View Full Version : Blood Red NITRATE

09/28/2011, 11:13 AM
Hi all,

I am really stumped on how to get this Nitrate down. I have a 220 that was down for about 10 months. I dont know what I was thinking but it had 1/2 old water and the other half i made new water. I was trying to just keep everything i had since there was tons of rock and sand and just keep stirring it up and letting it all filter back through. i have used stability and prime and in the past month i have done a whole bunch of water changes. I just did a 110 gallon water change last night and today the nitrate is still Blood red. i know the best answer is to start all over but if there is a way to fix this witout having to lose all that money in rock sand, and salt I am willing to try anything. there are no fish in there its been re cycling for about a month and a half now. Someone told me to use like 3 tablespoons of bleack and it will kill all the bad bacteria and then to add more stability and prime and it will filter out. it just scares me putting bleach in the tank? any opinions?

Thank you,

09/28/2011, 11:32 AM
any algae growing? how much light is it getting? Did you add anything to help the cycle along (raw shrimp or live bacteria)

Consider adding chaeto to help export some of the nitrates - need something to adsorb them... Have you done any filter changes? are you using carbon?

09/28/2011, 11:36 AM
Id say a 50% water change is in order

09/28/2011, 11:39 AM
Try stirring up the dsb to make sure there is nothing buried beneath it...

09/28/2011, 12:05 PM
Hi guys i did a 50% water change last night and it did nothing. I havent used carbon yet but i am changing the filter bags every day but the tank is crystal clear. no amonia or nitrite just rediculous nitrate. its got good lighting metal halides and T5's also i have brown algea growing on it. what is the Chaeto that you meantioned? also I didnt want to put anything in there just to kill it. what do you mean live shrimp? like the cleaners or the pepermint. i just figured they would die with high nitrate like that?

09/28/2011, 12:27 PM
Take a sample to a friend or LFS to verify the test kit is correct. A long term fix could be a deep sand bed or even a remote DSB would help.

09/28/2011, 12:32 PM
agree with confirming the test.
throw some chaeto in there to uptake the nutrients. Grow and harvest wekkly.
protein skim
consider vodka dosing. YES, it works even in a tank without fish. At least it did for me.

09/28/2011, 12:46 PM
ok thats now twice i someone has mentioned Chaeto. what is it? do you mean the green stuff you put in a refugium? also you mean like drinking vodka? to pour in the tank?

09/28/2011, 12:52 PM
How are the phosphates? If you have a good skimmer, and adequate N and P, carbon dosing and skimming may remove those nutrients to a large degree. Research Vodka dosing, VSV, and/or Bio pellets for more info. JMTC & GL!

And welcome to Reef Central!

09/28/2011, 01:55 PM
How would 3 tablespoons of bleach do anything to that volume of water?

And no I would not kill everything because nitrates can be dealt with over time.

Maybe if you listed your equipment and had a few pics people could provide additional ideas to help you.

How deep is your sand bed?
Are your rocks covered in the algae or are they clean? Next water change save some of the water and take a few pieces of rock out and swish it really hard to see if you have a build up within your rocks.

You are wanting to address the source of the issue rather than symptoms.

Hang in there. You seem like a patient person and that is key in this.

09/28/2011, 02:07 PM
ok thats now twice i someone has mentioned Chaeto. what is it? do you mean the green stuff you put in a refugium? also you mean like drinking vodka? to pour in the tank?

yes chaeto the stuff people put in their refugiums and sumps - its a macro-algae that feeds of nutrients like nitrates/phosphates in the water

Reefing Newbie
09/28/2011, 02:15 PM
You should maybe look into an algae scrubber. From what I have researched, they do an amazing job at removing nutrients(phosphate and nitrate) Because of that you will not have any algae in your DT. Definantly verify your test kit readings with a friend or LFS. What test kit are you using?

09/28/2011, 02:38 PM
vodka dosing i think would be the key here. It would accomplish what the bleach you talking about using would do. kills a broad spectrum of bacteria and hopeuflly alot of your nitrates. people do this in SPS tanks to keep things crystal clear. Also that sand bed could be an issue, stir things up a little and try the vodka right afterwards

09/28/2011, 02:47 PM
Get your test kit confirmed, first and foremost.

Secondly, the only way you can get your nitrates down quickly is by doing water changes. Chaeto (or other forms of macroalgae) will work, but it will take an eternity for macro alone to get your blood-red nitrates down to acceptable levels.

Since there are no fish in the tank currently, I would recommend just draining all/most of the water and replace with freshly made saltwater. Make sure your water source is nitrate-free, of course, i.e., use RO/DI water. As long as the live rock and sand stay moist, any nitrifying bacteria will be fine.

I would then test for nitrates so you have a good baseline. If it goes up after a few days, then nitrates must be leeching from the rocks. If this is the case, and you don't want to get rid of the LR, you'll just have to continue doing water changes. The suggestion for using macroalgae should help now, too. You'll have to keep doing this until all the nitrates leech out of the rocks.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

09/28/2011, 02:56 PM
From your short description it appears that you had a 10-month-old reef soup bowl. Assuming "down" means minimal if any life support, and "1/2 old water" means evaporation dropped the water volume, I think it is safe to say you have had massive die-off and a massive pH swing. The fact you have big nitrates and no ammonia means you are or were processing the waste but you have too much end product. The problem with this is that you may eventually get ahead of the nitrates but your bacteria may be dieing because you may or may not have enough ammonia going into the system. Basically, you don't know if the die-off is done. This is what I would do. Get ammonia and bring the system up to 2ppm and wait 24hours. Search for a brand with no additive. Lots of info on RC about fishless cycling. Then test. If the ammonia is gone, you are still processing. Good but you will not know when it ends till it ends. So, either, 100% water changes till you are out of nitrates or some other type of nitrate export like Chaeto or carbon dosing. Frankly, I would beg or borrow every skimmer I could find and dose Vinegar/Sugar/Vodka. It will pull out Nitrates and PO very quickly. After you get caught up, 1- 100% water change. If you are not processing ammonia, I would sterilize and scrub the whole tank and only pull out what is worth saving, and start over. $My.02

09/28/2011, 06:47 PM
You have 2 choices, IMO.

Choice #1. Start anew. Drain the tank and nuke everything. Wash all the rocks, give them a vinegar bath, rinse and repeat until they are clean and white. Same thing with all equipment. Throw away the sand. Then start all over again as a new system. This is the cheapest and most effective way to get going again after 10 months of neglect.

Choice #2. Invest in a large amount of salt, then do a series of 100% water changes every other day. Make sure to stir the substrate well, and turkey baste everything that you can turkey baste off the rocks before each water change. Rinse all mechanical filters like socks or sponges with each water change as well. I would keep the SG around 1.020-1.022 rather than 1.026, where it is high enough to preserve life forms while still saving some salt money. When the nitrate level stays stable at less than 10, you can stop the 100% water changes and see what happens. Not the best resource, but here is an interesting link that addresses high toxic levels of nitrate: http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/nitratecontrol/ss/sbsnitratereduction.htm.

09/28/2011, 06:54 PM
What brand test kit and how old is the test kit?
Try the test kit on a batch of new saltwater, should be 0.

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09/29/2011, 07:28 AM
I agree with Palting.
After 10 mths of sitting there, just start over.
His choice 1 explains it well. Just really make sure your rock is clean.