Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Tain't fresh, and tain't marine! Talk about brackish setups.
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TwistOfF8
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Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Post by TwistOfF8 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:19 pm

I'm not sure whether this thread should be in the freshwater section, but here goes. I recently acquired three F8's. I bought them from someone locally who refused to sell me just one. They also threw in four mollies. I have a pre-cycled 35 gallon freshwater tank, whose previous occupants were moved to another tank or sold. The tank was running empty for several days before I restocked it. I did the full readings of the water just before I brought the puffers home. Everything looked great except the nitrates, which were 160 ppm. I did a 50% water change and changed the filter media. I also took out all of the ornaments and fake plants and rinsed them in tank water before putting them back in. My substrate is half an inch of play sand. I stirred that up and let the sediment settle before vacuuming the bottom. The idea was to remove as much waste as possible.

I did the readings again today. Once again the nitrates were still 160 ppm. This time I tested my tap water, nitrates were 40 ppm. I did a lot of research on controlling nitrate levels in aquaria when tap water contains nitrates. I can't afford a reverse osmosis system and I'd rather not have to buy water. I looked into additives and found one called Tetra EasyBalance Nitraban. It's marketed as being a product that reduces the number of water changes, but I know better than to skip changing water, no matter what chemical is in the tank. It raises pH which would be useful (my tank pH is 7.6) as well as getting rid of the nitrates. Nitraban might be helpful to bring the nitrate levels down immediately and in the short term.

However, I'm not a big fan of chemical additives and I'm looking at using something like Seachem Matrix or De*nitrate. These are filter media that encourage growth of the anaerobic bacteria that consume nitrates. I'm also planning on adding a second filter, since I read that "overfiltering" is a good idea for puffers. Right now I only have the HOB filter that came with the tank. I was also thinking of getting a little box filter or two, and filling them with the Seachem media; this would be in addition to the two power filters. Has anyone used either of the Seachem products, and did they work?

Also, I realize that my 35 gal tank may be overstocked with 3 F8's and four mollies. I'm open to moving some of them to a different tank if that's the case. Would the second filter help to alleviate the issues caused by overstocking?

But the big reason I'm asking about this here in the brackish forum is that I plan to start switching the tank over to brackish as soon as possible. Should I get the nitrates under control before I start adding salt to the water or can I just go ahead? Will the salt itself affect the nitrate levels? I know it affects bacteria and was wondering if it could inhibit the growth of the nitrate consuming bacteria.

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Re: Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Post by Pufferpunk » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:46 pm

I'd return the mollies & continue doing WC daily. There's no reason your nitrate can't be the sane as your tap water.

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TwistOfF8
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Re: Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Post by TwistOfF8 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:54 pm

Pufferpunk wrote:I'd return the mollies & continue doing WC daily. There's no reason your nitrate can't be the sane as your tap water.

As my signature says:
I can't return the mollies because they came from a private seller, but I do have another tank they can be moved to. Every day WC are no problem, I've got a Python. :) So I guess that means the level in my tap water is ok? I thought nitrates had to be zero. Do I do 50% every day?

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Punkster, the 4" red T miurus
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C valentini
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C papuan
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suvattii
burrfish
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Re: Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Post by Pufferpunk » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:46 pm

If you indeed mean nitrAte & not nitrIte, below 20 is preferred but 40 won't harm them.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"

TwistOfF8
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Re: Battling nitrates and switching to brackish

Post by TwistOfF8 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:33 am

Pufferpunk wrote:If you indeed mean nitrAte & not nitrIte, below 20 is preferred but 40 won't harm them.
I'm glad 40 won't harm them, I wasn't looking forward to a constant battle to keep nitrates down because they're in my tap water as well.

And yes, I meant nitrAtes. The nitr*I*tes are at zero, so is the ammonia. I think part of the problem is that the former tank occupants (axolotls) created a lot of waste. My freshwater community tank doesn't have this problem.

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