Dosing Nitrate

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Gablami, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    As mentioned in an earlier thread, I've been considering dosing nitrate to my tank. Just a brief summary for those that haven't been following my fallow build thread. I have a ~110g DT with a 30g sump. I've been running a full zeovit system almost from the beginning, thus have had what is called an ultra-low nutrient system with undetectable nitrate and very low phosphate <0.03. I've been adding lots of zeo additives, which are supposed to put nutrients back into the tank for coral coloration and growth, and while I've gotten a fair amount of growth (for acropora this growth has so far manifested itself as encrustation, but my other SPS are growing nicely), the colors of my acropora are less than I would desire.

    I've been reading about nitrates and having a high nutrient tank within a ULNS, meaning lots of fish and coral feedings. In the past couple months I've added 9 new fish, including a total of 3 tangs and a 6 different anthias for a total of 15 fish, which I think is medium stocked. I've upped my feeding to 1.5 cubes of mysis per day, about 3 small sheets of nori per day (about 4x6 inches), pellets through autofeeder 3x/day, and 1 teaspoon of reef-roids/reef frenzy in the morning and 1 teaspoon of oyster/roti feast in the evening. After doing this for about 2 weeks, my nitrate reading (red sea pro) has come up to 1, and my phosphate is 0.07 (Hanna phosphorus).

    On top of that I have been dosing the usual zeovit additives, such as Xtra, coral vitalizer, amino acids HC and LPS, K-balance, sponge power, etc. I know that my goals seem to be contradicting -- running a zeovit tank and trying to increase my nutrients. But I still see value in the zeovit stones and what is basically carbon dosing with bacterial supplements. The zeovit additives are less effective in a more nutrient rich tank, but I'll continue to use them for now and see where it goes. I've already the flow through my zeovit reactor down to the minimum for my tank volume, and have decreased my carbon dosing through zeostart3 by 1/3.

    My goal is to increase the nitrate levels to 5 using KNO3 powder from Green Leaf Aquariums. Actual dosing details to follow; hoping to get to the point where I dose daily using a dosing pump. I'm going to slowly dose up to 5, and start using GFO either in a bag or in a reactor to keep my phosphate <0.05, ideally <0.03.

    Let me submit as specimens which we can use as baseline photos:

    Strawberry Shortcake

    Green Slimmer

    Teal Sarmentosa

    Pink Lemonade

    I'll update once I get Nitrate up to 5ppm, and will take photos on some sort of time scale. Maybe every few weeks?
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  2. gabloo

    gabloo Supporting Member

  3. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Yeah....those look pale, but at least you have polyp extension. In my ULNS (GFO, Bio-Pellets, Chaeto, Carbon), I was getting death. Very light, light brown flesh (heading towards white) and polyps started disappearing. I started overfeeding as well which looked to correct my nutrient problem, but with the fix came GHA. Interestingly enough, I have never been able to detect nitrates or phosphate in my system. I've been using the Salifert and Hanna Phosphate checker, but I'm definitely thinking of buying the Hanna ultra low phosphorous checker. I'm currently trying acropower as a source of nitrogen to feed corals and cutting down on feeding. I'm definitely interested if this works for you, I might switch over from acropower to KNO3.
  4. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    I expect a full pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics report!
  5. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Oh trust me, I have some that do not have polyp extension. But they still seem to be encrusting, which is interesting.

    Yeah I like the phosphorus checked. The packets are a pain but I like knowing that it's as accurate as it can be. Not too hard to do it right. Nice video on BRS comparing the two of you haven't seen it yet.

    I have yet to read a good explanation of why raising no3 would improve colors. Amino acids would seem to be more useful. But people seem to be getting results...

    I'll start dosing this weekend once I get it all figured out.

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  6. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Most, if not all, amino acids that corals need can be produced by zooxanthellae. In an ulns without nitrates, what you're really doing is probably starving zooxanthellae and limiting photosynthesis without access to nitrogen. So no amino acids or sugar production to feed coral. KNO3 is just providing a nitrogen source for the zooxanthellae to thrive.

    This article on amino acids sort of backs up the mumbo jumbo I just spewed out. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
    Coral reefer likes this.
  7. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Oh, one other thing to mention why this intrigues me so much is that Acropower doesn't lend itself to automatic dosing very well since the solution needs to be shaken before use. I've thought about getting a magnetic stir plate to spin up before dosing, but too many moving parts and plus I have no space. If KNO3 works and stays evenly dissolved in solution, I'd switch to that in a heartbeat.
  8. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I dosed Calcium Nitrate for a while when I had an algae scrubber. Nitrates were super-low.
    (the potassium versus calcium does not matter, since that part is so small)

    I did not notice any color difference.
    What I was doing was avoiding low-nitrates + high-phosphates.
    For me, that correlates really well with Cyano and base-up RTN.
    And it did make a difference there.

    The few times over the years I have noticed color changes was with lighting changes.
    But I have tried so many things, I really can't say what is best.
    Ibn likes this.
  9. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Yeah some on the r2r site noticed that dosing nitrates drove their phosphate levels down.

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  10. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Swap water with me. My tank has 219 ppm of nitrates...
  11. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    That's just craziness. I bet if you ran a zeovit reactor with some stones it would slowly come down to more reasonable levels. Don't need to do all the other zeovit stuff. Some people even use zeovit stones in a filter bag.

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  12. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    RandyC, acropower can be dosed without shaking since that was asked before in the past, but FYI:

    There is no need to shake or stir AcroPower. It is entirely well mixed during production and should not fall out of solution. So, yes you can dose it with a dosing pump that does not have a stir bar in the dosing vessel.

    Best to have the dosing line simply draw from the bottle through the cap.
    Source: Julian at twolittlefishies

    I'll add my thoughts to this thread a bit later.
  13. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Interesting. They should update the bottle instructions that clearly state to shake well.
    Gablami likes this.
  14. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Last thread-jack post on AcroPower. I emailed twolittlefishies to also find out if AcroPower was photosensitive (to put in a translucent dosing container) and what they thought of dosing and the shake well directions. This is what I got back.

    "Despite the "shake well" instruction, the components of AcroPower do not separate. It is OK to dose it using a dosing system. It is not photosensitive.

    The main concern is that in a dosing system it may become contaminated by yeasts or bacteria, and then they may grow in it. So, care must be taken to sterilize the container and hoses before filling, and periodically thereafter. We do make AcroPower in Gallons, and you could use the gallon jug as a dosing container, cutting a hole in the lid."

    The yeast part is interesting. As I understand, yeast needs sugar (usually glucose or fructose) to grow. Does that mean I'm dosing sugar now in my tank? ;)
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  15. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    The base-up tissue loss and zooanthellae expulsion is what I'm dealing with at the moment, as in this piece (wild Bali shortcake).

    Partial expulsion of the tissue zooanthellae and this last itme, full withdrawal of the polyps was seen. I dip everything and I see no signs of bugs. No change in flow (2xMP10 wES on Reef Crest random) or lighting (Fiji offset).

    There's a fair number of fish in the tank: 2 bimaculatus anthias, 3 green chromis, 1 tomini tang, 1 copper banded butterfly, 2 onyx clowns, and a dwarf golden moray. They're fed extremely well and their typical weekday feeding includes: 1 cube PE Mysis, 1 cube V20 mini mysis, 1 mini cube of Hikari mini bloodworms, 1 cube of Spirulina enriched brineshrimp, a mini cube of oyster eggs, a mini chunk of Nutramar OVA as in this pic. The fish are also fed 3x during the weekends when I'm out of the office with Otohime S1/S2 pellets via Apex AFS.

    Ran out of the brineshrimp so it's not in the pic.

    Tank is dosed 24x daily via the BM 3 headed doser and the big three are measured on a weekly basis: Alk 8.5, Ca 450, Mg 1400. In addition, I've started on modified Biggle's juice lately to see how it performs and it entails weekday dosing of: 1 mL KoralColor, 1 drop Lugol's, 1 drop of Sponge Power, 1 mL of Pohl's B-Balance.

    With the fair amount of food that gets dumped into the tank, I'm guessing that my nitrates is out of balance with phosphates and that's why I'm dosing KNO3.

    Baseline nitrates with the feeding.

    KNO3 dosing at 1/4 tsp

    Remeasured 24 hours later to see what the tank is at.

    KNO3 currently is being dosed twice a week, right after the water change and then again in between the middle of the WC schedule. I'm familiar with dry dosing KNO3 since I've done it for a number of years in FW planted tanks. I have an extra 4 head expansion for the BM and it's simple to put it on a dosing head, but I didn't want the risk of overdosing on nitrates in the rare case that something goes wrong.
  16. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Sounds like a good plan.
    Agree, dosing nitrates in a doser seems a bit sketchy.

    Check your Alk levels carefully also. That sort of problem is sometimes caused by Alk swings.
    (Which you can get when adding GFO.)

    What are your phosphate levels anyway?
  17. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    No GFO is run on the tank and I don't have any plans to do so.

    As for phosphates, I need to get a Hanna to verify what it is. I only have the Salifert kit and that one doesn't really tell me much. It's telling me that I have a 0 reading on the phosphates, which I'm not sure I trust. Granted there's no algae in the tank other than the expansive amounts of coralline and the film algae that I scrape from the tank walls twice a week.
    Gablami likes this.
  18. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Wow you are feeding heavy. Lucky fish. I'm a bit concerned about my phosphate levels, last night it reached 0.1 and my nitrate is up to 1.5. This is just from feeding. I also need a new nitrate test. The Red Sea pro kit only goes to 2.

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  19. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Update: experiment still has not commenced. Even without dosing my nitrate is going up. It is now at 3, and my coral colors actually look worse to be honest. My phosphate has come up as well, to 0.1 and I've started a gfo reactor. Have turned my zeovit reactor flow up to standard and also increased my carbon dosing (zeostart) back to recommended levels. I'll let things stabilize before I revisit nitrate dosing again.

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  20. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    You put the nitrate in,
    You take the nitrate out,
    You put your phosphate in and you shake it all about
    You do the hokey pokey
    And you turn yourself around
    That's what it's all about
    Edgar Sandoval likes this.

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