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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 70 gallon aquarium that I have had for a while. It has about 10 misc small fish in it. My PH and nitrates are really high and everything I try does not seem to work at lower the nitrates. I have done 25% water change with distilled water and that lower my PH from 8.4 to 8.2 but did nothing for the nitrates which are at 80. Ammonia and nitrites are both at 0. I have tried Nitra-Zorb and Kordon Amquel plus water conditioner. I also just added six plants. Does anyone have any ideas of what I could try?

Thanks,
Eddie
 

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How high are the nitrates? A 25% water change should immediately reduce the nitrates partially. What kind of test kit are you using? Is it outdated?

What type of filter are you using? When was the last time you cleaned it?

What type of substrate do you have? When was the last time you vacuumed it?

Many times high nitrates are a direct result of overfeeding. In fact, many aquarium problems are from overfeeding. Try reducing the amount you are feeding.

Try daily partial water changes for a week or so. That should help bring the nitrates down significantly.
 

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Also if you do a 50% water change it should reduce the nitrates by 50%. Amquel plus will not remove the nitrates. It just makes it to where they aren't as toxic.

Have you checked your tap water for nitrates. I went through a spell that out of the tap nitrates were at 180. I had to buy water for changes during that time. If your readings are that high you would need to load the tank with plants to remove nitrates but you still need to find what is causing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks BigandUgly for the help

The nitrates are at 80. I am using a Aquarium Pharmaceuticals freshwater master test kit that I just recently purchased. I will have to look at the date of the kit when I get home since is was was new I just assumed that it was a good kit.

I am using a Marineland Emperor 400 filter that I cleaned and replaced filters last week and replaced the filter media about two weeks ago.

The tank has rock/stone bottom and it was vacuumed about three to four weeks ago.

I have cut back on feed in hopes of getting the nitrates down.

When you say daily partial water changes should I be using distilled water and how much water should I be changing?

Thanks again for the help!
 

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The AP test kit should be good, providing it hasn't passed its expiration date. Normally if you do a 25% water change with distilled water the level of nitrates should drop by 25%. Something must be off if you're not getting a reduced reading after a change.

The filters should be good. When you clean the filter media remember that it is best to rinse them in old tank water. That way benificial tank water isn't killed by the chlorine in your tap water. I actually rinse mine weekly and only replace them every few months.

Sometimes a sand bottom can lead to high nitrate levels. If you are consistent with cleaning and water changes it shouldn't be much of a problem though.

Many types of sand and rocks can raise the pH of your aquarium. That may be part of your elevated pH problem. Of course some fish like high pH levels. Depending on the fish you have the elevated pH may be good or bad. You can lower your pH by adding some peat moss to your filter. Keep in mind though that if the rocks and sand are causing your elevated pH level your readings will swing back up. The up and down pH levels would probably be more stressful to your fish than consistently high readings.

I'd do 50% water changes for about a week. Each one should flush out about half your nitrates. The readings "should" drop to 40, then 20 then 10 etc. I personally never use distilled water, but my tap water is excellent. I fill five gallon jugs with tap water and let them sit for 2 days before using them for water changes. I don't even bother with a decholrinator. You may not be so lucky. Test your tap water and see what you have in it. Hopefully there aren't any nitrates coming out of the tap and you can avoid buying distilled water.

Good luck.
 

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As well as following BigAndUgly's awesome advice adding plants should also help the nitrate problem, for a 70 gallon you need more than six though. Anachris, Hornwort, Duckweed etc and fast growing, nutrient sucking plants are what you want. You can usually get vast bunches of hornwort for cheap.

As everyone says, water changes are going to be the key in keeping your fish healthy.

Good luck
 

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...

I also just added six plants.

...
add more plants especially anacharis.

Ignore the pH and do not adjust with chemicals.

Test KH and gh.

PH on all my heavily planted tanks is 8.4-8.8 with the api high range test kit. Neon tetras, glo fish, hachet fish, angle fish have lived for years with that pH. After all sucking out the carbon dioxide can hardly be a bad thing for the fish.

As the plants suck out the nitrates, they also consume the carbon dioxide which raises the pH. So the plants will result in unmeasureable nitrates regardless of what else is happening in the tank.

I have found that with peat moss in the substrate, kH and gH remain relatively low and constant over a couple of years or so. But with no peat moss and just a sand substrate, both slowly rise to very high values. And neon tetras do not last long. Then I also do not have drift wood.


My .02
 
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Nitra-Zorb needs removing and recharging about once every 5 days in order to continue removing nitrate, and it needs to be replaced after 4-8 recharges. Assuming you do this it is pretty much guaranteed to work. Be aware that it will remove ammonia and nitrite too.

Water changes will only help with nitrate if the levels in tap water are lower than the levels in the tank water. If these are the same, no amount of water changes will affect your nitrate. Bigandugly's advice about testing your tap water is a good idea.

Remember that distilled water will have a dramatically different general hardness, carbonate hardness, pH etc to your tank water.
 

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Nitra-Zorb needs removing and recharging about once every 5 days in order to continue removing nitrate, and it needs to be replaced after 4-8 recharges. Assuming you do this it is pretty much guaranteed to work. Be aware that it will remove ammonia and nitrite too.

Water changes will only help with nitrate if the levels in tap water are lower than the levels in the tank water. If these are the same, no amount of water changes will affect your nitrate. Bigandugly's advice about testing your tap water is a good idea.

Remember that distilled water will have a dramatically different general hardness, carbonate hardness, pH etc to your tank water.
Just a FWIW on nitrates and water changes. And anything else for that matter.

Assume:


"repwater" is concentration of "anything" in the replacement water.

"daily change" is the increase (or decrease) that same "anything" each day.

(units can be anything you want as long as they are linear).

Where does the tank wind up so that the level of "anything" is the same just before any water changes.

With 0 "daily change" the tank just has the "repwater" concentration.

But now assume that "daily change" is not 0.

In order for the amount of "anything" to be the same water change to water change, the water change must remove the total changes between the water change. therefore the "anything" concentration build up to total change/(1/portion of the water change).

So that say you change 1/3 of the water "anything" builds up to the total change/(1/3) or 3 times the total change. down to 2 timess then back up to 3 times before the next change.

1/10 water change 10 times the total change. 1/2 water change 2* total change and so on.

The total change is the daily change * days between changes.

Finally

final value= "repwater"+(daily change*days)/(1/water change fraction)

complicated but think about it and is becomes much simplier.

take a 1% increase and water changes that are 1% each day or multiples. Like 10% every 10 days, 20% every 20 days etc etc etc.

10% every 10 days:

replacement water 30

final value=30 + (1 (ppm/day)*10days)/(1/10)=30+10*10=130 ppm

In fact, all the various schedules result in the same value. Before any of the water changes the tank will have 130ppm nitrates.

So to me what is important is to decrease the daily change to make it as low as possible. With plant life fully consuming nitrates, nitrates are 0 regardless of what level of water changes are being conducted.

Further with a 1 ppm/day increase in nitrates and 0 nitrates in the replalcement water what frequency of 10% water changes are required to keep nitrates below 5 ppm just before a water change with 0 nitrate water?


final value=5=0+(1*frequency/(1/10)=10 frequency=5
frequence=5/10 .5 days.

so it would take 2 10% water changes per day to keep nitrates under 5 ppm.

checking: nitrates at 5 10% change results in 4.5ppm nitrates. The 1/2 day later nitrates are back up to 5ppm for the next water change.


The point of all this rambling is that water changes that are convienent to hobbiest will not maintain nitrates and IMHO anything else. What is important is to set up the tank so the tank is maintaining itself. In the case of nitrates, IMHO the best thing is to use plant life to consume those nitrates. Otherwise, very high nitrates will result unless you have some kind of open system where massive amounts of low nitrate water are constantly flushing out the tank.

my .02


ps if the equations are confusing you contact me for further examples or a spread sheet.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks to everyone for all the very, very helpful info. I will get more plants this weekend. Some of the plants that we have in the tank now are losing parts of their leaves. I am assuming it has something to do with the chemistry but not really sure. Do any of you experts know what might be causing this?

Thanks,
Eddie
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Looks to be nutrient deficiency. Swords are heavy root feeders and need to have plant tabs under the root system.
Thanks Susankat,

I will pickup some of them tomorrow when I get more plants. Do I need to use them on all the plants or just on the swords?
 
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