High Nitrates-should I dose

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Susan Edwards, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Question/concern on my nitrates. I have always had high nitrates in my tank. They range from 20-80, even when I was went fallow due to MV (just feeding a sun coral). I feel good when they stay at 20! Did a 8% water change yesterday and they were at 80 right after and 80 this morning. I'd like to have them around 5-10.

    I cut the sponges in the aio sump (in back) into thirds and change and rinse with most water changes. Will see if I still have ceramic rings in the media chamber and if so, will pull them. I use carbon and purigen all the time with phos guard when needed. Also added matrix and de-nitrate a month or so ago.

    The thing is, my corals are all thriving, even an acro shows great PE. My newest acro hasn't quite opened as much as the older one. The leathers are super happy, Duncan adding new heads really fast, gsp spreading, zoas all open, turbinaria and micromussas happy, mushrooms splitting, clove more than 4x's bigger, etc. Only ones not doing well are about 3 or 4 that haven't done well since I bought them, even in QT, which is why I moved them to the DT to try to save them but they are on the way out (war coral, goniastrea, leptastrea, chalice & a symphillia that has not done well from day 1 from a previous batch of corals.). Other new ones bought at same time are doing really well .

    Wondering if I should do carbon dosing to get the nitrates down. And if I do, can I only do it until things are steady then stop? I am a heavy feeder, esp. as I feed a 30+ head of sun corals, and target food to my 2 mandarins and also feed or try to feed the micromusas and some other corals. I don't have a lot of fish and may need more cuc. Tank info below.

    Red Sea Max C250 (approx 60 gal water after rock and sand)
    2 chromis, 2 mandarins, 1 scooter blenny
    2 Darwin clowns, 1 barber shop goby will be moved from QT to DT on Friday
    Tank just over 11 months old
    4-5 narsarius
    2 bumble bees
    Trochus--too many to count as they breed like rabbits
    3-4 hermits
    1 rbta that is on it's way out. Still alive so not the problem though I may remove the rock it's on and put it into my coral QT

    CA 420
    Mg 1260 (subject for another post as I cannot get this up)
    Alk 8.3
    PO4 .02
    NO3 80 usually between 20-40 with occasional spikes to 80

    Feeding:
    fish 2x's a day
    corals every 2-3 days a mix of various dry powders
    Suns every other day or so, along with corals that appreciate meaty foods
    Adding phytoplankton every day for nutrient control and pods

    Once I get more livestock back in, the excess food will probably be less but that will take several months to achieve.

    So, in the meantime, should I dose, and if so, what is the best (sugar, vinegar, vodka)? I'd lean toward vinegar as there is less chance of cyano from what I've read. I'd prefer to stay natural but that might not be an option at least for the short term

    Or as everything is thriving and growing, should I just do water changes and let it remain at the 20-40 range and wait to see if more fish/cuc will take care of it further. I'm not aiming for 0. I want between 5-10 no3 and up to .1 po4
    20171122_112026.jpg
     
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  2. sde1500

    sde1500 Active Member

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    Tank is looking pretty good for that high of a nitrate. What test are you using? Don't meant to sound insulting, but are you following the directions correctly? I tested for a while with the wrong water amount in one of my test kits, hence why I ask. As for an 8% water change, that obviously was far from sufficient to make any sort of difference with nitrate levels. With NPS corals and heavy target feeding, nutrients are going to be high. Dosing wouldn't hurt, though start off way under the recommended. Dosing too much too fast could cause a bacterial bloom, or strip the water quickly, neither of which is good for corals.
     
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  3. Animal Chin

    Animal Chin Member

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    I agree, your tank looks pretty clean. Have you been having issues that you want to resolve or are you just wanting to lower nitrates due to worry of the number? Your coral all look healthy and you don't seem to have an algae issue. Carbon dosing can be tricky, its really popular on the forums and a lot of people do it but I had a major crash doing it and I know of others who wiped out large amount of coral trying to get nitrate down with carbon dosing. After doing this for years I found that an over sized skimmer and a refugium are my magic combo on my 125 gallon. I'm pretty heavily stocked and feed my fish frozen every day and my nitrates are at 3, they were really high when my skimmer was half the size and my refugium had a par 38 bulb. I got a skimmer rated for 200 gallons and a new light for my fuge and watched my nitrates drop and my algae dissapear.

    Just my $.02. I think with the publicity of carbon dosing these days too many are jumping on the wagon and not getting the results they want.
     
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  4. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor

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  5. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Yes on correct testing using API, even shaking the bottle. on another thread, it was discussed to use an actual 5 ml syringe as the line on their tubes is shy of 5 ml. I normally just fill to the line. Not sure which is the correct way to go but it didn't make any difference either way. Normally I do a wc of about 8 or 9 gallons on a 60 gallon water volume. As I wanted to do another change and cleaning on Friday, I did a bit less. I did scrape the back wall yesterday so maybe that is the jump from 40 to 80.

    I do add vibrant occassionally to help clear "gunk" No pox did nothing for my tank so am not using anymore.
     
  6. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I mainly would like to see the numbers go a bit lower, even 10-20 would make me happy. I'm pretty much stuck with what came iwth my AIO tank as far as skimmers and I can't have a refugium. I do have a display refugium that needs to be plumbed to DT. Trying to find someone to do this for me.

    My worry about carbon dosing is why I'm asking if I should just go with the flow and do water changes or if doing some dosing in very small amts would help get numbers down to at least 10-15. The tank is overall thriving, but 80 is a bit too high so will do another wc if not today then on friday
     
  7. Flexin

    Flexin Well-Known Member

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    You can stir your substrate to let the filter do the work before water changes (I do this a few times a week).

    How often are your water changes (I may have missed this...).

    How often do you change the filer sock(s) or filter floss?

    Do you vacuum your substrate?

    Your feeding pattern is very very high. Also to me the tank does not look 11 months old (looking at the corals), are most of them new? Even the soft ones look small for 11 months. Did you lose a bunch of corals? Leathers are hearty but you could have more growth with them.

    You need larger water changes and more of them to get it down, unless you dose, but dosing opens you up to other problems. You should also consider changing your feeding pattern or else you will continue to have problems, regardless of the size of water changes.
     
  8. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor

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    You need a skimmer for carbon dosing. The benifit is is also food for coral. A low dose to start. Vibrant cas a carbon source but has some kind of buzzaro alge killer. I would to use that long term.

    With nitrates wc are your friend or carbon dosing. But if they don't get Lower it means you have a source.
    Or nitrate factory as theyre called.

    I gave up on chasing a lot of those numbers. Much easier for me to just be really good at husbandry and cleaning.
    That was the point of Richard Ross's experiment I posted earlier.
     
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  9. Zack K

    Zack K The LPS Guy R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    l keep a Very “nutrient rich system” as l call it. Nitrates off the charts (160ppm+) and Phosphates around 3.0ppm. So far everything is looking great! Adding an H Magnifica Anemone soon so we will see. l personally quit chasing numbers. l have seen too many reefs blow up in smoke because of no nutrients, but never to high of nitrates.
     
  10. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I do weekly wc's of about 15 %. Sometimes, a few more days than a week. I do use a turkey baster to blast the sand bed periodically and do stir it. . I don't want to disturb pods too much though. I don't vacuum as much as it pulls up too much sand and also sucks up any copepods in the sand bed. It also clogs my syphon starter on the hose. I blast instead but am also putting more corals on sandbed so that makes it just as hard to do without getting sand all over.

    I don't have a separate sump so no filter socks. The RS C250 has a sump in back and uses 2 blocks of black foam. I cut these in thirds and change when I do a water change. Might try to change more often. Also, some water changes, I suck that 15 % out of the sump chambers, rotating right and left. I have to see if I still have ceramic rings in the media basket and will pull those. I know I feed heavily. Hoping more fish added will help take care of some of that excess. 3 going in on friday. I'm adding fish slow, 2-3 a month or 6 weeks depending on observation.

    As for tank age, it is 11 mo. and I've seen tons of growth. This list doesn't count those not doing well. I've lost very few corals. Those I lose never do well from the lfs. I'm convinced some we buy are starved or sick and won't recover. Lost most of my fish to MV in June which is why there aren't very many fish. I have some before and after shots in my tank thread I just put up last week.

    Dec: palys, torch and gsp. Torch from 1 head to at least 3 or 4, palys spreading, --gsp grown to now encrusting rock.
    March: 7 head duncan now over 20-25, acro slow but good PE. Colts/kenya tree added and removed later for too much growth!
    May: favite not much growth, sun coral over 30 heads.
    June: Rhodactis split into 4, orange mushroom split, white tipped leather looking good, birds nest was a tiny pinkie nail size tip and now triple or more that size, reverse sunset didn't take up the surface of frag and now off frag and onto rock, Montipora sedosa was a flat smooth piece. Now all bumpy and much bigger.
    July: Clove-5 heads. triple that at least, blue mushroom split, ricordia split,
    Sept: hammer head new, micromusa doing well, group of 5 protopalythoa. Only 1 open when I got it, 3 zoa frags. All open and good
    Oct: blue toadstool now open and extending with polyps on ends. Took weeks to get to this point. Just showed those polyps this week, acro blue not yet extending as well, another micromussa doing great, Turbinaria lots of growth.

    On way out-these never opened or fleshed out from day one: candy cane, chalice, war coral, gonestrea, leptastrea. In past have lost elegance, gonipora, first clove to bryopsis and a couple other new in sept that didn't make it even a couple weeks in qt before I moved them all to the display to save them.

    Maybe some didn't like the nitrates of around 20-40 as that is where it is normally but so many others are thriving
     
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  11. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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  12. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    @Zack Klabunde Wow. I've read post like yours with much higher nitrates. One reason for my post is to decide if I should just not worry or aim for a bit lower. I don't want zero but do want healthy.

    Might try removing my anemone and the rock he's under to the coral qt in case he's contributing somehow to the spike.
     
  13. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I do have a skimmer, what came with the RS AIO. Will go read that link when I get a minute. I'm thinking that maybe scraping the back wall yesterday caused the spike to 80.
     
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  14. VR28man

    VR28man Active Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    In my opinion, it's not broke don't fix it. You probably have some kind of equilibrium in your tank. (Though I kind of think that you've added too much livestock to quickly"). I'd just keep things as they are for a few months, and see how it goes at that point.

    If you just chase numbers for the sake of chasing numbers, you might throw the tanks equilibrium off and cause other problems.
     
  15. WWIII

    WWIII Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor LMAS Member

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    You say they've always been high. How did you "start" the tank? Dry rock or live rock?
     
  16. Flexin

    Flexin Well-Known Member

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    I appreciate your response Susan. If you are happy with your growth that's great. I have a few of those corals and they can be larger by the 11 month mark which drove my comment and the one that may help if you want to make a change. Would you consider cutting back on your feeding routine?
     
  17. Susan Edwards

    Susan Edwards Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Ugh, I hate when I lose a post when I'm all done!! Keep in mind, most of the corals are only at the 3-6-8 month mark like the blue leather which took a good 3-4 weeks to get fully extended and polyped out but I'm a newbie, so I only know what I've seen, not what the potential is <g> and as a newbie, I try to listen and learn! I would consider cutting back. Maybe target mandarins just once a day as I'm trying to get them eating frozen. I'll set up a mandarin feeder as paul b has done eventually. I can also feed suns every other day or 2 days. Something to work on. Thanks for your advice.

    @WWIII I started with dry marco and pukani rock, bio spira and a shrimp. didn't keep a log or keep the log of the early testing days. But from april, is where I track high numbers, with some lower numbers in april and may a nd in july. Just a few. I was very surprised that going fallow and only feeding suns, tossing some pellets for cuc and feeding the anemone didn't affect the numbers. No difference between no fish and fish.

    maybe there is something I can do sump related? I do suck out the stuff every so often, clean the skimmer chamber and empty cup when needed , etc. Or maybe this is just my tank and I need to address what I can and just live with it and keep watch.
     
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