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nitrate problem I cant seem to solve?


Sora
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I used to have high nitrate in my tap water, but I figured out that problem it turns out that the water filter had just been overdue for a change. now the nitrate in my tap water is 0ppm. after that was resolved, my nitrate did not go down. so I started doing daily water changes, 25% to 50%  water changes. when I dont do a daily water change the nitrates spike from 40 to 80 ppm. the ammonia and nitrites stay the same. here are my theories.

my tank is overstocked/filter media      I really dont think my tank is overstocked, just adding it in here. I have 3 female platys and one nerite in a 20 gallon. I have a old hang on back with very old cycled filter cartridges. I never change them, I just rinse them in water change water. I also have many bags of seachem denitrate in my filter.

kuhli loaches?      a while ago a got 6 kuhli loaches from aqua huna. one of them died the next day probably from travel stress. another one died a week later of injuries he already had. then my tank got some sort of fungal infection probably from me not quarantining my kuhlis. so I dosed some medicine but did not do half strength so I found another two of my kuhlis dead. then a few days ago i found a very old looking rotting kuhli corpse and after I removed it I did water changes. I thought that might have been the problem but I still have high nitrates. now I should have one more kuhli loach but I cannot find him dead or alive. I found him a week ago but that was the last time I saw him. I tried to look really carefully for him but would it be possible hes dead somewhere?

fertilizers   I asked a different forum and they suggested to stop adding fertilizers but I really dont think that is the problem. I added easy green and easy iron twice a week but that was two weeks ago and before  many water changes. I have removed all the wool my plants came from. some of them have easy root tabs.

im sorry for writing an essay but im just really confused and I have asked another forum that could not help me. I just really need some help thanks!

 

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On 2/7/2023 at 10:18 AM, Sora said:

I added easy green and easy iron twice a week

Sorry that you're having this problem. Can you tell us about your plants, or post a picture of your tank? How long have you had this problem? How much do you dose of your EG/EI? If you've had the tank established for a while and the plants are growing, you may need to dial back the dosing to once a week. 

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If you can, try to setup a large trash can or other container to condition and off gas water. Nitrates in test results could be an indication of something else bonding with those elements and triggering those results.

Someone who has ammonia readings could have chloramines in the water, for instance.

If your tap water is clean, then perform a good water change to get things down. Sometimes that can result in things not going down but staying constant. If you're seeing a rise then you have something leeching from somewhere. Waste in the water can show a nitrate spike. Maybe a healthy siphon is due. Meaning, remove the hardscape that makes sense to, check for bodies, and then go ahead and try to siphon the gravel well so you don't see waste in the uplift tube of the siphon. This could take a bit of effort if it hasn't been done in a while, but it is indicative of a healthy tank.

Hopefully you're able to sort things out. Best of luck!

On 2/7/2023 at 7:18 AM, Sora said:

I found him a week ago but that was the last time I saw him. I tried to look really carefully for him but would it be possible hes dead somewhere?

They can get themselves stuck, unfortunately it is common. They also bury themselves in substrate. Use your hand to check everything and lights in holes in rocks and such. Hopefully you'll be able to find em.

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I have stopped dosing fertilizer about a week ago. I have a lot of plants. java fern anubias two octopus plants, valesnaria, banana plant, java moss and a amazon sword. they are all doing fine without ferts so far. I usually vacuum my gravel every time I do a water change, maybe I will try to remove all the harscape to look for a body.  ammonia 0 nitrite 0 my tank is like a year or two old now and I have medium sized smooth gravel. also I dont know if this will help but I have a quarantine tank for a small betta im hoping to introduce and This problem is not happening.

Edited by Sora
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If I had issues about high nitrate, I wouldn't add all in one fertilizers that has nitrate, but I would add the ones with potassium and trace elements, as long as you feed fish with fish food. Nitrates are only one of the things that fertilizers include, besides many other elements. If you have a high nitrate, sure, skip the ones have nitrate. But support others. Plants do well when they have everything compared. Think of this picture something as a general idea:1425303689_Ireneplantdeficiencypic.png.53d4a950eff8b9f937ee18140d0c0da1.png

 

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On 2/7/2023 at 10:40 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

They also bury themselves in substrate. Use your hand to check everything and lights in holes in rocks and such. Hopefully you'll be able to find em.

would one hidden dead kuhli loach be the cause of the nitrates? I feel like if that was the problem my ammonia would have spiked too right? I might be wrong

Edited by Sora
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On 2/7/2023 at 10:19 AM, Sora said:

would one hidden dead kuhli loach be the cause of the nitrates? I feel like if that was the problem my ammonia would have spiked too right? I might be wrong

If the filtration is good you'd only see a nitrite or nitrate jump and maybe some cloudiness.

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What is the ammonia and nitrite levels of your tap water? Because if nitrates were caused by a dirty water filter then ask yourself this: what was feeding the filter enough for the water filter to produce nitrates?

Edited by Tommy Vercetti
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On 2/7/2023 at 10:45 AM, Sora said:

maybe I will try to remove all the harscape to look for a body

I know I've had multiple fish deaths in my tank ...but I have only ever found 1 body. The shrimp in my tank are the undertakers. 

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Last time I checked ammonia nitrite and nitrate in my tap water is zero. I just did a large volume water change and I took out all my hard scape and vacuumed all the gravel, didn’t find anything. I just tested my nitrate now and it looks to be still a bit over 20ppm. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that it has something to do with my filter. I have the filter pads for the hob that have the “replace every month cartridges” So let’s just say it’s never been replaced. Should I start cycling a new hob? Is that what might be the problem? I can’t see anything else that might have been causing it seeing as my hospital tank with sponge filter is doing fine. Logging off for the night.

Edited by Sora
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do you think that it would be a good idea to change my filter cartridge? I probably have not replaced it in over a year. I know your not supposed to replace them but if I do that do you think it would help? is there a safe way to do that? im going on a vacation in a month and cant expect whoever is taking care of my fish to do daily water changes.

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On 2/8/2023 at 9:14 AM, Sora said:

do you think that it would be a good idea to change my filter cartridge? I probably have not replaced it in over a year.

Established filters don't generally cause or release nitrates just by being dirty. "Mulm" alone does not "rot" and produce waste. It is generally the end result of the decomposition process.

Feel free to rinse your media in water, maybe in a bucket with water siphoned from your aquarium, but replacing it just before a vacation is a risk (your care taker may then be dealing with a tank with a compromised biological filtration capacity, with Ammonia and Nitrite spikes, which are much worse). It seems like your aquarium is well cycled (zero Ammonia, zero Nitrites), so apart from rinsing media I'd leave the filter alone.

I'd first look to these causes:

  1. Dead fish, which you've done.
  2. Dead plants.  Don't under estimate how much nitrogen can be released by rotting plant material.  Trim leaves that are browning.
  3. Over feeding.  So easy to do...
  4. Overdoing it on plant fertilization.  (@mmiller2001's suggestion that the root tabs could be releasing Nitrates is something to look at, especially with all the gravel vacuuming you have done recently).
  5. Expired or otherwise faulty test kits.

40-80 ppm of Nitrates is not an emergency. Unless your fish are showing distress I would keep doing frequent water changes and monitor.

Bad test kits happen more often than you might think. Both liquid and test strips can expire, and even new test strips can just be "bad". I recently solved a case of mysterious test results by getting a new liquid test kit, which I found gave me results that actually made sense.

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On 2/8/2023 at 10:14 AM, Sora said:

do you think that it would be a good idea to change my filter cartridge? I probably have not replaced it in over a year. I know your not supposed to replace them but if I do that do you think it would help? is there a safe way to do that? im going on a vacation in a month and cant expect whoever is taking care of my fish to do daily water changes.

I would just rinse it with dechlorinated water. 

Mulm 100% is breaking down and contributing to nitrification. So remove it if you see any.

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On 2/9/2023 at 7:40 AM, Sora said:

I re tested my tap water today and it turned out my tap water was about 20ppm. I am going to look into a ro filter, any suggestions?

Check out your local hydroponic store or Bulk Reef Supply online.

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I have the 100 gallon/day RO Buddie that @knee linked above.  I haven't had it installed long, but it was pretty easy to do and more or less impossible to mess up.  I'm using it to make breeding water for some fish.  Works fine for that.  My water out of the tap is like 300 TDS, then I soften (standard household ion exchange unit using salt) it and it goes to about 600 TDS.  The RO water has been coming out at 1 TDS on my cheap little Amazon TDS meter.  

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