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Nitrate spike

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jsol12 View Drop Down
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    Posted: July 29 2015 at 11:33pm
Sorry I'm sure this is a total newbie question, but google isn't giving me any satisfactory answers.  I added a few corals on 7/24, my 2nd total batch so far, and besides the zoas, the others haven't done well.  My other corals (duncan, blastos, purple gorgonian, zoas) are looking fine.  I last did a 10% H20 change on 7/16.  I checked the full parameters on Sunday 7/26, the NO3 was 5 and everything else was fine.  Yesterday I felt like the corals looked worse so I did a quick strip and everything was fine again, NO3 reading about 5.  Today I started to worry and started checking the parameters again and the NO3 came back at 20. Also the alk had dropped to 7.6, and was normal on the strip yesterday and 8.4 on sunday. pH and Ca are unchanged throughout. (8.2/400..i know Ca low, I dosed again today) I don't understand what would cause this spike.  I haven't added anything new, nothing to my knowledge has died, and I haven't done anything drastically different with feeding, although I have bumped up the amount I feed a little bit since I added the corals.  I run a skimmer, carbon, and I have a refugium with rubble and a little live rock and chaeto.  I have a pretty good sized clean up crew.  I have been dealing with algae off and on, which I understand is pretty normal for a newish tank, but lately it is has really subsided so I'm kind of at a loss.    

I'm preparing to do an H20 change right now.  Which leads me to another question.  Is it common practice to have a large amount of premade saltwater around? I haven't purchased any type of receptacle yet as I've been trying to figure out the logistics of all that.  I have had several 5gal containers of RO/DI H20 full for top offs and H20 changes, but no premade heated H20 ready.  My filter is located in my furnace room which is in the basement so that's why I use the 5gal jugs as that's all I can really carry at a time.  Any suggestions on making the logistics of this easier would be very much appreciated!
150gal/25gal sump Red Sea Max S650, started 3/28/15
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Reefer4Ever View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reefer4Ever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 30 2015 at 8:19am
I would find someone with a test kit that will run some tests for you. I personally have never had any luck with test strips. Where do you live, I would test your water for you as well as most lfs will do it as well.

I'm in Clearfield
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote laroc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 30 2015 at 7:22pm
+1 to the test kits and w/c. Fish store will do it for cheap reefon or the aquarium many others in the valley.
On your w/c maybe up it 15-20% til the nitrates drop. Life is crazy but everything stops for w/c change day.


I made me a cheap algae scrubber to handle my excess nitrates. I the fed fish  twice a day ( clown and blenny) the anemone twice a week and the corals once a week. W/C with used water never fresh but from other tanks. It was a 30 gallon with a ten gallon sump.

There are tons of stuff on the internet but basic design plastic container, air stone,plastic need mesh ( walmart in their craft section cheap)and light. I found 700ish lumen to work really put of the red spectrum helps algae grow faster. It took about a month for it to really start producing but now its every two weeks.

Hope it help good luck.


Always be leery of a fish farmer...wait or is it a pig farmer?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 30 2015 at 8:04pm
Originally posted by jsol12 jsol12 wrote:

...I haven't done anything drastically different with feeding, although I have bumped up the amount I feed a little bit since I added the corals.  
Over the years, I've grown tons of coral for a living, but I have never bumped up feeding for a new addition of coral. That additional food is the reason for the spike in pollution, in fact, from what was also said about algae issues, I'm sure the system is being fed too much. 

Coincidentally today, a coworker that has seen my coral farm, asked me about my secret for growing coral. I'm not sure I have any secrets, but my answer to him was that I feed the entire system and let the system feed the coral. Let me know if you want more detail about feeding the system.

Regarding mixing saltwater:
1) Most hobbyists don't realize this, but as much as a 10 degree temperature difference doesn't matter. I've done it enough to know. Smile
2) Newly mixed, well stirred salt water can be added immediately. I've used 5 gal buckets where I pour the salt water back and forth a few times to aerate it before pouring into the tank, taking care not to pour directly on a coral. 
3) 10%-20% monthly is an adequate water change schedule. Much more than that is just a waste of time and salt mix. A mature system can go many months between water changes, so long as Salinity, Temp, Alk, Ca, and Mg are kept within range.

Oh, and one more thing... The RDP Refugium should have a large growth of Macroalgae illuminated all night (16 hours) with a bright light or it cannot do one of it's main jobs, that of reducing pollution (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Phosphate).

Aloha,
Mark  Hug


Edited by Mark Peterson - July 30 2015 at 8:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsol12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 30 2015 at 10:27pm
Thank you everyone.  I didn't think about taking my h20 to the lfs.  I don't like test strips, I don't use them regularly.  The nitrate test I usually use is the seachem one, but I don't love or fully trust that one either and I hate arbitrarily matching the colors in these test kits.  Maybe I'll start to take my h20 to be tested when I have a doubt.  

Mark, I should clarify some things  First, I do have a 5000k bulb in my refugium that I keep on at night. Actually the reason I increased the feedings was not for the corals sake but for the macroalgae. I was talking to another reefer about how all my chaeto gradually disappeared after about a week or so of putting it in.  My nitrates and PO4 have usually been close to 0, so he suggested maybe I feed a little more so that the macro had a little more to grow on.  I still don't feed that much where a ton is settling on the bottom.  Based on what I've read online it sounds like the tank can be a little too clean in regards to macroalgae. As for mixing new saltwater, I don't have the time or patience to let the saltwater aerate forever and heat up to match my tank temp exactly, so in my limited experience, I have found what you say to be true! I would love your info about feeding your system and I also am going to try reading all your reefkeeping tip posts asap.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 30 2015 at 11:00pm
Okay, that's good.

The color is okay (5000 Kelvin) but just as important is the intensity. Some hobbyists I talk to don't have enough light over their Refugium. The distance of the light from the algae really impacts intensity. I place Refugium lights as close to the top of the water as reasonable (with the pump off, of course).

If the water in the Refugium is being passed through GFO or AA it's possible to strip too much PO4 out of the water, such that algae doesn't grow well. Alk and Ca levels being out of whack can also negatively effect algae growth.

The best test kit to buy, which IMO every hobbyist should have and use is the Red Sea Reef Pro. It's very much worth the $45 for accurate and immediate testing of Alk, Ca and Mg. 

Before we get too far off topic, lets go back and look at the original issue. Coral looking poorly. Which coral are we talking about? How long has the tank been set up? May we see a pic of the tank?

Looking again at the OP, a Ca level of 400 is not low. It is totally within range. Also, I just realized that I was a little too quick to judge. It looks like Nitrate had been running at 5 ppm but had risen to 20 ppm, right? 20 ppm is not high. It is a totally acceptable level, but sometimes any amount of increase (or decrease) can cause coral stress. Not serious stress. If that's all it was, they should be happy again in a few days.

The Reefkeeping Tips are a compilation of discussions/opinions by hobbyists here on the forum on the specified topics. They deal with a lot of issues that new hobbyist come up against. 

To quote an old friend, "Keep both arms in the tank and enjoy the ride."
Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsol12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 02 2015 at 11:39am
I do use that Red Sea test kit, and I like it fine. It's the stupid nitrate and phosphate tests I hate lol. I think my refugium light may be too far from the water then but I don't know how to rig it differently.   

Tank has been set up since 3/28. My first batch of corals are doing well..Duncan, blasto, fire&ice zoas. Those have been in since 6/27. I also added a purple frilly gorgonian on 7/15 and it seems to be doing well, polyps always open.
None of the new ones added on 7/24 are doing well except eagle eye zoas. Kryptonite candy coral are all shriveled up and look terrible..I saw the polyps extending at night the first few nights but not anymore. And then I think I prematurely tried my hand at sps..2 montis, one looks kind of browned out and one is bleached. I switched their location in the tank so we'll see. Then there's a red dragon acro and I've n seen any polyps off that. Ugh. It's frustrating, I thought I could do it. The other thing is I had been trying to figure out a light schedule because I have 10 t5's and thought it might be a bit much, which is what one of the guys at the aquarium said. So I've been trying to run just 6. That was because of continued algae outbreaks despite parameters being ok.


Edited by jsol12 - August 02 2015 at 11:42am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsol12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 02 2015 at 11:54am
Argh I can't get any of the other pics to load!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 02 2015 at 9:56pm
Pics with the same name won't load, if that's what's happening.

Okay the tank looks nice but definitely looks very new; only four months old. It needs more time to mature. At this point fish are easy because they just need clean water, but stony coral are difficult because they need a more mature tank. Soft coral can become stressed due to a change in lighting from one tank to another and going from one tank to another because of the change in the water and the environment. I'd suggest reducing the photoperiod or turning off a couple more lights for a few weeks.

You didn't say whether GFO or AA are being used. If so, I'd suspend their use for a little while and let the Refugium algae do it's job. 

Here is a rough drawing of one way to set the light at any elevation using multiple zip ties chained together. A screw put into the top of the stand is the short black line. Purple and blue are two separate zip ties holding the clip-on cone reflector light drawn as black. I use a $3 twist PC light the highest wattage possible in daylight color. It's the best light for the money, even better than LED's.


Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsol12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 16 2015 at 2:44pm
What tests does everyone like to use for nitrate and phos? I have the red sea for Ca/Mg/KH which I like ok.  But I hate the API nitrate one I have, as well as the SeaChem phosphate test.  Anyone use one of those Hanna checkers? Wondering if they are worth the price.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote catchoftheday Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 16 2015 at 5:55pm
Just wondering have you ever thought of setting up an algae turf scrubber to help ?
I currently have a 24 gallon JBJ all in one tank has two powerheads a phosphate reactor with the small bubble skimmer it is also powered by 2 X165 W LEDs and as a mixed reef
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reefer4Ever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 16 2015 at 10:38pm
Red sea nitrate and hanna phosphate. Hanna doesn't make a nitrate test to my knowledge.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jsol12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 16 2015 at 11:07pm
No I hadnt, and I forgot to look that up when it was first mentioned in this thread. I just googled it and I will definitely learn more. Thanks!
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