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Rollercoaster nitrates


mcallahan

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I'm looking for some good ideas on this one. Sorry for the long post, but I want to be detailed so that I can get to the bottom of this.

I have a 55g FOWLR tank that I got off craig's list about 1.5 months ago. In its previous home, it had been up and running for 2 years so the tank was fully cycled. It was a FOWLR tank before.

I moved to my house and added 2 Tunze Nano skimmers (one came off my 20g tank), a HOB refugium with cheato algae, PC light on fuge, deep miracle mud bed and several pieces of LR rubble. I also added 1 Tunze 1 powerhead and 1 Tunze 2 powerhead for flow. Sand bed is 4-5", 45# of LR.

My livestock list is:

- 1 maroon clown

- 1 pink spot goby

- 1 coral beauty angel

- 1 green chromis

- 1 long spine urchin

- 1 arrow crab

- 1 cleaner shrimp

- 5 hermit crabs

- 2 sea star (1 brittle star, 1 serpent star)

- 2 turbo snails

- 4 nassarius snails

- 5 star snails

- 4 bumble bee snails

- 1 small emerald crab

After the move, my nitrates spiked, which I'd expected, but I got them down to 15ppm with regular water changes (10gal every 5 days).

Last Friday I did another 10% water change and checked my nitrates 1 days later - Nitrates =35ppm. I didn't stir up any of the sand and I didn't vacuum it either - just pulled out the water. Putting water back into the tank was done so that I didn't stir up the sand bed either. 2 days later my first check, nitrates - 50ppm.

I checked for dead fish, inverts, etc - everyone was accounted for, so that idea was out.

My feeding schedule is to feed everyone 1x a day with just enough food fed so that all the food is gone in 2 minutes and none hits the sand bed so that idea was out.

My lighting schedule hasn't changed, but I don't see how that could affect anything.

The only thing that has changed in my tank recently is that my pink spot goby has started sifting the sand, but I can't see how that would spike my nitrates.

I did a 45% water change today and my nitrates are back down to about 30ppm.

So I'm stuck and mildly PO'd as I was getting the tank to where I wanted it so I could get a BT anemone for my maroon clown, then this nitrate spike hits for no reason.

Does anyone have any idea why this spike might have happened?

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Do you mix your own saltwater? Have an RO/DI unit or do you purchase water to do water changes? Are you running carbon? And I know is hard but you can go for several days without feeding your fish. They will be fine. You could run some poly filter to remove some of the organic matter that doesn't get skimmed.

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Do you mix your own saltwater? Have an RO/DI unit or do you purchase water to do water changes? Are you running carbon? And I know is hard but you can go for several days without feeding your fish. They will be fine. You could run some poly filter to remove some of the organic matter that doesn't get skimmed.

Hmm...some stuff I haven't thought of.

My fish don't get fed on Mondays. A couple of days off wouldn't hurt them, but wouldn't the nitrates just spike once I started feeding again?

I buy pre-mixed salt water from Aquatek. One thought might be that their SW came with high nitrates, but I'm sure they wouldn't sell it that way.

No carbon running, skimmer are pulling out their normal amount of organic stuff, nothing unusual.

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I would check the water from the store just to be sure. They may not know about it. However, I think the Goby may be the culprit. Was he in the tank before you bought it? He could be stirring up a lot of stuff that was trapped in the sand.

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I would check the water from the store just to be sure. They may not know about it. However, I think the Goby may be the culprit. Was he in the tank before you bought it? He could be stirring up a lot of stuff that was trapped in the sand.

I meant to check the Aquatek SW before I put it in the tank, but I forgot. I'll swing by there tomorrow and see what their SW nitrates come out as. I won't be too happy if their SW was the culprit, but at least I'll get to the bottom of it.

If that goby can spike the nitrates like that, I'd be impressed! He wasn't in the tank before I bought it, but he has been in there about 3 weeks and he was in there while the nitrates were dropping. He's starting sifting the sand enough that I find little mounds in the sand in the front of the tank, but I'd never think he could wreck a tank like that.

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Well, it wouldn't hurt to test it.....just to reduce any possibilities. Regardless where it comes from I would test it just to make sure. I agree with Gabe, plus with everything stirred up, your tank is just going through a cycling period.

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I checked my nitrates this am and they were about 20ppm so they've come back down a lot, which is good.

My only lingering concern is once I get to having corals, if the nitrates spiked suddenly like they did, how long would the corals survive?

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I would suspect the sand bed, since your nitrates came down after the water change. That tells me the new water has less nitrates than your tank water at least. Did the sand bed come over in the move dry and did you leave it in place or was it removed and then replaced?

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The original sand bed came with the move. When I got the tank to my house, I pulled out the sand out and washed it out to try to get as much junk out of it that I could. (Plus I wanted to scrub the tank since the previous owner had a big algae problem)

I then added another 10# of LS and mixed it in with the old sand since the old sand bed was only about 2".

Once I got the tank setup again (about 1.5 months ago now), my nitrates spiked to 80ppm, which I expected, but then fell all the way back to 15ppm before spiking again after I changed the water. Since I didn't stir up the sand bed during the water change, I didn't think that the sand bed would be the cause, but I've been wrong before.

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I am not positive but I suspect the sand. What is probably happening is the critters in the new sand are probably converting something in the old sand and releasing nitrates. I know on my old tank I used sand from the tank before it and I got a pretty big nitrate bloom about two months after switching over which was followed by a big algae bloom. The intersting part is that I kept all the old sand on one side and new sand on the other and only the side with the old sand went crazy. The other side stayed nice and white with no algae. I don't recommend using old sand unless you wash it really well and then let it sit dry for a long time (basically kill it).

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Interesting. Your observations are pretty much in line with mine.

My 2nd nitrate spike (which took place about 2 months after I setup the tank) was short lived. After doing the 3rd water change, the nitrates were down to 35ppm, and last night the nitrates were down to 25ppm. The harvesting of the cheato probably helped with the nitrate drop and hopefully they keep dropping.

I had a big algae bloom about 2 weeks ago, but the cleanup crew took care of it all. I'm starting to see some red algae about 1/2" underneath the sand bed, so I'm not sure if that is good or bad, but I can deal with algae easier than nitrates!

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