Help with really high nitrates

Eleni18

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Hello, newbie here. I started my reef tank 2 years ago but really still consider myself a newbie. I have a 300 liter tank with live rock and live sand, a few soft corals and 7 fish, clowns, damsels, a blue tang, a pyjama fish and very recently a mandarin. Over the summer, I must say I neglected regular water changes and although I resumed my routine in October, I have always confused NO2 and NO3 and never tested for NO3...anyway, on the day I bought the mandarin, I took some tank water to the shop to be tested...all was well except nitrates that were wayyyyy out of limits 120!!!!!!!!!!!! So.....doing what the salesperson told me, I put some anti nitrate in the skimmer's media chamber and did an emergency 50% water change, and three 30% changes over the last 5 days,bringing the nitrates down to 50. But 50 is still very high isn't it? What do you think I should do? More water changes? I have already eaten through a huge box of reef salt in the last week. Or let the anti-nitrate do its work with maybe a large water change in the next week? How dangerous is this for fish and corals? The fish seem absolutely fine, the corals have not been opening for a while, but are now starting to. Really grateful for any input. Oh....I don't use any mechanical filtration, no sump either, just a Deltec MCE 600 skimmer with carbon and antiphosphate (which I have now taken out to put the anti-nitrate in) and the live rock and sand. Sorry for the long post but I could really do with some expert help. Thanks!
 

lapin

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If you have room in your sump put some rock rubble or calcium media in there. Start dosing carbon (vinegar, vodka). It will take some time for it to work but should produce more bacteria to keep that nitrate under control. If you are over feeding, cut back. If you are feeding pellets stop. If you are feeding reef-roids or reef-chili cut back a bit.
 
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Eleni18

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If you have room in your sump put some rock rubble or calcium media in there. Start dosing carbon (vinegar, vodka). It will take some time for it to work but should produce more bacteria to keep that nitrate under control. If you are over feeding, cut back. If you are feeding pellets stop. If you are feeding reef-roids or reef-chili cut back a bit.
I have no sump, I have put the anti-nitrate in the skimmer's media chamber. I have heard of the vodka method! Does it really work without harming fish or corals? How should I do it?
 

lapin

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Eleni18

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What is anti-nitrate?
Is it de-nitrate?
You need something for the bacteria to grow on/in. You have a 75 gallon tank and I assume you have plenty of rock. Ramp up slow.
Articles with charts
Thank you!!! I have started dosing vodka today. Keeping my fingers crossed. Should I keep on doing 20-30% water changes during the vodka system? The article doesn't say but I imagine it won't hurt
 
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Eleni18

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What is anti-nitrate?
Is it de-nitrate?
You need something for the bacteria to grow on/in. You have a 75 gallon tank and I assume you have plenty of rock. Ramp up slow.
Articles with charts
Yes, de-nitrate I guess. It is something looking like gravel which you add to the filter
 

Desmond

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Aquaforest Nitrophos minus is really good and should help just start the dosing slowly so you dont shock the tank.
 

Nano10

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120 is high but will not harm harm your live stock. And 50 isnt that bad at all. Hell some people run sps tanks at 50ppm. I wouldn't go that high but it wont hurt anything. Id just start doing regular water changes and feed less until they come down and then just aim for between 10-30ppm.

Also, perhaps you plan to rehome it, but a 300l tank is way to small for a blue tang.
 

Desmond

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120 is high but will not harm harm your live stock. And 50 isnt that bad at all. Hell some people run sps tanks at 50ppm. I wouldn't go that high but it wont hurt anything. Id just start doing regular water changes and feed less until they come down and then just aim for between 10-30ppm.

Also, perhaps you plan to rehome it, but a 300l tank is way to small for a blue tang.
i have had blue tangs and i just take back to my mates store when they are too big and changed for a small one. I have a purple tang now which was tiny when i got it and will do the same with this :cool:
 
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I have battled high nitrates forever. I will get them down to about 10ppm, and then boom!, back up to 80ppm. I run a 165g mixed reef(15yrs old) with a bountiful refugium, hard working skimmer, carbon reaction chamber, and I still cant keep it consistent. I don't have an algae problem, and my corals, well over 100 pieces, are absolutely gorgeous. The only pieces that have seemed to suffer are the montipora colonies, that go through periods of slow growth, or bleaching. All of the LPS, zoas, and mushrooms are thriving(with the exception of torches, probably bad placement). I also have 25 fish, 4 starfish, a clam, and a couple of scallops, that hide under the base rock, but are thriving. I have used different nitrate reducing liquid additives, done massive water changes, up to 50%, but I have pretty much came to the conclusion, that my system is doing fine, and I have adjusted my goal to not allow it get to 80, but I can live with 40.
 

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Had high nitrates and tried vodka dosing. It took some time but did the trick. i now have my nitrates under control.
 

lapin

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Thank you!!! I have started dosing vodka today. Keeping my fingers crossed. Should I keep on doing 20-30% water changes during the vodka system? The article doesn't say but I imagine it won't hurt
If you want to save on salt, go back to your normal 10% per week water changes and see if the carbon dosing will help. In my tank it took about a month to really see results. My tank was only at 16 ppm and in a month it dropped to 4 to 5 ppm. However i did not dose a lot. I dose both vinegar 30ml and vodka 4ml per day on a 600 gallon tank.
 
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Eleni18

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120 is high but will not harm harm your live stock. And 50 isnt that bad at all. Hell some people run sps tanks at 50ppm. I wouldn't go that high but it wont hurt anything. Id just start doing regular water changes and feed less until they come down and then just aim for between 10-30ppm.

Also, perhaps you plan to rehome it, but a 300l tank is way to small for a blue tang.
Thank you. I got really worried, especially for the mandarin who is new and I thought maybe he would be shocked by such a high value. I was only testing for ammonia and nitrites which were fine, never knew about nitrates or most probably confused between NO2 and NO3. But the fish seem fine, although the sales person said the old ones may have been poisoned which will possibly shorten their life span? Or not true?
 
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Eleni18

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If you want to save on salt, go back to your normal 10% per week water changes and see if the carbon dosing will help. In my tank it took about a month to really see results. My tank was only at 16 ppm and in a month it dropped to 4 to 5 ppm. However i did not dose a lot. I dose both vinegar 30ml and vodka 4ml per day on a 600 gallon tank.
Thank you. Do you do that regularly, or just when nitrates go up?
 
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Eleni18

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I have battled high nitrates forever. I will get them down to about 10ppm, and then boom!, back up to 80ppm. I run a 165g mixed reef(15yrs old) with a bountiful refugium, hard working skimmer, carbon reaction chamber, and I still cant keep it consistent. I don't have an algae problem, and my corals, well over 100 pieces, are absolutely gorgeous. The only pieces that have seemed to suffer are the montipora colonies, that go through periods of slow growth, or bleaching. All of the LPS, zoas, and mushrooms are thriving(with the exception of torches, probably bad placement). I also have 25 fish, 4 starfish, a clam, and a couple of scallops, that hide under the base rock, but are thriving. I have used different nitrate reducing liquid additives, done massive water changes, up to 50%, but I have pretty much came to the conclusion, that my system is doing fine, and I have adjusted my goal to not allow it get to 80, but I can live with 40.
Thank you. So I should not panic then!
 

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You probably should test your phosphate level as well, especially since you had a phos remover running for so long. If you drive phosphate to zero (or very near), nitrate will often get way out of whack bc the tank can not easily consume one without the other. Carbon dosing, for example, will not work well without phosphate.
 
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Eleni18

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i have had blue tangs and i just take back to my mates store when they are too big and changed for a small one. I have a purple tang now which was tiny when i got it and will do the same with this :cool:
How big is too big? Mine is about 12 cm nose to tail
 
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Eleni18

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You probably should test your phosphate level as well, especially since you had a phos remover running for so long. If you drive phosphate to zero (or very near), nitrate will often get way out of whack bc the tank can not easily consume one without the other. Carbon dosing, for example, will not work well without phosphate.
Really? I have no phospate 0! You think maybe that;s why I have high nitrates apart from neglecting my water changes?
 
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