Ammonia produced by shrimp as a waste product is oxidized by aerobic bacteria in the biological filter: first to Nitrite(NO2) and further to Nitrate(NO3). In nature a complete nitrogen cycle exists, where plants utilize Nitrate as a food source, thus maintaining the very low Nitrate level. In the aquarium we create a one way system rather than a nutrient cycle. The plant growth is mostly insufficient to use up all the Nitrate introduced by the left food and waste. Nitrate will slowly accumulate, so that unnaturally high concentration are reached. Shrimp reacts distressfully to high Nitrate levels and will eventually die. High Nitrate levels could also cause the development of blue-green algae and hair algae. Nitrate level should be tested regularly.
This is my test result of Amonnia, Nitrite and Nitrate.
To prevent the build up of high levels of Nitrate:
- Keep the shrimp/fish density low.
- Stimulate plant growth.
- Remove debritus, dead plants and other dirt.