Nitrate Filter For An Aquarium

For more than twenty years aquarists and manufacturers have been trying to design a nitrate filer for an aquarium.  Some have succeeded and some have failed miserably.  Whether you have a fish only saltwater tank or reef tank the importance of keeping the nitrate level as low as possible is paramount in maintaining the health of your tank inhabitants. Well established tanks that have long since completed seachem denitratethe “nitrogen cycle” need to be monitored regularly so that the nitrate levels don’t become too high and cause anything from unwanted algae to stressed and diseased fish.  From “denitrators” in the old mini reef brand sumps that used one-way permeable sucrose bags to nitrate adsorption media for both fresh and saltwater to the vodka method of denitrification, everyone wants to have that perfect aquarium that never needs water changes.  Remember, water changes also replace many of the elements and minerals that are depleted over time in a enclosed system.

Some of the above methods used mainly with saltwater aquariums as well as some of the newer nitrate filters on the market have had some success but all have their drawbacks.  Most are based on the constant, albeit very slow, water flow through a chamber or partition area in the sump with anaerobic bacteria.  Those bacteria in conjunction with sucrose or alcohol (usually vodka) will feed on the nitrates and remove them from the aquarium water along with phosphates; another direct cause of unwanted algae.

In freshwater, there are some products that claim to remove nitrates.  Usually this is done through adsorption media that have limitations and must be replaced on a regular basis.  Some liquid supplements also claim great results.  As far as the vodka or sucrose methods are concerned, it seems that the results are mixed at best for freshwater tanks.  If you do attempt to use vodka or sucrose, make vodkasure that your filters are clean and check them to make sure that they aren’t getting clogged with slime/sludge.

Saltwater denitrators and the vodka method have proven to be quite beneficial to those aquarists that are patient and willing to monitor their nitrate and phosphate levels often to ensure proper doses.  It is also very important that your protein skimmer be working properly and that it is checked and emptied when necessary.  The normal light colored material that is typical in a protein skimmer tends to turn dark and thicker than usual when vodka dosing is utilized.  Because the vodka dosing method tends to deplete your tank’s oxygen levels, make sure that your filtration is clean and working well.

Many fish hobbyists have had great results using nitrate filters and vodka dosing.  The biggest mistakes are usually when the flow of water through the chamber is too great.  When this happens the bacterium that is needed (anaerobic) is replaced with the normal bacteria (aerobic) and the denitrification process is no longer happening.  Another cause of failure is the denitrifierimpatience of the aquarist when it comes to the proper dosing.  It’s better to under dose than to over dose.  Under dosing means that the denitrification is slowed while over dosing can have detrimental effects on both fish and corals.  It’s not the intention of this article to provide the reader with dosing amounts or to encourage the use of a nitrate filter.  This information is readily available on the net.  Use the phrase ‘vodka aquarium nitrates’ for your search and you’ll quickly find the info you seek. Users beware. I wanted to bring to the attention of anyone who is interested in trying these methods to be extremely careful.  Do your research. There is nothing worse than watching a beautiful tank with healthy fish and corals get stressed because of a mistake that you made.

Article Name
Nitrate Filter For An Aquarium
A brief article regarding the types methods and equipment available for dentration of aquariums.

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