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New Planted Tank PH and Nitrate.


6 Sep 2013
Hi all
I have just joined the forums but have been browsing for a while and found them extremely informative. Three months ago I decided to take the plunge into planted aquariums with pressurised CO2. I have been gradually cycling the tank using a mature filter which is now removed and my upgraded one while also slowly stocking the tank over 3 months. I carry out regular water changes aiming for 3 x 10% each week, and also clean the filter once every 1-2 weeks. I would say the tank is looking pretty good, for a first aquascape and is moderately planted as there is a lot of area taken up by my bog wood and Dragon Stone but curious to hear other thoughts so have attached some pics for your viewing pleasure. I have also included the entire system spec to provide as much info as possible you may want to get a cup of coffee or tea... :lol:

Fish Tank Slideshow by Climbitise | Photobucket

Tank Specs...
Juwel Rio 350 litre
4 x 54 watt Juwel Bulbs
3kg CO2 bottle
TMC Duel Gauge Regulator @ 3bar with Easy Aqua atomiser
Aqua Manta 1500U external filter (1500 L/ph)
Hydor External 300w
Hydor 1600 L/ph wave pump
Newave 2600 L/ph pump
Neutro + nutrients
Neutro Carbon
Tetra Complete Substrate 3 x 5.8 kg
Unipac Congo Aquarium 2-3 mm Gravel 2 bags
Blooma Play Sand 1/2 bag

Tank Parameters...
PH - 6.0 - 6.2
Ammonia - 0ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 30 - 80ppm :(

Tap Water Parameters...
PH 6 - 6.2
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 0ppm

Tank Stock (Is this over stocked not a problem if it is, just an excuse for another new tank):thumbup:
1 Moonlight Gourami
1 Whiptail
1 Tiger Pleco L002
6 Otocinclus
6 Emerald Corys
2 Albino Corys
1 Long Finned Blue Ram
18 Cardinal Tetra
12 Harlequin Rasbora
8 Zebra Danios
11 Shrimp (Amano and supposedly Ghost shrimp which I fear are actually red claw macrobrachium)

The problem I am having is that the nitrate levels are never below 30 and gradually creep up to 70-80 when dosing at recommended amount.From what I understand nitrate are not directly harmful to fish until around 100 ppm but I am getting pretty darn close and am worried about sustained exposure for my more sensitive fish e.g ram and whiptail. I suspect that due to having a large number of fish and dosing with all in one nutrient I know contains nitrates my tank has higher levels constantly. I have tried to lower the dosage but have noticed signs of other nutrient deficiencies e.g unhealthy leaves when doing this. I have been trying to locate dried salts for my tank but with no luck. Should I consider moving to something with less or no nitrates like Easy Life Pro Fito and see if this sorts it out (worried about long term cost thou).

Also my only other issue is my PH I understand that the carbonic acid will increase the acidity gradually as I pump the CO2 in but I find in general it edges towards 6. Is there any good way of buffering the PH naturally without the massive increases in hardness seen when using coral gravel in my filter. I also don't really like bottle solutions and avoid where possible and don't like the idea of using PH down.

Overall my baptism in Planted Tanks has been extremely enjoyable and exciting and if I do say so myself pretty successful. I am planning to gradually add more demanding plant species once I get all aspects of my current setup balanced and correct.

Sorry for the huge post figured get all that info in first as a normally see it being requested when left out and hope the pics make the read worth while. If I have missed anything relevant please just ask and I will provide, thank you for reading and for replies in advance. :):wave:



Global Moderator
25 Jan 2012
Where are you getting your misinformation that 100ppm nitrate is harmful to fish. I accidentally dosed to over 300pmm nitrate (pump failure) and did fish care...of course not. Plants were good though.

Stop using a test kit, its probably wrong forcing you "waste your worries" on something completely irelevant...

Worry about CO2, CO2 distribution and lighting time/levels.

You have 216W over 95 US gallons -> 2.25W/G which is quite high and if not careful will vaporise your plants unless CO2 and nutrients are carefully controlled. Try running with two tubes at first until settled down.

Try here for dry salts.
Ei Starter Kit - Starter Kits - Dry Chemicals - Fertilisers


Thread starter
6 Sep 2013
Hi Ian
Thanks for the extremely quick reply.

I have read on many a website that 100ppm + can cause problems with breeding and also for some fish problems with Nitrate poisoning, but am also aware that many reliable sources also say that it does not effect the fish at all.

I was really just trying to work put the majority vote on this one as I find one site will say A one will say B and it seems to be 50/50. HOW DO HIGH NITRATE LEVELS AFFECT FISH HEALTH? |The Garden of Eaden

I have been dialling in my CO2 over the last 2 months and getting pretty close due to the pretty high flow in the tank the distribution by eye and drop checker seem pretty even. I have also tried using two tubes for a couple of weeks but found this was not ideal for my smaller plants e.g pogostemon helferi which appeared to slow growth. (I wondered if this was due to the depth of water as the Juwel Rio 300 is pretty deep in comparison to other tanks I have seen and used.

Thx for the link to dry salts been searching high and low



4 Aug 2010
I agree with Ian. Throw away your nitrate kit. They are not that accurate and will lead you to making false assumptions. 0ppm nitrates in tap water? I'd query that one, although that's not to say it isn't possible.

Co2 and PH - if you are pumping in c02 I would expect your PH to be changing quite a bit over the course of the day. You will get a more accurate picture by taking measurements every hour.

If you are going to start using EI dosing and dry salts then the 50% a week water changes will reset all the nutrient levels in the tank, including nitrates.

Slow growth - this is not bad if the plants are healthy.

To be honest, I think your tank is looking good!


Thread starter
6 Sep 2013
Hi Squid
Thx for the reply and info on resetting nutrients before using salts... I intend to switch to dry salts for cost reasons and also fairly comfortable mixing nutrients as done this in the past for other purposes.

I was surprised with the 0ppm Nitrate in the tap water but have tested it at regular intervals and found this to be almost completely consistent. (We live in Scotland so water is pretty good)

Will try PH testing every hour to get an accurate picture of the swing over 6 hours of CO2 injection. Also gonna leave the nitrate test kit to the side for now unless there is a more accurate way to establish this.

Thx for the thumbs up on the tank pretty proud of it to be honest having so much fun and the pay off of a lush green tank is priceless (feel a barclay card advert.....in there somewhere)


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