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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm continuing to research more and more about all the fine details for setting up my 55 low tech tank, but hadn't actually considered checking my tap water yet! Which would explain why I'm seeing heavier nitrates in my smaller tank (it's only 6.5 gallons, but I'm talking 20-40ppm less than a day after water changes, which I've been doing frequently to try and combat these nitrates.... It has no fish yet, only a few hitchhiker bladder snails, surely not enough to produce so much in less than 24 hours!).

So I did check my tap water and I've got somewhere between 20-40ppm nitrates straight from the faucet. I think it's closer to 20ppm than 40, but these color charts and I have never gotten along well lol. But that prompted me to research an RO/DI setup potentially, since it seems to be most recommended for larger tanks with high tap water nitrates being an issue. And if I understand it correctly, I will need to actually add in more of the beneficial trace elements which would be removed by the RO/DI unit.

Before I get into that, though, I'm reading up some more on how effectively plants will remove nitrates from the water. I know it's dependent on their speed and vigorosity of growth, and since I'm planning to stay mostly low tech/low light, I don't expect it would impact my nitrates too much... But I'm also not sure just how efficient this method is, either.

And 20-40ppm shouldn't be too much to deal with, really... I've seen a lot of people using HOB filters but instead of media, they've added pothos or other water-rooted plants, and I know pothos takes very little to sustain (or even thrive lol). I'm curious, for those of you with these kinds of plants "attached" to your tanks, do you think they influence nitrates much?
Also, for those of you with HOB filters and water-rooted plants, do you have any other filter system or do you rely mainly on your plants for that? Do you have any mechanical filtration set up before the water flows to the plant roots? I think I'd really like to give this a try, if only because it sounds fun 馃榿 but maybe I can resolve the nitrate problem without needing to tackle it with more tech stuff (that I'll undoubtedly confuse myself with lol).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Is that level of nitrates causing a problem? Unless you're planning for really sensitive livestock down the road it shouldnt be an issue
I wasn't sure if it would be an issue, but had assumed it might be, to be honest. I'm still trying to catch up my knowledge for fish keeping as well as planted tanks as I haven't really had them in a long time, until recently with my smaller one. I don't think I ever got too deeply invested in planted tanks in the past either, so I'm probably making assumptions from old knowledge or what I thought I remembered 馃槄

I'm still debating what I want to stock in the future but I don't plan to go with anything super delicate. I'm going to dig into some more research as far as maintaining parameters for planted tanks since I believe I'm only looking at this all from non-planted perspective, if that makes sense 馃槄
 

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I have pothos in my 75 and my wifes 55, they suck up nitrates like a machine. If I didn't dose ferts I think the other plants would starve. Those pothos are huge though so I think that makes a difference.
 
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My betta's tank is filter-less, but has a ton of plants. I also have two Rhapidophora Tetrasperma hanging their roots into the water. They do a really great job sucking up excess nutrients, so I highly recommend them! 馃憤
 

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If your tank is even moderately planted you will need to add fertilizer to a tank to keep plants alive and healthy because they will completely remove nitrates between water changes. This is dependent on plant choices of course but its pretty easy to achieve. Also I agree that 20ppm of nitrates is probably not causing you any problems in and of itself. That said, if you are on city water it would be unusual as I believe national standards are 10ppm or less (from memory). If this is a well, you might want to shock your well. Good luck!
 

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What test kit did you use to determine nitrate? If it is API, you need to shake the samples vigorously to get good results. If nitrate comes out 20 to 40 ppm from your tap, do you have well water as it is a violation of EPA drinking water standard (10 ppm max) if it is public water. Nitrate is harmless to fish per se, but high nitrate can be indicator of other pollutants from heavy bio loading and need to be reduced. If the source of nitrate is from fertilizer, you can dose it to as high as 100 pm with no harm to fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What test kit did you use to determine nitrate? If it is API, you need to shake the samples vigorously to get good results. If nitrate comes out 20 to 40 ppm from your tap, do you have well water as it is a violation of EPA drinking water standard (10 ppm max) if it is public water. Nitrate is harmless to fish per se, but high nitrate can be indicator of other pollutants from heavy bio loading and need to be reduced. If the source of nitrate is from fertilizer, you can dose it to as high as 100 pm with no harm to fish.


Yes it's an API kit. I did shake them vigorously (both nitrate test bottles as well as test tube) and have tested my tap water again today but it's still displaying the reddish-orange color around 20 to 40ppm. I'm going to get some distilled water later today to make sure it's not just the kit.



I rent currently and AFAIK the water is municipal, and I believe you're right regarding the 10ppm nitrate standards/requirements. I was able to find information online for the years 2012-2017 regarding my local water and it was pretty high for municipal water, around 5.25ppm nitrates! Not exceeding regulations but a little odd nonetheless. I only moved to this town at the beginning of this year, and never had nitrate issues in my hometown when I had aquariums in the past. I looked up the info for my hometown and the 2012-2017 info shows an average of I believe 0.7 or 0.8 ppm nitrates in municipal water.



I'll check the distilled water, though, and see if my kit may just be wonky!
 

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I bet you have a bad test kit. Do you have a fresh or used API test kit. API second reagent requires vigorous shaking to homogenize the dosage, but as the liquid is used up, the right dosage cannot be achieved resulting in bad readings. I stop using API and use Salifert instead which is more accurate and consistent as the second reagent is powder measured with a spoon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I bet you have a bad test kit. Do you have a fresh or used API test kit. API second reagent requires vigorous shaking to homogenize the dosage, but as the liquid is used up, the right dosage cannot be achieved resulting in bad readings. I stop using API and use Salifert instead which is more accurate and consistent as the second reagent is powder measured with a spoon.
I will check out the salifert kit, I haven't heard of that one before! It's a nearly brand new kit (opened it less than 3 weeks ago new). I checked a new bottle of spring water (I was late getting to the store and only gas station open didn't have distilled) and it read 5ppm nitrates, so may be a little off. I shake both bottles really well but think it may be a bad batch. I'm going to check out the salifert test kit though as you mentioned.
 

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i kept having such algae issues, my tap water was round 40 nitrates (it's since been corrected, but it was like that for months!) when it was that high i had a bag of Nitra-Zorb in the filter, that got rid of the high nitrates and the algae disappeared. it was cheaper than RO
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
i kept having such algae issues, my tap water was round 40 nitrates (it's since been corrected, but it was like that for months!) when it was that high i had a bag of Nitra-Zorb in the filter, that got rid of the high nitrates and the algae disappeared. it was cheaper than RO
I think I've heard of that before but totally forgot to look into it. I'll definitely be checking into it!

On a related note, I contacted my local water supply and they told me that the under 10ppm rule only applies to homes with children, and in a home of only adults it can legally be up to 50ppm nitrates in my tap water?! o_O but since I first made this thread, the nitrates in my tap water have seemed to go down to around 5ppm per my API test kit... So I guess that's good at least??
 

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You have to be careful on " what" Nitrate you are measuring.
Nitrate = Nitrate Nitrogen x 4.43
Nitrate Nitrogen = Nitrate x 0.226

API states that they test for total nitrates while Salifert tests for ... Their kit is NOT a Nitrate-Nitrogen test kit but a Nitrate (NO3)
[/URL]


As I understand this 10 ppm nitrate n is 44.3 ppm nitrate as tested by api.

40 ppm though high would be "acceptable".

As a lazy tank keeper that had high nitrates without fail in all my tanks all the time no matter the internal plant density I have finally managed to win this war.
Water changes didn' t really even help. I did give up on them after finding a 5O% then 2 days later another 50% did nothing.

Duckweed.
Though a real pia in general since it invaded my tank my nitrates fell dramatically. Just need to continually harvest them.

My nitrates have bottomed out to around 20ppm or less. That may seem like not that great of a bottom but when nitrates were consistantly 50 ppm or higher it IS a bottom.

This is just ONE way. Certainly nit the only and probably not the best but it worked for me. I experimented with strong cation nitrogen resins which work though saltwater recharging from 40ppm tap water would be an issue.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You have to be careful on " what" Nitrate you are measuring.

[/URL]


As I understand this 10 ppm nitrate n is 44.3 ppm nitrate as tested by api.

40 ppm though high would be "acceptable".
This is interesting info! Do you think this would influence how we are reading out API test kit results, and whether the numbers are considered "high" according to their color chart compared to this calculation?
 

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This is interesting info! Do you think this would influence how we are reading out API test kit results, and whether the numbers are considered "high" according to their color chart compared to this calculation?
I don' t believe so because I think ( lots of guesswork here) that it's based on data that used nitrate not nitrate n readings.
It only mattered in this case because public measurements seem to be based on nitrate n.
Confusing? Of course.... ;)


I' d need to look into a bit more.

However, due to the unlikely toxicity of confounding water quality parameters, study results provided strong evidence that relatively low NO3-N levels, 80鈥100 mg/L, were related to chronic health and welfare impacts to juvenile rainbow trout under the described conditions.
That would translate to an api test of 443.

Seems off for some reason but ???
Verification of what api tests per api.
Other nitrate test kits that measure 鈥渘itrate-nitrogen鈥 (NO3-N) will give readings 4.4 times LESS than this test kit.

Ok now I'm wondering why 50ppm nitrate ( 11.36 Nitrate-N) is considered high.
Freshwater aquarium fish study or a " guess"?
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok now I'm wondering why 50ppm nitrate ( 11.36 Nitrate-N) is considered high.
Freshwater aquarium fish study or a " guess"?
It's making me curious too. I'm sure it may depend partly on the species and their native water parameters but as I've been dealing with my nitrate issues, the only real problems I have visibly spotted were cloudy water. My fish don't necessarily act stressed that I know of, but I may not be seeing what's truly going on internally, either...

I know a few times I've gone to do water changes and I tested right before starting, I've had nitrates test on the API kit over 80ppm, very dark red! My water change schedule is occasionally 2x per week with a 30-40% water change and vacuum, but as I'm trying to get the nitrates figured out better, I've been able to get by with once a week sometimes.

I should note that my current stock is different from when I started this post. I decided to change to an African cichlid setup with male peacocks and a synodontis eupterus catfish. I think African cichlids in general tend to handle high nitrates a little better but I can't say for sure... The catfish seems to tolerate my water well, he's literally quadrupled in size over the last 3 weeks...!!
 

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I only cared cuz i suddenly had loads of algae, at one point my tap nitrates were 0.1 PPM according to the county, then they went up to 40 but here is why it is monitored in municipal water, https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/docs/contaminants/nitratefctsht.pdf
Yea if your tap water goes crazy different it is a cause for concern.
And honestly "safe levels" are pretty much a guess in some respects anyways..
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

standard for nitrate in drinking water is 10 milligrams
of nitrate (measured as nitrogen) per liter of drinking
water (mg/L). * Drinking water with levels of nitrate
at or below 10 mg/L is considered safe for everyone.
Again 10ppm N nitrate is 44.3ppm as measured by our common nitrate tests.
Both API and Salifert.
AFAICT

As to algae any large move from stability can be detrimental.
I suspect your plants became co2 limited at the higher nitrate levels.
Besides nitrate isn't a lot of aquatic plants preferred food.

My question remains how was 50ppm for aquariums derived?
Also how was it measured?
50ppm N nitrate or 50ppm nitrate? If N that is like 223 on "our" test kits.
The puzzle pieces don't exactly fit in my mind atm.
Nobody I know drinks aquarium water :)

Using ONE study on trout embryos:
The lowest observable effect concentration for feral
..
brook trout was 6.25 mg/L NO3-N for both mortality in developing embryos (96-d test)
and reduced growth oflarvae (14-d test) in hard water. For the domestic strain, the
路"
lowest observable effect concentration was 12.50 mg/L NO3-N for embryo mortality
(96-d test) and 100.00 mg/L NO3-N for biomass reduction (14-d test) of larvae.
The 96-hour
LC50 values for the domestic and feral brook trout larvae were 2151.4 and 2645.3 mg/L
NO3-N, respectively.
That's 27.3 , 55.4, 443 :eek: and 9528 and 11717 :eek: :eek: with our tests.

There is a lot of this but never seen "primary" studies that support it.
I know nit picking a bit.. clean water is always preferred.

Nitrate = Nitrate Nitrogen x 4.43
Nitrate Nitrogen = Nitrate x 0.226
For the geeks.. Interesting study. Based on Nitrate not nitrate-n numbers 50 and 250:
Ecologically relevant biomarkers reveal that chronic effects of nitrate depend on sex and life stage in the invasive fish Gambusia holbrooki
 
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