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Nitrates Still Bottom Out, 0ppm All The Time, Why?

Discussion in 'Planted Chit Chat' started by trojannemo, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. trojannemo

    trojannemo Member

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    hey guys.

    i used to have a lighting system that was essentially giving me 2wpg of T5-HO light, which was way too much light for a non-pressurized CO2 tank.
    online discussions linked lack of CO2 and the very high lighting to the algae levels and bottomed out nitrates.

    now i've downgraded my lighting and only have 30W of T8 light, so less than 1WPG. algae has reduced immensely, plants look greener and there has
    been considerable growth.

    i've continued to dose the same amounts of liquit nutrients daily (very similar to Estimative Index style). i still have the two DIY 2liter bottle co2 systems at opposite sides of the tank as before.

    i did some tests recently, right after water change, 3 days after waterchange, and the 7th day, right before doing another water change.
    all throughout the week, my nitrates kept coming at 0ppm. nitrites and ammonia as well. the test kit is good as I tested my turtle's water stats and they came back different.

    so, why are my nitrates still 0ppm? does that mean my plants are not getting enough nutrients? or what else?

    thanks for the help :good:
     
  2. three-fingers

    three-fingers Member

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    You've not mentioned what nutrients you are dosing, you could simply not be dosing enough nitrogen and the plants have used all the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate up giving you 0ppm. If that's the case N is limiting and you should dose more potassium nitrate for better growth.

    The other issue could be your test kit, if the nitrate test kit was manufactured about 3 years ago or more, it's probably out of date and is failing negatively. Check the lot number on the bottle.

    If your using test strips, then they probably just aren't accurate enough to show the low levels of NO3 in the tank.
     
  3. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Planted Section

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    I would suggest..........Put the nitrate test in the bin. You don't need it!!!!

    If you are dosing with dry powders you already know what ppm you are putting in. You don't need a test kit to tell you what the level is when you dose.

    The plants are looking healthy.......You know you are dosing enough.

    I would disregard any test result that EVER showed nitrates at 0!!!!! Virtually impossible.

    Quite simply put if for example you are dosing EI then you know you are adding 20ppm or so of KNO3. Because of the way EI is calculated you know that you are dosing more than the plants will use. Therefore you don't need to test.

    As you are showing testing leads people to think a problem exists when it doesn't. If you are dosing correectly already and coupled with the plants showing health then you have no problem and happy days with no wasted time testing nor wasted money buying test kits.

    I haven't tested anything for years!!!

    AC
     
  4. RadaR

    RadaR The things we do for our fish..

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    Amen, AC.
     
  5. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth www.ukaps.org

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    i second all of Andy's comments.
    There must be enough NItrate in the water otherwise your plants wouldnt be healthy!!
     
  6. three-fingers

    three-fingers Member

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    Yes, but without knowing what he's dosing, more nitrate could help. Just because the plants are healthy doesn't mean that they couldn't do with more nitrogen, only means that they are getting enough of it so that there's no serious deficiency showing. Assuming there is no deficiency signs, that is.

    Obviously nitrate levels actually at 0 is virtually impossible, but an in-date liquid test kit showing 0 (or near to 0, which is more likely, since it's a colour scale and it could be a judgement error) is likely in a lot of cases in a heavily planted tank where nitrate isnt being dosed. Usually you would see nitrogen deficiencies, but not always, would depend on a combination of lots of things (bacterial colonies, plant species, algae in the tank, pH).

    Having said all that, most people use inadequate test strips or out-of-date liquid tests.

    Don't know enough about this case to say more nitrogen wouldn't help.
    Only that it's not needed, if you assume the plants look totally healthy.
     
  7. trojannemo

    trojannemo Member

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    hey guys.

    i am dosing liquid nutrients in a manner similar to EI. days 1,3,5 i dose Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, days 2,4,6 i dose Flourish. all 6 days I dose Excel. saturday no dosing, sunday big water change, and then start again.
    the amounts that I am dosing were calculated a while back when I started, to be as close to what EI would suggest to dose, but taking into account the fact that it's a pre-mixed liquid.

    how do i know if my plants are showing nitrogen deficiency?
     
  8. RadaR

    RadaR The things we do for our fish..

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  9. three-fingers

    three-fingers Member

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    What test kit are you using? If your dosing nitrogen in accordance to the levels suggested by EI, then its almost certainly the kit which is at fault.
     
  10. lljdma06

    lljdma06 Retired moderator :)
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    I'm with Andy and Aaronnorth, if the plants look good and are growing well, then why dose extra? Then again, with your lighting, I probably wouldn't be dosing or adding CO2 at all. But that's just me. :lol: Maybe a rootab or two for my root feeders when I remember.

    I do see your point, Threefingers, and while you're right, extra nitrogen won't hurt, why waste the chemical if it's not absolutely necessary? Mixes and chemicals cost money.

    I coincidently do not use test kits either. I used to, but not anymore. I don't even test pH or ammonia anymore. Most fish readily adapt to local water conditions, especially since most are kept in quaranteen by transhippers anyway for a period of time, or they are tank-raised. Initially planting densly, usually prevents the need to cycle, though always having extra filter media helps a lot. The presence of ammonia in small quantities will trigger an algae bloom before it reaches levels that are toxic to fish. This leaves out the minor deficiencies, but if you know what they look like, then you can fix that easily without even testing. I also think that adding wood and rocks to the hardscape takes care of many of the minor deficiencies, as I believe that these leech the trace elements into the water. I also tend to grow plants that will do well with my particular water composition, water that is rich in dissolved minerals, and shy away from plants that I know won't. RadaR, that is a nice list, though it would be cool if James could eventually add pictures to that list.

    llj :)

    PS: Sometimes, I think you guys make this way too hard. :lol: But it is good!
     
  11. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth www.ukaps.org

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    if they are healthy but the OP's standards then they must be getting enough to supply their needs, adding extra will just prevent NO3 running short which is what i think you are trying to say?
    i dont trust NO3 tests at all, if one shows a level of 0ppm when actually there is 40ppm (tested against calibrated solution) then that IMO is enough for me to ignore them completley lol. It was a Nutrafin kit which are supposedly one of the more accurate out there :rolleyes:


    Nitrogen deffieciency is yellowing leaves

    Thanks,
     
  12. trojannemo

    trojannemo Member

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    thanks for the replies guys. and RadaR thanks for the link to James' page, I had lost it!

    I am using an API Liquid Master Test Kit that we've had for about 1 year. I tried finding out if it worked or not by testing
    water right from the tap and all the values registered differently except nitrate. i managed to get the nitrate test
    to register about 6ppm on my turtle tank's water, which i'm confident was more than that.

    I don't see much, if any, yellowing. certainly no yellow or dying leaves. all leaves are growing and look healthy. some
    have small holes, but i can't be sure it's a defficiency as I have snails, and my angels also bite at the leaves sometimes.

    i personally dont think i'm missing any nutrients, just a little bit more light perhaps.

    thanks for the help anyways guys :good:
     
  13. three-fingers

    three-fingers Member

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    Small holes sounds like a potassium deficiency, as snails don't tend to eat healthy plants, and neither do angels (but may occasionally tear the odd leave).

    Check the numbers on the test kits bottles, they tell you when it was manufactured. If the nitrate test is out of date (sounds like it is...) then some others will be too so you should bin them as they are useless.
     

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