Nitrates in tap? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrates in tap?

So after a week or so of my Nitrates being North of 40ppm, I decided to check my tap water as a control.

Can you tell the difference between the two? Neither can I...

So before I write an email to API, I want to ask if there's any possibility of Nitrates in tap water.

Btw, I beat the Nitrate bottles up like there's no tomorrow before I tested
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 01:24 PM
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You need to google your local water district, nitrates that high are unsafe and beyond regulatory limits.

https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 01:29 PM
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There can be nitrates in tapwater, especially if you live in an area where there's a lot of runoff from farms.

However, I believe the max allowed is 45 ppm, so what your test kit is showing is extreme. Are you sure the kit is not expired?

Also, you could try testing bottled water, to see if it's your tap water or the test kit.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 01:39 PM
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This is directly from the EPA website above

Nitrate (measured as Nitrogen) 10 mg/l MCL, max cont limit
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome.
Runoff from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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According to this, they're way under what I'm testing....

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by randym View Post
There can be nitrates in tapwater, especially if you live in an area where there's a lot of runoff from farms.

However, I believe the max allowed is 45 ppm, so what your test kit is showing is extreme. Are you sure the kit is not expired?

Also, you could try testing bottled water, to see if it's your tap water or the test kit.
I didn't check the serial number before I left for work but I will tonight. If it looks good, I'll try a bottle of water and see what it says. My guess is that the test kit is bad.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-04-2016, 04:12 PM
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Good, now you got a place to start, keep in mind Flint, remember all water districts don't report the truth.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2016, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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How concerned should I be?

Below are the tests I took of bottled water, tap water and aquarium water (in that order).

As you can see, my tap water is practically toxic and i've been drinking it since I moved here about 9 months ago. We have a 1.5 year old that also drinks it daily. What should I do?

Bump: FYI, I made to sure to follow the directions exactly for all the tests
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2016, 10:06 PM
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Your water quality report says the highest measured nitrate lvl was 4.4ppm, with the average being 1.3ppm. It looks like you are measuring about 40ppm. Either your test kit is wrong or the water quality report is wrong. You might want to calibrate your test kit. There are threads here on doing that, but essentially you need some KNO3 that you mix with RO water so you know exactly what nitrate level the test kit should be reporting.

BTW, you have ammonia in your tap and it looks like it has been converted to nitrites in your aquarium, but is not quickly then being converted to nitrates. Are you still cycling the tank?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-05-2016, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp999 View Post
Your water quality report says the highest measured nitrate lvl was 4.4ppm, with the average being 1.3ppm. It looks like you are measuring about 40ppm. Either your test kit is wrong or the water quality report is wrong. You might want to calibrate your test kit. There are threads here on doing that, but essentially you need some KNO3 that you mix with RO water so you know exactly what nitrate level the test kit should be reporting.

BTW, you have ammonia in your tap and it looks like it has been converted to nitrites in your aquarium, but is not quickly then being converted to nitrates. Are you still cycling the tank?
Unfortunately yes. I feel like I'll never stop cycling

And I actually do have kno3 so maybe I'll give it a shot

Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-06-2016 at 03:12 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 02:41 AM
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Those tests are disturbing!

Sure your tests may not be accurate for whatever reason. However, I would contact your utility department, or whoever supplies the water, and explain. I would personally take a sample to an independent lab for verification. Most charge about $25 bucks around here, some even free. I certainly would not be drinking that water until it's verified safe.

Btw. I wouldn't bother with KNO3. If the tests are marginally accurate you have more than enough nitrates. I would calibrate the tests as cjp999 pointed out though I wouldn't rely on a $5 test to ensure my families safety. Let the professionals tell you it's safe.

Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 02:52 AM
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I live very near farms and my nitrates from tap never exceed 5ppm. The phosphates run high, around 1ppm. The results you're getting seem to be alarming. I would have the water independently tested.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pattern8 View Post
I live very near farms and my nitrates from tap never exceed 5ppm. The phosphates run high, around 1ppm. The results you're getting seem to be alarming. I would have the water independently tested.
40-50ppm from my well. That's typical of what you get out of wells in this area. Most municipal water around here comes from wells too, but is treated to be 39ppm, which is just below the 40ppm the regulators say you must be below.

So I wouldn't say that a reading around 40ppm is alarming, but it is contrary to what the water quality report says you should be getting. Also, I don't know about the ammonia. Is that used to threat the water instead of using chlorine?
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 03:39 AM
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I just want to throw this out there. While living in Salisbury, I was measuring levels of 60-80ppm of Nitrates oout of the tap on my API test kit. Once it's above 40 the test becomes quite inaccurate. Maybe even after 20. You shouldn't really be having 20ppm nitrates in your water anyways.

I eventually got Salisbury University to test the water and they reported a total of 33.6ppm of Nitrate after using a much more specific test (only if I can dig up this old email I got from the doc to tell you what kind). Basically, the tap water was ludicrous. I contacted the local government, etc, etc, etc...

So maybe get someone with a proper test to take the measurements for you if you can't get a lower reading.


Salisbury is on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where there are a lot of farms. There is a lot of run off into the rivers and water deposits in the area. All of this accumulates and builds more nitrates. The system is having severe algae blooms where areas have complete die off due to lack of O2. Happens every year in the area. Lots more problems on top of that, too.

The legal limit for Nitrate is 44 or 45ppm (forgot exact). At that concentration it can threaten new born and old people with depletion of O2 in their system. Babies can get a condition known as Blue Baby Syndrome.

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 02:54 PM
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The municipality should work with you to figure out what's going on, but I think they would want you to show them a state-certified lab result first (at your expense). Once drinking water leaves their treatment plant it's highly unlikely it would pick up nitrates.

We also need to be careful with reporting units:

EPA limit on nitrates in municipal water is 10ppm N (10mg of N per liter). Most aquarium test kits report ppm NO3 (mg of NO3 per liter). To convert from N to NO3, multiply by 62 then divide by 14 (mass of NO3 over mass of N). From NO3 to N, multiply by 14 then divide by 62.

So a 10ppm N limit is equal to 44ppm NO3.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tbonedawg08 View Post
Below are the tests I took of bottled water, tap water and aquarium water (in that order).

As you can see, my tap water is practically toxic and i've been drinking it since I moved here about 9 months ago. We have a 1.5 year old that also drinks it daily. What should I do?

Bump: FYI, I made to sure to follow the directions exactly for all the tests

Being that I was a lab director at a drinking and wastewater laboratory for quite a long time and own a laboratory now I suggest you call the SDWA, Safe drinking water act hot line, by pass your water district altogether.

I'll see if I can dig up the number for you.

https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and...-water-hotline

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinki...itrate-NO3.pdf
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