If you remember your chemistry subject well, you’d know that nitrates are the final products of the nitrogen cycle. We won’t go through the technical stuff but since nitrates are the end products of a cycle, it is generally referred to as a waste product. Yes, it is true, but it is not necessarily a bad component – which leads us to our article. You must remember that nitrogen comes from food which is why it is unavoidable to have nitrates in your salt-water aquarium. But did you know that it is in fact beneficial for your salt water aquarium tanks to have some nitrate content as it maintains balance in your artificial ecosystem? However when present as above normal levels, nitrates may pose as a threat to your pets inhabiting that aquarium. So how do you keep those nitrate levels at their most proper level? Here are a few tips:
Always clean your aquarium tanks. This washes away the pollutants in a fish tank. If you suspect or have tested your aquarium for nitrate levels and found them to be in extreme levels, you may need to conduct a thorough cleansing of your aquarium. That includes the rocks, ornaments and equipment.
Ask help from your local pet store. You may purchase test kits for nitrogen levels there. Also, if you have found your aquarium to have high nitrate content, you can also buy treated water and replace one-third of the water in your tank (of course, after cleaning it) to lower nitrates.
Frequently change aquarium water. A simple change of clean, fresh water can prevent and help reduce nitrate content. Keep in mind that this risk losing the “good bacteria” in your tank and also you do not want to lose all your nitrate content as they maintain balance in your aquarium. You could try gradually changing water as a substitute to the treated water from your pet store or as complement to it.
Avoid overfeeding. Sometimes, we tend to get carried away in feeding our pets. But as we have mentioned earlier, nitrogen can be derived from food and more feeds for your fish means more wasted food, therefore increasing nitrogen content, which would then breakdown to nitrates.
Try organic treatments. Usually a mangrove does wonders with maintaining natural levels as they become part of your marine-life ecosystem. You could also add live rock, live sand or a combination of both to help maintain nitrate levels. However their effects are not instantaneous and needs to be in your aquarium for some time to be able to adapt to it. These are more on the preventive rather than the cure side.
Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from your local pet store if you have more questions regarding care for marine life in your aquarium. It is also impeccable to do research. Some carry chemical treatments that quickly absorb the excess nitrates in your aquarium – all you have to do is ask the right questions. Caring for your marine life is more complicated than the fishbowl aquarium you had when you were a kid. If you wish to keep your aquatic pets in tip-top shape, take preventive measures and not wait till you see fishes floating lifelessly on your aquarium before you realize that something is wrong.