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Nitrates out of control - could my test be wrong


alysia

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I am a bit stumped here. I have a 33 gal reef tank with at least 45 lbs of liverock and 40-40 lbs of live sand. Weekly I do a 3.5 gal water change which is more than ten percent when you account for the fact that there is not 33 gal of water in the tank. My nitrates have been high for a few weeks now and I have been doing big water changes to get them down and I am not seeing any change at all. Could my test kit be old?

 

I didn't want to shock my tank, so I have been trying to bring them down slowly.

 

I changed 15 gal last week (not all at once, of course but over the corse of three days)

I changed 5 gal last night and 3 gal today

 

I have been dealing with green hair algae, so I know they must be up there, but even after doing such a big water changes nothing has changed. I recently added a phosphate buffer for the filter, have been keeping up with the algae removal, changed the carbon in the filter so the only other thing I can think of is the nitrates. I use RO/Di - incase that matters.

 

They are still sitting at 80 ppm - which is really high. I have clownfish, a wrasse, anemones and a brain coral. All the corals are huge and look to be very happy, the anemone's are all bubbly and not shrunk like they normally do when the water quality is low. And even weirder, my xenia is sitting tall - which is not common when the nitrates are high. The test kit I am using is at least two years old because I bought it when I started the tank. Could it be giving me the wrong numbers?

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Have your LFS check your Nitrates to see if your test kit is bad. Many of them have around a 2 year expiration.

 

Now, assuming that you have a high Nitrate issue I can relate. I went through the same head-scratching after trying to control Nitrate with WCs. I'd see a small dip, but within a short time it was back up to 25ppm.

 

My nitrates are now down to 1-2 ppm and have remained so for nearly a year. A thorough progam to clean the gravel and other areas of detritus collection was the key in my case. If you try this, I'd suggest vacuuming only one small area of the tank each time you do a weekly WC. If you do too much at a time you risk a nasty dyno or cyano outbreak. Try to get as much under your LR as possible since a great deal of the detritus builds up there due to advection.

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Have your LFS check your Nitrates to see if your test kit is bad. Many of them have around a 2 year expiration.

 

Now, assuming that you have a high Nitrate issue I can relate. I went through the same head-scratching after trying to control Nitrate with WCs. I'd see a small dip, but within a short time it was back up to 25ppm.

 

My nitrates are now down to 1-2 ppm and have remained so for nearly a year. A thorough progam to clean the gravel and other areas of detritus collection was the key in my case. If you try this, I'd suggest vacuuming only one small area of the tank each time you do a weekly WC. If you do too much at a time you risk a nasty dyno or cyano outbreak. Try to get as much under your LR as possible since a great deal of the detritus builds up there due to advection.

 

 

Thanks for the tip!! Last night when I did my water change I picked up every rock and picked every bit of algae off. I have a special end on my electric toothbrush so I pulled all the rock out that had no corals attached to it (most of my corals are resting or on really small rocks) and gave it a good scrub. Then I used a net and filtered all my sand through it (incase a crab or something was dead under there causing the spike) Then I gave all the rocks a good shake before re-aquascaping. Then I sucked up all the crap that settled. The tank looks amazing right now, no algae grew today. Changed my micro filtration pad (been in there for about three months) and the water is crystal clear. I may do a black out on my tank tomorrow just to nip the algae in the bud.

 

I think my test kit may be wrong. I will also take some water to the lfs tomorrow to test and buy a new test kit just to be sure. Thanks!

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If you dont have a skimmer, it might help. I always had nitrates until I got a better skimmer, and they hit zero when I got the TLF phosphate reactor with biopellets.

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