Zero Nitrates?!? - GTA Aquaria Forum - Aquarium Fish & Plants serving the Greater Toronto Area.
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Old 11-13-2019, 11:43 PM   #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, 08:24 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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Old 04-24-2020, 10:40 AM   #3
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I got 0 nitrates during a fishless cycle in an empty tank. 2 Different test kits and a test at a fish store. Contacted the makers of Prime. No idea how. Always 0 nitrates in my planted tank. Last time I tested was the big power outage, no filter for 3-4 days just small heated water exchanges and 0 everything.
Something to said for plants.
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #4
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0 nitrates without plants is not possible after the nitrogen cycle, as others mentioned above. some amount of nitrogen can be tolerated by fishes but high concentration is not good thus the water change to export it.

With enough plants reading can be 0 or close to 0 if the plants are consuming the nitrates as soon as they are produced.

Bad test kit can be blamed for 0 reading but I suspect incorrect use of it is also possible.
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Old 04-24-2020, 02:01 PM   #5
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Convix 67. Tested over and over by me w 2 different kits. Water given to another experienced person for their kit. A reputable fish shop. 3rd cycled tank. Trust me it wasn’t user error or bad test kit. Kept that tank empty for months dumping ammonia and no nitrates And after research with ehiem and the makers of Prime found out that it has happened before. The same 2 kits I had were used later to show that the next cycle had nitrates. Kits don’t work, stop working then work again. I might have posted about it here when it happened. Don’t be so sure of what’s possible or not.
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Old 04-24-2020, 04:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamie View Post
Convix 67. Tested over and over by me w 2 different kits. Water given to another experienced person for their kit. A reputable fish shop. 3rd cycled tank. Trust me it wasnít user error or bad test kit. Kept that tank empty for months dumping ammonia and no nitrates And after research with ehiem and the makers of Prime found out that it has happened before. The same 2 kits I had were used later to show that the next cycle had nitrates. Kits donít work, stop working then work again. I might have posted about it here when it happened. Donít be so sure of whatís possible or not.
I'm not clear what you're trying to say here but all I said was user errors are possible, not necessarily definite.

Anyway, in your case you dumped ammonia in an empty tank (no fish no plants) /w established biological filter and you saw readings of 0 on all - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:16 AM   #7
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More often than not, people with 0 nitrates are just doing the tests wrong. The test will always read 0 unless you shake the hell out of the nitrate bottles. I'm assuming the reagent that reacts with nitrate precipitates and sticks to the bottle if left undisturbed for a while, giving you an inaccurate result if you don't shake it vigorously first.

I too used to believe I had 0 nitrates on a planted tank before someone told me to really shake the bottle. After doing so I realized it was closer to 20ppm.
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