• Welcome to ScapeCrunch!

    We are a friendly, online community of people interested in planted aquariums. We support and help each other learn and grow. It is our sincere hope that you will join us and find our tight-knit community valuable and fun!

    ScapeCrunch is different than Facebook Groups. Here's how:

    • It is a place where you can make long-term friends in the planted aquarium hobby and have long, multi-day talks on specific subjects.
    • Unlike social media, online communities like ScapeCrunch are much better at curating collective knowledge and in fostering deeper relationships.
    • They lend themselves better at long-form discussions.
    • You can maintain a thread on your personal aquarium with pictures and details. Other members can comment, help and ask questions. You can do the same with their Member Tank threads.

    Where Facebook is more like a large city-wide party, ScapeCrunch is more like your neighborhood bar "where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came." It's always fun to go to large parties but it's at the local bar that you feel people really know you. The great part is that you can and should go to both!

    Please consider joining to become a full fledged member of our growing community of planted aquarium obsessed enthusiasts. Let's grow together!

    Join Us!

HELP! Is my nitrate too high?

Firestorm

Community Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2024
Messages
63
Reaction score
32
Location
Gilbert, AZ
Is my nitrate level too high? Several of my platies (born and raised in this tank, never flashed or had clamped fins before) started flashing and have semi-clamped fins (only the dorsal fin looks clamped). I am VERY alarmed, and am trying to figure out the issue. I started CO2 (low rate, ~1.5 drops per min, tank is 40 gal) < 3 months ago, and started dosing Thrive fert (bought back in 2020) conservatively (I usually dose only for the amount of water changed). I also dose a SMALL amounts of Seachem Potassium, Iron and Flourish.

I also recently introduced 5 lyretail swordtails (they went through 6 weeks of QT and were preventatively treated with several rounds of Hikari PraziPro and two rounds of Fritz Expel-P. The swords are not flashing and look well and so does my other fish (five SAEs, oto and a few platies). So, just about four platies look stressed, and about five look fine.

Ammonia and nitrites are at zero (I checked those three days in a row).

Could nitrAtes (looks like they are at ~50ppm) cause distress in the fish? I also started dosing Seachem Phosphorus (about 1/3 of the recommended dose) a few days ago (so this is NEW, this is something that changed just a few days ago) d/t GSA issues.

I wonder if maybe adding five swords dramatically increased a natural amount of nitrate, and thus adding more through Thrive can be an overkill? What do you guys think? Please please advise! My fish pretty much never flashes or has clamped fins as I am always very rigorous about any new fish QT/ anti-parasitic treatment. So, this is very distressing to me, and I must pinpoint the root cause ASAP. This is my SOS to the hobbyist community.

PS. My tank is heavily planted.
 

Attachments

  • cropped nitrates.JPG
    cropped nitrates.JPG
    31.5 KB · Views: 19
UPDATE: I know it's not recommended to do huge water changes, but I just felt so distressed and so helpless... So, I ended up changing 10 gallons (the tank is 40 gallon breeder with a thick substrate) and then 30 minutes later, I went with my "gut feeling" and changed another 10 gallons of water (of course, the temperature pf the water was adjusted, the water was dechlorinated with Hikari Ultimate about 22 hours ago). I will not be dosing any ferts for the time being. I went ahead and dosed Tropical Science Fishkeeper. Hoping so desperately that the fish bounces back to good health. Fingers crossed BIG TIME!
 
I do huge water changes weekly and near my competition deadline, I’ll do them 2 or 3 times a week. Don’t be afraid to do large water changes.

As far as nitrates, I see no reason to have more than 30ppm as that is enough for non limited in a planted tank. It’s pretty standard to have 30ppm or lower.
 
I do huge water changes weekly and near my competition deadline, I’ll do them 2 or 3 times a week. Don’t be afraid to do large water changes.

As far as nitrates, I see no reason to have more than 30ppm as that is enough for non limited in a planted tank. It’s pretty standard to have 30ppm or lower.
Thank you so very much! It's very helpful to know!
 
Thats just as likely to be 20 ppm as 60. Put it under 5 different lights and youll see 5 different shades of red

Plus that particular test is famous for reading high. Its only good to see if you have some, none, or a lot. Beyond that its useless

Even if it's 50 nothing is gonna care unless youre breeding some type of highly sensitive livestock, and if thats the case then you probably shouldnt be focused on plants anyway

My advice is throw the test kit in the garbage and dont worry about it.

And never again listen to whoever said big water changes are bad as far as plants are related
 
Thats just as likely to be 20 ppm as 60. Put it under 5 different lights and youll see 5 different shades of red

Plus that particular test is famous for reading high. Its only good to see if you have some, none, or a lot. Beyond that its useless
I would agree that the API nitrate test can be hard to discriminate various levels.

Discriminating between 10 and 20 ppm can be a real head scratcher. 20-40 is much easier…. 40-80 is also a head scratcher.

What I have found he,pful in these head scratcher moments is to take a half cup of tank water and add a half cup of nitrate free water, mix and then do a second test…

Say you were wondering if you were at 10 or 20 ppm. If the second test doesnt look much different, than the tank is closer to 20 ppm. If the second test looks much lighter like the 5 ppm swatch you know the tank is closer to 10 ppm…

Having said all of this I find I am not testing much anymore as I have enough experience with my tanks, I simply do a 50% water change weekly and front load dose to my target levels, and then top off a bit more midweek to replenish what has been consumed over the prior 3 days…

It is a helpful tool though as you are gaining that experience with how your tank reacts..
 
+ 1000% to everything Unexpected and Joe said above.

I was about to say pretty much the exact same thing.

The API kit notoriously reads high. Dosing Thrive at recommended levels won't get you to 50 ppm NO3 unless that tank maintenance is VERY poor.

Perform larger water changes not smaller. It's the best thing you can do for both the plants and fish.

And the ferts are not the problem with the fish. People dose loads more than you. If you don't want your plants to rebel I wouldn't stop dosing.

And 1.5 bps of CO2 is almost the same as nothing in a 40G. It will be more like a steady stream.

I would take a deep breath, not panic, and start reading up a bit more on everything you are doing. Start by learning the pH drop method of controlling CO2 and that will certainly help you with plants.
 
What nitrate test would you recommend as better?
No question Salifert. I once did a kitchen table experiment using API vs Salifert with calibrated samples. The API was wildly off, mostly on the high side. There are so many ways to get a wrong reading with that test. Put it this way, I wouldn't be making decisions about dosing based on the results of an API NO3 test kit.

And you can use the salt version of the Salifert. It's the same exact components with a different scale than the Freshwater.
 
And you can use the salt version of the Salifert. It's the same exact components with a different scale than the Freshwater

If you get the saltwater salifert,(only version sold on Amazon). Where do you get a scale to tell freshwater levels?
 
If you get the saltwater salifert,(only version sold on Amazon). Where do you get a scale to tell freshwater levels?
You don't need anything else the Salt version works perfectly as it is.

The Salt Water version measures 0-100 NO3, the Freshwater version measures 0-40 NO3. They are the same exact chemicals just added in different amounts.
 
How are the platys doing today? I wonder if maybe the new swords are harassing the platys, causing the weakest of them to stress. It could be happening at night or other times when you are not observing. Harassment can be very subtle, as well.
In any case, I think the addition of the new fish is somehow causing the problem. Could even be disease or parasite related, despite the quarantine.
 
How are the platys doing today? I wonder if maybe the new swords are harassing the platys, causing the weakest of them to stress. It could be happening at night or other times when you are not observing. Harassment can be very subtle, as well.
In any case, I think the addition of the new fish is somehow causing the problem. Could even be disease or parasite related, despite the quarantine.
Agreed.
 
How are the platys doing today? I wonder if maybe the new swords are harassing the platys, causing the weakest of them to stress. It could be happening at night or other times when you are not observing. Harassment can be very subtle, as well.
In any case, I think the addition of the new fish is somehow causing the problem. Could even be disease or parasite related, despite the quarantine.
It’s been 4+ days now … are the platys still clamped? Have they all survived? Are any other fish showing signs of stress?
You have quite a few threads on the same subject - it’s probably best to keep all the info in one thread. You would get better advice if one could follow what’s going on in without jumping around so much
 
UPDATE and another question.
Thank you so much to everyone who responded. I work very long hours during weekend, so both days I was leaving for work very early and coming back wiped out right before the tank's lights were turning off at 22:00. So, I do not have a good sense of how things are right now. Last night, I was able to come back home at 21:40, so I had about 20 min to observe the tank. I fed them, and from what I could tell, most of the fish was accounted for (knock on wood). The only fish that I did not see was my one otocinclus and also, I was too tired, so forgot to count my SAEs (should be five). But the five lyretail swordtail girls and visually the platies (I am not quite sure how many platy females I actually have as most of them were born in my tank, all look alike... I both males are accounted for though and visually a comparable (to the usual) number of females, as well. The tank is a jungle, so that doesn't help either. The fish visually looked better--much better, I'd say, being cautiously optimistic--but there was still some flashing going on. However, still hard to tell because all the fish was very excited about the feeding (and I only had <20 min with lights on), so I don't think it allowed for an accurate observation.

Swordtails bulling them is definitely not the cause. Just trust me on that. I might feel like a newbie running into this issue, but I was in the hobby since 1992 with livebearers being my favorite fish, so I have a pretty good experience observing their behavior and drawing conclusions from what I see as to what might be happening at night, when the lights are out. Bulling is not the issue here, for sure. It is something that I am doing with the water, and I am trying to figure out what it is. Just in case, I did dose Hikari PraziPro on Friday. This week, I am planning on doing 10 gal water change today (40 gallon breeder tank), 10 gal water change on Wednesday, and another 10 gallon on Friday (and I am planning to dose PraziPro with this last water change again, just in case). I am planning to add only 1 pump of Thrive all-in-one with every water change, so that my plants don't go kaput during this "figuring out" time as I dosed zero ferts last week.

QUESTION:
Can a SMALL amount of boiled water irritate fish' skin?

I usually age (after being dechlorinated) my water in 5-gallon buckets. During the water change, in order to match the temperature of the new water to that in the tank, I take a small amount of water out of the 5-gal bucket and bring it to boil to then be added back to the 5-gal bucket, and it matches my tank water down to 0.2 F degree. The exact amount of water to match a 5-gallon bucket to ~79 F is about 3/4 of this kettle, bought and used exclusively for this purpose. Once the water boils or almost boils, I then pour it back to the bucket, mix extra well, double-check the temp and then do a water change. I have two of these kettles, so can do for two buckets simultaneously in order to accommodate a 10-gal water change. Can such small amount of boiled or almost boiled water bother the fish? Does conditioned water experience any significant changes in its chemistry after being brought to boil? Thanks in advance!
 
That's one way to do it lol. Have you ever thought about using a heater?

I've never worried about temp once the fish are in the tank. My 20g guppy tank, that has blue dream shrimp and a dwarf flame gourami, sits at 75f. During wc in the winter the tank drops to 62f in about 5 mins.

In my reef tank, same story, but more like a 4-8 degree drop. Much more sensitive fish there.

Fish swim through temperature changes in the wild, very abruptly.

But i wouldn't imagine that method is hurting your fish. Its not like it's still boiling or anywhere close to it, right?
 
Back
Top