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High Nitrates in Low tech planted tank


Eddie
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Hello there, Sorry for the long message/question, wanted to give the full info. 

                               Ok I have a 29 gallon 8 month old Aquarium.  I first set it up with plants went through the cycle (fish in with 5 zebra danios) all went well only lost 1 danio.  After 6 weeks Amonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrites 0 Had a crazy hair algae bloom that just ruined the plants I had purchased at a Petco near my house. ( my fault for keeping the light on way to long) took out those plants and cleaned the glass real good with a algae scraper. Replanted my tank with plants I purchased from Aquarium coop (only place i will buy plants and ferts from now), purchased a new light NICREW ClassicLED Plus Planted Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum with the Pro timer.  Doing the Siesta lighting 4 hours on (8am) 5 hours off (noon to 5pm) and 4 1/2 hours on, have the intensity of the light at 60%. (slowly ramp up and down to not shock my fish)   Algae has been fine but my Nitates are at 80 or a little more, Amonia 0, Nitrites 0. I am using easy green root tabs for the plants and using easy green liquid fert after weekly water changes which is 10 gallons as I have kinda deep substrate (using Landen Aqua Soil Substrate for Natural Planted Aquarium)  for fish I have 4 Zebra Danios, 9 Neon Tetras, 4 Guppies, 6 Cory Cats, 3 Amano Shrimp and 4 ottos. Whats going with my Nitrates?  For Filter I am using a Fluval c3 and Make my own Mechanical filter pads, and use Seachem Matrix in the chemical chamber and wet/dry chamber have a small wall of bubbles by the heater on the right side of the tank.  (I don't mind and actually like the algae on the back glass)

20211017_100551.jpg

Edited by Eddie
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I'm no expert, but a few things to note. First, as your plants are mostly all root feeders, they are going to be pulling nitrates more from the soil and the root tabs than from the nitrates in the water. Given that, I wouldn't expect that your plants will be pulling many of those nitrates from the water column. They will pull some, but not nearly as much as epiphytic plants like anubias that pull directly from the water column. I would probably recommending that you come back on the easy green supplements and see if that brings it down. Also, what is your substrate? If that is aquasoil as opposed to gravel, then it is also going to be releasing fertilizer, including nitrates. If so, I would really lay off of the root tabs and easy green.

There are a couple of things that you can do to try and reign in your nitrates. Option 1 is to stop fertilizing for a while and see how your plants react and how your water chemistry changes. Option 2 is to increase the volume of your water changes to try and bring down the nitrates by physically removing them from the water. Option 3 is to get some floating plants like water lettuce, salvinia, or red root floaters, which propagate very quickly and are extremely good at stripping nitrates from the water column (They also look awesome with their roots hanging down). Adding some epiphytic plants like anubias would also help, though they are much less efficient.

You definitely aren't overstocked with fish given your nitrites and ammonia, so I don't think that's the problem. If you try the above steps and are still getting high nitrates, then post back here and let us know. You also may want to test your tap water straight out of the sink to verify that it doesn't have high nitrates straight from the tap. If it does, then you either need to bring it down with lots of plants in the tank, or invest in an RO filter.

Hope this helps! Beautiful tank by the way 😁

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Ragnarok12,

                             Thank you so much on your reply!!!  I did test the tap, when I was setting up the tank (had tanks back in the day and though I new everything lol) Tap water= 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 0 Nitrates PH about 7.2    Tested the tap last week to see if our tap has changed but it's the same.   Having a planted tank is pretty new to me.  I will do what you recommend and will let you know how it works out. I'll give it a month of not fertilizing and keeping  up on my weekly water changes to see if it brings it down.  Thanks again!!! I really appreciate it.  OH this is the soil i'm using. Its expensive but "supposedly" really good.

Landen Aqua Soil Substrate for Natural Planted Aquarium,

  • 【Made by Nature】Made from specially processed natural material from the earth, Ideal natural planted aquarium substrate for most aquatic plants, provides healthy plant root system and for shrimps requiring softer water.
  • 【For Healthy System】Developed for cultivation of aquatics plants and is also suitable substrate for shrimps. It provides fundamental minerals and trace elements, rich in organic acids and nitrogen nutrients, which promote the health and growth of shrimps straturm.
  • 【High Quality Effect】Its porous constucture creates an attractive and stable breeding ground for beneficial bacteria that keep your aquarium water clean. This product can reproduce the mildly acidic water condition most aquatic plants prefer and can also extend and slow the release of the fertilizer needed for aquatic plants.
  • 【Safe to Use】This product does not require rinsing and can be used directly in aquarium. Use a bowl or plastic bag in aquarium and add water to the bowl or plastic bag allowing water to overflow softly on to the gravel bed. The initial cloudiness of the water would gone quickly as the filter system runs. This product has been strictly tested and has proved to be no harm to the fish and aquatic plants, however, for safety, please wait for at least a week if you want to move in any fish or shrimp.
Edited by Eddie
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Are your Nirates at 80 after the water change or before? 
In any case I’d do an extra water change or two and see if that helps. Adding more plant, especially fast growers will also help. I think some of the guidelines for unplanted tanks aren’t as important in planted tanks. We purposefully increase N to feed the plants and we know we can rely on the plants to remove the N in the long run. We can also decrease the amount of fertilizer. I guess what I’m saying is that water changes aren’t the only solution and a higher Nitrate level isn’t as dangerous as it would be in an unplanted aquarium. 

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Yeah, the substrate that you are using is really good, but has its pros and cons. Aqua soil is basically small pebbles made from nutrient dense clay that plants love to sink their roots into. It is basically solid fertilizer. That aquasoil alone should provide all of the nutrients that your plants will need for about the first 9 months of having the tank set up (so they say, I haven't actually tried it yet), and then after that you will need to supplement with roots tabs and some liquid fertilizer once the aquasoil becomes less rich. After about a year, you can treat it like you would normal gravel, supplementing with root tabs and liquid ferts. So yeah, you are probably just overfertilizing the aquarium and should hold off for a while. more plants and more water changes should both help you get your aquarium in balance, at least until the aquasoil stops releasing so many nutrients into the water column.

But also, like Patrick_G said, I wouldn't freak out too much about the elevated nitrates. As long as your fish and plants are looking healthy (and you stay under 100 ppm nitrates), then I would just follow the above steps and wait and see if you can get your water chemistry to stabilize and nitrates to come down slowly with time. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 7:09 PM, Eddie said:

Im not crazy about floating plants, any planted ones that will eat Nitrates better than the ones i have?  Again only will purchase from Aquarium coop.  

Anubias, java fern, buce, and mosses are all water column feeders. The plants that Mmiller2001 mentioned are also very good, though they pull from their roots as much as from the water column. Having a good balance between the fast growing rooted plants and the slow-growing epiphytic plants will lead to a very good result.

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Purchased some Anubias and Buce from Coop and a couple of there easy planters, should be coming today. Thanks Ragnarok!  Again thank you to everyone as well!.  Seems like everything is going great, got the Original Algae problem fixed Lighting (duration and intensity) dialed in, Nitrates dialed in (soil and ferts)  plants healthy fish, Nerrite Snails and shrimp healthy and happy.  Obviously I will keep testing and doing regular water changes like always. Boy thought I knew it all from having tanks (back in the day) but never had real plants in them.  Very different with a all real planted tank.  You can teach a old dog new tricks (well not real old 😉

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