What is nitrate?
Nitrate is the waste product of naturally occurring bacteria (Nitrospira spp.) turning nitrite into relatively non-toxic nitrate. In a typical aquarium, nitrate is the final stage of nitrification and usually accumulates with time.
Why test for nitrate?
Invertebrates do not tolerate a high level of nitrate in a marine aquarium, so careful measurement is essential to keeping corals healthy. Nitrate is also the cause of many algae problems in a marine aquarium so monitoring and responding to nitrate can help reduce these algae issues.
What is the correct level of nitrate?
In a reef aquarium, a concentration of under 10 mg/l is optimal for both coral growth and health. In a marine fish-only system, nitrate should not exceed 20 mg/l. Higher readings are unlikely to affect fish health, but it may promote excess algae growth.
What to do if the nitrate level is wrong?
Regular partial water changes with a good quality salt should be sufficient in maintaining low nitrate. Good aquarium hygiene, such as removing excessive waste from filters or sumps will also help to keep nitrate down to a minimum. Excessive feeding will also cause high nitrate, so ensure that fish are not overfed.
How to test for nitrate?
Q: Why do I run out of 1 reagent before the other(s)? A: We fill our test kit reagent bottles to a minimum amount before they are put through a vigorous QC regime. This means that the vast majority of bottles will in fact be overfilled by varying amounts meaning that the reagents may well run out at different rates but you should be able to carry out at least the number of tests stated on the packaging.
To find out more about water quality and parameters in saltwater aquariums, click here.
For common frequently asked questions, click here.