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Nitrates and Phosban Reactors w/ Carbon.


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  1. #1
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    Default Nitrates and Phosban Reactors w/ Carbon.

    I have a 125 gal mixed reef w/ 40 gal sump, that I have been dealing with a NO3 problem for a little while. I have been doing 35gal water changes about every 3-4 days for a couple weeks now and I can't get it to drop below 20ppm.

    I talked to Steve at Pruess for about a half hour today and he seems to think that I need to adjust my skimmer. He said, I should try to get a more watery skim mate and empty the cup everyday instead of a thick goop that I clean out twice a week. Also that I should get a higher quality NO3 tester to insure that I truly am having a problem, something about using cheap test kits that were not as accurate.

    So I made the adjustment's.

    Then I went a step further and order a Phosban reactor and I plan on using activated carbon. Steve seemed to think this might help as well.

    Anyways what do you guys think? Anyone had any luck with this kind of a setup? I have also been doing a lot of research into vodka dosing as well. Although I think I should probably make one attempt at a time to fix this problem.
    Last edited by steveperry98; 01-27-2011 at 10:00 PM.

  2. #2
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveperry98 View Post
    I have a 125 gal mixed reef w/ 40 gal sump, that I have been dealing with a NO3 problem for a little while. I have been doing 35gal water changes about every 3-4 days for a couple weeks now and I can't get it to drop below 20ppm. I talked to Steve at Pruess for about a half hour today and he seems to think that I need to adjust my skimmer. he said I should get a more water skim mate and empty the cup everyday instead of a thick goop that I clean out twice a week. Also that I should get a higher quality NO3 tester to insure that I truly am having a problem, something about using cheap test kits that were not a accurate. So I made the adjustment's. Then I went a step further and order a Phosban reactor and I plan on using activated carbon. Steve seemed to think this might help. Anyways what do you guys think? also I have been doing a lot of research into vodka dosing as well. I think I should do one thing at a time though.
    Hm. It makes me think you might have a bad test kit. Because doing water changes like that you shouldn't have any nitrates. How often do you feed?

    As far as the Reactor and using carbon goes. The carbon is always useful but wont impact ur Nitrates that much. You are on the right track to search carbon dosing. Also look into Bio-pellets which is a solid form of vodka dosing, those would go right into your reactor.

    But first i'd get a new test kit.

  3. #3
    Sir Patrick - Reefkeeper A2 Club Coordinator
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    Sounds like your system is producing nitrates somewhere....if your test kits not bad, as EMU pointed out.

    Can you give us a rundown on your system, including filters, substrate, age of tank, feeding scedule, fish and how many you have, ect? Are you using sponges, filter pads, or filter socks of any kind?

    Before we look for a way to reduce these nitrates, I think we should find where they are comming from, after that the issue should take care of itself.

    Good suggestion skimming a bit wetter.

  4. #4
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    I feed once a day. I put just enough into the tank so as the inhabitants will eat it up before it hit's the sand bed, I repeat this process until everyone stops showing interest in the food. I will be getting a new test kit tomorrow one that will be able to test lower levels of NO3.

    My system is a 125 acrylic Flat back hex. It has been running since June, 2010. The contents have been in my 90 Gal since Febuary, 2010. It has a center over flow w/ 1 inch drain and 2, 3/4 inch returns feed by a mag drive 9.5 in the refuge/sump(I'm scared to drill the sump). It has a 40 gal sump, with the drain running over filter media that is suspended above the water line. My skimmer is a Reef Octopus NW-200-6540B, rated for up to 250 gallons. I am running 2, 250w DE Metal Halides, w/ 20000k bulbs. Along with the Mag 9.5, I have 2, Koralia 4's for added water movement.

    The tank has a sand bed about 4 inches deep. I put 160Lbs of live sand in the tank when I was building it. the rookie mistake I did make, was using the 120Lbs from my already running 90 Gal bow front. In my defense that tank had only been running for about 6 months. So we aren't talking about a lot of build up in the sand bed. Although I didn't wash the sand either. I did have the 90 gal still up and running while I switched the sand bed and live rock over. I also waited for almost two months before putting any livestock in the tank. I did countless water changes in those two months. I also went through a full test kit monitoring my levels. I have 270Lbs of Fiji live rock. When I built the sump I included a single bubble trap with a distance of about 2 1/2 inches between the two glass baffles which I put reef rubble into for added filtration.

    I currently have 11 medium size fish in the tank. 2 Hippo tangs, a Powder Blue Tang, a Yellow tang, 3 Green Chromis, Lawn Mower Blenny, Cardinal and 2 Percula Clowns. I have about a hundred Blue Legged Hermits and a hundred Astrea Snails, 2 Fire Shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, and a 4" Ultra Crocea Clam. Countless corals as well.

    I have been doing regular cleanings of the filter media once a week by washing them in the sink and scrubbing them until they are clean. I have started to think about using a filter sock and dropping the drain below the water level, the sound of running water is driving my wife nuts. I have learned to block it out.

    I've, up until today, cleaned the skimmer of the thick sludge once or twice a week. I am now learning that I haven't tuned in the skimmer and like stated above have started dailing it in to skimmer a wetter skim mate.

    I also have about a 5 gallon bucket worth of cheato in the refuge. I have no sand bed in the refuge due to the return pump being in there too. I don't want to chance the sand doing any damage to the return pump.
    Last edited by steveperry98; 01-28-2011 at 12:35 AM.

  5. #5
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
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    my guess is your skimmer is having an issue with the bio load, 4 tangs will poop a lot.

  6. #6
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    I would tend to think that the filter media that is suspended above the water line could be a culprit, but you say you maintain it once a week....so thats most likely out.

    You say you used an older (but not old) sand bed from another tank, and added new sand. Not sure if this could be a source...thinking its not.

    11 fish, 2 Hippo tangs, a Powder Blue Tang, a Yellow tang, 3 Green Chromis, Lawn Mower Blenny, Cardinal and 2 Percula Clowns, in a 90 gallon, that are well fed, but not over fed....Hmmmm......maybe we found the source. Its very possible. I would say nitrates at 20ppm in a tank heavily stocked isnt really all that bad. Tangs are VERY messy!

    Im going to think on this one a bit more.....

    Thanks for such a thorough description of your tank! It will help alot!

  7. #7
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
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    Something seems off to me, with the amount of water changes you do, and you saw NO changes in nitrates, that tells me your test kit is possibly bad.

  8. #8
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    Just want to make sure we are all on the same page this is my 125 w/ 40 gal sump we are talking about I don't have the 90 running anymore. I have about 125 gallons total due to displacement for the sand and rock and equipment.

    I did see a drop in NO3 from a spike of about 80 down now to hovering around 20ppm. I just can't get below that 20ppm mark.
    Last edited by steveperry98; 01-28-2011 at 12:09 AM.

  9. #9
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveperry98 View Post
    Just want to make sure we are all on the same page this is my 125 we are talking about I don't have the 90 running anymore. I have about 125 gallons total due to displacement for the sand and rock and equipment.
    yea that many tangs in a water volume that size could possibly cause issues since tangs are known to create a lot of waste.

  10. #10
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    So outside of getting another better test kit what can be done?

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