Nitrates in well water - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 03:41 AM Thread Starter
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Nitrates in well water

I live in the Sierra foothills and my well water is at 20ppm nitrates straight out of the well. We do have a few farm animals around our property. I know this can cause this.
I need to know the best way to try to control this as much as possible. I know I can not get it all out but could live with 10ppm or less when doing water changes. The tank is 90 gallons with a Eheim 2075 filter.
There are several things I can use but do know which one will be the best application to help.
One is a Phos Reactor with a small pump using Seachem De-Nitrate. This can be reused with proper cleaning.
Another is a Reverse Osmosis unit. Alot more money but if it works I guess well spent. Using it I can treat the water direct into a 50 gallon plastic food grade barrel and pump it directly into the aquarium after siphoning and cleaning the tank.I know alot of salt water people do this. If the water goes thru the RO unit into the barrell the same day of the water change I wonder if the nitrates will remain low in the barrel?
I think I am correct in saying the RO unit will not eliminate all the nitrates. I want to lower them as much as possible.
Looking on the internet there are all kinds of equipment advertised to eliminate nitrate. None of them as well as I can tell do it all. Ive E-mailed several companys and they all say it will help. Some of these are very expensive systems out of my price range
My ammonia and nitrites are 0 and my Ph is 7.6 medium to hard water.In three days or so the nitrates will go from about 20ppm to 40ppm. I do not overfeed. and have only about 25 small fish different varities. I normally do a water change every 5 to 7 days to try to keep the nitrates down to a minimum which In my case is about 20ppm.
Need ideas to work with in the best direction to go to help this situation. All Ideas will be greatly appreciated. Espically if anyone has or has had the same problem on how to control this. I want to start a 38 gallon planted low tech tank in the near future and do not want to deal with nitrates. I understand plants will help control it some. I want to treat the water before it gets into the tank Thanks
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 05:52 AM
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A heavily planted tank will use up some of your nitrates. The plants actually like nitrates (it's fertilizer, basically.)

An RO/DI unit will eliminate your nitrates completely. The water coming out of the DI should have 0 TDS. Without the DI part, you'll probably still have some nitrates in the water, but whatever does get through would be reduced in concentration and the concentration in the barrel would remain constant after filtration for however long you keep it.

I'm wondering why your nitrates go up so fast after a water change. Are there any plants in the tank right now? Is there a large amount of mulm in the substrate?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 09:12 AM
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how deep is your well?
i suspect that it is not that deep 10-15m maybe?..and you take water from the first freatic level. and yes i suspect that the farms play a role in that nitrite/nitrate problem.
for example my folks in the countryside take water from a depth of aroud 50m .
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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I think I will probally go with an RO unit and the storage barrel. That method has been used by saltwater people to draw from for quite awhile. It will be fresh in the barrel not over a few hours there before it goes into the aquarium.
Sometimes the nitrate does not climb that fast to 40ppm. Normally a week. There could be some mulm in the tank but not much. I usally do a good job vaccuming the substrate.

My well is right at 200 feet down. Ive been told by many that the neighboring cows and horses are probally the primp suspect causing the nitrate problem. This I have to live with.

Thanks for respopnding. Thats how we all learn.

You can not beat clean clear water. Probally the best medicine there is.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 05:51 PM
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For a planted tank the nitrates are a good thing. If you are dosing fertilizers per the EI method, and doing weekly big water changes, you can just substitute Potassium sulfate for potassium nitrate, and rely on the well water for nitrates. I see no reason to even consider trying to get rid of the nitrates.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 05:58 PM
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I wouldn't touch the nitrates. If the other parameters are ok, this level of nitrate will be rapidly consumed by plants if they are happy.

Just no need to dose nitrates.

I suspect that this varies with season, and runoff. I bet it is lower in the end of winter?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-21-2011, 06:34 PM
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Are you from a saltwater or discus breeding background? I ask because it's usually folks coming from reef or discus breeding setups that have this "Nitrates and phophates should be reduced to ZER0000!!!11!0ne!!" mentality.

As the previous posters have said, no need to worry about nitrates -- it's food for the plants. One less nutrient to worry about getting limited and consequently triggering an algae growth.

Also, how are you getting Nitrates to go up 20ppm in 3 days? Unless you're actually dosing nitrates or evaporating and topping off ridiculous amounts of water, I don't see how you can raise nitrates up 20 ppm in 3 days without overfeeding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by woaussie View Post
In three days or so the nitrates will go from about 20ppm to 40ppm. I do not overfeed. and have only about 25 small fish different varities. I normally do a water change every 5 to 7 days to try to keep the nitrates down to a minimum which In my case is about 20ppm.
While I'm not endorsing this, but I have recently tested nitrates on two of my neglected tanks -- a 10g RCS tank, and a 20gal long that had glo-light tetras and a few endlers. The 10g RCS tank, based from the API test kit, had somewhere between 40-80ppm of nitrates. The 10g, while having lots of java moss, was only getting spill over light from the other tank. The 20gal long had 80ppm nitrates, where the 4 year old glo-lights are showing their age, but still quick enough to eat most of the endler fry to control the population. So, I say don't worry about nitrates if you can keep a huge chunk of thriving plants.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-22-2011, 12:34 AM
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I will bet that you are using a test kit, uncalibrated, to determine how much nitrates are in the water. That can be fun to play with, but will not tell you if you have 5 ppm or 50 ppm unless you have first calibrated the test kit with samples of water having known concentrations of nitrates. You will do no harm by assuming the well water has zero nitrates, and dosing and changing water per EI.

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