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Always nitrates, always water changes.

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Always nitrates, always water changes.
Old 11-30-2012, 12:26 AM   #21
yep 20-30 isn't very much as far as nitrates go. My parents well water had 25ppm out of the tap and I bred many freshwater fish in that water just fine.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:29 PM   #22
Originally Posted by Reefing Madness View Post
Welp, I run 20-30ppm Nitrates consistant in my SW tank. Those numbers are not much, even Soft Corals need some. Would imagine those numbers are also not a big stand out in FW, as plants need those to thrive and grow.
Actually, the levels of nitrates in fresh water in nature is so low it can't even be measured!!! So clearly aquatic plants do not require nitrates... and that tells us that although less toxic than ammonia and nitrites, nitrates are a negative water quality issue in our aquariums. The purpose of live rock and live sand in SW is to culture anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrates to nitrogen gas, completing the nitrogen cycle. Most corals and many SW fish can't tolerate ANY nitrates at all!

We should strive to keep nitrates as low as possible and nitrates are the number one reason for weekly water changes as most other dissolved organics are broken down into harmless inert compounds.
Higher nitrate levels have serious long term negative health effects on fish. Reduced immunity, shorter life spans and it is particularly dangerous for fry.

Marshall - if you are using gravel, perhaps you have a 'nitrate factory' down under that needs addressing. Also, flourish will increase nitrate readings. Perhaps you should stop using it for awhile?

Good luck - I know better than most what a pain high nitrates can be!
Hang in there.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:42 PM   #23
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Might google..."Are nitrates present in stream's,lakes,river's."
Seem's to be sufficient evidence that there is measureable, to lot's of nitrates present in lot's of water way's.
Nitrogen is macronurient for plant's/crop's.
Keep up with weekly water changes and put away nitrate test.
According to API test, my tank's run about 60 to 80 ppm but fish/shrimp's still breed in enough number's to allow me to trade them for store credit.

Last edited by 1077; 11-30-2012 at 01:45 PM..
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Old 11-30-2012, 06:49 PM   #24
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I have no option but to disagree with the view that nitrates are not harmful, and allowing them above 20ppm is fine. It is not. And I have the science to back this up.

Nitrates in North American rivers may be high, but many of our rivers are polluted to some extent and the fish are weak or dying in many of them. As for the waters native to most of our aquarium fish, they are zero nitrate or very near zero, and there are many test results available that prove this. The highest level for nitrates in the Amazon itself was 1.24 ppm, and in the Orinoco the level was barely detectable.

Dr. Neale Monks has recently written several times in PFK that nitrates should never be allowed to rise about 20ppm for any fish. He singled out cichlids in one case as most probably weakening with nitrates at 20ppm. He notes that many fish cannot tolerate this level at all.

Nitrate like ammonia and nitrite is a form of nitrogen, and all three are toxic to all fish. We know that ammonia and nitrite are deadly very quickly and at very low levels, and we also know that nitrate is not. But it is still toxic. What is not fully understood yet is just how far an elevated level of nitrate can be continued before the fish will die from it, or if it is the secondary issues caused by the nitrate that are the direct cause of the fish dying.

In one study, Fathead Minnows were killed by a nitrate level of 2.3 to 7.6 ppm within 96 hours, and other species withstood the nitrates longer. One thing this does prove is that nitrates are toxic and do kill, which dispels that myth.

Other tests showed that short-term exposure to less than lethal levels of nitrate did have physiological impacts on the fish, among them:
  • Affects antibody production
  • Increased number of immature red blood cells
  • Lowered level of mature red blood cells (anemia)
  • Higher count of monocyte (a specific white blood cell)
  • Higher count of neutrophil (a specific white blood cell that is especially destructive to microorganisms)
  • Higher count of TLC - Thrombocyte-like cell (a blood cell of nonmammalian vertebrates that promotes blood clotting)
  • Higher levels of creatine (A nitrogenous organic acid found in muscle tissue that supplies energy for muscle contraction)
  • Higher calcium values in the blood
  • Lower Chloride values in the blood
  • Autopsy revealed damage to the spleen, liver, and kidneys
Other conclusions were that Nitrate damages the gills and kidneys affecting osmoregulatory ability (ability of the fish to regulate fluid levels and release toxins, something we do via urination, something they do via osmoregulation). The observed changes are the result of a pathological response to nitrates and not of a generalized stress response.

So what does the abnormal blood chemistry indicate? In short, it means the fish are suffering from infection, severe physical stress, and tissue damage. Their blood is incapable of distributing sufficient oxygen, the immune system is in overdrive and has become deficient, and the kidneys are failing.

It is true that these results are only because the Nitrates were severely excessive. So the question is at what point do these impacts begin? Is it possible that these physiological changes can be detected in fish subjected to much lower concentration of nitrates over a longer period of time? Unfortunately, research on the subject is lacking, but there is evidence that sub-lethal nitrate toxicity actually begins at lower concentrations, with the physiological impacts increasing as either the concentration of nitrates increase or the duration of exposure increases.

Studies performed on Gambusia in Florida springs discovered that decreased fertility rates were caused by nitrate in concentrations as low as 1.5ppm.

A compiled review of prior testing conducted in Spain at the Universidad de Alcala suggests that the effects of nitrate toxicity in the most sensitive freshwater species can begin in concentrations as low as 2ppm and that long term exposure to nitrates in concentrations of 10ppm are known to adversely effect rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, and cutthroat trout.

We should not confuse tolerance with good health. This is no different than keeping a 14-inch Oscar in a 20g tank. Yes it is possible, and the fish may even live for its expected lifespan, but at what cost?
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:22 PM   #25
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My previous post dealt with the nitrate issue generally, but I didn't get to your (marshallsea) specifics, my apology.

With all those plants, and several being fast growing stem plants from your description, you should not see nitrates at all, or very low. The 5ppm in the tap water should be it, and that I would expect to lessen too, except you are doing several water changes a week so this will more likely keep nitrates equal to the tap. Which would be OK in itself, and with one water change a week this would probably lower too.

The increase from 5 to 20 in a couple days needs to be resolved, as this is indicative of a problem. You are sure your tap water nitrates are not fluctuating? This can happen from what others have mentioned in different posts. And depending upon the source of the water, various things like pH, GH, KH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate can vary.

The fact that the stem plants are growing so well without at least weekly fertilization also seems a bit odd; nutrients have to be coming from somewhere. If not from fish food/waste, then in the water presumably. Which might tie in with the previous.

The glancing or flashing could be due to ammonia/nitrite but in this case I would agree it is more likely ich. Other parasites and protozoan can cause this too. Make sure any new fish are quarantined for at least 3 weeks, preferably 4-5, though even this is no guarantee for protozoan. But at least the fish will be less stressed in a comfortable QT and less likely to upset the apple cart when moved over. Ich is now believed to be present in practically every aquarium, as it is in natural waters. Fish for lack of a better term build up an immunity and can fight it off--if they are otherwise healthy and not under severe or prolonged stress. And of course the nitrates enter back into this.

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Old 11-30-2012, 11:16 PM   #26
Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
Might google..."Are nitrates present in stream's,lakes,river's."
Seem's to be sufficient evidence that there is measureable, to lot's of nitrates present in lot's of water way's.
This is no different than the high nitrates in my well water the result of a 95 acre farmers field across the road from my house that gets ample amounts of organic and chemical fertilizers! This is pollution, not a natural, healthy condition.
Unfortunately, the runoff from nearly all agricultural areas will present increasing problems in the eco-system until or unless we find better ways to manage land resources.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:36 PM   #27
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Thanks to all for the input.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:02 PM   #28
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Most of our aquarium fishes anymore, are bred in water's far removed (tap,R/O,well ), from that which their wild cousin's are found, and that may or may not, be low in nitrates.
I too believe in keeping the Nitrates low as possible, for the majority of folk's don't keep plant's which can help consume nitrogen. And thus,,It is very difficult in these type tanks(no plant's) to keep nitrates below 20 ppm unless stocked with few fishes.(been there many times).
Big waste producing fishes make it even more difficult to keep level's low even with largish weekly water change,ditto for over stocked tank's.(been here many times also).

Last edited by 1077; 12-02-2012 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:57 PM   #29
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I don't want to derail the nitrate discussion as it has been informative, but I now think I was wrong. After Geomancer mentioned that glancing was not a symptom of nitrate poisoning I kept looking and found that my PH may have dropped in my water supply. I found another supply and have been doing 20% wcs every 3 days. The glancing has slowed in its frequency and intensity. The fish had been getting in position and hitting the leaves, now they just sort of lightly touch the leaf when swimming by, almost like a habit. Thank you all for the info and guidance. If this doesn't pan out, I'll be back.
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