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Can't keep nitrates

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Hello everyone,

So after 10 or more years out of the hobby my wife and i got back in and started with a 40 breeder and a cube tank setup with 6 12" cubes all connected with a 20 gallon sump, equaling about 60 gallons of water.

My question is the system is cycled and has been up for about 2 months now with what i would call heavy plants low fish count (bettas, tettras, shrimp, and snails with a few ottos and brissle nose pletco) I am dosing with easy green at 1.5ml per day with a dosing pump but no matter what, i test with 0 nitrates and well some of the plants are doing great others not so much and i'm wondering if its cause the lack of nitrates and if so what i should do to help with that. 

i should also stat when i had fish before i did not do live plants as i could not keep them alive


Thanks in advaced.


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Something that you might also want to consider is lowering light (I would think plants won't consume as much), trim, and thin out your fast growers. Im not sure if this is what happened with my nitrates, but this morning I was surprised to find that they were elevated without dosing. 

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I agree with @Mmiller2001, but have a few thoughts. 

1. What type of test are you using? The API liquid test will show a false negative if you don’t follow the directions exactly. 
2.  I’m confused on the volume of your setup. Are the six cubes with sump separate from the 40 breeder? The 10.5ml per week should be ok for the cubes plus sump but you’ll need more if the 40 gallon is included. 

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Thanks, @Patrick_G

Yes the cube tanks are with the sump and the 40 breeder is its own tank. I am using the API master test kit but i am also using the co-op test strips as well as i like to have more then one source for results.

I did reset my lights so now they only go up to 70% brightness to see if that would help and the lights are on a timer so its the same amount of light everyday.

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I have the same problem with lots of plants and a low bioload. I can't seem to get enough nitrates in my tank. I found this article on ACO but haven't sat down and figured out how much EG I need to dose:



ETA: Scroll down to the section about low nitrates.

Edited by AndreaW
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