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Can't shake the nitrates!


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  1. #1
    KBartley77 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    18

    Default Can't shake the nitrates!

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#Hey guys, I've been checking out your site, real nice. I'll start off by apologizing for what I think is going to be a long post. I've had a 44 gal. hex fish/reef tank for a little over 4 yrs. now. The only way I've learned things other than researching on the web, is by trying and usually failing. First off my nitrates have read between 25-40 ppm for over a year. ammonia 0, nitrite 0, ph 8.3, everything else is fine. For filtration I have a wet/dry filter with bio-balls and a red sea hang on skimmer. I've allways heard bad things about bio-balls so I've tried to clean them about once a month a little at a time as to not shock the tank.Also I've used store bought distilled water for water changes etc., which I have tested for nitrates and it reads 0? But could this still be a problem?I've ordered a ro/di machine so maybe it will help. And by looking around on this site I found that I've been doing one of the dumbest things; my sandbed is about 3 inches thick, well once a month when I would do a water change I would vacuum all the way through the sandbed, thinking "man how does this sand get so dirty?" So I guess I've been removing alot if not all my good bacteria, could this be a cause of my nitrate problem? I would appreciate any advice? Do I need to remove the bio-balls? Do I need a refugium? and what is one? Thanks for taking the time to read this, I'm charging my batteries for my camera so I'll post some pics of my setup in a few hours.#ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#

  2. #2
    bjpembo - Reefkeeper Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Fort Smith, AR
    Posts
    129

    Default

    the bio balls and the filter media in the wet n dry are probably your biggest problem. they cause nitrates because the bacteria that are needed to break down nitrates live in low oxygen areas and with all the water movement across the balls and filter media that makes lots of oxygen. because of that the nitrogen cycle stops with nitrite being converted to nitrate and then dumped back into your tank. you'd have to clean those things more than monthly to take care of that. my suggestion is to remove them and replace with some live rock, and any filter media just toss, unless your interested in washing it out on a regular basis. personally my approach to reefing is the lazy way, i remove anything that requires extra work

    as for disturbing the sand bed thats arguable as far as if it causes problems or not. if your cleaning all of the funk from the sand then thats not a bad thing and probably not the cause. the more likely cause is that when you stir the sand bed around your letting high oxygen water into the lower depths of the sand bed which in turn kills the anoxic bacteria that live there and convert nitrate to nitrogen.
    BJ

  3. #3
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Western Louisiana
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    4,335
    First Name
    Dave

    Default

    A note on what BJ mentioned about removing the bio-balls, if you decide that is the route you want to go, remove them slowly over a period of time, no more than a 1/4 a week (or more). Reasoning for this is so that the rest of your tank has time to build up the needed bacteria to handle the bioload and replace the bacteria you are removing (the bio balls).

    No need for apologies for long posts, they can be far more helpful in getting you an answer that better fits your situation. More info is always better than not enough

    Last but not least... Welcome Aboard...
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  4. #4
    KBartley77 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    18

    Default

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#Thanks for the advice, so you guys think I should remove the bio-balls a little at a time and add live rock, would I need a light on my filter, for the rock? Do they need to be totally submerged?I just really need to find out how to remove the nitrates, would adding another filter such as a canister help? Any advice is appreciated, I'm going to post a few pics, please help, I'll upgrade whatever I need to. ..............Just tried to upload pics said file size was >128,000, I'll try to figure out how to decrease size.#ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#

  5. #5
    bjpembo - Reefkeeper Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Fort Smith, AR
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    129

    Default

    the rock should be in the water, continued exposure to air will cause die off and a cycle. adding a canister filter would cause the same thing, a build of detritus that would eventually lead to more nitrates pumping into the system. removing the bio balls, and filter media/floss or whatever and any sponge type filters should lower your nitrates, with or without adding some live rock rubble to replace the bio balls.
    BJ

  6. #6
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Western Louisiana
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    4,335
    First Name
    Dave

    Default

    The rock should stay submerged, but no light is required. The rocks main purpose is to increase the surface area for the bacteria to grow on. Same thing as in the tank itself.... the rock itself isn't really alive, it's just a rock, but it provides a place for nitrifying bacteria to live.... #ed_op#BR#ed_cl##ed_op#BR#ed_cl#Canister filters in general end up nitrate factories. The addition of a refuge and some macro algae would be very beneficial to your system, macros actually feed on nitrates, as well as providing other benefits. #ed_op#BR#ed_cl##ed_op#BR#ed_cl#Can you give us some more details on your setup? For instance are you running with just a sump, no sump just the tank... etc... If you get the time, how about filling in your profile info... so if you feel the need to start throwing rocks at me I know which way to duck from #ed_op#IMG src="http://captivereefing.com/richedit/smileys/Happy/3.gif"#ed_cl#
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  7. #7
    KBartley77 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    18

    Default

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#Alright found the image resizer so you can see some pics. I have a small sump in the wet/dry but i'd replace the whole system if someone could help me with what I need to do. Dakar I'd never throw rocks at you , but I can't figure out how to find personal info under my profile I'll look for it and update. Hope these pics help.#ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#

  8. #8
    KBartley77 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    18

    Default

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#About to figure this out.#ed_op#IMG alt="image file name: 2k4aea99cac5.jpg" src="http://www.captivereefing.com/richedit/upload/2k4aea99cac5.jpg" border=0#ed_cl##ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#

  9. #9
    KBartley77 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
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    Default

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#Here's another#ed_op#IMG alt="image file name: 2kb090767bfa.jpg" src="http://www.captivereefing.com/richedit/upload/2kb090767bfa.jpg" border=0#ed_cl##ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#

  10. #10
    bjpembo - Reefkeeper Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Fort Smith, AR
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    129

    Default

    #ed_op#DIV#ed_cl#here's a pic of a drawing for a sump. doesnt have to be exactly like this. of course minus the bioballs and the sand can all be one type, doesnt have to be course and fine, it'll mix anyway. it gives you an idea what to shoot for. it can be made from a 10g tank or from a rubbermaid container or if you have acrylic experience you can make one yourself. #ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl##ed_op#DIV#ed_cl##ed_op#IMG alt="image file name: 2k87369abba2.gif" src="http://www.captivereefing.com/richedit/upload/2k87369abba2.gif" border=0#ed_cl##ed_op#/DIV#ed_cl#
    BJ

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