Noob nutrient question

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry' started by Fish Boss, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Supporting Member

    So I'm new to this hobby, and im loving it, but there is still a lot I don't understand. I have a 10 gallon reef tank, it's 1.5 months old. I added bacteria and fed fish food to begin the cycle. I did a large water change ~the 12th in when nitrites were on the decline, and added 2 small clownfish and stocked some corals. I knew I rushed things too quickly, so I monitored my levels. About 4 days ago, ammonia was <.25ppm, nitrite was maybe ~8ppm, and nitrate was ~120ppm. I did about a 30% water change. I was thinking about buying chaeto to help with nutrient export, but I checked my levels and everything was 0! I thought that nitrates slowly built up, and we're exported through water changes for the most part. I have mainly soft corals, which I read Xenia can take up some nitrates. Is this normal?
  2. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Supporting Member

    Also, I have just a small amount of algae growth. Just some green algae on live rock, with some algae on the glass every morning. Oh, and I have about 8 lbs live rock
  3. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    From 120 to 0 with a 30% change is pretty much impossible. Make sure you are following the instructions on the test kit exactly. Something isn't right.
    OnTheReef likes this.
  4. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Xenia does uptake some nutrients and bind it up. It's not removed from the system until you physically remove the xenia, but that would take a lot of xenia to do so.

    Slow down and retest your water.
  5. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Supporting Member

    Just tested my parameters again. 0 across the board, aside from ammonia. I shook my bottles, dripped them in the tubes, and waited 5 minutes. These expire in 4 years. Can anything makes these droppers go bad somehow?
  6. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    Well how is the livestock doing? They'll let you know if something is wrong.
  7. Fish Boss

    Fish Boss Supporting Member

    They've been perfectly fine. Clownfish are thriving, no signs of stress that I can see. Since the tank is relatively new, I haven't noticed too much growth. Xenia is growing at a solid pace, my GSP is growing like crazy, orange maul zoa is popping out new heads occasionally, frogspawn has 3 new baby heads that are starting to grow. I'm just confused as to why nitrates are 0. I don't feed my clownfish heavily per feeding, but I feed them 2x per day, so I was definitely expecting some nitrates.
  8. I don;t believe your nitrates were actually at 120ish. If they had been you would have been experiencing much more than a little algae growth. I'd invest in a different type of test kit for nitrates and check again or take a sample to your local LFS and have them check (I'd actually do both.)
  9. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    I would just carry on without worrying. The best indicator is livestock health, and they seem to be OK. I've never actually run a test for nitrates and ever seen it at zero. But I also almost never test for it. And in fact if you do regular water changes, it's not really necessary. The information tells you "yes, you should be doing water changes" but doesn't indicate that anything is wrong other than "Hey, do more water changes!". It is always accumulating, but we all know this. Ammonia and Nitrite are much more toxic to the livestock, but also, is handled by the ANN bacteria. Once the initial cycle is done and Ammonia and Nitrite drop to "very low", your tank is running well and nitrate will start to accumulate, either in the water, or in the form of algae/macro algae growth.

    Now, knowing nitrate levels is handy to tell you WHEN to do your water changes. Like if you leave the tank a month and check nitrate and it's quite high, then it tells you maybe you should not wait so long. Or if the nitrate level is low, then you can save yourself some time/money and add an extra week or two before doing a water change. With a 10 gallon tank, you should only change out 20% (I know you said you did 30%, but consider that it's a big change for your livestock) so 2 gallons isn't much of a hassle and if you keep that constant, it's easy to create a good schedule with or without testing, but if you test, you can find the optimal water change interval based on what the load in your tank is.

  10. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    +1 on the 120 nitrate reading being wrong. You would see a LOT of algae.

    The nitrate test bottles need to be shaken a LOT. Check the instructions.
    The chemicals settle out or something.
    So if you don't mix them really well before using, you can get a reading that is way off.

    But yes, Xenia, algae, and bacteria inside live rock all reduce nitrates a bit.

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