Habitat - Indoor :: Having trouble controlling nitrates

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:00 pm   Having trouble controlling nitrates

This is a pretty weird situation that I'm in...

As most veteran forum members here know, two of my turtles, Hurricane and Typhoon have shared a tank their entire lives. Not ideal, and I'd like to separate them, or at the very least upgrade their aquarium from a 55 gallon to a 100 gallon sometime soon. The reason I'm bringing that up is because I thought that the two of them sharing a 55 gallon was why I couldn't get control of the nitrates. Just too much turtle feces, too much urine, too much bacteria, etc. However, this problem didn't start until after I moved to my new apartment last year in September. So I don't think their feces are the problem, especially since I clean their tank of that regularly. They get regular water changes, as well.

My third turtle, Sadie, has her own tank. She is a HUGE RES and she goes to the bathroom constantly. Keeping her tank clean is a lot harder than the other two. I have had no problems with her tank getting outrageously cloudy.

They all have the same diet, and the same filter in each tank, the Cascade 600. Both filters are around 3 months old.

I prefer the Cascade brand, because for dealing with nitrates it has always been a huge help. And in Sadie's tank, it is a huge help. But for some reason the nitrates in Hurricane and Typhoon's tank keep building up. I've been doing the nitrogen cycle the way it's supposed to be done. I treat it like a very delicate process, because it is, and now all of a sudden after 11 years of doing it right, it won't work??? I am painfully confused.

I completely restarted the cycle, emptied all the water, did a 10% water change every day, and the tank would NOT stop getting cloudy. I went as far as to use my super old method of treating the water with a tablespoon of sea salt to treat it, and increased the percentage of my water changes. Thinking that maybe there's something in the tap water at my new apartment, I even made a few gallons of sterile water, waited for it to cool down and added it to the tank, and that made zero difference. Finally, getting totally fed up with this nonsense, I did the one thing we all tell ourselves we shouldn't do: I took out most of the water and replaced it with straight tap water. The tank is VERY clear today. Previously, after any major water change, the tank would cloud up overnight.

I'm glad the tank isn't cloudy anymore, but without knowing the cause, I have no idea how to prevent this in the future. Any ideas/suggestions? I'm open to just about anything.
Spike - Egyptian mau mix, 8 years old
Phryne - Japanese bobtail, 9 months old
Hurricane - RES, 8 yo, 6 1/2 in. long
Typhoon - RES/Map hybrid, 8 yo, 7 in. long
Sadie - RES, 20 yo, 10 in. long
Sophie - Colombian red tail boa, 5 yo, 5 ft. long
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theartbook35
 
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Location: Connecticut, US

Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:40 pm   Re: Having trouble controlling nitrates

You been doing this so long and so well it's a routine. New tank syndrome got you but all better now not cloudy. Glad to hear another old timer loving the nitrogen cycle , our best friend , lets get it back. Need to know what your starting with at the new apartment. Is it on well water ? Or may even be a different water company. Test the tap . Being in US the law requires them to make available there quality report , may want to check for any changes on there part.

My first 25 years I had a routine 20 gallon water change for 150 tank. Just looked at the water and told myself 20 gallons is good and was. My second 25 years I use a test kit for the nitrate numbers. Yes I know me being an old timer using a test kit , don't tell anyone ! We know how picky a cycle can be too. Any changes in setup: river rocks , sand , decorations , bio media in filter all that hold's that good bacteria. Every 5 years I do a full break down and change all my Bio Media. Yes it last longer that's just me. I seed the new in tank first a few weeks then into filter. The old I bag and once 100% water change set in tank too along with all the driftwood , river rocks , caves , decorations … Helps me get a cycle back in two weeks with that extra good bacteria. Works for me and Piggley. Not all 150 gallons tank are the same on everything in it so others will differ some. How old is your bio media ?

Don't get frustrated or panic the cycle will come back. Try smaller %'s on water changes , the test kit will help that faster. Don't rush the cycle trying to start maybe water changes every other day ? Watch out for the spikes. Track the numbers. Once ammonia and nitrite are (0) cycle started then adjust water changes (%'s) to the nitrate numbers to get them down to (0) too , to maintain the cycle. Larger %'s is what the mind tells us but smaller is better to get it back faster and maintain it ! Turtle's are hardy as you know and don't really care if cycled or not. But we know that it dissolves that solid waste so a filter works better and a nitrogen cycle helps control the parameters better. I adjust every water change to the numbers. Sometimes it's a 5% change another time 9% and a rare 10% especially in summer . Did you go bare bottom in the new setup ? That effects how much good bacteria attaches in a tank too. It's cheating a little but bio block's will help get it back fast and help maintain it well : https://onedersave.com/

Also if cloudiness is the norm for the water supply (a high algae count) then using a UV sterilizer at maintenance time will clear cloudiness up fast if sized properly to your tank. Would only have to run it couple hours at most or could us it all the time. And try smaller water changes for the nitrates/ cycle.

Just a friendly reminder to another long timer patience helps too when a change happens but we correct then all good again ! :D
litefoot
 
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Joined: Nov 7, 2016
Location: New Orleans
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:47 pm   Re: Having trouble controlling nitrates

I have never used a test kit, lol! I have learned to eyeball it, because when Hurricane and Typhoon were forced upon me, I didn't have money for stuff like that. I can tell if ammonia is too high, based on smell (I'm autistic so my senses are really hyper-aware of everything all the time). I can smell the nitrates too if they get too high, and right now the water smells normal. Anyway, you've got some great advice in here, and I am going try the smaller percentage water changes for sure.

I seldom ever change my bio media, too. I'm convinced that that is why my tanks have lasted so long without this issue.

I'm considering buying bio media products that come from Fluval, to add into my Cascade, which from what I understand is what a lot of people do. Do you have any experience with that? What would you recommend, if you do? I technically can afford to randomly test different things, but, I'd rather not do that, ya know what I mean?
Spike - Egyptian mau mix, 8 years old
Phryne - Japanese bobtail, 9 months old
Hurricane - RES, 8 yo, 6 1/2 in. long
Typhoon - RES/Map hybrid, 8 yo, 7 in. long
Sadie - RES, 20 yo, 10 in. long
Sophie - Colombian red tail boa, 5 yo, 5 ft. long
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theartbook35
 
Posts: 2422
Joined: Mar 25, 2009
Location: Connecticut, US

Post Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:23 am   Re: Having trouble controlling nitrates

The look and smell for me too but would now and then lose the cycle in my early years. Test kit was hard to get use too. The Fluval bio is what I use ! Can not justify using Bio Home at the cost since I change it every 5 years. In my fx6 I use mostly all bio media with just two white pads to protect the media. I try to tell beginners how important a cycle is and a few just don't get it. It does most of the work , parameter's good , filter work's better and if done correct to maintain it ( cycle) the tank even on the day before filter cleaning time the water is crystal clean. Some beginners tell me they only clean a tank when water is dirty ???? A cycle dissolves waste so a filter if setup correct can catch and "hold" the waste not sending it back into a tank. This cycling is true so to let the good bacteria do it's job. Since then I never , honest , never lose a cycle. Nothing in filter that can not last a long time and I only need a quick rinse every 3 month's when I open it. Still do my weekly or bi weekly water changes to control the nitrates as needed ! I have another method for carbon and only used the day of water changes to remove those chemicals from the water company. Can do that with the (gph) on the fx 6. Have gone 5 months and all is good. Filter never has solid waste in it ! I agree you never changing bio media and my way could be over kill but works great for me and Piggley ! I'm still recovering from Hurricane Katrina myself , no more random test here either. I go with what works . It's only Piggley and me now can't afford what I use too have. In gallery under Piggley I have a few video's , it shows how well my water is. Have a few photo's too.

Chances are it's a combination of several small problems too ( filter inadequate sized for size of turtles now , different water supply , little different setup , old media … poop / pee habits with older turtles ) you can tweak out in time , for now find the correct %'s on water changes to get nitrates to (0). I know and you know , you got this , will be ok !!


PS: can you post photo's of setup , have an idea may be able to adapt to what you have now to save some money on an upgrade. Mainly do you have gravel/ rocks / any substrate and how deep or bare bottom ?
litefoot
 
Posts: 1585
Joined: Nov 7, 2016
Location: New Orleans
Gender: Male

Post Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:41 am   Re: Having trouble controlling nitrates

After getting the water to exactly what I need it to be (nitrates at 0), and learning to use a test kit for the first time, which was very stressful for me... We have decided to just separate Typhoon and Hurricane. They are at a size now where they could hurt each other if they wanted to, and their shared tank is not large enough for them both. I really believe that that is the root of the problem at this point.

Using all the advice you guys have given me, going forward, taking care of their individual tanks will be a lot easier.
Spike - Egyptian mau mix, 8 years old
Phryne - Japanese bobtail, 9 months old
Hurricane - RES, 8 yo, 6 1/2 in. long
Typhoon - RES/Map hybrid, 8 yo, 7 in. long
Sadie - RES, 20 yo, 10 in. long
Sophie - Colombian red tail boa, 5 yo, 5 ft. long
User avatar
theartbook35
 
Posts: 2422
Joined: Mar 25, 2009
Location: Connecticut, US

Post Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:51 am   Re: Having trouble controlling nitrates

I agree , will make maintenance much easier for you. Also give you a chance to control the water parameter better. Maybe you can put the setups side by side so they can still see each other ? Keep us posted ! Pictures are nice too ! Piggley wants to say Hi .
litefoot
 
Posts: 1585
Joined: Nov 7, 2016
Location: New Orleans
Gender: Male


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