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View Full Version : NO3 is 200+, tanks looks fine, should I care?


zachfishman
12/27/2010, 05:57 PM
In doing my biannual maintenance of an old system back home (120g softie and LPS), I read the nitrates to be easily over 200ppm. Well, I can only surmise that the trates are around that, as even a 50% dilution of my test water with clean SW produced a reading of over 100.

I have no algae issues (rocks are clean), corals are growing ok (as well as can be expected with only 170w of PC and NO), and the fish are fat and healthy (no HLLE to speak of). The tank has been in this steady state for many years now.

This system is hang-on only, would a large CPR Aquafuge (http://www.marinedepot.com/miscellaneous_cpr_aquafuge_refugiums-ap.html) have enough capacity to have any effect? Should I even care?

t4zalews
12/27/2010, 06:21 PM
im thinking you arent reading your test kit correctly...200+ nitrate would definately spur something unwanted.

bertoni
12/27/2010, 07:10 PM
If the animals are okay, I wouldn't worry much. Fish and soft corals are safe with a high nitrate level, although coral coloration can change. The same likely is true of LPS.

I agree that getting a second opinion on the nitrate kit might be useful, though.

mscarpena
12/27/2010, 07:17 PM
I see bertonis point, but if you allowed it to get to 200 whats stopping you from allowing it to get to 400 or 600. Test kit being wrong was my first thought as well. What do you mean biannual mait. What do you do on a regular basis. Also if you levels were that high I would think you would have some algae growth for sure.

zachfishman
12/27/2010, 08:55 PM
I see bertonis point, but if you allowed it to get to 200 whats stopping you from allowing it to get to 400 or 600. Test kit being wrong was my first thought as well. What do you mean biannual mait. What do you do on a regular basis. Also if you levels were that high I would think you would have some algae growth for sure.

I'd think that there'd be tons of growth too, but alas no. Either the tangs do such a bangup job grazing or the kit has gone bad, etc.

Biannual maintenance means what is sounds like, I am home 2-3x a year to do anything for the tank beyond feeding, emptying skimmer cups, dosing, and topping off (and some fragging). It's my old system still chugging along at my parent's house.

HighlandReefer
12/28/2010, 08:02 AM
I would assume with nitrate that high, that your phosphate is most likely high too. Algae problems will depend on the species present in your tank. If you introduce the wrong type of algae, then things could go bad quickly in a system that is very conducive to their growth. ;)

ronhjr
12/28/2010, 08:07 AM
Is your test kit expired?

kirkaz
12/28/2010, 08:15 AM
My nitrates are that high as well in my 240. I don't worry about the fish (haven't had a death in almost 3 years) and the mushrooms I have are alive, I'm trying to get my nitrates down just to see if I can get more growth out of the mushrooms, they are alive, but not growing or multiplying that well IMO. I'm going to try the biopellets for this reason.

Oh, and I have no algae issues either.

zachfishman
12/28/2010, 08:34 AM
I would assume with nitrate that high, that your phosphate is most likely high too. Algae problems will depend on the species present in your tank. If you introduce the wrong type of algae, then things could go bad quickly in a system that is very conducive to their growth. ;)

Maybe so. Should anything unpalatable to the tangs get in there, I'll be buying a large-sized refugium ASAP! :) Phosphates are ~0.8ppm (were 1ppm, until I performed a 20% WC).

Is your test kit expired? Shouldn't be, it's 6mo. The PO4 and NO3 kits I use are API, FWIW.

zachfishman
12/28/2010, 08:38 AM
My nitrates are that high as well in my 240. I don't worry about the fish (haven't had a death in almost 3 years) and the mushrooms I have are alive, I'm trying to get my nitrates down just to see if I can get more growth out of the mushrooms, they are alive, but not growing or multiplying that well IMO. I'm going to try the biopellets for this reason.

Oh, and I have no algae issues either.

Yeah my two tangs are going on 5 or 6 years in that system. I had a pair of clowns as well that even bred a few times one summer (was very neat to see, they hosted in a mat of zoanthids too!) - but they eventually died two years ago (I think I had them for almost ten years in various systems).

I have shrooms too, the annoying red ones. Thankfully they don't grow too rampantly, I have to peel off a few each time I come home as they start climbing zoa colonies and frogspawn stalks :fun2: If only the solitary watermelon shroom or my purple-with-turquoise-spots shroom would multiply instead haha.

Genetics
12/28/2010, 12:28 PM
There is the potential for a problem but whether or not to treat it now is a difficult one to answer. If you do nothing, your reef may continue on for a long while without issue. However, if you undertake such a drastic cleaning all at once you may actually create a problem. So if you want to help fix your issue with nitrates and phosphates a biannual cleaning might need to be increased to monthly.

zachfishman
12/28/2010, 01:31 PM
There is the potential for a problem but whether or not to treat it now is a difficult one to answer. If you do nothing, your reef may continue on for a long while without issue. However, if you undertake such a drastic cleaning all at once you may actually create a problem. So if you want to help fix your issue with nitrates and phosphates a biannual cleaning might need to be increased to monthly.

If only flying from FL to NY was cheaper, I'd certainly increase my maintenance schedule :)

You raise a great point though; one that I thought of while reading up on NP reducing pellets and reactors... trying to enact a quick change may create distress. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" etc... I will however, try some gradual changes such that the accumulation of NO3 and PO4 slows or reverses. I'm thinking a good first step will be to have my father replace the wooden airstone in the skimmer more often. It currently gets replaced at the 6 month interval (whenever I get home), and there's a noticeable increase in skimmer efficiency with that change. Bumping up the skimmer output would help for sure without any drastic change to the system. :thumbsup:

bertoni
12/28/2010, 04:22 PM
Better skimming might be a great first step. Other than that, I agree with going slowly. :)

Genetics
12/28/2010, 05:00 PM
Sounds like a plan. If you find some extra cash on hand there are many new skimmers out that may do a better job and help keep your nitrates lower.

EnderG60
12/29/2010, 07:14 AM
API test kits are grabage, get your water tested with something else.

aleonn
12/29/2010, 01:27 PM
Double check readings with a different kit, or bring a sample of your tank water to the LFS. If the NO3 reading is truly 200, I'd do some water changes to prevent problems down the line.