Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): Fighting High Nitrates? Blame Your Lighting

Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A. Tues): Your high nitrate (NO3) levels are due to the changing of your lighting to LEDs.

The rest of the story: (We interrupt this post due to technical difficulties. Mr. Saltwater Tank has spit sweet tea all over his computer due to this ridiculous idea)

At their most basic level, nitrates are caused by things (fish waste, dead organisms, excess fish food, etc) breaking down. Changing your lighting (even to LEDs) doesn’t cause things to break down. Hopefully the new lighting is causing thing to grow.

You could argue that if you changed your lighting then it could cause corals to die, which could lead to organisms breaking down. However, you’d have to a have a tank that was fully grown out with massive amounts of corals and they’d all have to die at once for them to cause a nitrate spike. Even if all these corals did die at once, I still wouldn’t expect to see a nitrate spike. Maybe a slight nitrate rise but not a spike. In other words, highly unlikely.

I’m adding this terrible advice to my top 10 list of terrible advice Tuesdays. It is truly laughable.


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Comments for this article (25)

  • Justin says:

    We certainly come across some lame dreamed up reasons in this hobby.

  • Pierre-Yves Bouic says:

    Yes and your unstable ph is because of that new DC return pump you installed.
    I think these bits or shear madness come from people trying to sell you all sorts of potions. Still it could be worse, the nearest big city where I get my aquarium stuff has a older guy who has been in the business for 40 plus years running a store who swears that nitrates don’t have any affect on coral, and said to me I must be confused with nitrite. He’s said this to many people. He’s stuck in 1974 & hasn’t read any books on chemistry since.

  • Next we’ll hear nitrate spike due to probes from the Russian space station orbiting overhead. Nice.

  • Dee…CRAP! You didn’t tell me about the probes overheating! We’re all gonna die…SOON!

  • Tony says:

    I should cut back on feeding? If so how much should I back off feed once every other day or more. My tanks glass get covered in one to two days but before I could go three to four days with out cleaning the glass. Help me!!!!
    Thanks Tony V.

  • Tony says:

    Oops I have a slight algae problem on my glass brown in color. Is that from over feeding. I still have all my fish.

  • Jose says:

    Tony. If its like some sort of hairy brown algae, at the cycling of your tank, its normal. It will soon go away. If you have a mature tank, the specific algae would have to be seen, but ALL tanks start to accumulate algae on the glass. Everyone cleans their glass ever other day to prevent this. Anyway check you phosphates level to make sure thats not feeding it and also tank not receiving direct sunlight for to long during the day?

  • Arthur says:

    I think some people have nothing else to do except make up stuff!

  • Tony says:

    Jose thanks but my tank is 3 years old, specs are 75 gallon tank, old school over flow box. In my refugium 5lbs of live rocks, big ass ball of chaetomorpha, Rio14 return pump, Wn110 reef octopus skimmer, BRS dual CFO & carbon reactor, in tank 120 lbs of live sand over 120 lbs of live rocks. Coralife lighting T5 and LEDS 2 T5 10,000k 2 Aticnics, and 4 blue moon LED’s. All on timers. The algae is the stuff the one cleans off the glass as regular manetenice but now it comes back faster.

  • Brian Davis says:

    …spit sweet tea… Haha!! Funny!

  • Tony says:

    I am still learning every day so for all you thanks for the help.

  • Mark says:

    Humans have both nitrites and nitrates and our natural filtration system helps to rid our bodies of them. We are exposed through food being treated with NO3 and NO4. But the quality of potable water is really where we get exposed. We use RO/DI for our tanks to eliminate these chemicals. It’s all about water quality. If we all took care of ourselves the way we do our tanks we’d be in great shape and near perfect health! If the argument about light exposure were true we’d all be sick as hell from the sun.

  • Jose says:

    ok Tony, then what id recommend is to get a phospahte reading from one of the more trusted kits like read sea or hanna digital reader. They are really the only ones that can be dependable i think. First of see phosphate levels. If that is not it then move on to other causes. I have phosphate hanna checker, read sea, ati and around 85% of every algae problem i get has to do with controlling phosphate 🙂

  • Jose says:

    Mark from what i understand we cannot drink 100% full time RODI water. We need some of those minerals that gets filtered out

  • Tim says:

    I know you have recently added a bio-pellet reactor to your system to control nitrates. Have you had luck with this?

  • Tony says:

    Drinking RODI full time not good at all. Do to no minerals/electrolytes in RODI water and something about cells bursting.

  • Matt says:

    Honestly… I feel that some folk in the hobby should be locked away for thinking stuff like this up. They could actually be ruining someone’s day if they were to ever hand out advice along those lines…

    I imagine they feel that a good scrub inside and out with soap and a brush does everything in their tank the world of good as well… Perhaps a little olive oil to keep the fish’s joints lubricated…

    Honestly it’s just laughable the lack of thought some people can put into things… 🙁

  • Pierre-Yves Bouic says:

    Tony overfeeding you tank is the cause of your algae outbreaks no doubt, just put in as much food that you fish will be able to eat in 1 minute. IF frozen food, thaw it in a cup of tank water and use one cube of say Mysis or brine shrimp but don’t dump it in and walk away, instead poor in what you estimate to be 10-15 ( if you have 6-10 fish) pieces of food. Always turn off you circulating pumps so your fish get to associate this with feeding, they will come out. Repeat till cube of food is eaten
    Small feeds 2-3 times a day maximum, just watch to see if any food hits the bottom you can consider this to be over feeding because not all fish will pick it up. Less is better than nitrate production by overfeeding. Take your time, never dump & run.
    Hope you don’t mind mark, I saw no response to Tony’s question.

  • Juan Carlos says:

    There should be a law that prohibits crazy people to have a Tank, its so crazy to think that LEDs can cause Nitrates….. :S WTF

  • Mark says:

    I never suggested that we consume ro/di. It’s important for our tanks not really for us.

  • Mark says:

    Humm. Just thinking a little clearer. Vegetable matter naturally contains nitrites and nitrates as most of you know. When I said if we were to care for ourselves in the manner we care for our tanks we would be in good health meaning that diligent care has huge rewards. We are an obese nation which is disgusting and certainly nothing to be proud of yet people continue to mistreat themselves. So I think that should make it clear that care is the operative word.

  • Bradley says:

    Hey mark. H

  • Alesia says:

    Hey new to your news letter/site..I am really loving the information Im getting. I had salt tanks last about 25 yrs ago. It was SO different then.. I have had this one for about a yr now. Just getting into corals in the last few months… I probably over feed. I am trying not to but worry about the bottom feeders not getting enough.Among the bottom feeders I have a Green Brittle Star, decorator Spider Crab and a Watchman Goby along with lots of crabs.. I do some shrimp pellets and frozen cubes. If I put the food in and the fish get most I am afraid the Brittle or Decorator might get hungry and eat some body else…I havent had problems with nitrates or ammonia yet but do alot of water changes. I do have a problem with algae on the glass thou…I have excellent lighting and dont run it too long daily..Any suggestions on how to get the food to the bottom feeders without over doing it? In fish I have Blue Hippo, Yellow Tang, Blue Damsel, 2 Clarkie Clowns, Mandarin Dragonette. All these are doing great. I have a couple of Anenomies. I have about 6 nice leathers, maybe 10 mushrooms and a couple Colt Corals too. I do have to get something for a small amount of Aptasia I have.

  • Alesia says:

    Its an 85 gal tank with Kessel W lighting.
    Lots of live rock and deep sand bed..

  • Indy says:

    Plus fort sera le carnage, plus grande sera cette re8tinsabolipé&#s230;Le Fatah (conquête en arabe et en futur français) doit prouver qu’il est digne de son nom et reprendre le contrôle de Gaza.

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