PDA

View Full Version : nitrate levels never dropped, months after cycling???



dfevel
01-24-2005, 06:33 PM
Hi
I started a new tank 6 months ago. Everything except the nitrate cycled normally. It has gradually risen and is still currently between 40-80. Does this mean that the cycle never completed??? I know you aren't meant to do too many water changes until the biological filter is established but I started doing water changes and cleaning the filter after about 8 weeks when the nitrate didn't come down of its own accord. Am I wrong in thinking that the nitrate level should fall for the cycle to be complete?

Also the PH has been very gradually dropping over the last couple of months. I don't know if this is linked. Would increasing the PH back to the correct level cause any problems if the nitrate is still high?

I still have the two fish that I started with and obviously didn't want to increase that amount until I've sorted the water problem out. Therefore there isn't a problem with overstocking. They also get fed sparingly and I use a fluval sponge filter which seems ok. I use Aquasafe in the tap water and the PH and nitrates in the tap water are ok. I test the water every week and the ammonia and nitrite levels have stayed a '0'.

The fish seem reasonably happy but I don't think they're in tip top condition.

I'd really appreciate any suggestion/advise as to where I'm going wrong or whether this all sounds perfectly normal and I'm worrying about nothing.

Thanks, Dawn

P.S. I just discovered this forum today and its the best one I've seen on this subject - lots of good advice - very impressed!

sushisti431
01-24-2005, 06:36 PM
what are the tank decorations?

Glaive
01-24-2005, 09:18 PM
Nitrate levels come down by you changing your water.

The cycle works like so:
ammonia >> nitrite >> nitrate
biproducts are acidic and will reduce pH

As for the dropping pH please test the hardness of your water specifically Kh or calcium hardness which acts as a buffer to help maintain pH.

Then we should be able to help you out better.

Heyguy74
01-25-2005, 10:48 AM
Test your tap water for Nitrates. If its still high, then get some ammo chips or something similar to get rid of excess nitrates. Good Luck

Glaive
01-25-2005, 12:24 PM
Oh and 40 ppm for nitrates isn't so bad.

chc
01-25-2005, 05:33 PM
Yes, the nitrates will continue to grow until water is changed. There is generally no denitrification in a fresh water tank.

Also, I'll spare you the long explanation, but the nitrate growth and the pH drop can be related. Just get on a weekly water change program and you'll have no worries.

z rock
01-25-2005, 10:07 PM
Nitrates going up means the tank is cycling normaly. If you have 0 nitrates in your tap water you should be able to maintain 5-20ppm nitrates doing water changes (25-50% once a week,or so) fairly easy.

dfevel
01-28-2005, 06:14 PM
Thank you all very much for your quick replies. All this information has really set my mind at rest. Although I was doing water changes I was doing them intermittently as I wasn't sure if I was slowing down the final cycling process. I actually thought that the nitrates had to drop to complete the process before I started to do weekly water changes! I'm a bit new to all this water testing!

In answer to your questions I have artificial plants, a piece of driftwood (think it might be artificial) from the lps and bright green gravel!!! Nothing there would affect the PH would it?

There is just a slight trace of nitrates in the tap water and the PH is just about OK but would be better slightly higher, especially since the tank water has fallen by 1.2 since I set up the tank 6 months ago (this has happened very gradually).

Ideally I need to raise the PH now by about 1.5. I realise now that hopefully the PH will start to rise as I do more frequent water changes but I presume it will not get back to the same level as the tap water and even if it does the ideal PH is still slightly higher. So my question is do I start messing about with chemicals and stuff trying to get the PH to the ideal level or is it better to leave well alone if the fish seem happy enough?

Once again thanks for all the excellent advise so far. Sorry this is another long message. Just can't seem to say it all in a couple of sentences, can I?

Thanks, Dawn

mpowers8
01-30-2005, 02:35 PM
IF the driftwood is real it could bring it down slowly, it will also stain your water with a "tea" color.

What are you using for a filter? If you are using a canister you could put some crushed coral in a bag inside the can and even most of your Hang on Back (HOB) powerfilters will also allow you to put something up there to help buffer you up.

A Teaspoon of baking soda per 5 gallons works wonders as well, it will hold you at around a PH of 8.2.

dfevel
01-30-2005, 03:04 PM
Strange you should mention a 'tea' colour - ever since I set the tank up 6 months ago, I noticed brown staining on the inside of the glass in various places and on the artificial plants which I keep having to wash off. I presumed this was something to do with the cycling process for the first couple of months. The problem actually doesn't seem quite as bad now.

I think it is real driftwood - I actually thought I was buying something artificial when I got it-should have took more notice!
Am I better off taking it out and replacing it with something else? If so, what is best as I wanted to have something my fish could swim through. If I leave it in will the PH just keep on dropping or will it stop at some point?

What level will the crushed coral bring the PH up to? Will it do it gradually or straight away? And would the baking soda take the level straight up to 8.2? Maybe this would be too much of a shock for the fish. if I put in less than you recommend first and raise it gradually, would that work?

Last question now- in relation to cleaning the filter, is it best to do this every week with the water change?

Sorry, I've just realised how many questions I've asked - very inquisitive mind!!!

z rock
01-30-2005, 03:32 PM
I posted this elsewhere this morning. I might as well get some mileage out of it:

I read an article once in TFH from Jack Watley the discus guy. Said fish could handle a rise in Ph much better than when trying to lower it. I guess someone would have to be wanting to breed discus or something to encounter the PH down situation.

My city water Ph is 8.2 out the tap, Kh 100. The biological filtration pulls my Ph down to 7.5. Over the years I've mixed up 4-6 oz. of baking soda (stirred it up in a cup and let it flow out into the tank) and I've never experienced it having an effect on the fish at all. Might have give them a healthier looking glow and made them feel more spunky.

It certainly never did cause one to kill over and die or even cough. They swim through the cloud of baking soda as I'm dumping it in the tank and it does not faze them.

If your going from acid (below 7.0 ph ) to above 7.0 it would be wise to raise Ph in the tank slowly an not ever let the PH fall by keeping the Kh up. It's going to take massive quantities of baking soda to maintain this situation. A teaspoon of baking soda in 5-10 gals of water is not going to do a whole lot.

Carbon will clear the stain out of your water. If you nearly have the piece of driftwood broke in and sinking you don't want to give up on it now. The only problem would be is if there are any rotten spots, then you can boil it and scrap them off.

Personally I like that plastic fake driftwood from petsmart. It's kinda expensive and breaks easy but contributes nothing to water parameters.

mpowers8
01-30-2005, 06:26 PM
You don't want to "clean" your filters so much as just rinse the filter media in some tank water every other water change. A good plan is to have two filters, rinse out the filter medias in one of the two every other water change so you are doing a little maint. on them both once a month. Don't rinse your filter media in tap water, this will kill off the bacteria you have been so carefully growing.

The red, or rust, colored growth you are seein are diatomes, they are just a life form that leaves that deposit behind when they die, the rust color are their dead shells. It's perfectly normal and happens when the tank gets healthy and has a little nitrate and light thus promoting growth. An algae eating fish will keep them cleaned up. After the orange you will start to see green. Algae (When not in gross quantities) is the sign of a pretty healthy tank. Just not when it gets out of hand of course.

The thing with baking soda and any other kinds of calcium buffers is this: It's going to take a while to get your tank water perfect in the PH/Hardness/Buffering capacity, but once you DO it will remain quite stable. Even water changes wont effect the mineral capacity of the water THAT much (a lot sits in the substrate and along your decorations) unless you do MASSIVE changes. Once you get it where you like it, a few teaspoons or maybe a half cup or so of instant ocean /baking soda/epson salts will do the trick to maintain.

Do a search for "African Cichlid Water Buffer" on google and it will give you TONS of cheap ways to get your water perfect. Once it's there, it's really easy to maintain.

About your driftwood, if it is leaching your PH and really changing the water parameters quite a lot you would REALLY start noticing the color change. Your water will be clear but just have a TAN color. Hold a sheet of white paper behind your tank and see if it is still white, this will tell you how much it is still bleeding into the water. After a while driftwood kind of "cures" and stops having any effect at all. Just be aware of it is all.

It really sounds like you are taking a lot of things into consideration, and doing the water testing is the best thing. For the first year or so I tested like a nutcase, went through so many kits, but it taught me more about my tanks, now I just do it occassionally.

As for questions, please feel free to ask all you like, it's better to ask a question than to loose a beautiful fish!

dfevel
02-09-2005, 12:37 PM
I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for all your good advice. My nitrogen levels have now dropped to a really good level (5-10) and I'm nearly there with getting the PH just right too!!! Not only have you helped me out with the problems I had, you have also given me more confidence in knowing how often to change the water/rinse the filter etc. You've turned a distressed fish owner into a de-stressed fish owner with very happy fish!!!
(-:

chc
02-10-2005, 10:11 PM
Great to hear! Now pass it on!

dfevel
02-12-2005, 04:41 PM
I will!!!! I promise!

Just one last question? Baking soda? What exactly is that? Is it 'bicarbonate of soda' (I presume it's not 'baking powder'). If I'm right in thinking, this forum is based in America and I live in England so I think we might have a different name for it here - it's certainly not on my supermarket shelf anyway!

My PH seems to be gradually rising with the frequent water changes anyway but I just thought I'd ask in case I need to use it in the future.

Glaive
02-14-2005, 01:48 PM
bicarbonate of soda is correct.