Nitrates: Too high/too low/just right

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Bouldereefer

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I need some help with my tank. For years I was under the impression nitrates should be near zero. More recently I am under the impression zero nitrates is bad and it should be 3-5 ppm range. Now starts my journey of confusion.
I have several chalice corals that have started dying from the outer rim inward. I have other chalice corals that have bleached out. Trumpet corals that I was splitting up giving to friends are now retracting into the skeleton and dying. Yet anemones (bubble) have gone from one to five. Clams that were two inches are now six to eight. Polyps have become annoying weeds.
I thought the bleaching was due to nitrates too high so it have been doing 20-25% water changes every other day for a week. I haven’t made a dent in the nitrates. Today with more reading is see people with nitrates 5-10 ppm.
What is the appropriate nitrate levels. Am I chasing my tail with nitrates when in realty my issue is something else.
Tank:
160DT with 40 gal refug
Live rock, bare bottom, protein skimmer, Ca++ reactor.
Today’s parameters:
Temp: 77.8
PH: 7.92
DKH: 10
Ca: 424
Phosphate: 0.08
Mg: 260
Nitrate: > 5 (like an idiot I knocked over reagent so couldn’t do high range). Nitrate measured by Red Sea nitrate pro and new Hanna nitrate checker

In the attached poor picture is one representative coral. The “Blue” is completely white bleached tissue

A8CDE1B6-1517-4E40-8311-7074121C00D0.jpeg 4198165F-CB0A-4A9D-9EE1-30E2202E328B.jpeg
 

Flippers4pups

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It's most likely not Nitrate related. Many hobbyists have N03 much, much higher and have great success. I'm one of those. My tank runs in the 40+ range consistently for N03.

20619B43-B6D1-486D-9113-E55C68CFDE2F.jpeg


F30B1129-DB70-4E59-BC4D-8E437FC97CAB.jpeg


One thing is some corals can adapt to water parameters over time, very slowly.

In your case, I would suspect swings in water parameters (instability), coral warfare (stinging), pests/parasite/disease issues, possible water contamination or overall coral health at the time of purchase. Some crabs, some shrimp and some worms can inflict damage, especially at night with lights off.

Back to water parameters: N03, P04.

Lack of nutrients and or high light intensity can cause "bleaching".
Too much nutrients and or low light intensity can cause "browning".


LPS can develop BJD (brown jelly disease) and can spread to other LPS.
 
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Bouldereefer

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Thanks. I work crazy irregular hours and have not seen critters/parasites on the corals. The other thing I meant to mention but got distracted. We are one well water. We have a five stage RO filtration system. Even had the water company out and all their checks are with in normal limits. I’ve test nitrate and phosphate one the RO water. Both negative.
 

Flippers4pups

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Thanks. I work crazy irregular hours and have not seen critters/parasites on the corals. The other thing I meant to mention but got distracted. We are one well water. We have a five stage RO filtration system. Even had the water company out and all their checks are with in normal limits. I’ve test nitrate and phosphate one the RO water. Both negative.

You're welcome. I would go down the list and watch and observe.

You can certainly rule out water parameters by having a ICP test done of your water. It will be a way more comprehensive test than a local water company can test for.

Using a red filtered light after lights out can reveal what's happening in your tank. Crabs and worms can't easily see red spectrum and won't dart to hide as much.

Look for BJD in any LPS.

Dip any and all corals before placing them in your tank with a well known coral dip to remove pests.
 

Reefahholic

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I need some help with my tank. For years I was under the impression nitrates should be near zero. More recently I am under the impression zero nitrates is bad and it should be 3-5 ppm range. Now starts my journey of confusion.

Hi, you are exactly right. In my experience low nitrates will eventually lead to bad things in a reef tank.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. One being you have a heavily stocked tank (typically acropora) where the tank is testing ZERO because the corals are consuming it rapidly. However, you can look at the colors of the corals and know if they look pale or if they have rich color what the answer really is.

Look into LoudWolf. They make a solution that is very pure and is probably one of the better options for dosing nitrate back to a system. I'm confident you will see better results by doing this, but you need to go slow until you understand the effects of the dose. Yes...you will need to test before and after the dose.



For your tank 160/G DT plus your 40 fuge = 200/G

Mix up 33 tablespoons to 16 Oz of RODI water. You can use a typical 16 oz water bottle to store it in.

Each 1mL of the above solution will add approximately 1.02ppm Of Nitrate. So basically 1mL = 1ppm of NO3. I wouldn't go any stronger than that. Start slow and you can increase if needed, but typically 1-2 mL's of that solution will be all you wanna dose a one time.

Here you go. Check my work:

 
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Bouldereefer

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Hi, you are exactly right. In my experience low nitrates will eventually lead to bad things in a reef tank.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. One being you have a heavily stocked tank (typically acropora) where the tank is testing ZERO because the corals are consuming it rapidly. However, you can look at the colors of the corals and know if they look pale or if they have rich color what the answer really is.

Look into LoudWolf. They make a solution that is very pure and is probably one of the better options for dosing nitrate back to a system. I'm confident you will see better results by doing this, but you need to go slow until you understand the effects of the dose. Yes...you will need to test before and after the dose.



For your tank 160/G DT plus your 40 fuge = 200/G

Mix up 33 tablespoons to 16 Oz of RODI water. You can use a typical 16 oz water bottle to store it in.

Each 1mL of the above solution will add approximately 1.02ppm Of Nitrate. So basically 1mL = 1ppm of NO3. I wouldn't go any stronger than that. Start slow and you can increase if needed, but typically 1-2 mL's of that solution will be all you wanna dose a one time.

Here you go. Check my work:

 
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Rich Klein

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It's most likely not Nitrate related. Many hobbyists have N03 much, much higher and have great success. I'm one of those. My tank runs in the 40+ range consistently for N03.

20619B43-B6D1-486D-9113-E55C68CFDE2F.jpeg


F30B1129-DB70-4E59-BC4D-8E437FC97CAB.jpeg


One thing is some corals can adapt to water parameters over time, very slowly.

In your case, I would suspect swings in water parameters (instability), coral warfare (stinging), pests/parasite/disease issues, possible water contamination or overall coral health at the time of purchase. Some crabs, some shrimp and some worms can inflict damage, especially at night with lights off.

Back to water parameters: N03, P04.

Lack of nutrients and or high light intensity can cause "bleaching".
Too much nutrients and or low light intensity can cause "browning".


LPS can develop BJD (brown jelly disease) and can spread to other LPS.

I need some help with my tank. For years I was under the impression nitrates should be near zero. More recently I am under the impression zero nitrates is bad and it should be 3-5 ppm range. Now starts my journey of confusion.
I have several chalice corals that have started dying from the outer rim inward. I have other chalice corals that have bleached out. Trumpet corals that I was splitting up giving to friends are now retracting into the skeleton and dying. Yet anemones (bubble) have gone from one to five. Clams that were two inches are now six to eight. Polyps have become annoying weeds.
I thought the bleaching was due to nitrates too high so it have been doing 20-25% water changes every other day for a week. I haven’t made a dent in the nitrates. Today with more reading is see people with nitrates 5-10 ppm.
What is the appropriate nitrate levels. Am I chasing my tail with nitrates when in realty my issue is something else.
Tank:
160DT with 40 gal refug
Live rock, bare bottom, protein skimmer, Ca++ reactor.
Today’s parameters:
Temp: 77.8
PH: 7.92
DKH: 10
Ca: 424
Phosphate: 0.08
Mg: 260
Nitrate: > 5 (like an idiot I knocked over reagent so couldn’t do high range). Nitrate measured by Red Sea nitrate pro and new Hanna nitrate checker

In the attached poor picture is one representative coral. The “Blue” is completely white bleached tissue

A8CDE1B6-1517-4E40-8311-7074121C00D0.jpeg 4198165F-CB0A-4A9D-9EE1-30E2202E328B.jpeg

You're PH seems a bit low, but make sense since you're maintaining your alkalinity pretty high considering that you're running a calcium reactor. A reactor's drip is really low in PH, so it lowers the overall PH of the water. The higher you keep your ALK the lower your PH will be. I run my calcium reactor to maintain alkalinity at ~ 8.3, and run a CO2 scrubber which allows me to maintain a daily PH swing between 8.18 (before lights-on) and 8.3 (at lights-out). I wouldn't expect anything good to happen to encrusting corals with a PH of 7.92.
 

jda

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For coral, ammonia/ammonium should be your target for getting nitrogen to the coral - availability of nitrogen in ammonia/ammonium is way better than residual levels of no3 on the backend. This means feed the fish a lot. If you want to poison dinos/diatoms/cyano or have some other holistic tank reason for having high residual no3 levels, then raise them to that level.

Near zero and true zero are on two different levels. Zero is not good. Near zero with lots of availability is perfectly fine and the preferred method to some. On the converse, high residuals of no3 and no availability is also bad - this is the scenario where people have high residual no3 levels and stop feeding so that it can come down. It usually tanks chemicals or medial to get nitrate to true zero - are you dosing any thing like Organic Carbon or anything else in a bottle?

If you have growth of some thing, then you are not likely nitrogen limited. If your clams are growing, then you have nitrogen available - these are much harder to grow and keep than your corals.

My no3 stays around .1 to .2 with a sandbed, but my availability is high... heavy import and heavy export with lots of feedings of the fish, large skimming to remove stuff and sandbed to turn no3 into gas. Just looking at the no3 level would not tell you anything about what is happening in my tank.
 
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Bouldereefer

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I have been away a couple of days. Thanks for the input. Mg was a typo. It is 1260.
I have a CO2 scrubber and use a Ca++ reactor and struggle to get pH above 8.0.
 
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