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Old 03-28-2012, 07:23 PM   #1 
wystearya's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: WV
Once cycled, then what? Nitrate control..

I'm getting closer to having my 5 gallon tank cycled, as the nitrItes have spiked. Next I know will be the nitrAtes and the cycle is complete. But since bacteria will not get rid of nitrAtes, how do you control them?

Obviously I know water changes will help a bit, but unless you eventually change 100% of the water, nitrates will continue to climb. Will plants help to absorb the nitrates? I have a couple of sword plants, and my duckweed is growing. (I got just 3 stowaway leaves of duckweed when I bought the swords, and now I have close to 20 leaves!) Will these help?

I just want to know how to most effectively keep the nitrates in check once the cycle is finished. I'd rather not use chemical products to 'absorb' the nitrate if I can avoid it.

Thank you all!!
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:13 AM   #2 
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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With regular weekly water changes I believe the nitrate levels will remain at a constant (or near enough) plant do help. I read a really interesting thread with laymens terms also children's text book pictures because I am a complete novice with cycling.
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:27 AM   #3 
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Basically, with water changes. Plants will help to an extent... But unless you have a highly planted tank, you are still going to need to do water changes on a normal schedule.

The big thing is, nitrates are a lot less harmful than ammonia and nitrites.
In my very amateur understanding of the cycle, 1ppm of ammonia converts into roughly the same amount of nitrites... And the nitrites convert into roughly the same amount of nitrates.
1ppm of ammonia is harmful to your fish, as is 1ppm of nitrites. You can safely go all the way up to around 50ppm of nitrates before you start seeing any harmful effects. (I do water changes to keep it below about 20ppm in my goldfish tank.)

You would have to go crazy with water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrites at a safe level in an uncycled tank, but you have a lot of leeway with the nitrates. You can do 20% changes once every two or three weeks if the cycle is going strong and converting to nitrates.
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