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cupofjoel

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I finally got my hands on an API master kit to test my water parameters.

I specifically wanted to test my nitrate levels since I'm seeing various types of algae bloom, specifically BBA, brown algae, and green spot algae.

My nitrates are at 0! What in the world! I'm dosing ferts 2-3 times a week, I don't change my water so much (75% once a month) and it's lightly stocked (five 2-inch fish). I know plants need nitrates. My question is, how is there an algae bloom if nitrates are at 0? My lights are on 7 hours as well and oh yeah, it's a 75 gallon tank too.

Thoughts?
 

FishyLover1000

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I think you should do water changes more frequently, like half of it every 2 weeks or so, That might not fix the algea problem as i have no experience dealing with that.
 
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cupofjoel

cupofjoel

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I think you should do water changes more frequently, like half of it every 2 weeks or so, That might not fix the algea problem as i have no experience dealing with that.
Well the funny thing is...people recommend doing frequent water changes to control high nitrate levels in the tank, but I don't have any! IS my water test kit faulty?
 

FishyLover1000

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I've always used Tetra test kit 6-in-1. I have never used your type of test kit so i don't know, MIGHT be a faulty product that somehow got on the shelves.
 

CryptFan

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The algae and plants are most likely consuming the nitrates faster than you can add ferts.
 

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There is some misunderstanding in this thread, so I will try to clarify things.

First, algae has nothing to do with nitrates. algae is natural in any healthy aquarium with fish. Keeping it in check so it does not become what I term "problem algae" is a matter of the light/nutrient balance. Nitrates may be high due to excess organics which can certainly be one factor in the balance, but high nitrate in and of itself does not mean algae problems. Problem algae can be present in tanks with zero nitrates or in tanks with higher nitrates; they are two distinct issues.

Plants do not use nitrate as such. Plants obviously require nitrogen as one macro-nutrient, but unlike terrestrial plants (which prefer nitrate) most aquatic plants prefer ammonium as their nitrogen source. Scientifically-controlled studies have shown that most aquatic plants will take up all available ammonium/ammonia and only then turn to nitrate when the ammonium is no longer sufficient and provided it is still needed (in balance with the light and other nutrients). [There are studies suggesting nitrite is the plants' second preference, even before nitrate.] This is because the ammonium can be immediateely used by the plant; nitrite and nitrate must first be changed back into ammonium by the plant before it can be used, and plants do not waste energy when it is not necessary.

The reason nitrate is usually low in low-tech or natural planted tanks is not because plants take it up, it is because the plants are taking up ammonium/ammonia rapidly (faster than the nitrifying bacteria/archaea can) and this does not produce nitrite, so nitrate is less. Of course, high organics can cause high nitrates so the more fish the more organics and the higher nitrate may be, but it is common in low-tech/natural planted tanks to have nitrate in the 0 to 5 ppm range. My tanks have tested this for over a decade now.

Water changes are essentail in any healthy aquarium, and should be regular (once a week) and substantial (50-70% of the tank volume at one go). Nitrates should remain low with this, but nitrate is not the governing factor (unless it is high which is a sign of a serious problem biologically). All sorts of pollution accumulates from fish in an aquarium, and filters cannot remove this, nor can plants unless the fish/water ratio is extremely low and plants are significant. Water changes obviously will reduce nitrates if they are high, but the goal must be to get the nitrates low and stable, with never a rise in nitrate--a sure sign of problems with the biological system. Regular significant partial water changes will ensure a healthy balanced system, and part of this is that nitrates do not rise above the permanent stable level resulting from the fish load being in balance, the fish are not too large for the system, or being fed too much--all of which can increase nitrates and other contaminants requiring more water changes but also requiring a change in husbandry/management as any rise in nitrates from one water change to the next is a serious negative in the tank.
 
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cupofjoel

cupofjoel

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There is some misunderstanding in this thread, so I will try to clarify things.

First, algae has nothing to do with nitrates. algae is natural in any healthy aquarium with fish. Keeping it in check so it does not become what I term "problem algae" is a matter of the light/nutrient balance. Nitrates may be high due to excess organics which can certainly be one factor in the balance, but high nitrate in and of itself does not mean algae problems. Problem algae can be present in tanks with zero nitrates or in tanks with higher nitrates; they are two distinct issues.

Plants do not use nitrate as such. Plants obviously require nitrogen as one macro-nutrient, but unlike terrestrial plants (which prefer nitrate) most aquatic plants prefer ammonium as their nitrogen source. Scientifically-controlled studies have shown that most aquatic plants will take up all available ammonium/ammonia and only then turn to nitrate when the ammonium is no longer sufficient and provided it is still needed (in balance with the light and other nutrients). [There are studies suggesting nitrite is the plants' second preference, even before nitrate.] This is because the ammonium can be immediateely used by the plant; nitrite and nitrate must first be changed back into ammonium by the plant before it can be used, and plants do not waste energy when it is not necessary.

The reason nitrate is usually low in low-tech or natural planted tanks is not because plants take it up, it is because the plants are taking up ammonium/ammonia rapidly (faster than the nitrifying bacteria/archaea can) and this does not produce nitrite, so nitrate is less. Of course, high organics can cause high nitrates so the more fish the more organics and the higher nitrate may be, but it is common in low-tech/natural planted tanks to have nitrate in the 0 to 5 ppm range. My tanks have tested this for over a decade now.

Water changes are essentail in any healthy aquarium, and should be regular (once a week) and substantial (50-70% of the tank volume at one go). Nitrates should remain low with this, but nitrate is not the governing factor (unless it is high which is a sign of a serious problem biologically). All sorts of pollution accumulates from fish in an aquarium, and filters cannot remove this, nor can plants unless the fish/water ratio is extremely low and plants are significant. Water changes obviously will reduce nitrates if they are high, but the goal must be to get the nitrates low and stable, with never a rise in nitrate--a sure sign of problems with the biological system. Regular significant partial water changes will ensure a healthy balanced system, and part of this is that nitrates do not rise above the permanent stable level resulting from the fish load being in balance, the fish are not too large for the system, or being fed too much--all of which can increase nitrates and other contaminants requiring more water changes but also requiring a change in husbandry/management as any rise in nitrates from one water change to the next is a serious negative in the tank.
I appreciate your thorough post. I know my Ammonia is probably not able to be broken down to nitrite, I have strong filtration and run seachem purigen. But that doesn't explain why zero nitrates are present in my tank when I'm dosing ferts and I do see quite a bit of detritus and bioloads from my fish. Plus my plants create waste as well due to rotting leaves or stems that I cannot get to or see.

On a side note, I would love to do more frequent water changes, but my schedule doesn't permit me to.
 
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cupofjoel

cupofjoel

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Also, please do not use absolutes. It is pretty common knowledge that while algae will always be present in a tank, which is fine, excess light, nutrients, and nitrates will contribute to unwanted amounts of algae. So, yeah, you're wrong saying that nitrates have nothing to do with algae. Stop trying to sound like an expert and disagree with the vast majority of those in the hobby and what has been written.
 
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PheonixKingZ

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I've always used Tetra test kit 6-in-1. I have never used your type of test kit so i don't know, MIGHT be a faulty product that somehow got on the shelves.
If you are speaking of the API 6-in-1 strips, those are extremely messed up. The API master freshwater test kit is much better.
 

PheonixKingZ

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I finally got my hands on an API master kit to test my water parameters.

I specifically wanted to test my nitrate levels since I'm seeing various types of algae bloom, specifically BBA, brown algae, and green spot algae.

My nitrates are at 0! What in the world! I'm dosing ferts 2-3 times a week, I don't change my water so much (75% once a month) and it's lightly stocked (five 2-inch fish). I know plants need nitrates. My question is, how is there an algae bloom if nitrates are at 0? My lights are on 7 hours as well and oh yeah, it's a 75 gallon tank too.

Thoughts?
I'm glad you finally got a test kit.

Are you sure you followed the steps perfectly in the little booklet? If you didn't do exactly what they said, it will mess up your readings.

You should also be doing water changes more frequently. You should change at least 20%-30% of your water weekly.
 
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cupofjoel

cupofjoel

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I'm glad you finally got a test kit.

Are you sure you followed the steps perfectly in the little booklet? If you didn't do exactly what they said, it will mess up your readings.

You should also be doing water changes more frequently. You should change at least 20%-30% of your water weekly.
I agree about the 6-in-1 strips, they aren't the best, which is why I opted for the API test. To my knowledge I did exactly what the booklet asked me to do...5ml of tank water, 1st bottle add 10 drops, shake several times, add 10 drops of 2nd nitrate bottle and shake for 30 seconds. I'll try again later, but it keeps coming to yellow, which is 0ppm.

Yeah, I said that earlier, Id like to do more water changes but I can't. But, I do have a very lightly stocked tank (75 gallons with only 5 fish).
 

Retired Viking

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In fact please stop responding to my threads. You stress me out with your arrogant replies.
Sorry that you felt that @Byron was being arrogant but He is one of the most knowledgeable members of the forum and spends much of his time trying to help other members. I would follow his advice. Good luck with your tank.
 
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PheonixKingZ

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I agree about the 6-in-1 strips, they aren't the best, which is why I opted for the API test. To my knowledge I did exactly what the booklet asked me to do...5ml of tank water, 1st bottle add 10 drops, shake several times, add 10 drops of 2nd nitrate bottle and shake for 30 seconds. I'll try again later, but it keeps coming to yellow, which is 0ppm.

Yeah, I said that earlier, Id like to do more water changes but I can't. But, I do have a very lightly stocked tank (75 gallons with only 5 fish).
After you shook the nitrate bottle #2, did you shake the test tube vigorously for 1 minute? After that, did you let the tube sit for 5 minutes?


I see. What are those 5 fish? (species)
 
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cupofjoel

cupofjoel

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Sorry that you felt that @Byron was being arrogant but He is one of the most knowledgeable members of the forum and spends much of his time trying to help other members. I would follow his advice. God luck with your tank.
I know he's knowledgeable and a long time member, but honestly, he can be more humble and tactful when he writes things. He reminds me of people who make the hobby miserable for others. For example, someone goes to their LFS and is a beginner and then gets a bunch of judgmental looks and remarks from an expert...that person can be turned off and walk away from the hobby.
 
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cupofjoel

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After you shook the nitrate bottle #2, did you shake the test tube vigorously for 1 minute? After that, did you let the tube sit for 5 minutes?


I see. What are those 5 fish? (species)
I have five bettas.

And no, I did not! I only shook vigorously for 30 seconds. I have to shake it again for a minute and wait 5 mins? I must have skipped reading that part lol. I'll try again. Thanks!
 

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