High nitrates 160ppm+ - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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High nitrates 160ppm+

Hopefully someone will be able to help.

I've been struggling with some of my plants for a while now and never really knew why .

I use pressurised co2 and do ei dosing . I've only been dosing half the recommended amount .

Today i decided to look further into the problem.

My tap water alone is only 20ppm nitrates .

So I dosed today and then afterwards decided to test my nitrates . I might of done it wrong dosing and then testing . My results came back as 160ppm+ .

I do regular water changes every 4 days I know ei is every week but it's easier with my shift pattern and normally do my filter every 2 weeks . I do try and feed sparingly .

I do have 3 bn plecos which I know they are messy but my stocking is under for my 40 gallon. I have purigen on it's way to help and I know regular water changes and removing plant matter helps but how can they be so high .

Anyone have any suggestions? Could my activated carbon leech into my water ?

I'm doing a water change tomorrow and cleaning my filter so I'll let it settle for a few hours before I test the nitrates again.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 07:54 PM
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You're in a tough spot. 160ppm nitrates is way high. Experts feel (at least for fish) we should keep nitrates <=20ppm....the lower the better.
I've never done EI dosing so am unsure how it affects NO3, but it probably increases it some. I tried Purigen for a time and although it turned brown, I never had it lower tank nitrates. I became unconvinced that it traps organics before they break down!
In any case, with 20ppm NO3 in your source water you will find it nearly impossible to get/keep nitrates low enough with water changes....even with excellent filter and tank maintenance. I think you should explore an alternate water source or a means of filtering nitrates from your water. Consider API Nitra-Zorb, an anion resin that adsorbs ammonia and nitrates and is rechargeable many times with salt water. Note: place pouches following fine filtration as detritus coating the pellets can reduce the use life. It is uncertain if the product can be reclaimed with bleach/water like Purigen.
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I would likely stop EI until tank nitrates were under control.
And obviously you need to do all the other things to get/keep tank nitrates low. Don't overlook fast growing floating plants that will convert ammonia into plant tissue.

(Note: I use Nitra-Zorb in a now discontinued API Tap Water Filter to pre-filter nitrates from my well water for water changes - works great! I get about 250g before I need to recharge with salt water. I use ordinary non-iodized table salt, although aquarium salt can also be used).

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5g quarantine / hospital / grow out, 10g fry tank, 37g fry grow out tank, 110g stock tank (was outdoor, now basement)

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Well I've heard many people who use api test kits getting false readings so I've ordered a new one.

My thoughts were exactly the same to stop dosing ei and see how my tank reacts . I have root tabs which in turn should keep them going for now .

As i said I'm going to do a water change tomorrow and then see how things go from there and see if there is any change.

The only other thing is that my filter isn't doing a great job . As much as I have 0 ammonia and nitrites I feel the flow has dropped substantially. Which I'm now looking into a new filter .

I've heard good things about purigen I'll give it a try and see how things go .
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:09 PM
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I've heard good things about purigen I'll give it a try and see how things go .

Yea, I 'heard' of good things too...it just didn't seem to change my tank nitrates at all. I still don't think you'll be able to keep nitrates low enough with 20ppm NO3 in your source water.


I wish you the best of luck.

Tank On, Mike-
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5g quarantine / hospital / grow out, 10g fry tank, 37g fry grow out tank, 110g stock tank (was outdoor, now basement)

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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I think I'll stop dosing a week and test my water everyday and see how it goes without dosing.

If so I might look at how much I'm dosing .
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 01:25 AM
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While you may have high nitrates, you might want to get another test kit. Does the one you have actually read levels that high? The EPA essentially says no tap water nitrates above 10 ppm. if yours is consistently 20, you might want to have a discussion with your water company and get bottled water for drinking.

In any case, I'd do 30% water changes a day until NO3 is where you want it (based on a good test kit - I like Salifert kits). Purigen will definitely reduce nitrates by removing their organic source.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 03:45 AM
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While you may have high nitrates, you might want to get another test kit. Does the one you have actually read levels that high? The EPA essentially says no tap water nitrates above 10 ppm. if yours is consistently 20, you might want to have a discussion with your water company and get bottled water for drinking.

In any case, I'd do 30% water changes a day until NO3 is where you want it (based on a good test kit - I like Salifert kits). Purigen will definitely reduce nitrates by removing their organic source.
The EPA limit is 10 ppm nitrate-nitrogen or 44.3 ppm nitrate. What unit is the test kit using?
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 04:22 AM
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Grab a bottle of RO water or similar. Do a side by side test with your tap water. From what I have read the API issue was primarily reading low or no nitrates due to not getting bottle #2 properly mixed before adding.

Ive got a similar issue and not sure how to deal with it right now. Plan on doing some more testing hopefully this weekend. I am on well water myself. Nitrates were reading about 15-20 out of the faucet.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 02:28 PM
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The EPA limit is 10 ppm nitrate-nitrogen or 44.3 ppm nitrate. What unit is the test kit using?

The EPA limit will not change what's in your water. It's my understanding if the limit is exceeded that it has to be noted in the water report. Noted, not corrected. Central Valley California try to find ground water with less than 10ppm.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 05:03 PM
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The EPA limit will not change what's in your water. It's my understanding if the limit is exceeded that it has to be noted in the water report. Noted, not corrected. Central Valley California try to find ground water with less than 10ppm.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 05:08 PM
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While you may have high nitrates, you might want to get another test kit.
I won't ever trust the API nitrate test kit unless I have measured calibrated solutions and even then I find I have to dilute to the 10 - 5 - 0 range.

If I'm above 10 and below 40 is often just looks the same to me depending on the kit.

The size of the drops changing from one bottle to another (Bottle 1 versus Bottle 2) is really frustrating and leads to error.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 05:42 PM
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I've heard good things about purigen I'll give it a try and see how things go .
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Yea, I 'heard' of good things too...it just didn't seem to change my tank nitrates at all.
Purigen is just supposed to adsorb nitrogenous wastes before they become ammonia or nitrate. They won't do anything to actually lower existing nitrate.

My algae is the only plant that pearls.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 08:20 PM
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I won't ever trust the API nitrate test kit unless I have measured calibrated solutions and even then I find I have to dilute to the 10 - 5 - 0 range.

If I'm above 10 and below 40 is often just looks the same to me depending on the kit.

The size of the drops changing from one bottle to another (Bottle 1 versus Bottle 2) is really frustrating and leads to error.
I gave up on the API NO3 kit long ago. The Salifert kit is so much easier to read from 5-30 ppm and there is no need for shaking any bottles.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 09:55 PM
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I'll stand partially corrected on this but, I'm curious where this came from. Kind of a cartoon looking thing for government regulation. It looks like a state or local water provider guidelines rather than EPA regulations I don't see anywhere that it says the contamination needs to be corrected. #6 is the closest, it says you have to try and correct it. It says says you have to give public notice, that's what the water report is. As far as bottled water.... In California between 2007-2017 854 public wells tested above the MCL at least once. I've been living in CA that entire time and have never heard anything about passing out water here. The Feds suck at this kind of stuff.

I'm completely off on the Central Valley stuff. My water report says I'm at 4.9ppm now. I'm going to test when I get home. It does look like they pulled a well out of the system

Last edited by Kubla; 04-04-2019 at 10:03 PM. Reason: to change what was typed
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 10:43 PM
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I'll stand partially corrected on this but, I'm curious where this came from. Kind of a cartoon looking thing for government regulation. It looks like a state or local water provider guidelines rather than EPA regulations I don't see anywhere that it says the contamination needs to be corrected. #6 is the closest, it says you have to try and correct it. It says says you have to give public notice, that's what the water report is. As far as bottled water.... In California between 2007-2017 854 public wells tested above the MCL at least once. I've been living in CA that entire time and have never heard anything about passing out water here. The Feds suck at this kind of stuff.

I'm completely off on the Central Valley stuff. My water report says I'm at 4.9ppm now. I'm going to test when I get home. It does look like they pulled a well out of the system
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production...esentation.pdf

The nitrate limit is an MCL not MCLG so it requires action when exceeded.

If people aren't drinking directly from the well, it's very common to blend high nitrate water with low nitrate water to get below the MCL.

A lot of newer studies suggest the level is set too low and that nitrate isn't as dangerous as previously thought for infants.
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