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Old 10/13/2011, 07:07 PM   #1
Bunnylicked
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Talking How I lowered my nitrates from 40 ppm to 0 in nine days

I've had nitrate problems in my 3g pico ever since I started it. I had been keeping the nitrates at about 10-15 ppm with a refugium and 2x/week water changes, but I was still having some trouble with green algae, diatoms, and very slow coral growth.

I recently went over a week without a water change and discovered that my nitrates were at least 40 ppm. Obviously, I wasn't happy with that (and neither were my corals). After doing a large water change, I went online to do research on how to lower nitrates. I came across some info on sugar dosing. I'd heard of vodka dosing before, but I'm a minor and none of my relatives drink, so it wasn't an option for me. Sugar, on the other hand, is cheap, readily available, and apparently less likely to cause a tank to crash.

Not knowing what else to do, I decided to try sugar dosing in my little reef. I also decided that I would write down my nitrate test readings and any observations I had during my little experiment. Here's the results:

Oct. 4: Nitrates at >40 ppm before water change. ~20 ppm after 70% water change.
Oct. 5: Nitrates ~20 ppm. Rinsed filter media and added small sprinkle of sugar.
Oct. 6: Nitrates at ~30 ppm. Added small sprinkle of sugar. Did a 20% water change.
Oct. 7: Added 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates not tested.
Oct. 8: 90% of green algae died suddenly over 12 hour period. Slightly cloudy water. Did a 20% water change and added 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates ~15 ppm after water change.
Oct. 9: Water cleared up. Added 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates not tested.
Oct. 10: Added 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates ~10 ppm. Most of the remaining algae and diatoms on sand and rocks died suddenly.
Oct. 11: Added 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates not tested. Rinsed filter media and trimmed macroalgae.
Oct. 12: Added just over 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates not tested. Added a small DIY protein skimmer to the tank.
Oct. 13: Added just over 1/8 tsp sugar. Nitrates 0 ppm.

As you can see, my nitrates went down to 0 over a period of nine days. The only new thing I added to lower the nitrates in the tank in that period (besides the water changes early on) was the sugar. There were no new livestock additions or changes in the feeding schedule. I really think that the sugar dosing was the main reason that my nitrates dropped to 0.

My whole tank looks healthier without high nitrates; my corals are showing good growth and polyp extension, my copepod population is through the roof, and I'm suddenly getting lots of pink and purple coralline growth.

I just thought I'd share my experience. I know a lot of people have trouble with high nitrates, so I'm hoping it will help someone. I plan to continue with the sugar dosing at the current dose for the foreseeable future, along with water changes and regular tank maintenance.

Thanks for reading this!


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Current Tank Info: 3g JBJ pico, started August 24th, 2011
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Old 10/13/2011, 07:32 PM   #2
RotaryGeek
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I tried it once, and just got long stringy white bacteria in the tank so I stopped. Glad it worked for you.


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Old 10/13/2011, 07:51 PM   #3
ocmikep
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Interested to read more about this. Have been dosing vodka with good results for about six months.


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Old 10/13/2011, 08:15 PM   #4
Dono
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Those are some pretty aggressive water changes, which Im sure you had to continue to do to maintain those low nitrates. Will that diy skimmer be enough to keep the nitrates down to zero once you go back to normal WC schedule?

Definitely tagging along here and I'd love to hear experiences with any other reefers here dosing sugar. Especially if you wet skim in combination.


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Old 10/13/2011, 08:20 PM   #5
Bunnylicked
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dono View Post
Those are some pretty aggressive water changes, which Im sure you had to continue to do to maintain those low nitrates. Will that diy skimmer be enough to keep the nitrates down to zero once you go back to normal WC schedule?

Definitely tagging along here and I'd love to hear experiences with any other reefers here dosing sugar. Especially if you wet skim in combination.
Actually, the water changes that I was doing (besides the large one I did on day 1) are the normal water changes that I do 1-2 times per week. Before I started sugar dosing, the 20% water changes could never get the nitrates down below about 10 ppm. They would also shoot back up to over 20 ppm within a day or two of doing the water change. I've only seen the nitrates get lower since I started sugar dosing.

I'm also interested to hear from other people who've tried this. I'd especially like to hear if it's a long-term solution to high nitrates.


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"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Give a man a reef aquarium, and he'll starve from staring at it for too long."

Current Tank Info: 3g JBJ pico, started August 24th, 2011
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