High nitrate in 18 month old system

Discussion in 'Water Parameters and Additives' started by danimal, 22 Feb 2011.

  1. danimal

    danimal

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    Hey guys

    For a while now some of my corals have been a bit worse for wear. My alk and calcium were a bit low, so got that sorted with randy's recipe 2, and now maintain levels with kalk. Things did not improve, so I re-introduced carbon to the system, no effect. Also checked salinity, nothing there.

    I'm now thinking that perhaps my lights need replacing (T5's in conjunction with leds - long story, but at the moment I am waiting for the bulk of my leds to arrive, so only a few running at present) the T5 bulbs are about 6 months old, so probably are due for replacement.

    Last night I checked my nitrate - still had the kit from when I started up 18 months ago, not used it since the cycle was complete. To my shock and horror it's reading around 50ppm!!!! :eek: Think I've found my problem...

    So... immediately cleaned my scrubber (normally scrape it clean every 2 weeks or so, must admit I've been a bit slack with it in the last month or so). Cleaned out skimmer cup as well. Had some prodibio start-up from when I moved house, so dosed some of that. Also increased the flow over my scrubber slightly.

    This morning, no change in reading.

    I normally feed twice a day, because I have a school of goldies - had them for about 6 months.

    Tonight I will check my scaping for dead spots and accumulation of krap etc... will also be cross-checking readings with another test kit, seeing as mine is quite old.

    FWIW, my scrubber is single sided with a warm white energy saver globe driving it. Growth on it has slowed somewhat lately, leading me to think that nitrate and phosphate levels were low, hence me being slightly slack in cleaning it... although that is probably more due to laziness if I'm honest.

    My DSB is around 16cm deep, and looks fairly healthy. Lots of pods running around etc. When I feed, it's generally 2-3 pinches of a flak/pellet mix. Every 3 days or so I defrost a marine mix instead, and generally give around 1-2 teaspoons.

    Also running a TS2 skimmer, slightly wet.

    So.. any ideas of what else I can do, or what the cause may be?
     
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  3. 459b

    459b Moderator MASA Contributor

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    check your nitrates using a newer kit.

    How are your other parameters?
     
  4. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    how about a few large Water change?
    What size is your ATS?

    But definatly retest to confirm.
     
  5. Max98

    Max98

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    What is your phosphate levels at?

    I have read that the scrubber slows down if nitrate or phosphate is low, So if the one is low, it would not pick up the other.

    I know that is how it works in a planted tank so it seems logical.

    I am not entirely sure about in a reef tank, so the best would be to ask santa monica or somebody that has more knowledge about it.
     
  6. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    ya, getting another test today. other params are all in check. as I said, I started with the
    more advanced ones first thinking that nitrates etc would be fine, judging by the state of the ATS.

    ATS is about 30cm x 30cm. also going to get water tonight or tomorrow morning, will do a large change.

    those were my thoughts as well. phosphates are <5ppm according to my old kit :p the slowing down of the scrubber also led me to think that nitrates and phosphates were low
     
  7. Tony

    Tony

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    I personally think your kit is old. The start up will help with the nutrient reduction
     
  8. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    get the new kit and check what happens, hows the corals and fish ? otherwise start doing 2 waterchanges a week if possible of around 20-30% each time..
     
  9. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    fish are as healthy as can be. corals... looking a bit unhappy. which was the cause of the investigation.

    gurus, can anyone see something blindingly obvious that I've left out?
     
  10. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    what filter material do you use ?
     
  11. Tony

    Tony

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    High nitrate are dues to numerous reasons namely:

    overfeeding
    insufficient skimmer for the tank
    A large bioload in the form of fish
    Not using RO water as your source water may contain high nitrates
    Insufficient water movement to lift detritus.
    No denitrification via a DSB, algae turf scrubber or denitrator
    Weak biological filter
    No clean up crew
    Too few water changes

    Hope this helps
     
  12. macfly

    macfly

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    Just read on another thread recently that the energy saver lights used for scrubbers aslo have to be changed, could this bulb not possibly have lost its effectiveness - hence the slow down in the growth on the scrubber? Just a thought - I'm a noob so if i am way off please excuse me.
     
  13. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    macfly, thats always a possibility def not a bad quastion
     
  14. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    definitely a possibility, will cut down. hope my anthias don't get too grumpy lol
    probably not, got a TS2, rated for 750L, my system is 400L total. also, system was perfectly happy for about 16 months, including LPS and a nemmie.

    also not likely, in fact have decreased bioload recently. had some damsels that were causing kak :p also took out a 9 stripe cardinal that was getting feisty

    just bought a new RO unit from marco - although I do still need to double check TDS readings on the new unit... good reminder, thanks

    will investigate tonight

    large DSB and ATS have been in place since beginning, and are getting mature now

    got plenty

    will do large change tomorrow

    thanks!

    this may certainly be true, thanks for pointing it out... they're pretty cheap, will get another and compare outputs
     
  15. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    wich filter media do you use ?
     
  16. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    purely biological. DSB and ATS, and the live rock in DT. was running carbon as well but have now discontinued.
     
  17. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    no bio-balls or something like that?
     
  18. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    no bio balls. they are good for fish only setups, or where bioload changes regularly such as in a pet shop but can also become a nitrate factory over time. there is a lot of debate over their application in the home aquarium.

    i see you are from ladybrand, that is in the free state if i am not mistaken. just curious, where do you get your marine supplies from? is there a store there, or do you have to go to somewhere larger like bloem etc?
     
  19. jaquesdp08

    jaquesdp08

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    thats why i was asking if you are using bio-balls casue that could of been the issue.. i buy most of my stuff online or from place in joburg
     
  20. durleo

    durleo

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    I had a similar nitrate spike - When i redid my scaping i mistakedly placed alot of live rock over the DSB and my nitrates where rising slowly cos i dont test for it often. During this time i also was making the change from NeoZeo to Prodibio. I am having alot of cyano when my metal halides come on. I now have to be more diligent with housekeeping and plan a few large water changes.
     
  21. danimal

    danimal Thread Starter

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    ok so i did a 20% water change this morning, and checked out my scaping. i think that my main problem was dead spots behind the rockwork, because there was a LOT of krap hanging out down there. cleaned that all out, and rearranged things slightly. also moved one of my powerheads so that it blows more behind the rocks, hopefully will prevent deadspots where detritus can accumulate.

    also going to be feeding less.

    will test again tonight.
     
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