Let's talk about high nitrates and nitrate poisoning in a FOWLER

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by jasonrusso, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have a 210 fowler with a porcupine puffer (very messy), angler, dwarf lion, dwarf angel, tomini tang, mag. foxface, and eel. I've always battled high nitrates (100 ppm, maybe more), but I was under the understanding that nitrates didn't really matter.

    Today, I was reading in another group and someone brought up nitrate poisoning. I looked into it a bit and there are differing opinions (of course!!). So, is this a real thing? Is it a cumulative thing? Are there warning signs? All my fish are active and eat like pigs.

    Now, my tank seems very healthy. My sump is COVERED with tiny feather dusters, my pod population is huge (they are all over the glass hours after I clean it), I can go 2 weeks without cleaning the glass (the reef tank is 2x a week), I have a few spots of cyano (PO4 is high as well) but no GHA or other algae (maybe the grazers eat it?)

    I do run a biopellet reactor that has been running since I tried lowering NO3 before and I am just using up the rest of the pellets. I tried NOPOX before, I tried a DIY algae reactor but the chaeto died. This is when I finally said that everyone is doing good, so why mess with it. The next step would be a sulfur denitrator but I read those stink (literally).

    So, are high nitrates in fact poison?

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  2. clekchau

    clekchau Member

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    I also had very high nitrates and was told I should keep it below 40 ppm. When I asked where they got this factual information, no one could tell me it’s just what was recommended by someone else who couldn’t tell them either.

    However, I set up the denitrification towers specified in the diy section and my nitrates went to under 5 ppm within 3 weeks and has stayed there.
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. clekchau

    clekchau Member

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    Oh also I have over 40 fish and feed 5 heavily, at least 4 times s day .
     
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  4. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    This?

    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/poor-man-nutrients-control-donovans-nitrate-destroyer.302685/
     
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  5. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    No other input?
     
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  6. OutsideBrian

    OutsideBrian Member

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    Do you have a sump that you could run chaeto in? Or use an algae scrubber?
     
  7. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Tried a diy algae reactor, the chaeto died.
     
  8. mort

    mort Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    It is a cumulative thing. I think the level of nitrate needs to be really high to kill outright (something like 400-500mg/l I think, but this was tested on food fish) but creeping nitrates can shorten lifespan, cause stress and make fish more prone to disease as well as cause deformaties. 100 won't cause fish outright but existing fish can build up some immunity to these levels, the trouble comes if you want to add new fish as they can sometimes die quickly or show some of the symptoms mentioned earlier.

    100 ppm is quite common with big messy fish like puffers and it can take some work to even slightly reduce the levels. I know some people who do larger less frequent water changes and heavily dilute the levels quickly. The problem with this is if your levels rise quickly afterwards.
    I would normally suggest trying to lower the levels slightly or at minimum make sure they don't start creeping up but don't overly stress it. I've seen people get so worked up about fixing problems that they ruin the hobby for themselves, make massive mistakes or upset the balance. Water changes are unlikely to hurt, new biopellets might improve things as might an algae scrubber or trying chaeto again with really good lighting.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  9. Coralmaniac21

    Coralmaniac21 Active Member

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    Been doing fresh water for 20 years.. reef keeping for 4 months... I want to keep nitrates below 40... i have discus.. and discus will stop eating or get sick abkve 40ppm long term... other fish though csn tolerate higher.. but why would i poison them ? 40 is as high as id go.

    Same with a reef and fish 40 no higher.. but i prefer to keep at 20 or lower.

    If your tank is a 100ppm no offense you need to fix that.... make a denitrate canister.reactor its easy easy to make my nitrates were getting to 40ppm weekly id have to do 80% water changes every week.. i made one of these denitrate things and now i never have to change my water. Nitrates are always 20 or under
     
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  10. lion king

    lion king Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

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    I've tried to get to bottom of this myself, with little real info. I have found certain fish, 3 types of which you have, go off their feeding schedule when I let my nitrates get too high. My anglers always seem to not like nitrates, I always tried to keep below 30. My dwarf lions and ribbon eel as well. I find it to be more than just coincidence when this scenario has repeated itself several times over the years. My angler, lion, or eel would go off feeding; I would check my nitrates and find them to be 40 or 50, do some water changes, and everything would return to normal.

    I have had excellent results with nopox, but it does come with growing pains, and quite of bit fine tuning in the beginning.
     
  11. nereefpat

    nereefpat Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Something to look into would be building a remote deep sand bed.

    A member on another board suggested this after his success. Had a species only eel tank (fimby maybe?) with 100+ nitrates, no matter what he did. I believe he made his with a bucket, sand, pump, and some plumbing.
     
  12. Js.Aqua.Project

    Js.Aqua.Project Reef Addict R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Ocala Reef Club Member Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    I have been searching for an article I read a while back that was done by an aquarium (I think it was the Georgia Aquarium) that found that high nitrates lead to a shortened life span, increased risk of HLLE, and could block the ability of fishes to properly absorb vitamins and other nutrients from their foods. I will keep looking to see if I can stumble across the article again.
     
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  13. Coralmaniac21

    Coralmaniac21 Active Member

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    It alao causes fish blood to turn brown vs red.. in discus high nitrates cause internal flaggellets to take over due to stress and once a discus stops eating... they tend to wither away over a month or two and die.


    Also think about it.. people can get sick eith nitrates in the water... local water is suppose to be 10ppm or less.. any higher and it csn cause health issues long term
     
  14. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Did you follow plans or a thread? I'm not opposed to building something.
     
  15. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Haven't had anyone not eating...yet. They are pigs all the time.

    I started dosing NOPOX again, with other methods. I had to run out and buy a big air pump yesterday because the pH was getting a bit low for my liking. My reef tank didn't like NOPOX. As soon as I stopped, NO3 rose to about 20-25 and all the corals really took off. I have some GHA coming back (which is why I started NOPOX), but I have a blenny in QT. That being said, I change 5 gallons of water in the reef (34 gallons) once a week. It's hard to change that percentage on a 210.

    Reference my other thread.

    https://www.reef2reef.com/index.php?threads/553259/
     
  16. lion king

    lion king Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

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    I would just run an algae reactor on that 34g, you will be amazed on how effective it is on that size tank. I run nopox on my 210g and have considered a remote refuge, I really like using macro algae for these purposes instead. To be effective I think you would need a 20-30g refuge, running remotely instead of through a sump, one for more real estate and two to control flow(through the sump is usually too fast). I still keep considering it, if I wasn't just so lazy at this point.
     
  17. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I'm not concerned about 25ppm of nitrate. The corals love it, it just causes GHA, hence the blenny.

    I don't really have the room for a 30 gallon fuge right now. I'll see how NOPOX, matrix reactor, and the pellets work.

    I hate the film the NOPOX leaves, but hopefully with lower dosages that becomes minimal.
     
  18. lion king

    lion king Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

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    That is a matter of fine tuning the nopox dosage, also running your skimmer on the wetter side helps.
     
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  19. jasonrusso

    jasonrusso Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    It's a big tank with a 1ml per minute doser so I run it for "x" minutes. Adjusting the dose is easy
     
  20. ReefGeezer

    ReefGeezer Member

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    In a FOWLR tank 80 ppm is not usually an issue except for algae. However, there is a limit. I don't know where it is, but 80 ppm is mine. Maybe use inexpensive salt mix and do big water changes to keep it from creeping up. Carbon dosing works too, and doesn't have to leave a film.
     
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