Nitrates in an SPS Tank

herman

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The general concensus states that Nitrates are bad and yet there are several tanks with seemingly deadly amount of nitrates that are absolutely gorgeous and thriving. This subject got touched on in the BB vs DSB thread.

Frankly this is one of those subjects that confuse me and I am hoping for more clarification.

What I am looking for is how nitrates can benefit in certain aspects and how they are deadly in others.

What I am not looking for is for someone to tell me that their nitrates are 0 and to tell me that they are bad.
 

jackson6745

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Great idea for a thread! It confuses me as well.
Calireefs tank is a great example of how you can have nitrates and still have colorful SPS. Hopefully he'll chime in :)
The one thing I am sure of is when nitrates are too high(over 50ppm in SPS tanks) there is quite a bit of STN/RTN based on a few high nitrate tanks that I've seen
 

kimoyo

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I just posted this in another thread so I'll repost it here.

jackson6745 said:
When you come up with a theory LMK please. Seeing Pierces tank confuses the $hit out of me ;) compared to other SPS reef I have seen.

You sould see Adrian's (ricordiaking) frag tank :lol:.


I've been asking around to see if there are any models for nitrate uptake and if I find them I will post here. I included the accepted model for ammonium uptake by corals at the bottom of this post.

Pierces system has 40ppm nitrates but still has great color and growth in his display. But his frag tank, which he is using old bulbs in, has great growth but not color.

What people believe now is that the coral and zooxanthellae draw from the same pool for carbon. So that when the zoox increase in population they are then outcompeting the coral for C thus preventing the coral from performing calcification. But it has been shown that high levels of ammonium or alkalinity or CO2 can negate the effects of high nitrate on coral growth.

It has also been shown that chlorophyll pigments darken in low light levels (remember they are most effective at specific wavelengths).

Some corals have not been shown to expel zoox. Its assumed that the coral controls zoox growth by limiting transport of nutrients to zoox. But I haven't seen a model that explains what happens to this transport mechanism in high nitrate levels.

Here's what I think and it could be wrong. Peirce might have high levels of zoox in his corals. But something (high levels of ammonium, CO2, alkalinity, or combination) is still allowing him to get good growth. And his lights are providing good enough light (remember he runs a longer MH photoperiod) that his colors are still coming thru; evidenced by the fact that his corals brown in his frag tank.

BTW Rich, I know you told me when we were talking about your fishload coloring up your corals that you thought it was the amino acids from the fish poop. But that is a very small percentage of what the corals actually use. Most of there requirements are met thru ammonium assimilation (the model below) which leads to AA's but this might still fit in well with the large fish population thing.

Click to enlarge.

 
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kimoyo

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hermangareis said:
The general concensus states that Nitrates are bad and yet there are several tanks with seemingly deadly amount of nitrates that are absolutely gorgeous and thriving.
Nitrates aren't deadly to corals but unlimited zoox growth can kill a coral.
 

jackson6745

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kimoyo said:
What people believe now is that the coral and zooxanthellae draw from the same pool for carbon. So that when the zoox increase in population they are then outcompeting the coral for C thus preventing the coral from performing calcification. But it has been shown that high levels of ammonium or alkalinity or CO2 can negate the effects of high nitrate on coral growth.

This would explain why so many people think a high alk makes your SPS more colorful. Paul, where has this been shown? I would like to read more about it. Thanks :)
 

kimoyo

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jackson6745 said:
This would explain why so many people think a high alk makes your SPS more colorful. Paul, where has this been shown? I would like to read more about it. Thanks :)

This is the paper, Marubini & Davies 1996, that talks about it. But they don't have a model for nitrate uptake.

And this is one of the best papers I've read while in this hobby, Miller & Yellowless 1989, and of course its an academic paper. You'd be surprised at how many academic papers related directly to our hobby, its strange that so many act like they don't matter.
 
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ShaunW

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Nitrate is not toxic at the levels we are talking about, however, it represses an supercharged fuel for algae growth and corals (eukaryotes).

I posted this in the BB vs DSB thread and would like to repeat it here again.

I think alot has to do with what species of macroalgae has been introduced to ones tank. Limiting algae growth through nitrate and phosphate control works (bigger skimmer, DSB), but preventative medicine always works better. Therefore, never introducing species of algae that thrive in oligotrophic waters and are able to derive all their energy requirements through photosynthesis is another piece to the puzzle.

Additionally, algae growth is always going to be depending on the most limiting molecule. If nitrate is in excess, but some other nessesary requirement for growth is absent, then regardless of the nitrate levels, algae will not grow.
 

herman

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The one thing that I find is that people with a higher fishload that really like to feed their fish are the ones with the higher nitrate levels. But its these same people that have the most beautifull tanks.

They also happen to be the people with perfect husbandry.

Ideally I would like my reef to be dominated by sps and also have a school of chromis amongst other fish. At what point does it become too much? What are the limits?

It seems that most conventional wisdom regarding reeftanks gets thrown out the window as peoples expertees grow.
 

cali_reef

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jackson6745 said:
Great idea for a thread! It confuses me as well.
Calireefs tank is a great example of how you can have nitrates and still have colorful SPS. Hopefully he'll chime in :)
The one thing I am sure of is when nitrates are too high(over 50ppm in SPS tanks) there is quite a bit of STN/RTN based on a few high nitrate tanks that I've seen

I concur with your hypothesis, there are just some corals I just can't keep and starts to STN after a while in the higher level (more than 50ppm) of No3. The same coral would do okey in lower amounts for a long time and grow, but in Warren's tank(super clean water) it would grow fast and have nice colors, the Willi Milli is a good example.

The colors on my coral would really "pop" when the Alk is raised to around 10 dkh, I don't personally know what the connections are.
 

ShaunW

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kimoyo said:
You'd be surprised at how many academic papers related directly to our hobby, its strange that so many act like they don't matter.
I find it absolutely ANNOYING! The pseudo-scientists involved in the reefkeeping hobby I guess like to keep the mis-informed monopoly, :lol: .
 

kimoyo

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cali_reef

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As requested:

jackson6745 said:
Seeing Pierces tank confuses the $hit out of me ;) compared to other SPS reef I have seen.

You guys are confusing the $h!t out of me.. I have tried both DSB and some what a BB(because my fish only tank have a SSB and is connected to my reef tank), both have their advantage and disadvantages. Here are my experiance with them:

My old 150 gallon tank did very well with a 6-8" sand bed, some of the sand in there were over 5 years old when the tank was broken down. I did minimum water changes (less than 10% and not more than once every 2-3 months), No3 and Po4 was undetectable using a ETS 800 as the only skimmer. You guys know how I like to stock my fish so the bio load is not lacking in anyway. I think the sand bed was doing the things it needs to do in that tank.
Here is a full tank shot for reference:



For Rich:



On my new 150 reef, I decided to go BB because everyone was doing it and I wanted more flow. The fine grain sand always caused my pump seals to leak over time and I am tired of replacing seals on my close loop pump, so no sand at all in this tank now. I also have a 180 gallon with a 1-2" sand bed full of fish connected to this system, along with few other tanks making the total water volume about 600 gallons. I had a 40 gallon refugium with a 6" sand bed but I decided to pull the sand out two weeks ago to see if that had any effect on the system, so far the perimeters are the same.
Well, my No3 is 50ppm and Po4 is anywhere from .3 to 1 at times for the last 12-18 months, I do 5-10% water changes a week and the levels are not going down even with two large skimmers skimming wet. With that I believe a DSB does help keep the levels down if you want to keep lots of fish in a reef\fish tank, go BB if you want to have flow but you will need other means to control the excess No3 and Po4.
 

kimoyo

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cali_reef said:
I concur with your hypothesis, there are just some corals I just can't keep and starts to STN after a while in the higher level (more than 50ppm) of No3. The same coral would do okey in lower amounts for a long time and grow, but in Warren's tank(super clean water) it would grow fast and have nice colors, the Willi Milli is a good example.

The colors on my coral would really "pop" when the Alk is raised to around 10 dkh, I don't personally know what the connections are.
Certain corals seem to perform differently under high nitrates. I think when we find a nitrate model we can figure it out.
 

ShaunW

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Check out their class field trip! I should have signed up in that class when I was in school.
 

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kimoyo

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hermangareis said:
The one thing that I find is that people with a higher fishload that really like to feed their fish are the ones with the higher nitrate levels. But its these same people that have the most beautifull tanks.
Not all the time :lol:.
 
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