Diff between nitrates and nitrites

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vogey created the topic: Diff between nitrates and nitrites

I'm beginning to realize I basically knew nothing about true fish/tank care. I always thought, feed the fish, clean the filters, change the water on reg basis... Done. What is the diff between nitrates and nitrites? And witch one do plants help remove? Also are the under gravel filters necessary? I have them in my 55 gal that is set up now (even though the towers with charcoal were broken off by a 6" bullhead that was my first tank fish who ate my beloved first Oscar when we went on VAC for 5 days) I ask because I dunno were I would find ones big enough for my big tank.
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Shaun70 replied the topic: Diff between nitrates and nitrites

Nitrate is the the end of the Nitrogen cycle. You don't want "nitrite" and you don't want "nitrate" exceeding more than 20ppm for extended periods of time, if you have plants, they will remove some of this for you and Nitrate is removed every time you do water changes but depending on your bio load, this can and will creep over time. The only way to prevent creep is by adding more water volume for the current load, or more water changes, bigger and more regularly, which is a lot of work.
I recently had an Oscar in a 55g, it got to the point where my Nitrates were going high, 40ppm or more. I then started doing 3x 50% changes in a week. Within a few weeks they were back under control and the week leading up to my new tank change over, they were around 10 to 15ppm. Now the 90 gallon is running with the same bio load, I have about 5 to 10 ppm now. I have increased the total water volume by almost 150litres with increased tank size and 80 litres in the sump as well. I will only need to do 1x weekly 50% change instead of 3 to keep nitrate creep at bay.

As for undergravel filters, I wouldn't use them personally, or if I did, maybe in a tetra community tank. With serious fish like Oscars, you require serious filtration. You cannot get rid of all the detritis and over time, especially with an Oscar, you gonna get some nasty sludge build up that will create a nitrate problem for you.
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vogey replied the topic: Diff between nitrates and nitrites

I have considered going with a sump, though I'm nervous about the power going out (it happens) and it syphoning into sump and over flowing
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Shaun70 replied the topic: Diff between nitrates and nitrites

Not going to get into the specifics, but it all comes down to the design of the sump and the precautions taken to make it fail safe. Alternatively, a drilled tank is 100% fail safe. I'm using the overflow siphon method but have it setup so it can't flood either the sump, or display tank.
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