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Old 11/17/2017, 11:05 AM   #1
jordan2213
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I am setting up some new tanks in my Aquatic Science classroom. Due to budget restrictions I had to use backpack filters instead of sumps this year. I have gone through almost 2 months of cycling and then added tester fish which have seemed to be doing ok minus a few fatalities. My problem is that I can't keep my nitrate levels down. I doing water changes consistently and feed less but my nitrate levels are 40 ppm on a normal basis. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this?


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Old 11/17/2017, 11:09 AM   #2
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I am setting up some new tanks in my Aquatic Science classroom. Due to budget restrictions I had to use backpack filters instead of sumps this year. I have gone through almost 2 months of cycling and then added tester fish which have seemed to be doing ok minus a few fatalities. My problem is that I can't keep my nitrate levels down. I doing water changes consistently and feed less but my nitrate levels are 40 ppm on a normal basis. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this?
Do you have a thick sand bed and enough live rock in the tank?

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Old 11/17/2017, 11:39 AM   #3
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In general if you use 1.5-2lbs/gallon of good quality live rock and about a 2" sand bed that is sufficient to keep nitrates low..
But building up a good colony of bacteria on that rock/sand can take some time.. (In general most might suggest 8 months or more)..
Now.. if you just have a fish only tank then those nitrate levels are NOT a problem at all provided you also don't have any serious nuisance algae issues..

Water changes are a great way to reduce/help with nitrates.. but having sufficient rock is a good long term plan to help ensure low nitrate levels...

Also make sure you are very active in cleaning your filters.. Personally I would suggest ditching the filters all together and just relying on a few powerheads for circulation..


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Old 11/17/2017, 11:54 AM   #4
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Currently the tank(s) have either a thick layer of sand or crushed coral substrate, plenty of live rock, and only about 2-3 damselfish in each. Will these nitrate levels kill the fish or just cause an algae problem? I also have about 2 powerheads in most tanks.That's why I'm stumped because I've done everything that I have always done to maintain levels and it isn't working.


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Old 11/17/2017, 12:10 PM   #5
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The backpack filters are nitrate factories, crushed coral substrate traps detritus.

at 40ppm I would do a 100% water change if it was mine. You may need to feed less or do larger water changes in the future given your situation.

Some fish can handle that and higher, some will develop hole in the head. Damsels might make it, but I would never let a reef get that high ever.


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Old 11/17/2017, 04:47 PM   #6
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I am setting up some new tanks in my Aquatic Science classroom...I have gone through almost 2 months of cycling...I can't keep my nitrate levels down...my nitrate levels are 40 ppm on a normal basis...
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Currently the tank(s) have either a thick layer of sand or crushed coral substrate, plenty of live rock, and only about 2-3 damselfish in each...
What you didn't mention was the capcity of the tanks - 40 ppm nitrate from three damsels in a 10 gallon tank is low IMO. Dilution is the blah blah blah...

I wouldn't feed less to address the nitrates. being careful that what you offer is eaten would be prudent but less for it's own sake will likely lead to more fatalities.

what's the purpose of the tanks? will the nitrate readings interfere? maybe little Johnny needs some extra credit work changing water...


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Old 11/17/2017, 07:33 PM   #7
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I agree that 3 damsels in a 10g tank is a very heavy load, and 40 ppm actually is very good. You could ignore the level. The fish won't care about it.


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Old 11/18/2017, 01:18 AM   #8
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There are too many unknowns to know if 40 ppm is even a problem. If they are fish only with low light levels, it does not matter. If you going to have bubble tip anomonies they will do great at 40. There are plenty of corals that will even do well at those levels or higher. There are a lot of corals that will not tolerate levels half that. Also when you add enough light for anomonies and corals, algae is going to be a problem.
With out more specifics, I suspect the root of you problem is you backpack filters. While the do a great job of removing particulate mater from the water column, it is still in the system. All the crap you filter collects starters to brake down in to nitrates and phosphates. Unless you clean them at least weekly they are going to be nitrate factories. At this point I would suggest cleaning them twice a week to help get your nitrate levels under control.


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Old 11/18/2017, 11:57 AM   #9
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You could do some research on dosing with vinegar to lower nitrates


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Old 11/18/2017, 12:49 PM   #10
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You could do some research on dosing with vinegar to lower nitrates
Def not without a skimmer, that's just asking for all kinds of new issues.

FOWLR 40 nitrates isn't that bad, would be a concern if keeping corals of certain kinds.


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