Zero Nitrates?!? - GTA Aquaria Forum - Aquarium Fish & Plants serving the Greater Toronto Area.
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Old 11-14-2019, 12:43 AM   #1
Karin
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Default Zero Nitrates?!?

Well, this started with an argument I had with someone on Facebook

He insisted that the third person (who likely ran for the hills rather than get involved in the debate) should aim at zero nitrates at the end of their cycle.

My take on that, was that unless the person started with a well planted tank, zero nitrates was more likely an indicator of either a bad test result, or an incomplete cycle.

In the end he admitted he himself didn't have zero nitrates and that most resources say it's a rare occurrence.

Yet, not even two hours later, another person touted the zero nitrates thing.

I mean, I know you don't want them to accumulate, but when you're first starting a tank, they're a good thing, no?

Is it a "thing" to aim for zero nitrates, or are they just trying to show off?

My nitrates are pretty low, but when the test comes back plain yellow, i just figure i didnt shake that second bottle well enough - and this is a well planted tank that's been up six months or more...
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Old 11-14-2019, 09:24 AM   #2
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Zero nitrates are possible in a planted tank. I've managed to get there unintentionally myself. I used the API tests before and after adding KNO3. I got 0 before and 5, 10, and more after a few different doses of KNO3 suggesting the kit was working.

I don't think 0 is a good target for planted tanks since nitrogen helps with growth.

If someone can get 0 nitrates for a plant-free tank then more power to them although I'd ask how they're doing it. If they don't know how they're doing it, then it probably isn't happening. The bacteria that takes care of nitrogen requires an oxygen-free environment which isn't easy to create in a typical set up. A deep sand bed, a specially configured sump, or some DIY contraption could do it. There are chemical filtration methods as well. And, of course, some people seem to have good results using the roots of pothos or other terrestrial plants. All of those are deliberate efforts though.

My first nitrate test kit gave me 0 every time I used it no matter how much I shook the second bottle. Even after adding KNO3 I'd still get 0. Once I replaced the kit I was able to get a reading above 0. As a result I'm inclined to say that someone's test kit isn't working as the first explanation of a 0 nitrates result.
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