Raising Nitrates in Reef Tank – 4 Simple Methods


If you’re in to reef tanks and like keeping them healthy, then this article is for you. It’s all about how to raise nitrates so your tank stays healthy.
1) Feeding food grade marine salt2) Adding a “rich” substrate3) Using an iron reactor4) Running clean water

The “how to increase nitrates and phosphates in reef tank” is a question that has been asked for quite some time. There are 4 different methods that can be used to increase the levels of these nutrients in your reef tank.

Nitrate levels are much too sensitive for corals. In addition, a low nitrate level in your reef tank might be disastrous. Seeing your corals decolorize and struggle to thrive may be sad. This is a difficulty that many aquarists experience.

So, how do you increase nitrate levels in a reef tank?

Increasing the amount of food in your tank is one of the most natural approaches. Increasing the quantity of fish may also help to elevate nitrate levels. Another option is to reduce the amount of filtration in your reef tank. External supplements, on the other hand, are the most efficient and effective way to boost nitrate levels. 

This page goes into great detail on the procedures stated here. You should attempt to learn about these approaches before deciding on the best one for you. Let’s get down to business and elevate the nitrate level in your tank!

What Nitrate Level Should a Reef Tank Have?

Adaptability of diverse species in various habitats varies greatly. You can witness this with your own eyes in a reef system. 

Nitrate is an important parameter in the ecosystem of your aquarium. It either benefits or damages the people. The nitrate level in a reef system is quite sensitive. Even little changes in nitrate levels may be fatal to corals and other invertebrates.

Fish have a higher tolerance for nitrate levels than humans. In saltwater aquariums, they can withstand up to 40 parts per million of nitrate. If your tank is just for fish, a ppm range of 30 to 40 is ideal.

Corals, on the other hand, cannot thrive in such a high nitrate environment. The optimal nitrate level for corals in a reef tank is substantially lower. It is estimated to be between 0.25 and 5 parts per million. 

For optimum coral hue, many experts recommend maintaining the level between 2 and 5. I’ve been watching it as well, and it’s been as lively as ever.

This is such a critical situation that it should be checked on a regular basis. Here are some of the testing kits I used to check out my saltwater tank. 

While digital kits may seem to be more handy, chemical kits are just as useful.

Is a Nitrate Deficiency a Problem?

The Nitrogen Cycle produces nitrate in the reef tank. Filter bacteria convert ammonia derived from fish waste into nitrite. It then decomposes into nitrate. 

Plants will then ingest this nitrate. As a result, the equilibrium in our reef tank is preserved. 

Nitrate levels in your tank, on the other hand, may be reduced in a variety of methods. There is too much algae in the tank, or there aren’t enough fish in the tank, or there are other problems. 

This nitrate drop might be problematic for your corals. They aren’t accustomed to exceptionally low amounts of nitrate in the water because they aren’t acclimated to it. 

Coral discolouration and development may be hampered as a consequence of this condition. Even yet, this may result in issues such as corals remaining closed.

It’s critical to maintain equilibrium in your reef tank. Nitrate levels should always be maintained under control for the benefit of your corals.

4 Ways to Increase Nitrates in a Reef Tank

Low nitrate levels might cause problems for corals. Countless aquarists have experimented with various strategies to raise nitrate levels in their tanks. I’m also one of them. 

Regrettably, none of them operate as well as one would expect. 

Personally, I’ve tried many methods to increase nitrate levels without seeing any negative side effects. Here are the approaches that I’ve discovered to be the most practical and effective.

  1. Increasing the food supply
  2. Filtration is being reduced.
  3. Increasing the number of fish
  4. Adding fertilizer from outside

The outcome of these procedures, however, may differ from tank to tank. In this essay, I go through these strategies in depth. 

Method 1: Increasing the food supply

Fish excrement produces nitrates in the aquarium. What should you do to increase the amount of fish waste produced?

Obviously, you can do this by increasing the quantity of food in your tank. The more fish that consume, the more waste they produce. As a consequence, the nitrate level in your tank will rise. 

You may be wondering, “What should I feed my reef tank?”

In your reef system, you may feed a variety of items. To provide a balanced diet for your tank, you may use frozen food, dried food, or pellets. Powdered and liquid food can also be used to feed your tank. 

To make things simpler, I’ve attempted to compile a list of the many foods I’ve tried.

So, let’s get started!

Food Pellets

Food Pellets are great. Because neither they are powdered nor a big chunk of food. They don’t float inside the tank, thus giving everyone a chance to get a bite.


The pellets are dispersed around the aquarium, keeping everyone occupied. 

These are my picks of Food Pellets.

Foods that have been freeze-dried

These aren’t quite as popular as the prior one. These securely wrapped cubes, on the other hand, were a favorite of several of my fish. When these dried foods come into contact with water, they tend to burst.


Here’s a suggestion:

Place a few crumbs in a shot glass before feeding. Then pour in some aquarium water and wait 10 minutes. I used to throw them in like this. You may also give it a go!

Here are some recommendations: 


These are for your Tangs if you have them in your tank. Tangs are an excellent technique to boost nitrate output in your aquarium. We’ll talk about it later. 

They eat these things like they’ve never been fed before! Even if they were well fed, I’ve seen them battle for it.


Nori is just seaweed that has been toasted. They may be found in any grocery store’s “Ethnic Food” section. They are really inexpensive and last for days.  

I usually keep them in a Ziploc bag. However, there is a catch! Make sure you purchase dried nori that is free of oils and other contaminants.

You may also get nori that has been specially designed for your fish. gimMe snacks noris has always been my go-to snack. They’re fantastic because your fish can eat them right away and you can use them to make sushi.

Because nori floats in water, feeding it might be a challenge. As a result, all of the fish in your tank may miss out on the opportunity to consume them. That’s why I propose hanging the nori to feed your fish with a Veggie Clip. Here are some wonderful vegetable clips to think about.

Foods that are powdered

It’s equally important to feed your corals, like fish. Foods that are powdered are specifically great for your corals and invertebrates. When it comes to powdered food there’s a debate between reef roids and coral frenzy.

For corals and invertebrates, however, you may use any of the powdered foods listed below. In my reef tank, I use them on a daily basis. As a result, you don’t have to be concerned about the quality.

The majority of the time, corals eat at night. So, before going to night, give your tank a dosage of this powdered coral food. Your corals will explode with growth and vivid hues!

Is it true that this method also raises phosphorus levels?

It’s a lot of fun to increase nitrate in your reef tank by feeding it. However, there is an issue with it. Increasing the quantity of food will also raise the number of other components. 

So, certainly, the additional feeding strategy will cause a phosphate increase. 

Being honest is the last thing you want to do. It is worse to have a high phosphate level than to have no nitrates. As a result, follow the instructions provided by the food makers. 

Method 2: Filtration is being reduced.

Low nitrate levels may be the result of a large quantity of plants in your tank. 

Because nitrate is a nutrient used by plants. They clean the water in your tank of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. Filtration refers to the whole process of eliminating natural waste from your tank.

Algae eat nitrates as one of their major meals, and they devour them quickly. A large quantity of algae may entirely eliminate nitrate from your water tank.

As a result, reducing your filtration system may be a clever way to boost nitrate levels. Some of your plants may be reduced. Algae reduction may also assist you. 

On the market, there aren’t nearly enough saltwater algae cleansers. I, on the other hand, am a victim of fast algae development. I used Fritz Aquatics’ Algae Clean Out to get rid of the surplus algae back then.

This method will gradually but steadily help you raise the nitrate levels in your tank.

Method 3: Increasing the number of fish

We’ve mentioned before that, nitrate levels increase with more fish waste production. Therefore, Increasing the number of fish will definitely increase nitrate production.

This, however, is not an effective strategy. Owners of smaller tanks will not be able to use this strategy. Another issue is that it can cause havoc in your tank.

You may, however, try adding a certain species of fish to assist you.

What Kind of Fish Should I Include?

Fish with a voracious appetite are beneficial in resolving this issue. Rather of adding a boatload of fish, you may add a few fish like this. They will consume a lot and produce a lot of trash as a consequence. 

Tangs are noted for having a voracious appetite. As a result, adding one or two tangs will almost certainly raise nitrate levels. 


Dosing External Supplements (Method 4)

Adding chemicals to one’s tank is always a source of concern. It’s natural for first-timers to feel nervous. Because chemicals may have a negative impact on tank water.

As a result, novice aquarists are more likely to use the three approaches listed above. The rise in other trace elements, on the other hand, is a cause for concern. As a result, they are discouraged from attempting such tactics.

But, be assured, there is no need to be concerned while applying fertilizers. You may dispute over whether or not you used the incorrect fertilizer. And here, I’ll assist you in selecting the appropriate fertilizer to raise nitrate levels in your tank. It could be a little perplexing at first. But bear with me; I’ll explain everything to you in detail.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorite chemicals. You may choose any of these options based on your own preferences.

Which Should You Try First?

All of these vitamins are beneficial. It’s clear that some of them are superior than others in many areas. 

According to consumer feedback and my experience, Neo Nitro is more effective. However, when it comes to dose rate, KNO3 NilocG outperforms Neo Nitro by a wide margin. 

All of the compounds’ preparation and dosage procedures are detailed here. Before making a choice, you should look into it.

Sodium Nitrate Solution (Homemade)

The components are listed on the container label for the majority of the compounds. The secret constituents, on the other hand, may be perplexing.

There may be no hidden chemicals in the fertilizers you want to purchase. Even then, you can’t put your whole confidence in them. That is why utilizing your DIY Solution is the best option.

This may be accomplished quickly and without the need of any complicated procedures. This is a lot simpler than developing Gh Booster from scratch. Because you won’t have to acquire a variety of chemicals and proportionally combine them. You simply need to purchase Sodium Nitrate, sometimes known as Chile Saltpeter. 

Dosing will be determined by the amount of your tank. If your nitrate level is below 0, you should dose on a regular basis.

If you wish to raise the nitrate level in your tank by 2 ppm, here’s an example. Assume you have a tank with 100 liters of water. 4ml of the stock solution must be dosed.

To produce the stock solution, start by collecting 500 mL of water in a container. Then add 40 grams of sodium nitrate (NaNO3). Thoroughly mix the solution until all of the granules have dissolved in the water. 

Keep in mind that 1 gallon equals 3.8 liters. This relationship will assist you in determining what your tank requires.

Neo Nitro

Neo Nitro is a nitrogen supply that is liquid balanced. When we add nitrate, we’re often concerned about the possibility of a phosphorus increase. This will not only keep phosphorus under control, but will also aid in its reduction.

Other creatures’ phosphorus uptake is increased. As a result, the rise in nitrate will be completely dominating. Furthermore, you are not need to provide a stock solution. To enhance the nitrate level in 1 gallon of water by 5 ppm, just add 1ml of Neo Nitro. 

Assume a tank capacity of 100 liters and a static rise of 2 ppm. This will allow us to compare the dose rates of different fertilizers to those of this one. 

One milliliter of Neo Nitro will raise the nitrate in 3.8 liters by 5 parts per million. So, for every 100 L of water, you’ll need around 10.526 ml of Neo Nitro. The nitrate level will rise by 2 ppm as a result of this.

KNO3 NilocG

This is another low-cost fertilizer for raising nitrate levels. 

To begin, dissolve 1 teaspoon of KNO3 in 75 mL of water. After that, stir it until all of the particles have dissolved. This is your default option. 

If you dose 1ml, it generally raises the nitrate level in a 100L tank by 0.42 ppm. As a result, in a 100L tank, administer 4.76ml to elevate 2 ppm of nitrate.

Spectracide Stump Remover is a product that is used to remove stumps.

At first glance, this may seem to be an unusual chemical to utilize. However, you must examine the chemical’s constituents. It’s made entirely of potassium nitrate. As a result, combining it with water will almost certainly raise the nitrate level in your tank.

Take 1 liter of RODI water to begin producing the stock solution. After that, add 10 grams of stump remover. Finally, mix the solution until it is completely dissolved. 

And there you have it: your stock answer!

In average, 2.5 mL of this stock solution raises nitrate levels in 2 liters by 2 ppm.

And 7.6 liters is the equal of 2 gallons. Now you’ll need (2.5/7.6)*100 = 32.89 ml for a tank capacity of 100 L. You should administer this quantity into your tank on a regular basis until you get your desired outcome.

Preventive Measures to Maintain a Healthy Nitrate Level

Isn’t it true that prevention is always preferable than cure? So, if you want to keep the nitrate level from dropping, do these things:

feeding on a regular basis

It’s a must-have for any tank. You must frequently feed your fish, corals, and other species. However, it’s critical to keep an eye on the quantity of food you’re putting in. 

The nitrate level will not decline if you feed them on a regular basis. However, be certain that your fish eat whatever you offer them. Otherwise, you may see an increase in nitrate levels. Because uneaten food will ultimately decompose and produce additional nitrate.

Maintaining a healthy fish population

As we previously mentioned, the number of fish produced is proportional to the amount of nitrate produced. So you’ve figured it out? It’s rather straightforward. Your nitrate output will grow if you maintain more fish, and vice versa.

That is why I propose maintaining a healthy fish population. Obviously, depending to the size of your tank.


In a reef tank, what is the ideal phosphate range?

Phosphate levels in reef tanks should be maintained below 0.05 parts per million. The maximum concentration is 0.1 ppm. Phosphate levels should be kept within this range, according to experts.

Is it necessary to remove my protein skimmer in order to boost the nitrate level?

Yes, for a few days, you should get rid of it. Because it generally clears off fish waste before it can release nitrogen. Keep it out of the tank for as little time as possible. Otherwise, the nitrate level in your tank may soar.

Is it true that living rock reduces nitrates?

Bacteria are usually found on living rocks. And the more bacteria you have, the more trash your bacteria will digest. As a result, living rocks play a significant role in reducing nitrate levels. 


Hopefully, we were able to provide you with information on how to boost nitrates in a reef tank. All of the strategies shown here have been tried and true. Furthermore, each of these strategies has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your needs. 

So, be cautious and choose the way that is appropriate for your tank. If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

Thank you for sticking with me this far. Best of luck!

The “how to lower nitrates in saltwater aquarium quickly” is a common problem among reef tank owners. There are four methods that can be used to raise nitrates in the tank, and they are all simple and easy to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Related Tags

  • how to increase nitrates in reef tank
  • how to raise nitrate without raising phosphate
  • nitrate too low in reef tank
  • dosing nitrates reef tank
  • how fast can i raise nitrates in reef tank

Leave a Comment