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Re: Is there a Nitrate Reading that is Too Low?
For nitrates, the lower the better. When you initially cycle your tank, there will just be none, unless you have some coming through your tap water. Regardless, in a fish only system you wont ever find yourself crying over not having any nitrates, nor will you find your fish upset about it either.
As your nitrogen cycle gets into full effect, your nitrates will climb, as noted 40 is when you really need to do a water change, I dont even let mine get that far, but its preference what will work best for you: Time available, Size required for a decent change etc.
In planted systems, the plants will consume the nitrate to a certain extent, this will reduce your nitrates in your water, but unless you have loads and loads and loads of plants, your nitrate will still climb up gradually. Some people claim that with enough plants, you dont need to change over water, I do and don't agree with that statement, but for what your question is, it should suffice to show that the plants simply do consume the compound as foodstuffs.
Low Nitrates = happy livestock (so long as your nitrogen cycle is in full effect! which yours is.: NH3/NH4+ > NO3- > NO2-)
EDIT: It is still important to add livestock slowly as noted, the bacteria responsible for converting these compounds have established in numbers appropriate to what you have now, when you add a fish, they will have to increase their numbers to compensate for waste. This is why mutliple fish added at once is frowned upon as it adds unnecessary stresses to the fish already in the system, and the new ones also.