This FAQ page was developed to give insight and answers to the most common troubleshooting questions asked by people who are cycling their new Aquaripure. There are really only a few specific situations that occasionally arise in relation to a new nitrate filter. These situations only occur some of the time, are usually caused by specific circumstances and have fairly simple solutions.
First make sure you have been following the directions. Remove excess biological filtration. Adjust the flow rate every 2-3 days and inject nutrient every 3-7 days. This is all the vast majority of users need to do. The flow rate and the amount of nutrient injected can be adjusted up or down slightly in some situations as indicated below although this is rarely necessary.
My Aquaripure was working great but I think something happened that killed off the bacteria. How do I get it working again?
Occasionally something can disrupt the bacteria in the Aquaripure such as the use of antibiotics in the tank or maybe switching to a different aquarium. If you feel the bacteria in the nitrate filter have been "killed off" or disrupted then don't worry. It will get back to normal but it might take another month or so. To speed up the process you can also inject nutrient every four days for a while. Once it is cycled you can just resume the feeding and adjustments as you normally would. You can also purchase additional bacterial culture in our Other Products page.
The flow rate of my nitrate filter fluctuates excessively and even completely stops at times.
This can actually be a good sign. It generally means that the Aquaripure is beginning to work. Some fluctuation is inevitable and normal. When the Aquaripure is fed it creates a bacterial bloom within the filter. The billions of bacteria create resistance to the water flow but this is also what cleans the water and removes nitrates.
If you are following the directions to adjust the denitrator correctly it should always be able to get a strong flow when the flow valve is wide open. It is important to open the flow valve completely and then immediately decrease the flow to the correct rate each time you adjust it (every 2-3 days.) The bacteria can produce a harmless mucous and it can build up in the narrow tubing. Adjusting the flow rate properly will clear out the tubing and valve of any bacterial build up. It will also let you accurately gauge the flow since when you check the flow rate the end of the outflow tube may be partially empty giving the appearance that the flow rate is less than it actually is. If the outflow has completely stopped even when the flow control valve is wide open then the outflow tubing and flow valve needs to be cleaned. Simply unscrew the outflow tubing and flow control valve and rinse it in hot water and blow on it until it is cleared. You can also take a pipe cleaner or similar instrument and stick it in the outflow elbow an inch or two to clean the outflow elbow.
If you still feel the Aquaripure is slowing excessively you can adjust the flow rate slightly faster when you adjust it but never more than 50%. If this is done you should be careful to monitor it to ensure the denitrator stays cycled and reduce the flow rate if it does not stay cycled.
Also note that the pump provided with the denitrator will not provide enough power to pump water from a sump tank, through the denitrator, and into the main tank. If the pump is placed in the sump then the outflow must be placed in the sump.
It has been over eight weeks and my filter has still not cycled.
Aquaripure's filters are now pre-populated with more live bacteria culture than ever to ensure it cycles as fast as possible. However, it can still sometimes take up to 10 weeks to really notice a difference. Nitrate filters can be less efficient in aquariums with a lot of excessive filtration such as a large wet/dry filter combined with a skimmer and a lot of live rock. Basically, the water entering the filter may be high in nitrates but very low in organic matter. In some extreme cases the nitrate filter can have difficulty cycling at all but there is an easy solution.
The Aquaripure is a comprehensive biological filter. Other biological filtration can interfere with the function of the Aquaripure. The Aquaripure needs to break down some of the organic matter so that it can use up the oxygen in the filter and produce the anaerobic bacteria that then break down the nitrates. You will need to get rid of other biological filtration at the time you install the Aquaripure. For example, get rid of all of the bio-balls in a wet/dry and/or remove all other similar biological media. Make sure you replace any carbon or phosphate removal media monthly. Also, rinse out any sponge type filtration at least monthly in clean tap water to keep the bacteria from building up too much in it. If you have a powerful protein skimmer reduce the skimming action so less organic material is removed by the skimmer. Don't worry! The Aquaripure will pick up the slack. This will insure the anaerobic zone in the Aquaripure remains established. All that is really needed with an Aquaripure nitrate filter is minimal basic physical filtration and strong water circulation. The other biological filtration can be eliminated gradually over a few weeks to be cautious and to allow the tank to acclimate. In heavily stocked tanks with little rock or decoration a small amount of other biological filtration may be acceptable.
Also, the Aquaripure needs to be properly tuned to your bioload. In some systems the flow rate might need to be set slower than the recommended rate. You can also reduce the rate of the outflow by about 25-50% or so. This will also help insure the anaerobic zone remains established. The vast majority of users will achieve a complete reduction of nitrates using the instructions provided but sometimes the instructions need to be tweaked slightly. If you are not obtaining satisfactory results after three months you are welcome to contact Aquaripure for further assistance.
After I feed the filter there is a slight cloudiness in my tank.
Occasionally some of the bacteria from the nitrate filter can escape into the tank causing a slight cloudiness. It should disappear on its own in a day or two but if it is severe then a water change is recommended. Reduce the amount of nutrient injected by about 25% and slightly reduce the water flow as needed to eliminate this problem. Once the Aquaripure cycles and nitrates reach zero this effect will be minimized and you can try increasing the flow rate and nutrients. This usually only happens when the Aquaripure is slightly oversized for the aquarium.
The effluent of the filter smells.
This can also sometimes happen with an oversized nitrate filter. It can be normal for a denitrator to have a slight rotten egg smell occasionally but it should only be noticeable if you put your nose right up to the tube. Let me explain what has happened and then I will explain the solution.
When the anaerobic bacteria run out of nitrates they will begin to break down the sulfates in the water. Sulfates don't really harm anything at all so no one is concerned about them very much. When the bacteria break down sulfates it produces Hydrogen Sulfide gas. Hydrogen Sulfide gas is not very soluble in water and so does not build up in the water in an aquarium unless there is no water flow or aeration at all and it will escape into the atmosphere. The human nose is extremely sensitive to hydrogen sulfide which has that distinctive odor. A person can smell it at concentrations as low as 20 parts per billion.
Fortunately there is an easy solution. You should actually increase the flow rate by 25% or more (not decrease), reduce the amount of nutrient injected by 25% and trickle the outflow through carbon. This should eliminate any noticeable hydrogen sulfide smell. Running the effluent through a small bag of carbon will help remove any traces. Also make sure the outflow and the water in your aquarium is being sufficiently aerated.
How do I store the Aquaripure for later use?
The vast majority of the water in the filter can drained from the unit by removing the tubing and tilting at an angle it so that the inflow/outflow of the unit is at the very bottom. The filter may need to rotated and flipped several times to get as much water as possible out of the unit. Then you need to obtain a cheap air pump and connect it to the inflow tubing and let air circulate throughout the unit until it is completely dry internally. You will want to rotate the filter periodically to facilitate the evaporation of the water. This may take a week or so. When finished the Aquaripure will be functionally as good as new and ready for storage as long as needed. When you re-connect the Aquaripure you can purchase additional bacterial culture for faster cycling. Without adding bacterial cultures the Aquaripure will cycle naturally but will take much longer, about two months.
Aquaripure's filters cycle without incident the majority of the time. Fluctuation in the flow rate is normal and necessary when the filter initially cycles. If the water flow is stopped when you go to feed you can clean the flow control valve and then adjust the flow valve as directed to prevent recurrences. If you notice an excessive smell coming from the filter then you should actually increase the flow rate by about 25% (not decrease), reduce the amount of nutrient injected by 25% and trickle the outflow through carbon if necessary. If your aquarium has nitrates but little or no organic matter in the tank then the denitrator may not be as efficient. Eliminate the other biological filtration in the aquarium, lower the flow rate by about 25%, and inject nutrients up to every four days. If you notice any cloudiness in the tank just lower the amount of nutrient injected and the flow rate by about 25%.
-The Aquaripure can also be fed the recommended amount of nutrient up to every three days although once a week is sufficient in most aquariums.
-A partial water change every three or four months and the use of phosphate remover is recommended to keep trace elements and phosphate at optimal levels.
-Monitor pH levels and when pH levels are low use baking soda to increase it.
-When you add water to your tank lost due to evaporation use a distilled or purified water or at the least use a water conditioner.
-The Aquaripure takes approximately 4-10 weeks to cycle before you will begin to notice a significant reduction in nitrates. Continue to do water changes during that time.
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