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Nitrogen question

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  • Nitrogen question

    My tank's always reading 0 ppm nitrate and I only recently started dosing Flourish Nitrogen at the amount required to raise Nitrate to 10 ppm. However, after 1 day and no water change, the tank went from 10 ppm to 0 ppm. I'm guessing this is a slap you in the face sign of nitrogen deficiency?

    Is the Nitrogen product safe to be using at this frequency and high dose (10 ppm per day)? I realize Ammonia is preferred over nitrate by most plants and algae, so it should be absorbed first. But if I introduce a large amount of bound ammonia by the Nitrogen product, could that allow for a toxic free ammonia level? I figure, if the ammonia level is high enough, the plants may stop absorbing, and I don't trust my beneficial bacteria since they've been starving. Also, with the Prime product, the ammonia is only bound for 24-48 hours. Does the ammonia released by Nitrogen stay permanently bound until used?

    I'll provide a little background if you need it:
    I currently have a 10 gallon planted with a java fern, dwarf hairgrass spaced out all over the bottom, and bacopa. I only have 2 juvenile fancy guppies and 3 shrimp (1 amano, 2 ghost). My tank recently had a huge hair algae outbreak. I'm using daily Excel in the AM and removing it manually. Light is a Marineland planted LED with Marineland hidden LED for additional lighting. Lights are only on for 8 hours. I'm playing with the CO2 diffuser currently to get the levels right, the old diffuser was insufficient. I'm also using Flourish every 3 days and doing 20% WC about every 5 days. I realize my bioload is tiny but I'm afraid to add more too quick because of my last tank that ended in disaster.

    The hairgrass is growing upwards but has not grown runners (after 3 weeks). When I turn the lights on, it is nice and green, but as the day goes on it turns more pale. There's also a few pieces that are yellow or browning, but the majority is green. The bacopa is definitely growing, but the new growth leaves are twice the size of old and have a bit of red/brown unattractive discoloration (image attached). Java fern shows no obvious changes. Fish and inverts are all happy.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Nitrogen question

    If your nitrates are decreasing that quickly, it would indicate that your plants are hungry for it. If your plants are using it up so quickly, then a higher than recommended dose should be fine. But since this is a small volume of water and you are trying to increase your levels from such virtually zero, it might be wise to try dosing smaller amounts daily for awhile and gradually increase the amount. I would try starting with about 5mL daily for a few days, testing regularly to see what the levels are going to.

    As nitrogen levels are increased, you may want to also increase phosphorus and potassium levels to make sure nothing is limiting the plants' growth. You can achieve this with Flourish Phosphorus ( and Flourish Potassium ( Iron can also be important for plant's growth and color, which can be added with Flourish Iron.

    Getting the fertilizers and the CO2 balanced will also help control the hair algae. It sounds like you are off to a good start with your tank. Good luck!