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I am hearing that a canister or hang on back are nothing but a factory for nitrates, is this true? I just did a water change with RO water and my nitrates were fine when the tank was off and now that my tank is back on my water is off the charts with nitrates. So I am wondering should I loose the filter and use just live rock and a skimmer....any one have any opinions on it?
 

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It is true. That's actually their job, it's what they are supposed to do. They house the bacteria that converts ammonia and nitrite into nitrate. For a fish only tank this is fine as fish can deal with a fair amount of nitrates. Corals, most of them, cannot.

The bacteria that convert nitrates into nitrogen gas, which then leaves our tank through the water's surface, doesn't grow in the high oxygen environment of a canister. That's why we use live rock instead of a canister. The rock has all the zones needed to house the right kinds of bacteria to process ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
 
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