Can Seachem Matrix reduce nitrates in your aquarium? Let’s start at the beginning…
For over a year, KaveMan Aquatics has been maintaining its African cichlid tank with nothing but sponges and pot scrubbers for biomedia. This has kept our tank cycled (with no ammonia or nitrite spikes!)
Although pot scrubbers work just as well as many other expensive bio-media, there’s one thing they cannot do – support the growth of anaerobic bacteria (more on that later). But what you need to know is that these little guys help in reducing nitrates.
But, anaerobic bacteria require a certain environment in your tank to grow. Introducing Seachem Matrix.
Seachem Matrix has been one of the top dogs in the industry when it comes to quality biomedia, as far as keeping your tank cycled, and keeping your water crystal clear.
But we soon got aware of the fact that Seachem claims that Matrix can help in growing anaerobic bacteria to help remove nitrates.
Some of our fans and friends have put this claim to the test and they have seen their nitrate levels decrease. But that isn’t enough – KaveMan Aquatics has tested out this claim for ourselves!
Months have passed and the results are in! In this article, we’ll show you our findings.
What Is Anaerobic Bacteria in Aquariums?
But first, let’s learn what anaerobic bacteria is and how it can reduce nitrates in your tank.
Anaerobic bacteria breathe in nitrogen from nitrate (NO3) and uses it to convert carbon food sources into nitrogen gas (N2) and energy. This nitrogen gas then floats up to the surface of the aquarium. Poof!
This means that these denitrifying bacteria (anaerobic bacteria) naturally remove nitrates.
Not sure about the aquarium nitrogen cycle? Here’s a simple explanation.
Anaerobic bacteria are germs that can survive and grow where there is no oxygen. In fact, that’s the key difference between aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. Other differences include:
- One nitrifies while the other denitrifies
- Each consumes different food sources
- Each uses different oxidizing agents
How to Reduce Nitrates in an Aquarium – Using Seachem Matrix
Here’s a reveal of what our sponges and pot scrubbers look like after a year, and watch us replace it all with Seachem Matrix (follow along if you want to try this experiment yourself):
For your convenience, here’s a list of things you might need to add Seachem Matrix to your tank:
- API Master Test Kit: Test your water to see your water chemistry numbers.
- Filter (obviously): A clean and empty filter (basically new)* – we use the Fluval FX6.
- Filter Media Bags: This makes the setup, maintenance, and removal processes much easier. Bonus, it helps instantly cycle a quarantine tank.
- Filter Pads: Two filter pads to sandwich the chemical media to force the water through it. We typically use one blue filter pad and one white fine filter pad that is designed for the Fluval FX6.
- Chemical Media: To polish your water for clarity and remove any impurities. We use Seachem Purigen.
- Seachem Matrix (what a surprise): Help grow anaerobic bacteria and help remove nitrates.
- Seachem Stability: Bacteria in a bottle – boost bacteria growth in a new filter.
- Seachem Prime: You’re most likely going to use brand new tap water in your new filter, Prime will help de-chlorinate it.
* It’s worth mentioning that we use a second Fluval FX6, resulting in us only replacing 50% of our biomedia at once. If you have only one filter, then the amount of biomedia you can replace depends on the maturity of your tank:
- If your tank is fairly new (< 3 months), remove 25% of your biomedia at a time.
- If your tank is mature (> 1 year), remove 50% of your biomedia at a time.
The Results Are In and They’re Looking Good
Can Seachem Matrix remove nitrates? YES! Here are the details…
To Sum It All Up – Water Changes Are Still Necessary
There you have it, we tested this claim out for ourselves and the results don’t lie. Seachem Matrix can definitely help grow anaerobic bacteria and remove your nitrates.
Even overstocked, heavy flow, and heavily oxygenated tanks, like with African cichlids, can achieve these results.
Does that mean we don’t have to do water changes anymore… yeahhh-no. Water changes are necessary and have more benefits other than just helping remove nitrates.
If you want to know more about keeping African cichlids, we have a free online webinar training.