent in my opinion on a home water purification device (RO/DI or Kati-Ani unit).>> Is there anything that will remove nitrates from my tap water? <<As just stated.>> I have also read that a DSB will help to control nitrates. <<Yes...but you need to determine the source of your high nitrates and eliminate it.>> This said, should I add additional substrate and if so how should I go about doing this. <<An inch or less at a time...a few days apart.  A Google search re our FAQs should provide more info.>> Currently I have only 40 lbs crushed aragonite in a 75 gallon tank. <<If you decide to add substrate I recommend a sugar-fine aragonite sand.>> My Goby mounds this up in areas and actually has left small sized areas bare.   I use an Excalibur skimmer and two Emperor filters, one single and one double.  Typically I do a 10 gallon water change each week.  Going forward I would like to be adding nitrate free water. <<Then do look in to the filter systems mentioned.>> Obviously I feel fairly stupid right now. <<No need to feel this way my friend.  You don't say what, if any, effect this is having on your tank inhabitants...I am suspicious of your test kit, nitrate readings this high should be having a deleterious effect on your tank.  Give another brand of test kit a try (Hach, Salifert, Seachem) and see if it validates your readings.  You might also take some water (tank and tap) to your LFS and see what their test kit tells you.>> Again, your time and expertise is greatly appreciated. Valerie <<Quite welcome...Regards, EricR>> Nitrate Control   3/16/06 Hello there everyone.  <Hello Cody.> I would like to know if I would be throwing my money away if I would get a Magnum Canister Filter for a 29 salt tank FOWLR. I have a pro system for my 55 gallon FW, it works GREAT. Now I have a chance to get one for my SW tank all so a pro system. The question I'm asking is that would it help with the nitrates or not? I read most of your faq's about the canister systems, but didn't really see anything about Magnum Canister's. Please let me know. <The canister filter isn't going to help you control nitrates directly.  Problem with canisters is that people do not clean them often enough which leads to nitrates.  You need to read here   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm> Thanks  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Cody

English/Nitrates Out Of Control   3/16/06 Hey Crew. Sorry for not gettin' to look through all of the site, but my tanks nitrates just spiked. There wasn't hardly any read on my tests but today I came home and my fish were on there sides breathing real fast and I was wonderin' if I took the water from another tank and put it in a bucket with them if it would be ok. <Huh? If the water is appropriate, yes.> If so should I put a pump in there with them. <An airstone? Sure.> Thanks for all your advice. <Sorry but that's the best I can do with the info given. Hope things do improve. - Josh> Nitrate Control   3/10/06 Hey, thanks again for your incredible site.  <You're welcome.> I'm having some serious problems and am hoping you can help me.  My stats are as follows: 55 gallon tank Fluval 404-with only carbon About 2" of live sand AquaC Remora Pro with Mag Drive 3, 350 gph Maxijet 1200 Powerhead 70 lbs. Fiji Live Rock Two heaters Lighting that came with the new tank. Stats are: Ammonia, Nitrites 0 Nitrates about 20 Temp 79 Ph 8.2-8.4 I'm had been doing 10% water changes every week. My change water is kept at 80 degrees and is continuously circulated in a 25 gallon plastic tub with a Mag Drive 3. I have: 2 Ocellaris Clownfish 1 Royal Gramma 1 Serpent Star (Ophiolepsis superba) I can't get my Nitrates down.  So, I increased my water changes to about 33% and switched out all the medium in the Fluval to just carbon.  Then I got the bright idea of testing my tap water which turned out to have a reading of about 20 ppm of Nitrates all by itself.  Is the investment in a RO/DI unit my only hope in reducing my Nitrates?  Are my tank inhabitants at risk with these readings? <Fish will be fine.  I would consider getting a RO/DI unit if your tap water has that high of a nitrate reading.  Do consider buying a good skimmer for the tank also.  Be well worth the money.  James (Salty Dog)> Best Ken Nitrate Control   3/10/06 Thank you so much for your rapid reply.  Is the AquaC Remora Pro with Mag Drive 3 not an appropriate skimmer? It seems to be taking in about 3/4 to a cup of dirty brown water a day.  <This is an excellent skimmer for a tank your size.  James (Salty Dog)> Best Regards, Ken High Calcium and Nitrates in a Reef Tank - 3/8/2006 Hello, <<Hello Adrian.>> HELP!  I'm facing few problems with my saltwater reef-fish 55-galon tank.   1) High calcium level.  It's ~600.  I tried the baking soda method but no help.  I used the red sea and another brand of test kit to test the calcium level and both yield similar result. <<What salt mix do you use? Are you adding calcium?  Try doing several water changes using Instant Ocean, or another high-quality salt mix.>> 2) High nitrate.  It's ~100.  I already reduced the quantity of food.  Hopefully that will bring it down.  Do you know any other quicker way?  I'm already changing 15-20% of water biweekly. <<Test your source water.  If it has low/no nitrates, change the water more often to bring it down.  Also, look into refugiums, covered on WWM.>> 3) Red algae on rocks.  I see patches of red algae everywhere sometimes even on the sand.  See attachment.  I read articles on your site and the algae sounds like bacteria. <<Likely Cyanobacteria/BGA.>> Hopefully reducing the quantity of food will minimize or get rid of this problem.  Do you know any other way? <<Physical removal, limiting nutrients through food, and adding a refugium are a few that come to mind.  Read on WWM.>> 4) Hair-like plant/things on rocks.  See attachment.  The plant is few millimeter long, yellowish/beige.  What's it?  And how to get rid of it? <<Your picture is unclear.>> I checked the water condition: Ph 8.0-8.3 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia, 0 Alkalinity, high (good according to the kit) Specific gravity, 1.024 Temp, 77 degree Nitrate, ~100 Calcium, ~600 Thanks, Adrian <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Nitrate Control 3/6/2006 Thanks Lisa. <<You are quite welcome, Joe.>> I have another concern regarding my nitrates. I'm planning on keeping a shark and ray in my 8ft with only several other fish. <<Please be sure to research the needs of these animals thoroughly before purchase!>> I have a wet/dry filter (mini-reef) and an Eheim 2018, along with a skimmer. I'm having trouble keeping my nitrates down to an acceptable level (<10ppm for sharks/rays?). <<For all fish, in my opinion.>> I've read that one of the most efficient methods to do this is to conduct a large water change (50%) every week or so until nitrates drop, but given the size of my tank, this seems impractical (cost of salt). Do you have any other suggestions? Otherwise I may resort to paying for a denitrifying product. <<Skip the denitrifying junk, and look into a sizeable refugium.  The macro algae contained within will eat up your nitrates, which will be removed as you harvest the algae growth.  Look into phasing out the Bio-balls in your wet/dry for live rock, as well.>> Thanks, Joe <<Glad to help. Lisa>> Nitrates!   03/07/06 Hello Guys!    <... and gals...>   I really have appreciated all the great advice I have received from you all so I wanted to see if you can help me again. I have a 20 gallon tank consisting of 17lbs. of L.R, emperor 280, a week old Aqua C Remora skimmer, power compact lighting, skunk cleaner shrimp, a skunk clown fish, a few mushroom frags, red grape kelp, and a peach sebae anemone. <A "tough boat to row" here... given the species listed, the size of this system... a constant battle...> I bought the fish and anemone Saturday and like a genius did not check the water before I went to purchase them. I checked the water when I brought them home and discovered my nitrates to be 20ppm. I did a quick water change (5 gallons), then checked it again and it did not drop any. I put the fish in anyway that night and on Sunday I did another water change, same results as before. Needless to say I did a total of 3 water changes w/o any drop. <One of the problems with small volumes> I asked my local fish guy what to do and he recommended Chaetomorpha but was closed so I haven't applied that yet and a Pura filter which I added- no change. I had another fish guy test my water hoping my kit was wrong but his read the same as mine. I put some nitrate reducing pebbles- no change. I've changed 15 of the 20 gallons in my tank what more can I do?!   Thank You,   Melanie <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked Related FAQs at top... You need a larger system... Oh, and do read re Heteractis crispa while you have time. Bob Fenner> Wives' tale... Nitrate/s, driven by? Locked in a Euclidean universe - Please no more Capital-Lock buttons stuck on 03/05/06 I'd like to unravel another favorite wives' tale on this forum. <Okay> I have been observing many members, even those experienced ones who should know better, state that BioWheels and bioballs, etc, "make more nitrates". THIS IS NONSENSE. To those of you who have been spreading this rubbish, shame on you. You should know better. If you weren't so mentally lazy, you would have figured out the fallacy in this statement. I can understand newbies, but YOU, and you know who you are, deserved to be chastised on this one. Nitrates in an aquarium come from one source and one source only: organic byproducts of protein metabolism, whether by the digestive and waste tracts of higher animals or by the direct breakdown of proteins by various common heterogeneous bacteria. As we all should know by now, this results in phenols, various other organic residue and AMMONIA. Nitrosomonas bacteria oxidize ammonia into NITRITES. Nitrobacter <Other organisms... names> oxidize nitrite into NITRATES. We should all be so completely familiar and comfortable in understanding this process, that it should feel like an old pair of shoes. Now, to you bright young ladies and gentlemen who have been guilty of repeating this wives' tales as if it were religious dogma, WHERE, PRAY TELL, DOES ALL OF THIS EXTRA NITRATE COMES FROM? Save your breath. Nitrate comes from the same place all nitrate comes from (if you don't count bad tapwater). It doesn't come from thin air. But where is the source material to make all of this extra nitrate? Now, while you are digesting that, consider this carefully: THERE IS A LIMITED, FINITE SOURCE OF NITRITE FOR FOOD FOR NITROBACTERS. Given a relative constant source of waste protein from the tank's inhabitants, you only get a finite amount of ammonia/nitrite being produced, thus only a finite amount of nitrate can be produced. Now how can a BioWheel or a any sump media magically produce more NITRATE, than the live rock or the first inch of sand? THEY DON'T. -Blink once or twice and read this again- THEY DON'T. Are BioWheels and bioballs more EFFICIENT than live rock at producing nitrates; Of course; But they can't produce larger total. The important point to keep in mind is that with a adequate Nitrobacter population, you can, and will, only produce as much nitrates as you have nitrites; NO EXCEPTIONS. You cannot magically make nitrates in an aquarium, from thin air with today's filtration equipment. It cannot be done. Think carefully about this fact: If you pull the BioWheel off or pull the bioballs out, the Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacters will simply increase their population on the live rocks, the sand, the glass walls, the powerheads, etc. Because if they didn't increase their population elsewhere, you would have a meltdown from the excess ammonia/nitrites. A BIOWHEEL CANNOT PRODUCE ANY MORE NITRATE THAN THE TOTAL SOURCE OF NITRITE. ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, WHETHER YOU HAVE 5 OR 50 DAMSELS IN A 55G, THEY WILL ONLY PRODUCE SO MUCH AMMONIA/NITRITE. THE BACTERIA POPULATION WILL GROW TO AND CANNOT EXCEED THE POPULATION THAT CAN BE SUSTAINED BY A FINITE SOURCE OF FOOD. THE PLACEMENT OF THE BACTERIA POPULATION IS IRRELEVANT AS LONG AS THE ENVIRONMENT AND FOOD SOURCE WILL SUPPORT THEM. A BioWheel added in your tank means that less bacteria is needed in the rocks; Take that BioWheel out and the population of bacteria will grow elsewhere. It's a simple as that. You can only produce a finite maximum yield of nitrates from any one tank, regardless of bacteria population placement. Now all of you brite <Product name... bright> puppies, I want to give you one more thing to consider and regret. A BioWheel or bioballs have a large surface interface with the atmosphere. Ammonia is a volatile liquid. When exposed to air, it will gas off. These BioWheels and bioballs, by their very nature, will gas off more ammonia. With less ammonia being left in the in the system to produce nitrites, YOU WILL END UP WITH LESS, NOT MORE NITRATES. <<... not what experience actually shows...>> Now to those of you that have piously been telling the newbies to pull the BioWheels off and pull the media out of the sump box, pull your heads out. And before rhoadkyll or some other idiot starts religiously misquoting some famous "name" in the industry that has authored a book or two, SPARE ME. I too, have also read where one or two of these authored gentlemen have suggested pulling the media out of the sump boxes and I can sincerely tell you that they are just as full of it as you would like to be. I don't care how much you like to revere and worship them, these "names" are human beings, not gods. They don't do all of their homework and make mistakes like anyone else. Just pick up a book authored 30-40 years ago and tell me how many mistakes, wives' tales and myths you can find in each chapter. Spare me the misquotes and bad quotes and start thinking for yourself. <There you are. Bob Fenner> Re: Wives tales-nitrates... "Kooky, Kooky, lend me your comb"   03/07/06 Hi Crew, The only response you made to the guy ranting and raving about bio balls and nitrates was that in real life it did not seem to work the way he suggests it would. So why not. <They need help... but not the sort we proffer here> I will take a stab at it. With bio balls 'stuff' gets trapped in there so you end up with a backup storage of nutrients. Whereas if they remained free floating they would be exported by water changes and skimmers. <Okay... not the real or whole story, but a good shot> I have a question about mandarins. Can they live on live fortified brine shrimp  or is it a losing battle unless you have enough live rock to support them? <The latter... try a refugium arrangement, large, uncrowded system with little competition for these food stocks... Bob Fenner> Nitrates are killing me!!! HELP  - 3/1/2006 OK here it is.  I have a 58 gal reef ready tank with a 30 gal Berlin style sump.  I wet skim it 24/7 but it seems that I only pull out what I put in i.e. DT's twice a week( one cap full 5ml).  This about is 1/3 the dose on the bottle.  I feed the fish very carefully, I put a small pinch in and wait for them to eat it then up a little more in and wait for them to eat that.  I do thing two time a day and I also feed macroalgae to the tangs. The fish that are in the tank are 2 maroon clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 blue tang and 1 royal Gramma.  The corals are as follows 1 bubble coral, 1colt coral, 1 lime green leather, 1 tongue coral, 1 toadstool, 1 gorgonian and green star polyps.  There are also about 25-30 different type and colors of mush.  There is also 2 T. Crocea clams.  Several snails and hermits.  All the live in the  tank seems to be doing very well it is all growing and spreading at a good rate.  There is also a CPR refug (12gal) on the back that had 3 inches of mud in it. I have all the Tang Heaven macroalgae growing in the sump and the CPR.   The part that gets me is the Nitrate level keeps climbing slowly. I change 14 gals of water a week (Wednesday 7gals and Saturday 7gals).  But the level keeps going up 15 ppm now, this is very very very bad from where I sit but what can I do.        Any help would be great.  I am worried that the tank is going to start going down hill and day now and that would just kill me.     Thanks   Matt <Please use your grammar/spelling checker... "You're killing me"... and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above... Your answers are gone over and over there. Bob Fenner> High Nitrates   2/8/06 Hello, <Good morning>      I have a 55 gallon fish only aquarium with a 7" porcupine puffer, 6" panther grouper, 4" volitans lion, and a 4" niger trigger. all fishes are fine and eating as usual but I can't seem to get my nitrates down to zero, they're usually between 12.5 to 25, and when I tested my water today nitrites and ammonia are at zero, nitrates between 25 and 50, ph at 8.0, and salinity at 1.021. I feed each fish 1 whole silverside every other day, and between that 2-3 freeze dried krill per fish.  I have an AMiracle wet dry, emperor 400 bio wheel mechanical filter, red sea Prizm protein skimmer, and a 165gph maxi jet power head. I also have 2" crushed coral substrate. I do 5- 10 gallons water changes every week. Last week I had a yellow tang die from starvation he was slow to get to the food, <That's not all he died from.> so I used SeaChem prime and TLC on opposite days last week and water was fine.  I was thinking of using Kent marine nitrate sponge, any suggestions.  Also I have a little bit of copper in my tank just for precautions, because the porcupine and yellow tang had ich two months ago. <Unbelievable, I would think with that fish load your nitrates would be 50+.  The answer to your question is quite simple...your tank is seriously overstocked. Unless you get a much larger tank or find homes for some of these guys you will soon be losing fish.  I believe little or no research was done before selecting these fish for your 55 gallon aquarium.  Both the puffer and grouper can attain lengths of up to 1 1/2', the lionfish and trigger at 1'.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: High Nitrates   2/8/06 Thanks for the advice, but I did two 5 gallon water changes on consecutive days <Not nearly enough for this load.  As long as these fish are in the 55 I'd be doing 50% weekly.> and added some TLC and the nitrates dropped down between 5 and 12.5.  I know the tank is too small, but my 300 gallons is currently cycling <Much much better my friend.> and my 540 has 2 adult banded cat sharks and a horn shark and I didn't want them to get eaten. Thank you <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> High Nitrates  02-05-06 Hello,    <Hi there>   I have a 55 gallon fish only aquarium with a 7" porcupine puffer, 6" panther grouper, 4" Volitans lion, and a 4" niger trigger. <This tank volume is too small for any of these species...> all fishes are fine and eating as usual but i can't seem to get my nitrates down to zero, <I'll bet> they're usual between 12.5 to 25, and when i tested my water today nitrites and ammonia are at zero, nitrates between 25 and 50, ph at 8.0, and salinity at 1.021. i feed each fish 1 whole silverside every other day, and between that 2-3 freeze dried kill per fish.  i have an AMiracle wet dry, emperor 400 bio wheel mechanical filter, red sea Prizm protein skimmer, and a 165gph maxi jet power head. I also have 2" crushed coral substrate. I do 5- 10 gallons water changes every week. last week i had a yellow tang died from starvation he was slow to get to the food, so i used SeaChem prime and TLC on opposite days last week and water was fine.  I was thinking of using Kent marine nitrate sponge, any suggestions.  Also i have a little bit of copper in my tank just for precautions, because the porcupine and yellow tang had ich two months ago.   <... Please read here: http://www.google.com/custom?q=high+nitrates+crowded+tank&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner> Selcon/Nitrate?  - 2/4/2006 Hello and thank you for the invaluable help you provide.  I'm struggling to find the source of my high nitrate problem in a 250 gallon fish only system.  The nitrates never go below 20 and often move up to between 40 and 80 in between water changes, which I have been doing every 3 weeks or so.  (I have now committed to do smaller changes once a week.) <This is better... but there are other means...>   One problem I know I've been having is that my protein skimmer has not been producing enough skimmate - a 2/3's full cup maybe every 2 to 3 weeks for the last year.  By reading your website I learned that this was essentially accomplishing nothing, so I replaced the skimmer yesterday. I'm sure that will help remove more organics.  I'm now trying to figure out if I'm doing other things that could add to the nitrate problem.  I don't think I'm overstocked, I may feed too much but don't have much to compare it to, and I'm working on getting better suction when I siphon the detritus out of the substrate because I've never been convinced that the vacuum I do gets much out of the sand.  One potential source of nitrate I've considered is the Selcon I'm using.  I soak my fishes' food in Selcon at least 4 or 5 times a week, and after feeding them I have been pouring the Selcon/water mix into the tank on the theory that the Selcon could only be good for the fish.  Could this be contributing significantly to elevated nitrates? <Can... directly and not> Should I throw away the Selcon/water mix after soaking the food rather than putting it into the tank? <Mmm, no... but depending on the food/type it may well be that you're adding nutrients that the livestock can't, won't eat, but will add nitrate indirectly. Long answer short, I'd use the Selcon only once weekly> Could the juice from frozen cubes of plankton, Mysis (which I also soak in the Selcon and which gets dumped into the tank) be elevating the nitrates? <Ah, oh yes> I feel like I've been at least fairly conscientious about maintenance and am worried that I'm doing something that is self-defeating.  Thanks as always.   <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Possible Sources of High Nitrate - 2/4/2006 Hello and thank you for the invaluable help you provide. I'm struggling to find the source of my high nitrate problem in a 250 gallon fish only system.  The nitrates never go below 20 and often move up to between 40 and 80 in between water changes, which I have been doing every 3 weeks or so.  (I have now committed to do smaller changes once per week.) <<Likely wise.>> One problem I know I've been having is that my protein skimmer has not been producing enough skimmate - a 2/3's full cup maybe every 2 to 3 weeks for the last year.  By reading your website I learned that this was essentially accomplishing nothing, so I replaced the skimmer yesterday. <<What kind of skimmer did you buy?>> I'm sure that will help remove more organics.  I'm now trying to figure out if I'm doing other things that could add to the nitrate problem.  I don't think I'm overstocked, I may feed too much but don't have much to compare it to, and I'm working on getting better suction when I siphon the detritus out of the substrate because I've never been convinced that the vacuum I do gets much out of the sand. <<What's your inhabitant list? Feeding regimen?  Your sand bed may be a source of the nitrate as well.  How deep is it?>> One potential source of nitrate I've considered is the Selcon I'm using. I soak my fishes' food in Selcon at least 4 or 5 times a week, and after feeding them, I have been pouring the Selcon/water mix into the tank on the theory that the Selcon could only be good for the fish. Could this be contributing significantly to elevated nitrates? <<It is contributing to pollution in the tank, certainly.>> Should I throw away the Selcon/water mix after soaking the food rather than putting it into the tank? <<Unless you have filter-feeders, which you do not, Selcon in the water is not doing any good for your tank.>> Could the juice from frozen cubes of plankton, Mysis (which I also soak in the Selcon and which gets dumped into the tank) be elevating the nitrates? <<Do strain the food before feeding.>> I feel like I've been at least conscientious about maintenance and am worried that I'm doing something that is self-defeating. <<You may want to look into a DSB and macro-algae refugium here as well. There are many potential causes for high nitrates.  Do you run a wet/dry?>>   Thanks as always. <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Possible Sources of High Nitrate II- 2/7/2006 Thanks for the response, Lisa. <<You're welcome.>> To follow up on your questions and with a little more information. The skimmer I bought is a Euro-Reef RS8-2.  It's pulling about a half a cup of skimmate every couple of days. <<Certainly an improvement!>> The fish in the tank are a male and female bird wrasse, male and female blue jaw trigger, dogface puffer, porcupine puffer, sailfin tang, striped Soldierfish, and Falco's hawkfish. <<WOW! That's quite a bio-load/contributing factor here.>> None are full grown, except maybe the male bird wrasse.  I feed them once per day, at night, with cut-up silversides and krill soaked in Selcon (and recently, garlic), and occasionally give them bay shrimp or some other seafood from the grocery store (the dogface gets a clam every few months for his teeth). <<This should be done far more often.  Crabs legs are another good option.>> I give them in total about 10-15 cut pieces of silverside and the same in krill.  After the silversides and krill, I put in a thawed cube or two of Mysis shrimp and ocean plankton for the triggers, which is also nibbled on by the sailfin tang, wrasses and the hawkfish.  On your advice, I've started to strain the Mysis and plankton before putting it in the tank and am tossing the Selcon/water mix.  I also feed the sailfin tang a pinch of Spirulina every day or so, usually in the morning - he eats it from my fingers (though the male bird wrasse also always grabs a mouthful).  My sand bed is an inch deep in most places, though it gets to a couple of inches in spots.  I've thought about scooping some sand out but then thought I might just be taking out a source of good bacteria.  I do run a wet/dry filter - that was the way the aquarium was built.  The wet/dry filter box is a permanent component of the stand, which essentially acts as a stand and the sump.  I'm not sure I have any other options below the tank.  I've considered live rock in the tank but was told that it would probably die because my lighting is insufficient.  My lights are 2 VHO fluorescent bulbs, 7 feet long, and 160 watts per bulb, I believe.  I'm certainly willing to spend the money on the live rock but didn't want to create a toxic tank with a bunch of dying and decaying live rock. <<Your wet-dry is most probably your biggest problem here.  Slowly, not all at once, begin removing the bio-balls from the wet/dry.  Bio-balls are 'nitrate factories".  You will not have a problem with the live rock, just be sure to cure it properly in a tub before adding it to your tank.>>   Does this additional information lead you to some conclusions about where the high nitrates may have come from? <<Definitely.>> I'm hoping the combination of dumping the Selcon/water/cube thaw mixture into the tank, and a poorly working protein skimmer accounted for most of the problem, but would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again. <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

High Nitrates/Questionable Test Readings - 02/03/06 Hi Crew. <<EricR here>> First of all I would like to say, Great Site! <<Thank you>> And now on to my problem.  I recently inherited a tank that has been neglected for some time now.  The tank had been setup 3 years when I got it.  Here is the setup.  55Gallon tank, 90-100 lbs. of live rock, Excalibur skimmer (not exactly sure of the model), Marineland 400 filter (I believe) at any rate it has two bio-wheels. <<This last may be a problem if this is a reef tank.>> Tank has a two-inch sand bed <<Much controversy here...but I would either reduce the sand bed to ~1", or increase to ~4" or more.>> and some mushrooms and polyps all doing very well.  Current inhabitants include A 5" Hippo Tang <<This tang is inappropriate for this tank.  Do yourself and the fish a favor and return it to the LFS (for some store credit perhaps?).>> a 3" Tomato Clownfish and a small Blue Yellowtail Damsel.  Salinity is currently low @1.020. <<Please bring this up to natural seawater concentration (1.025).>> Anywho!  I transferred a good amount of water with the tank via a pickle barrel, I would estimate around 40 gallons or so. <<Always a good idea when moving a tank.>> I have done a few small water changes 4 gallons two times. <<10 gallons would be more beneficial...especially considering the recent move.>> I took a water sample to my LFS and they informed me that my nitrates were high at around 165 ppm. <<!!!...doubtful...if everything is doing as well as you say.  I strongly recommend you double check this with some testing of your own.  Either way, you should probably consider removing the bio-wheel filter.>> With that being said is it possible my tank could be going through another cycle? <<Is quite common after moving a tank for there to be some (re)cycling...yes.>> Or should I do a few significant water changes. <<With nitrate readings like that, absolutely...50% at a time a couple days apart until the nitrates are back down below 30 ppm.>> I rinsed the substrate thoroughly <<???...in freshwater or tank water?  If in freshwater this is likely the cause of your nitrate spike.>> and scraped a boatload of algae from the sides of the tank before setting it back up.  I would hate to keep doing water changes if the tank was trying to cycle again. <<You don't have a choice but 'to do' the water changes as long as you have livestock in the tank.>> It has been a month now since I set the tank up and the nitrates are still lingering. <<Mmm, this is having/will soon have a deleterious effect.  Get a new fresh test kit and confirm the nitrate reading and take appropriate action.  here's a good place to start researching/studying: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm >> I have the saltwater aging and will be eagerly waiting for the reply. <<Start those water changes...Regards, EricR>>

Naso Hunger Strike and High Nitrates   2/2/06 Hi again, <Hello Mordy, Adam J with you this time.> My 6 inch Naso, who has been with us for about 5 months (in a 125 FOWLR with some other friends) has gone on a hunger strike. When I first got him it took me nearly three weeks to get him to eat after which he ate anything I fed, like a pig. Feedings are daily flake, frozen and Nori. Past week he has not been eating, wandering aimlessly, swimming through food and hanging around the Nori but not eating. <Hmm, any obvious stresses that would have caused this? How long has the hunger strike ensued?> Belly is starting to get noticeably pinched but still swimming actively. Does not appear to be sick nor do any tank mates. I have three things that I think it may be related to; 1. recently added about 45lbs of LR to the 130 already there (changed his living space no doubt), 2. Higher nitrates 40-50ppm <Mmm, yes surgeons are quite sensitive to high levels of wastes/dissolve organics in general, in a FOWLR you need to get this number no higher than 20, 10 and less is preferred.> 3. elevated phosphates. Any of these things sound like a good enough reason? <See above.> What can I do to rectify the situation? <Large water changes and possibly try adding a nutritional supplement to the food like Selcon, also consider some fresh algae (such as Gracilaria) or even live brine; yes I know it's not nutritious but better than nothing.> Thanks for all your help, past & present. <Anytime.> Mordy <Adam Jackson.>

Bio-media and No3 relationship  - 01/24/06 Hey guys! <What's up?> Just short and sweet one! <That's what they always say.> Do Ceramic rings lead to a raise in No3? <Not directly, however; ceramic rings and other plastic media in general are quite proficient as a breeding grounds for nitrifying bacteria that breaks down Ammonia and nitrite but not nitrate (No3). Furthermore plastic media and ceramic rings are often employed in canister filters and they often trap detritus and I've way to nutrient problems and elevated No3 levels. So overall I prefer to use live rock for biological filtration or macro-algae refugium for nutrient export'¦and of course always use a protein skimmer.> I have ceramic rings in my overhead Wet/Dry filter. Regards <To you as well.> Apurva <Adam J.>

High nitrates... not reading  - 01/23/2006 Hi, We have a 150 gallon tank with 300 lbs of live rock and a wet dry 30 gallon sump with 75 lbs of live sand and Caulerpa. We have 4 tangs, 2 Nemos, 2 coral beauties, and a butterfly. We have turbo  snails, 3 crabs, 2 shrimp. We  have been having a problem with high nitrates. Over 50. <Uhh, it's your wet-dry...> We have tried 50 gallon water changes 2 days in a row every 2 weeks and that doesn't bring the nitrates down at all. The ammonia levels and nitrite levels are normal. What could be causing this spike? We are also losing our star polyps and zinnia. <It's affecting your terrestrial garden?> They once were thriving and now they don't seem to be doing good. We also have some mushrooms and a colt coral and hammers. We only feed once a day (pellet food).   Please help us find a way to lower the nitrates. The tank has been up for over a  year now and we only have the problem for the last 2 months. Thanks, Cindy <... please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Nitrate Levels   1/21/06 Hello crew <Hi Larry> What is considered the norms on reef tank feeding intervals? <Small amounts 2, 3 time per day.>  I have been feeding my collection of tangs(4 yellow, 1 unicorn, 1 sailfin, 1 purple, 2 regal and 1 Atlantic blue) and other small fish(12 green Chromis, 1 six line wrasse, 1 lawn mower blenny and yellow tail damsel) 3-4 times daily (frozen cubes of plankton/brine and flake food).<Wow, overdone> I've been adding the recommended amounts of Kent invertebrate food (phytoplankton, zooplankton, coral Accel, ChromaPlex and microvert)4-5 times per week. <Good recipe for nitrate soup.  I'd eliminate the MicroVert and ChromaPlex from the menu.>  The tank is 500 gallons. The nitrate level has gone up to 50 ppm. I've decided to try, for a change, feeding the inverts 1-2 times per week <Should suffice> and the fish 1 cube per day and hanging a sheet (10 inches x 5 inches) of seaweed per day for the tangs.  What do you think? < Nothing wrong with feeding 2 to 3 times daily but feed small amounts until they show little interest in the food.  Are you using a protein skimmer and/or chemical media?  If not, will help tremendously in keeping waste levels down.> Thanks. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Nitrate levels   1/21/06 Thanks James <You're welcome> I do have an AquaC EV series protein skimmer.<Do use and clean weekly for optimum efficiency.>  I don't use any chemical media. What would you suggest. <I personally like Chemi-Pure and Polyfilter.  Polyfilter would be better suited for your problem.> I have an ozonizer that I don't run consistently.  I try to keep the ORP between 300-400.  I've read pros and cons about ozone. <Do search ozone on the Wet Web and learn.> I do keep charcoal on hand for when I do use the ozone, though. I do have a filter sock which I'm getting tired of cleaning.  What do you think about the nitrate reducing equipment? <"tired of cleaning".  If weekly cleaning of such and/or filter pads isn't done then any nitrate reducer isn't much good.  Kind of like sweeping the floor with someone going behind you with a pail of dirt.> There is one that that the media is sulfur based and doesn't harbor bacteria.  This is made by Korallin. thanks again. <My nitrate levels are always unreadable (residual) and I don't have any money invested in nitrate removal gear, just do my weekly maintenance, watch my feeding and never overstock the system.  Do search nutrient control on the Wet Web, more info/help here. Don't really think too much about nitrate reactors, another expense, something else to clean and the fact that nitrate control can be accomplished without such. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Nitrate levels  - 01/23/2006 James Thanks again. <You're welcome.>  I've read that one should run ozone continuously, but what if the ORP climbs over 400?,<Should be using an ORP controller so this doesn't happen.> and do you really have to run the returned water over carbon? <Should.>  Won't a PolyFilter work? <Yes> Or can you skip the media? <No>  How do you clean the filter socks?  Is there another way besides soaking them in fresh water and wringing them out? <I just back flush them using a faucet.> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Nitrates  - 01/23/2006 Hello, Thanks in advance for your help.  I am trying to get to the bottom of what seems to be a elusive nitrate problem. I have been getting readings that are off the charts. (literally).  Currently I have purchased three different Nitrate Test Kits: Salifert, Kordon, and Aquarium Pharma.  -- All three are telling me I have the highest possible Nitrate levels they test to.  But I am a responsible keeper.  Here are the stats System: 200 Gallons FOWLR (80 Pounds)<Live rock?> 20 Gallon Sump filled w/ 1/2 live rock and 1/2 Bioballs  (Took out 1/2 of the bioballs three months ago and replaced with live rock in attempt to bring down Nitrates)<Not enough live rock.>   4 Chemi Pure Bags 2.5 Liters of Seachem D*Nitrate 1 Liter Matrix Carbon <Wasting money if you're already using Chemi-Pure.> PM Protein Skimmer (removes a full canister of green tea a week) Bio Load: 1 Naso Tang 12" 1 Blue Hippo Tang 6" 1 Powder Blue Tang 3.5 " 1 Perculas Clown 1 Blue Girdled Angel 1 Foxface I have changed out over 120 gallons of water over the past 2 months - I have read all the articles and I don't know what to do.  I also make sure they eat what I feed not much going to waste.. Are their any hints or tips you guys could share? <The 12" tang alone is producing a lot of waste.  Tank is borderline for keeping fish that large.  Are you using a supplemental mechanical filter or using filter pads in the sump?  If so, these need to be cleaned/changed weekly.  The waste needs to be removed from the system and not relocated. Is the skimmer large and efficient enough for your tank?  Read here also.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jason Scorps and Nitrates: Marathon of Questions   1/11/06 Dear WWM crew, <Garen>     I have been looking through this site constantly and thoroughly in an effort to answer my questions without having to bother you all, but unfortunately I am not confident enough in the conclusions that I have come to and need reassurance. <Okay>     I have what I think to be a 4.5" diabolus scorpion, <Neat... Not often seen in the trade> 2" fuzzy lion, a 2" Lowfin scorpion, <Small!> 4.5" maroon clown with his BTA buddy, tiny 8" chainlink moray and a 3.5" honeycomb grouper. <... all in the same system?> I will put these guys in a 46 bowfront <Way too small...> with 1x175 what 14K metal halide and 2x24" VHOs and 20 lbs of Live Rock (I have 200 lbs at my disposal, so please tell me if I should add more) with a 29 gallon sump/wet dry/refugium underneath.  I am going to skim this setup with Turboflotor 1000 with a Oceanrunner 2500 pump.  Would you suggest using a plenum in this setup? <If you have the inclination... in the sump, yes> If so, should I use it in the refugium inside the sump or should I do it in the 46 gallon display tank? <The former> Is it okay to put different kinds of macroalgae and 15 coquina clams in the refugium in order to control nitrates.  Would an 18 watt PC light be sufficient for the refugium? <Yes, and yes, but barely adequate.>     See, nitrates have always been my big problem and I want to get them below 15ppm. <You need, will need a much larger system to do this... with this livestock list>   I had to bring all of my fish home over winter break (from college) and the tank water was mostly new.  Poor planning on my part.  My system just cycled and while the ammonia just recently dropped below .25 (nitrites never rose above 0.0), the nitrates are ridiculously high at 80ppm.  I have macroalgae in the sump but no lights over it yet and the nitrates haven't budged.  Is lack of proper lighting the reason why the macro isn't utilizing the nitrates?   <One of them, yes>     I am looking at building an 6' tall/ 8" diameter skimmer that is listed on "Snailman's Reef" in the DIY section ( http://www.hawkfish.org/snailman/snailmandiy.htm).  Have you ever seen/heard about his DIY skimmers? <Oh, yes. Posted on WWM...> If so, what is your opinion?  Anything that you would modify on this design?     <Make it larger>     Ideally I would like to use my crappy Seaclone 150/Turboflotor 1000/6'tall-8"dia. DIY Venturi skimmer to skim my 46 bow and 55 gallon FOWLR tanks.  The 55 gallon has a 5" niger trigger, 4" humu trigger, 16" white eye moray eel, and possibly a 6" longhorn cowfish. <Also needs to be much larger> Is that enough skimming for this collective bioload? <Not hardly> If my Humu's old best buddy was a 5" dogface puffer (he passed away), would it be safe to assume that I could trust him with the 6" longhorn cowfish? <Not IMO/E> I am concerned about the cowfish being nipped on his fins and tail.   <Me too... and it subsequently taking out the tank> The cowfish has a serious attitude problem and likes to pick on my scorpions so I can't trust him with them in the 46 gallon tank.  The humu also has an attitude and has a killed a 3" Webb burr puffer before by attacking its gill and pectoral fin.  He's a clown trigger in a Humu's clothing! <Heeee!> When I move the humu, niger, white eye moray, and cowfish (?) back up to school into the 55 gallon tank, in order to prevent fighting, should I put one in the tank before the other or acclimate all at the same time? <Better to either trade most all in, or plan... oh, I see this directly below> BTW I am going to be picking up a 75 or 90 gallon aquarium in order to replace the 55 within the next 3 months.  Gotta keep the Cowfish Happy! Thank you, Garen Wright <Cheers, Bob Fenner> Nitrate removers   1/10/06 Good Evening WWM crew,                     Just a couple of quick questions, (how often do you hear that I wonder??). I am in the process of attempting to change my 350 litre reef aquarium over to the 'natural method' of filtration using the 45kg of live rock I have in it as the principal filtration method. Previously I had a fluidized bed filter on the tank, but was never able to reduce the nitrates to below 25mg/l. On advice from various people that fluidized bed filters can act as 'nitrate factories' by working too efficiently at breaking nitrite and ammonia to nitrate, I recently removed this filter and have added 2 new power heads to increase circulation,( now over 4500 litres per hour). One month after this change over the nitrate has climbed to 50mg/l, so on the recommendation of my LFS I have added some 'Tetra Nitrate Minus' to bring the levels down while waiting for the 'natural method' to balance. I am still running a small amount of biological filter in my remaining external power filter. My main questions are as follows ; Do you know how this Tetra product works?,( or if in any of your experience it does work!). How long should it take for my tank to level out after the removal of the fluidized bed? <Personally I have little use/faith for nitrate reducing media.  But to answer your question, no, I've never used it or know of anyone who has. You are much better off with weekly 10% water changes and the use of a good protein skimmer.  Here is a link on nitrate control you can read. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >  Is the remaining biological media in the external filter adding to the problem rather than acting like a safety net as I saw it? <Shouldn't and I would remove the media slowly over a two week period.>  Any insights gratefully received.  <It will take a while for the live rock to make the transition to biological filter.  I wouldn't add anything new for at least four weeks.>       On a different subject, I have two lovely Pomacentrus alleni damsels in my tank. They seem to exist in perfect peace, (especially for damsels), and my LFS has some more in and I was wondering if it's OK to add to the two I have? <I wouldn't add anything now as mentioned above.  I don't see any problem adding a couple more at a later date.  As long as hiding places are available in the live rock aggression should be minimal.> They're always together and I was wondering if adding three more would make a shoal or a big problem! I notice on your info page they are said to be best kept singly, but my two are very peaceful to each other and their tank mates. Thank you for your time and help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Bob Mehen, Cornwall UK. Can't get Nitrate Level Down   12/29/05 Bob; <James today> I wrote you about 8 months ago (about 12 months after a new 140 Gallon Reef Tank was setup). My problem at that point was that I was having problems reducing the Nitrate level in my new aquarium.  I have done a number of things you suggested but still haven't been able to lower the Nitrate level.  Here are the current specifics:             -     140 Gallon (24'x48'x 28½) Glass Aquarium             -     2 @ 250Watt Metal Halide Lights (10,000ºK)             -     2 @   96Watt Super Actinic VHO Fluorescents             -     Approximately 160lbs of Live rock and a 4' Crushed Coral (Aragonite) Substrate             -     3 Maxi-Jet 1200 power heads to circulate water within the tank             -     2  5/8' output tubes from output pump to return water and further circulate water within the tank -     Reef Concepts Model 624 Aerofoamer -     Reef Concepts Model CA700 Calcium Reactor          and associated pump, monitor CO2 tank and bubble counter -          Kent RO Water system which automatically fills a 40 Gal reservoir which  Is used to auto fill evaporating water in tank and create new Saltwater    For water changes -          Unidentified Circulating pump which is moving at least 1200 Gallons of water per hour -          Custom Made Sump for the Protein Skimmer and Calcium Reactor    Approximately 60 gallon capacity which is filled to about 33 Gallons -          Red Sea 200mg/hr Ozonizer and ORP Monitor  (35mg/hr with ORP set to 375) -          Aqualogic 1/3HP Aquarium Chiller and Cooler/Heater Controller The system has been fully functional for 20 months. I currently  have the following specimens: -          Approximately 20 Soft Corals, Leathers, Bubbles, mushrooms, etc -          A few hard corals that I added a couple of months ago that seem to be 'struggling' -          The following Fish  -  3½ ' Yellow Tank, 4' Sailfin Tang, 3½' Fairy Wrasse,         2'  six-line wrasse, 3' engineer goby, 1½' Mandarin Goby, 2 fairly large fire shrimp,         2½ Kole Tang,  3' Hippo Tang, 4' Pink Sea Cucumber,  2' Flame angel,          3½ ' Altheas;  2 small percula clownfish Over the past year or so I have had 2 clams and a number of hard corals    Both clams lived for a couple of months and died, the hard corals haven't    done all that great and I've lost a number over this period of time I have the Fluorescents turned on at 11:00AM and turned off at 10:00PM, I have the halides turned on at 12:00PM and turned off at 9:00PM.  A 20 -- 25% water change is done every two weeks. There is very little Coralline Algae or even dark green algae buildup (very strange). The temperature Is maintained at a steady 77º, the PH in the reactor typically between 6.9 and 7.1. Although all of the fish are doing great and most of the soft corals seem to be flourishing, I have had problems with Clams and the hard corals. The tank parameters are typically         -  Nitrate level    -  50-60 ppm!!           -  Specific Gravity  -  1.0125         -  Ph level  -  8.0 -- 8.2         -  Nitrite Level   negligible         -  Calcium -- Approximately 350         -  Alkalinity -- Approximately 250 The water is changed every two weeks and the detritus is vacuumed in areas that are accessible (only about 35% of the substrate is accessible, the remainder is under rock that cannot  be moved. There is very little water circulation through the live rock and I suspect there many dead spots in the current configuration. As you suggested,  I did a number of significant water changes, increased the frequency to two times a month from once every 3 or 4 weeks,  added an additional inch of substrate and reduced the feeding to about 5 to 6 times a week of a total of about 5 cubes of Formula I, Formula 2, Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp and frozen plankton per feeding. I feed the corals 20 ml of DT's and 20ml of Zooplankton every other day. I have also added a Kent Nitrate Sponge which I change every 3 months.  END RESULT'¦. A ROCK SOLID 50-60ppm NITRATE LEVEL. If I do a complete substrate change, I'll have to literally take the tank apart which I really don't want to do since the fish and soft corals are doing fantastic. I just can't figure out how to reduce the Nitrate level or create more coralline or any algae growth for the matter. I AM THINKING OF ADDING A SEPARATE 30' x 12'X12' REFUGIUM. DO YOU THINK THIS MIGHT HELP? I would appreciate any recommendations or suggestions on anything else that might be going on here.  Why am I not growing any coralline (purple/lavender) algae <Lewis, In looking at your nitrate reading...Is your test kit measuring total nitrogen (N) or NO3.  If it is measuring total nitrogen then you 50-60ppm is very low since you divide this reading by 4.4 to obtain the NO3 level which we are interested in.  It sure sounds like you are doing everything right. One thing you don't mention is what supplements you are dosing with. As far as growing coralline...I think the best results are obtained using SeaChem's Reef Builder and Reef Advantage in alternating doses. Calcium levels should be kept at 400ppm or slightly higher. Coralline loves actinic lighting which I see you are using.  I don't know whether your tubes are true actinic or the 460nm tubes.  I'm sure you have checked our WWM site on coralline so I will add another link for you to read on growing coralline.  Get back with me on the test kit and additives. http://www.garf.org/coralline.html  James (Salty Dog)> Lewis M. Kirschner (Lew)

Nitrates and regal tang  12/17/05 Hey! <Hey, Hey>   Guys believe me I did a lot of reading before mailing you. <I believe you>I have a 140G tank and considering the decorative corals and sand and rocks it would come down to 120G of water. I checked my nitrates on my Tetra No3 and the color code matched between 50-100. 100 is the max reading on the rate card so that scared the sh*t out of me.  I had done a 10% water change on Sunday & checked No3 on Tuesday to get this reading. I had unfortunately not done a test before. My regal tang(2", 6 months old in my tank) all off a sudden started hiding and when on a hunger strike which made me do the test. I still wonder what's wrong with him as my other tank mates which include a fire clown, yellow tang, Purple Fridmani, Strawberry Goby, Blue devil; are doing very fine and are good at eating etc. My other water parameters are Ammonia 0, No2 0, pH 8.1 yes I am increasing it to 8.3 already. I have got the pH up from 7.8 to 8.1 in a span of 15days and will get it to 8.3 soon. I did another water change yesterday (around 15%) i.e. Thursday and still my No3 remains the same. <You need to control nutrients my friend.  Read here.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> My filtration includes an EHEIM 2217, a UV after that and a Overhang Wet/Dry. The water flows from the 2217 to the UV and finally to the Wet/Dry and back in the tank. I changed my carbon Bag in the canister on Sunday itself. How do it get rid of the Nitrates? <Carbon should be replaced monthly.  Consider using a higher grade such as Chemi-Pure.  The filter floss needs to be changed on a weekly basis also.> Have the high nitrate levels caused the regal tang to go on a hunger strike? <Very possible as tangs do require pristine water quality and a high vitamin diet.> I haven't fed anyone for the last 48 hrs. Please help me out with the same. <Most fish will tolerate nitrate levels around 25ppm with no problems. At the level you are at would be questionable.  Keep in mind there is nothing you can buy and/or add to the tank that is going to make the nitrate go away overnight.  I'm also thinking a hang on wet dry isn't going to have the area you require for efficient biological filtration for a 140 gallon tank.  Do read the link and I'm sure you will see areas that you are failing in.  <You do not mention the use of a protein skimmer.  This alone helps immensely in controlling nutrients.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks in advance <You're welcome> Cursed Nitrates  12/16/05 Hi crew! <Hello Steve.> I was hoping you could help me with a problem -- one which frankly has me baffled!  I seem to have a problem with Nitrates yet cannot see why.   The setup is about 3 months old and is a 47G reef with about 30KG live rock and about 2' CaribSea Aragonite sand.  I have connected an AquaC Remora and a 2026 Eheim Pro II with Carbon, along with 3 Maxijet 900 powerheads (one rotating). Lighting is pretty weak with 156W daylight T5s.  As for livestock, I have a Royal Gramma, an Andaman Damselfish, 2 Percula Clowns (in QT) and 2 Green Chromis as well as 2 Peppermint Shrimp, a disc coral, some Clove Polyps, some Yellow Polyps and the usual crew of mixed snails and hermits.  Parameters are: Ammonia nil, Nitrite nil, Organics nil, Phosphate 0.03 mg/L, Ph 8.1/8.2, SG 1.025, Oxygen 7 mg/L, KH 14.1 dKH, Calcium 340 mg/L (these are gradually lowering and rising respectively with the use of C-Balance).  Finally the Nitrates are constantly about 15 ppm even though I had no trace up until 2 weeks ago!  (The Clove Polyps currently hate me!)   Following are a few events that happened about the same time:  1)  Have the 2 Perculas in QT as they seemed to develop a disease (perhaps Brooklynella), panicked and used Oodinex 'reef safe' treatment in the main tank followed by several water changes.  2) Had the skimmer switched off during the treatment course (3 days).  3) Had 2 Featherdusters savaged and eventually killed (Peppermints?)  1 of these bodies never turned up.  4) Cleaned down/out the filter without retaining any seeded substrate (idiot!)  Now although I can see all of these as potential causes and/or contributors, I cannot understand how I have no Ammonia and Nitrite but am having to battle against the Nitrates by instigating regular (every 2 days) 10% water changes and adding the occasional Amquel+! <Amquel does not remove nitrates from solution.> Could it be that the substrate has finally given up the ghost (I only added 2' instead of the recommended SSB or DSB), or would you perhaps suggest the medication I added has destroyed the Nitrifying bacteria and so the tank is having to cycle?  Apologies for any ignorance on my behalf (both my actions and the questions/suggestions) and I sincerely hope you can shed some light in any way. <Steve, lets start out by reading the links I've posted.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm  and  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm   James (Salty Dog)> Many thanks, Steve <You're welcome> Morse. Serious Nutrient/Nitrate Issues'¦.Lack of Maintenance  12/16/05 Hello. <Hi Jason.> I have been running a 120 gallon saltwater setup with healthy fish and hardy corals.  Also a carpet Anenome.  Everything seems to be very healthy. <Okay.> Setup has been running for almost a year.  About 150 lbs. live rock as well. I have about 375 watts via PCs.  Photoperiod about 10 hours. <Be sure to replace these bulbs on a regular schedule, these bulb depreciate in lumen output rather quickly (significantly at 6 months).> Sure, I do have several fish including a medium sized Volitans Lion, Harlequin Tuskfish, and a 6" Niger Trigger.  Those are the big guys anyway. I have about 10 more smaller fish each only averaging around 2". <This is a very heavy load for this tank.> I have been doing monthly water changes of about 20%. <Weekly or at least bi-monthly would be much better.>   I am running 2 Fluval 404 canister filters and a small hang-on filter. <Be sure to clean these out weekly, ignoring these will cause them to be nutrient factories.>   My skimmer is rated for a 100 gallon aquarium.  It was a generic brand I got off of EBay. <Hard to comment without knowing exact brand, generally speaking though if the manufacture says its rated for a 100 gallons, it's usually only practical on a system of half that size (they all fudge on their products a bit). With your tank being a 120-gallon and the load you have, I am willing to bet a more efficient skimmer is called for.> I have plenty of circulation with 2 very strong powerheads.  Together they total around 1500 gph. <Okay, IME/O can never have to much water flow short of slamming your critters against the opposite side of the tank.> All of my water parameters have always been where they should be, but the nitrates are always "off the chart".  Between 80-160+ ppm. <Wow, this is very high, some large (50%) water changes are called for, at least a few over the next week or two. It's quite possible those canisters are due for maintenance and I would also revise your stocking list. Also if your nitrate levels are really this high I doubt your inverts are doing so well'¦or at least they won't be for long.> I have been using a Coralife R/O unit that cost about $150 and I use Instant Ocean.  My testing kit is Saltwater Master by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. <All are reputable products.> It drives me nuts when I read all these articles about people having their nitrates at zero or next to zero.  My nitrates start at about 10-20 ppm according to my test kit straight out of the R/O unit. <Possibly an old test kit? Or maybe it's time to replace your RO cartridges. I would also look into implementing a Refugium on your set-up, can work wonders for nutrient control, but still will not excuse or protect you from lack of proper husbandry or timely maintenance.> Help.  Thanks for your time, <Sure, anytime.> Jason <Adam J.> Nitrates/Curing Live Rock - 12/04/05 Hi Guys, <<David>> You know, I can't imagine how tank-life would be without ye. Although ignorance can be bliss.. <<And costly...>> Anyway, I have been setting up a 55g corner tank with a 10g Miracle Mud/Caulerpa sump over the last few months. For the last week or so I have had it running with just saltwater, getting everything sorted out. <<Ah, very good.>> In this state pH was 8.3, dKH 10, calcium 320, and temp 77F. <<Ok>> I am replacing all evaporated water with Kalkwasser generated with un-buffered RO water via an AquaMedic kalkstirrer and dosing pump, hoping to slowly build calcium levels. <<Excellent...am a fan of dosing Kalkwasser...specially through the use of a Kalk reactor.>> Water is made from RO water reconstituted with Kent Osmo-Prep and buffered with Kent Super dKh buffer and Instant Ocean. <<Ok>> Yesterday I added 10kg Aragalive (supposedly bacterially "live" sand <<Mmm, have my doubts as to the efficacy of this product...nothing more than a bag of damp sand to me...better off obtaining a cup or two of sand from friend's/LFS's tanks...much more useable bacteria/bio-diversity.>> <<Marina recommends NOT EVER using sand from a shop's tanks, unless they have a separate reef/invert system, and even then it's really questionable - you stand the very good chance of bringing in some bad critters.  MH>> and 30kg cured live rock that had spent 48 hours in transit at approx 7C. <<Unfortunate, but all too common.>> Within hours of adding it my pH fell to 7.9. <<Tis normal...a result of the microbial activity generated from the dead/decaying matter on/in the rock placing additional burden on the tank's buffer reserve.>> I added a dose of Kent Super dKH buffer. Twenty-four hours later readings are as follows; pH is still at 8.0, dKh 10, Calcium 300, BUT the puzzler (to me anyway) Ammonia is <0.25mg/l, Nitrites are 2mg/l and Nitrates 50mg/l. I tested my RO water for Nitrates and got a tentative 1mg/l and also tested the water removed from the tank when placing the rock and it too gives 1mg/l Nitrates. Kits are Salifert, pH is measured with a Reef Fanatic pH meter. Is it possible that the nitrates and nitrites came in on the rock? <<More than a possibility my friend. Under the best conditions a certain amount of die-off is expected...and your rock just spent two days at 7C (44.6F) before you placed it in the tank. So, what this means is you are "curing" this rock in your display. Which at this stage of your setup (no fish/inverts) is not so bad. All the same, do have read through our FAQs re this topic: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm >> I do not have any Caulerpa in the system yet as I thought I would have to wait a week or more before nitrates appeared in the system. Should I just carry out a water change? <<I wouldn't bother at this point. I would let the tank cycle for a few weeks (probably anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the condition of the rock) while monitoring ammonia/nitrite/nitrate and perform a large water change once all read zero...and then watch again for a couple days to see that all have stabilized.>> Also what is an acceptable temperature for the tank. While it has been stable at 77F now that the lights are in action it has risen to 78.5F, that's with two 55W PCs, I have not introduced my 150W MH yet, which will no doubt raise the heat even more. I can run fans but a chiller is almost out of the question. <<I would strive to not let the temp exceed 84F as a general rule...you'll likely be fine, but have the fans ready just in case. My tank runs at 79F-83F depending on the time of year, with no mal-effect...and while diving in Hawaii this past October, the water temp was a stable 82F, and not just in the shallows, but down to more than 100 feet.>> Any advice is welcome.  Thanks, David <<Regards, EricR>>

Nutrients/Nitrates, and Research  12/10/05 Hello WWM Crew, <Hello.> I am noticing an increase on my nitrate levels to 20 ppm when it was previously 0. I have a(n) Emperor filter system with type e carbon filters, one Purigen filter, a Chemi-Pure filter <The bio-wheel on the emperor filters are great at breaking down ammonia and nitrite (much like any other bio-media) but not so good when it comes to nitrates, the media within them can become detritus/nutrient traps as well if not cleaned regularly.> medium and recently 2 de-nitrate filters recommended by my LFS. Our protein skimmer is a Prizm and is collecting like usual. I have done water changes using filtered water by the LFS of 8 and 7 gals with the nitrate levels decreasing initially and then rising about a week later. <How often so you change the water? It should be once weekly.> We have a Yellow Tang, 1 damsel, 1 bat fish and a recently added mandarin. <Well you don't mention stocking list but with your given equipment I'll guess this is a small scale tank. In which case you are severely overstocked, your current stocking list warrants a VERY large aquarium (the batfish and the mandarins feeding habits, although I wouldn't be surprised if the batfish ate the mandarin when he got larger, that's if the mandarin does not starve first) I think this load along with feeding them is to blame for your nutrient problems.> We have around 17 different types of coral both soft and hard with around 40 lbs of live rock. Our base is gravel that develops layer of green algae a few days after I vacuum with my gravel vac. How can I get my nitrates level back to 0 and should I make larger water changes? <Yes try a few consecutive water changes, something like 2 or 3 in the 30% range would be helpful.> Also that green algae layer on my gravel; why doesn't the LFS have that in their tanks? <The algae is being fueled by your nutrients, also more water flow would not hurt here either. Sounds as if detritus is accumulating on the sand bed as well. Siphoning the sand bed while doing these water changes is not a bad idea. Also I would rather look into a more efficient protein skimmer or hang on refugium than other types of bio-media filtration, especially with the corals and mandarin.> Thank you in advance your website is very informational. <Thank you please continue to read through it, Adam J.>

REALLY high nitrates, marine tank with big messy fish  12/7/05 Hello, <Hi Joe, Adam J with you this morning.> I have had a 150 gallon tank for about 3 years now, and the nitrates are constantly high, as in off the test kit chart.  I have a 6 inch dogface puffer, 8 inch lionfish, 4 inch Soldierfish, and a 4 inch maculosus angelfish.  <Very big and very messy fish.> I perform monthly water changes of about 35 gallons. <!0% weekly would be a lot better. However I would perform some large water changes over the next week, 2 or 3 in the 30% range to bring these nitrates down.> <<30% will do so little, if anything, that it's practically a complete waste of time.  50% is a start, 75% will begin to get the job done.  Marina>> I have lots of Caulerpa algae growing in the tank, and a protein skimmer that produces about 1 cup of skimmate every month. <Should be producing this much in about a weeks period or sooner with this nutrient load.> The fish eat all the food I give them as well. Any suggestions? <Although the fish eat all of the food you give them, waste will still make its way into the tank out of the back end of the fish if you know what I mean. So it is still a possibility that you are overfeeding. Waste is accumulating somewhere in your tank, whether it be detritus in the actual tank or nutrients building up on sort of uncleaned media possibly? As I mentioned above these fish are quite messy and this is quite a heavy bio-load for this size tank.  I would increase the water flow within the display and siphon and perform a water change at least weekly to prevent detritus/nutrient accumulation. I would also look into adding some sort of fishless refugium by transporting that Caulerpa into another area where it can proliferate without the fish picking at it.> Thanks for your help, <Welcome.> Joe Marano <Adam J.> 

Re: Nitrate Troubles  12/10/05 Thank you for the info Adam J. <No trouble.> Our tank is 55 gals and our bio filter has two wheels which the manufacturer and LFS recommended for our tank, should I add a second bio filter? <No not all, in fact look into some other forms of filtration, search our main site re: Refugiums. These are much more beneficial than any bio-media, and their are hang on units that are very easy to use. In my experience they make a world of difference with nitrate control and nutrients in general when used as macro algae culturing devices.> I also did a 20% water change which obviously lowered the nitrates down to five. <That's great.> The coral and fish are active and not showing any signs of stress. Do you think I should remove some coral and fish? <I would definitely ditch the batfish and the tang will also have to go eventually due to its potential size. I would also consider switching out the mandarin for a more appropriate species, these fish usually starve to death in captivity.> I also cut down on feeding the fish to just once a day is this a good strategy? <Well it depends someone who feeds once a day can still be feeding more than someone who feeds 3 times a day, the amount is just as (if not more so) important than the frequency.> I would appreciate any suggestions you would have to offer. <Seriously look into the refugiums, will make nutrient control/stability a lot easier, Adam J.>

Slow Down and Quarantine 11/25/2005 First we would like to tell you how happy we are to have found your site. There is so much excellent information provided here.   <<Please apply what you read to your husbandry skills.>>  You also make it easy to understand for "newbies" to this hobby like us. We have a 5 month 20 gal. setup, with 15 lbs. LR, two skunk shrimp, a feather duster, a few snails and crabs, and a blue/green Chromis.  All of these things are healthy and thriving.  The tank temperature is 77. 6 to 78.2, ammonia 0 ppm, ph 8.2, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate 10 ppm (Nitrates can vary between 10 and 20 ppm). The Chromis was one of two added to the tank as the first additions.  His mate was less lively from the start and didn't want to eat. Sadly, it died after about 4 days.  We then added the cleaning crew and worm with no problems.   The next addition was a Percula Clown with the same results as Chromis #2; it didn't appear to eat, started swimming in circles and died within about 3 days.  At this point we switched to another LFS for possibly better advice/direction.  About 4 weeks after the Clown died we decided to try again because we would like to add just one more fish. The new LFS recommended a Spotted Mandarin.  <<Find another fish store. Your system is not nearly mature enough for a mandarin to survive long term.>>  He also showed no desire to eat and lived about 4 days.  We have no clue other than the nitrate was too high.   <<Mandarins are notoriously difficult to keep. Research your fish selections first and don't rely on the fish store employees to properly advise you.>>  We have been changing 3 gallons of water per week using distilled water.  Also we have a lot of hair algae growth (hence the many water changes).   <<Lots of hair algae is a symptom of a new tank and an indication that you are not exporting nutrients efficiently.>>  We have lots of coralline algae on the glass and many pods.  The next addition was an Algae Blenny which was touted as "easy" and we hoped to improve hair algae problem.  The fish looked great in LFS but the employee had problems catching him and we noticed an injury near his tail when we got home.  Using simple acclimation for all fish; 15 min. bag closed in our tank, add 1 cup tank water to the bag and wait 15-20 min. the add a 2nd cup water from my tank. Wait 15-20 min and release the fish.  This fish looked stressed.  The next day we bought Seachem StressGuard (antiseptic) because we were worried.  <<StressGuard is not an antiseptic. Be careful when medicating your system. It is safer to remove injured or sick fish and treat separately.>>   We got home and it was too late; the poor fish was already dead.  Please help.  We want to add one more fish but we cannot live with ourselves if we are murdering them. <<Stop adding fish. Research the following topics and apply what you read. Also, please research the fish species prior to purchase and do not rely on fish store employees to give you correct advice. Topics: 'Nitrates in Marine Systems', 'Marine Quarantine' and 'Family Callionymidae'. Good luck - Ted>>

Travis!  Long Time.. Nitrate concerns 11-16-05 Hello WWM crew, <<Hello, TravisM here.>> Let me start by saying your site is fantastic! <<Thanks>> I spend hours reading and that has prompted me to ask a couple of questions that I am confused about. First off, I started a 29gal FOWLR tank about 6 months ago. I have an existing 150 gallon fresh water tank that I will eventually convert to a reef tank, but would like to become proficient at 29 gal first. I have 40 lbs of live sand, a Red Sea Prizm skimmer, 22 lbs of live rock, 1 power head and I am running a Penguin 350 without media or bio wheels strictly for water movement. From all the reading I have done I am under the impression that the live sand and rock ,along with the protein skimmer, is all I need in terms of filtration. <<That is some what true, but you will still need regular water changes to remove nitrates.>> That the bio-wheels and filter pads are an overkill and just add to nitrate build up. Before their removal nitrates were at 40 ppm. Now they are at 20 ppm. In the future I would like to add corals, mushrooms and clams and have read that nitrates need to be close to or at 0 ppm. <<True>> Currently stocked are (2) blue damsels (1) yellow tail damsel (1) lawnmower blenny (2) fancy striped starfish (1) sand sifting starfish (8) blue legged crabs (1) large snail. For lighting I am using 130 watt compact fluorescents(12,000k and 420 actinic).  <<That is a lot of starfish. Good luck with them, they can be difficult.>> <<It is extremely likely that the sand-sifter (Astropecten spp.?, or Archaster typus) will not last long in such a small system.  MH>> Is my bio-load to large? <<Not particularly.>> Should I be using different or more types of filtration? I have an Eheim Canister that I don't use because I read it will remove plankton and other beneficial organisms from the water. I can not bring down the nitrates lower that 20 ppm. I do a 10 percent water change weekly with water that has been stocked in a 30 gallon Rubbermaid container following the steps I have learned from this web site. <<Test the replacement water used for water changes for nitrates. Many cities use chloramines which can lead to nitrates in your RO water. You are using RO water correct?>>  I am currently looking into getting a sump, but that is months down the road.  <<Always a good investment.>> Any help I can get from you will be greatly appreciated. Yours truly, Frank <<TravisM>>

Nitrate Problems and New Beginnings - 11/14/2005 Hello Josh, <Hi Tony.> I have just made a big change, I took all fish out of the tank and started over. <I hope it wasn't a problem to find more suitable housing.> I only have a Harlequin Tuskfish and he is about 3 1/2 inches. <I hate to say it, but it's still not a good start. He's small now, but these are best kept in at least a 75 gal. for the long haul.> My nitrates are now about 25-30ppm. <Getting better, though not great.> A few questions: <Okay.> -What is your suggestion for a nitrate reducing method and for reducing phos? <Deep sand beds, live rock, a refugium, controlled feeding, pristine source water...Others are possible.>  (I currently use nitrate sponge and nitrate reducer powder) Is there something that's better or should I not use this? <The best thing is to understand whence the nitrates are coming. Without this you're basically "throwing a blanket" on the problem.> What's your suggestion for my 2 Fluvals? <Keep 'em clean.> -What all should I feed the Tuskfish besides krill, squid and Mysis shrimp? <Read this http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm > -My Ammonia, nitrites, ph and alk are perfect? What benefit would I have if I added live rock? What type? How many lbs? <All covered here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm and the linked files below.> This is my maintenance program, what should I change? -I clean the sponges once a month in tank water. <Better to do weekly.>  New sponges every 6 months. <Shouldn't really need to replace if properly maintained.> -I change the ChemiPure every 4 months. <I would clean this at least weekly.> -Rinse Bio-max in tank water every 4 months. <I would do this at least monthly.>  Change half the Bio-max every 8 months. -Add Kent essential elements once a week. I was told this replaces minerals that the fish need. <If they are being used yes, but you should only dose what you test for. A good water change schedule would be better, and provide a more stable effect.> -Add marine buffer every other week. <Based on?> -25% Water change once a month, and gravel vacuum. <Should increase to bi-weekly with properly aged water.> -SeaClone skimmer: I empty cup once every few days sometime once a week, and the water it pulls out is dark in color so its working well. <Oh, good.> Sorry for so many questions <No problem. - Josh>

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