Should we be concerned about our nitrate reading?

Discussion in 'New Members' started by hermie, 3 Mar 2011.

  1. hermie

    hermie

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    Hello all, we have just joined the forum and this will be our first post. We are newbies to marine aquariums and acquired our first system a week ago. We have a question about our nitrate levels but need to give some system details and background first...

    We bought it second hand and here are some of the details:
    It's a 4ft tank with a 4ft sump, it has a trickle filter and in the sump there is a protein skimmer and some crushed coral and sand. In the display tank there is a small amount of LR with a bunch of other various rocks (not 100% sure what it all is). There are also 3 powerheads but not sure what the output is. Anyway, when we bought it had one very old T8 light which was hardly lighting anything so yesterday we bought 2 T5 HO, 53W lights with reflectors.

    The tank came with 2 clowns, 5 moonies, a blue star and we have since added a few hermies and nerita. To be honest we think this was all the previous owner was able to keep alive as he had no water tests and the tank looked like a green algae farm. He admitted to killing a lot of stuff during the 1 1/2yrs that he had it.

    Here are the water details:

    Temp - 27C
    Salinity - 1.022 - 1.023
    pH - 8
    ammonia - less than 0.25mg/L

    However we are concerned about the nitrate (have a look at the photo). When we collected the tank from him, we asked him how often he cleaned the trickle filter and he said never. When we did a nitrate test a few days ago we thought it was higher we would like and thought that the source may be coming from the extremely brown filter floss in the trickle filter. So we changed the floss but didn't touch the bioballs as we didn't want to disturb things too much. However, 2 days later the nitrate levels have still not decreased. Should we be concerned about this at the moment? We understand that the system has gone through a lot of changes in the last week and were not sure whether to leave things to adjust or whether a partial water change was needed? All the fish and other creatures look happy and are feeding well. Any advise would be much appreciated.[​IMG]
     
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  3. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Unfortunately it sounds like you have purchased a very poorly maintained aquarium, but it can be fixed but will need some time and patience. :)

    The trickle filter, filter floss and bio balls should ideally all be removed, but must be removed SLOWLY over the course of a week or two, little bits at a time.

    Raise your salinity a bit up to 1.024 - 1.025

    How coarse is the crushed coral? If it's anything bigger than sugar grain size then that also needs to be removed, slowly.

    Can you post photo's of the sump, skimmer, substrate, tank etc. etc. The more pics the better so we will be able to diagnose and provide solutions.

    That's all I can think of for now, it's late and my eyes are drooping. :p

    p.s. Welcome to the forum.
     
    Last edited: 3 Mar 2011
  4. Anemone

    Anemone

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    Stop adding livestock to the tank until you get things sorted out.

    Definately do a water change. Get in the habit of doing routine water changes.

    Are you using RO/DI water?
     
  5. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    Thank you for your info. We will do a water change this evening after work. Will 20% be okay?

    To answer Anemone's questions - yes we use RO water for topups and seawater for water changes. Will post some photos of the sump etc on the weekend.

    :)
     
  6. maxisoft

    maxisoft

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    :welcome6:
     
  7. Boegie

    Boegie

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    Very welcome.
     
  8. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    Oh another question...would it be okay to add more LR at this stage? There is hardly any LR in there at the moment and Wolve is advertising his established LR. We thought this might be a good opportunity as we didn't really like the stuff we saw in the lfs.
     
  9. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    how do you collect this? and have you ever tested it?
     
  10. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    Last weekend was the first time as we were setting up the tank. We collected the water by Ballito and chose a spot where there was quite a lot of wave action and water movement. What specific tests should we do?
     
  11. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    I meant what specific tests on the new water before putting it in. Also when we set up we used about 50% of the established water and the rest was new
     
  12. robertkukla

    robertkukla

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    Welcome to MASA
     
  13. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Yes definitely, good quality matured live rock is the heart of your filtration in a marine tank.
     
  14. durleo

    durleo

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    Nitrates are a tricky one - What do you want to keep eventually - With your current lighting LPS will be fine. As viper has said - take the bio balls out slowly and you can add live rock in. Give us a picture of the system and the sump. I am in Durbs if you need any help. Wolve has some nice liverock that is cured . There is a product called purigen which you can get from Marco - The Waterboy - 0828793943 - I get all my products from him and he is always willing to help.
     
  15. Anemone

    Anemone

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    20% water change would be great. If adding LR, make sure that it is cured.
     
  16. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    If the water you are collecting is comtaminated it might be the source or atlest contributing to it. Ideally just test the NO3 to make sure its ok.

    Did you fill the whole tank with natural sea water you collected?

    How deep do you go when you collect your water?
     
  17. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    just out of interest how old is the NO3 test kit?
     
  18. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    Bought the kit last week so unless its been on the shelf for a long time it should be ok :)
     
  19. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    We did about 50% and the rest was from the original setup.

    We went about knee high, should we go deeper?
     
  20. butcherman

    butcherman Moderator MASA Contributor

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    should be fine the test kits normally have exp dates on them

    I'm no expert but i hear guys talking about going like almost shoulder deep but the logistics seem a little difficult.
     
  21. hermie

    hermie Thread Starter

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    Hmmmm okay...I suppose we will give it a go tonight!!!! Thanks for your suggestions
     
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