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What are your nitrate - guzzling plants?

Gaina

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28 Jan 2018
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Somerset
What are your favorite plants to help control nitrates? I'm having high nitrates at the moment and have ruled out the usual suspects like over feeding, over stocking, filter malfunction, dirty substrate and decaying plant matter (and I'm regular as clockwork with my water changes).

I definitely need more plants but I want to choose wisely so I get varieties that are fast growing, easy to maintain and good at using up nitrate.

So far I have:
Bacopa caroliniana
Echinodorus Bleheri
Echinodorus Granat
Sagittaria teres
Cryptocoryne Wendtii Brown
Cryptocoryne petchii
Microsorium pteropus windelov
Microsorium pteropus 'Trident' (small but now growing nicely thanks to new food)
Vallisneria Spiralis
Amazon frogbit

Would you replace anything or add more of something I already have?

My tank dimensions are 80 x 35 x 50cm
Ph 6.6
Temperature 25.5c
Gh 6

Thank you!
 

Konsa

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20 Nov 2010
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Lostock Hall
Hi
Why are U concerned about high nitrates.What values U have in the tank.Are U adding any?
Any floater will mop them Nitrates up as not CO2 limited.Just need to make sure U are not missing any other nutrients or U will limit the N uptake of the plant.
Regards Konsa
 

Saffa

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South London
I’ve had water lettuce and frogbit a while ago in one of my 350 litre cichlid tanks and nitrates were noticeably lower than other tanks before weekly water changes up to 10ppm lower than same size tank with same/ similar stocking levels
 

Gaina

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Somerset
Hi
Why are U concerned about high nitrates.What values U have in the tank.Are U adding any?
Any floater will mop them Nitrates up as not CO2 limited.Just need to make sure U are not missing any other nutrients or U will limit the N uptake of the plant.
Regards Konsa


Hi :)

I'm concerned about the long term affects it will have on my fish. Its 40ppm up from 20+ (the usual colour is probably closest to 25). I'm not running Co2 and my ammonia and nitrite are zero. I am having a problem with algae on the glass but this tank has only been running about 8 weeks (I ran a mature filter for 3 weeks alongside the new one before adding Livestock back in), so I thought it was just the tank settling in until I noticed the jump in nitrate.

I’ve had water lettuce and frogbit a while ago in one of my 350 litre cichlid tanks and nitrates were noticeably lower than other tanks before weekly water changes up to 10ppm lower than same size tank with same/ similar stocking levels

I did notice that the amazon frogbit did make a difference to nitrates in my previous 65 liter tank so I'll definitely be adding a lot more of that. :thumbup:

The food I'm using is The Aquascaper Complete Food.
 
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If you're not running CO2, the bets plants are those that have access to aerial CO2, such as floaters or emersed plants. You can do as simple as sticking the roots of some pothos plants inside and let it grow outside the tank. Or you can get more complicated on emersed set ups. I have two large mature plants over my emersed pond, a peace lily and a parlour palm. The only limitation is the size of the tank.
 

Konsa

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Lostock Hall
Hi
The Aquascaper complete plant food will contain some nitrates but how much I am not aware as too costly for my budget.
I am heavy doser myself from1/2 to 3/4 of EI values daily in 3 of my low tech tanks and never bothered with testing the water in my tanks.I am firm supporter of big 50-80% weekly waterchanges and all my critters seem happy chappies.
There are many opinions about Nitrates some believe that they cause long term dammage in ranges over 40-60ppm but for those to become toxic they need to be way higher.On the other hand the high NO3 may be a smoking gun of a previous Ammonia (Nitrite) spike that went unnoticed trough nitrification wich is highly toxic to fish and thats why ones fish health is in decline .
Plus there is always the doubt of inaccurate hobby grade test kits.
Just keep up your maintenance regular as U do,add more plants and enjoy your tank.
Regards Konsa
 

tam

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5 May 2011
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If it's creeping up slowly then it might just be you need to do a slightly bigger water change or now and then a bonus one mid-week.

As said, floating plants suck it up best. Any emersed plants too - some people add pothos to suck them up. You have to watch it doesn't go too far and starve your other plants though.
 

BubblingUnder

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22 Mar 2017
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UK
Put houseplants down the back of your tank like I have (Belt & Braces approach) currently I have: Peace Lily, Pothos, Flamingo Plant, Baby Tears like so....

houseplantfiltration-jpg.jpg


Water change needs are minimal despite having a heavily stocked planted tank. I also rate Frogbit & Java Fern to use the nitrates as well.
 

ian_m

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Fish won't suffer nitrate issues until inorganic supplied nitrate (tap water and ferts) is in the order of 1000's ppm. I accidentally ran 350ppm NO3 and 80ppm PO4 after a timer failure on my doser. No change to fish behaviour, no change to plants either. Only noticed a week later when could hear whirring of the pump after dumping 2litres of double strength EI solution into my tank...
 

Smells Fishy

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I imagine fast growing stem plants would guzzle nitrates quicker vs something like Anubias. You can't go wrong with using certain house plants, my favorite is my lucky bamboo.
 

Gaina

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If you're not running CO2, the bets plants are those that have access to aerial CO2, such as floaters or emersed plants. You can do as simple as sticking the roots of some pothos plants inside and let it grow outside the tank. Or you can get more complicated on emersed set ups. I have two large mature plants over my emersed pond, a peace lily and a parlour palm. The only limitation is the size of the tank.

I'm fascinated by pothos, actually as a lot of fish keepers I subscribe to on YouTube love it. Unfortunately I have a lidded tank which needs to be that way to combat condensation in my room (I noticed it's reduced significantly since getting my new tank). I think having read everyone's thoughts I'm going to opt for more frogbit. :thumbup:

If it's creeping up slowly then it might just be you need to do a slightly bigger water change or now and then a bonus one mid-week.

I think what may have happened is I was unable to do my fairly large water change when my whole family, myself included went down with flu, but I managed a smaller one, so maybe it started there. I'm back on normal schedule now so I can do any necessary additional water changes quite easily.

Fish won't suffer nitrate issues until inorganic supplied nitrate (tap water and ferts) is in the order of 1000's ppm. I accidentally ran 350ppm NO3 and 80ppm PO4 after a timer failure on my doser. No change to fish behaviour, no change to plants either. Only noticed a week later when could hear whirring of the pump after dumping 2litres of double strength EI solution into my tank...

That's very reassuring, thank you. I am very conscious that panicking and taking drastic action would probably do more harm than good so I'm more sure of what I need to do next, thank you. :)
 

HiNtZ

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Why are you worried about nitrate if you have plants? The levels would never get anywhere near enough to upset the fish. I've been adding 35ppm NO3 & 8ppm PO4 per week for years and my fish and shrimp are happy, vibrant colours, spawning even.

The only two worth checking are nitrite and ammonia, but on an established system even this is a bit pointless unless your fish are showing signs of discomfort.

My advice would be to ensure that you have the full spectrum of nutrients present in the water column - K, P, Fe, Mg etc just so there are no uptake issues and nothing gets locked out due to a deficiency & keep on with your water changes as usual.

Search the forums for posts discussing test kits and their terrible reliability, especially in dosed tanks - something to do with organic (or inorganic, can't remember) forms of N giving false readings. The way I understood that discussion is although the test kit shows N, it might not be in a form that is available to the plants so readily. Due to my lack of understanding on this issue, I simply just dose a set amount of fertiliser per week and leave the test kits well alone (unless testing my RO).

As for fast growing plants, my limnophila sessiliflora grows 4 inches a day, yes that is PER DAY. It also will put on 2 inches over night. Now if that's not sucking nitrates, I'd be very surprised.
 
Last edited:

dw1305

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Hi all,
As for fast growing plants, my limnophila sessiliflora grows 4 inches a day, yes that is PER DAY. It also will put on 2 inches over night. Now if that's not sucking nitrates, I'd be very surprised.
That is pretty much it.

An actively growing plant is depleting nutrients from the water column. If you have plenty of PAR, <"abundant CO2"> and non-limiting mineral nutrients you can have exponential growth. This is from <"Phytoremediation to remove nutrients from eutrophic storm water using Pistia stratiotes">.
Inorganic N (NH(4) (+) and NO(3) (-)) concentrations in treatment plots were more than 50% lower than those in control plots (without plant). Reductions in both PO(4) (3-) and total P were approximately 14-31%, as compared to the control plots. Water lettuce contained average N and P concentrations of 17 and 3.0 g kg(-1), respectively, and removed 190-329 kg N ha(-1) and 25-34 kg P ha(-1) annually.
Plants from <"varzea lakes and "floating meadows""> along the white water rivers of the Amazon basin have <"huge potential growth rates">, because they live in a world where everything is turned up to 11, every day.

This is <"Victoria amazonica at RBG KEW"> (in the Water lily house).

KPPCONT_046291_fullsize.jpg


and this is what Kew say about light and nutrients
.........Carlos Magdalena, who cultivates this species at Kew, notes that temperature and light are crucial. The seedlings are raised at 32 °C and the juvenile and adult plants are grown on at 26 to 32 °C. In the winter, supplementary lighting must be provided for the seedlings. A 400 watt horticultural supplementary bulb is used to give bright light for 12 hours. The brighter and longer the exposure to light, the better and faster the plant grows. Eventually, in autumn, it is the lack of light that finally causes the plant to die.......The general rule is: the larger the pot, the larger and healthier the plant. General maintenance includes weekly feeding throughout the season using 'feed bombs' and prompt removal of decaying leaves......
cheers Darrel
 

alto

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Go back a few years & the internet abounds with nitrate shock, nitrate toxicity posts & articles

Somehow this has transformed into a seeming collective nitrate is benign regardless of concentrations or sudden elevations :confused:

I'm sort of a Science person ;)
while there are some species that appear resistant to even very high levels of nitrates ie no apparent effect observed on behaviour or growth, eg, channel catfish - I'm not much interested in keeping channel catfish in my aquaria so while I've read several articles I'm not inclined to dig out the links (that few seem interested in reading anyway :) ) -
I suspect that the ornamental fish I do keep in my aquarium share more properties with zebrafish

Nitrate and nitrite exposure affect cognitive behavior and oxygen consumption during exercise in zebrafish

Zebrafish have been avid science contributors for decades :writing:
(I'd be surprised if the human nitrate guidelines didn't begin with zebrafish experiments)



I'm concerned about the long term affects it will have on my fish. Its 40ppm up from 20+ (the usual colour is probably closest to 25).
There are significant papers confirming biochemical effects of nitrate exposure to support your concern

Nitrate toxicity to aquatic animals: a review with new data for freshwater invertebrates

You don't mention how you're measuring nitrates or which water conditioner you're using, I'd suggest a Seachem test kit which includes a nitrate reference standard as this should help clarify what's happening with your aquarium & test measurements (you may find other similar kits locally, look for salicylate based nitrogen kit (rather than nessler)

It's impossible for nitrate to generate spontaneously ;) so you should be able to sort out where the unexpected readings are coming from
 
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Surely the simple answer to reduce nitrates would be just to dose some traces like tropica and Epsom salts for a while? The other ferts contain nitrates so essentially you are adding them then looking for ways to get them back out. Maybe just dose the Aquascaper Complete Food when plants look a bit washed out.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Surely the simple answer to reduce nitrates would be just to dose some traces like tropica and Epsom salts for a while? The other ferts contain nitrates so essentially you are adding them then looking for ways to get them back out. Maybe just dose the Aquascaper Complete Food when plants look a bit washed out.
That would be my suggestion as well. I like plants as my visual indicators of nutrient content, simply put the plants don't lie.
I suspect that the ornamental fish I do keep in my aquarium share more properties with zebrafish
and I suspect that you are right.

There is discussion of this in <"A simple continuous .....">, and links. I think the most relevant data is probably from Salmonid aquaculture, because they are fish that have very high water quality requirements, higher than even rheophilic tropical fish.

In the <"Technical report: Salmonids in recirculating aquarium systems..."> it talks about nitrate parameters being different between high flow and low flow systems, and not being an issue in high flow systems (I assume this is due to higher levels of dissolved oxygen, but I don't know why), the upper limit given is 10 ppm NO3, and the reference is <"Molleda, M.I., 2007. Water Quality in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems for Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.) Culture, Project report - Fisheries Training Programme. The United Nations University">, I've just got a copy but I haven't read it yet.

Aquaculture papers are quite interesting because they look at (sub-lethal) parameters that effect fish growth rate. Toxicology papers tend to look at LC50 values.

The Zebra(fish) Danio (Danio rerio) paper use NaNO2 and NaNO3 as its source of NO2-/NO3- ions. If you convert the 606 mg/L (ppm) NaNO3 to ppm NO3- you get 442 ppm NO3- (RMM 85 and 62/85 ~ 73% NO3), so we are still talking pretty elevated levels of NO3-.

cheers Darrel
 

zozo

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nitrate parameters being different between high flow and low flow systems, and not being an issue in high flow systems (I assume this is due to higher levels of dissolved oxygen, but I don't know why),

Always thought that in high flow system there is little accumulation of sediment.. All high flow streams in my area all have slipery rocky/stone substrates with some accumulating in the lee of bends and dams. While low flow or stagnant always is a massive accumulation of decompossing muddy sludge. I have an old artifical lake behind my house, i used to go fishing and sometimes swimming there. about 1/3 of it was rather shallow and i could walk all away across a few 100 meters from hip to chest deep but in about 40cm deep soft and slimy sludge. Never realy experienced this crossing anything that flows.
 
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Just for record should probably mention for the OP, I meant Tropica Premium not Specialised. Specialised also contains nitrogen.

Sent from my STH100-2 using Tapatalk
 
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Never realy experienced this crossing anything that flows.

I guess the finer sedimnent gets washed away in these systems Zozo just leaving the heavier rocks behind.
 

zozo

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I guess the finer sedimnent gets washed away in these systems Zozo just leaving the heavier rocks behind.

Yes that's what i mean.. And thought obviously less decomposing mater to encreas Nitrate parameters and such.. All is kinda washed out and ends up in the lee patches or pushed against the shore sides where marginal growth thrives on it. That's what i assume in my imagination, just a theory i do not know if that's realy the case why next to the higher oxygenation the nitrate levels alledgedly are lower in streaming waters.

Way back about 25 years maybe when i still did fishing and a club board member with the task, "Water and Flora mannagment" i monthly needed to put on my wadding suit and take water samples from the lake and bring the samples to the local wildlife inspector. So nothing highly educative nor didn't made desicions on my own i was the local wildlife inspectors right hand muscle to get him the samples and do the diggin or log and report observations.. And he was the brains and did send it on to te lab etc.. I was instructed to always take water samples from 1 metre depht. Closer to the surface and any deeper was no good to get an good average result. Likely to do with temperatur, surface movement and water oxygenation.
 

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