High Nitrate in tap? - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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post #11 of 20 Old 02-08-2013, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
Well that makes since. but I know i read somewhere about BGA in new tanks. "The new tank Syndrome" and i think that might also play a factor in it. i know my tap water is high but my tank water nitrates never get above 20ppm even after a water change it stays 20ppm or lower. So I'm guessing if i get some filter media to help fight the Nitrate Along with stocking my plants a little at a time. Eventually it will balance. At least that is a theory. Not proven by me. Others Might care to speculate on that.

And if i can get the balance right The the BGA should go away on it's on own. or at least subside to where it isn't noticeable enough to do damage. again A theory
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post #12 of 20 Old 02-09-2013, 07:00 PM
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I do not recommend dismissing nitrates so readily [and I mean as nitrates, not as related to cyano]. Nitrate is toxic to fish; while it may take a fairly high level of nitrate to kill a fish--compared to the toxic effect of ammonia and nitrite which is at very low levels--there is evidence now that subjecting the fish to elevated nitrates does impact their physiology much more than we used to assume. Different species may have different levels of tolerance to nitrate poisoning and nitrate shock. Nitrate causes stress for fish, and this opens the door to health problems and disease.

The nitrate in any aquarium should never be above 20 ppm, and preferably not be above 10 ppm. If nitrates in the source water (tap or well) are above 10 ppm, action should be taken or another water source found.

Obviously wild caught fish will be more readily affected by nitrates; the nitrates in any tropical freshwater habitat are zero or so low as to be barely measurable. Some argue that tank-raised fish are miraculously adapted to nitrates. If this were true, then tank-raised fish would be equally unaffected by ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate is just a different form of the same thing.

Dr. Neale Monks, in a recent issue of PFK, mentioned that we are now recognizing that all species of cichlid may be having problems when exposed to a continual nitrate level as low as 20 ppm. He suggests 10ppm should be the highest we allow in any aquarium. Dr. Jeffrey Howe writes the same. Marc Elieson gives stress caused by elevated nitrate levels, salt (common salt), and improper diet as causes for Malawi Bloat, in that order.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 02-09-2013 at 07:03 PM.
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post #13 of 20 Old 02-09-2013, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
Yeah i have been learning about Nitrates and Have been talking to a few people and am in the process of taking steps to lower them. before water changes. and also use in my filter. I am learning so much and thanks to The friendly advise from everyone one on this site I am starting to understand a lot more. And i have to thank everyone who has helped me.

I am going to start doing things different on my water changes. to prevent such high Nitrate's and try to keep things Under control. My fish mean alot to me. and my screw ups Only hurt them. and i don't like doing that.
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post #14 of 20 Old 02-09-2013, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I do not recommend dismissing nitrates so readily [and I mean as nitrates, not as related to cyano]. Nitrate is toxic to fish; while it may take a fairly high level of nitrate to kill a fish--compared to the toxic effect of ammonia and nitrite which is at very low levels--there is evidence now that subjecting the fish to elevated nitrates does impact their physiology much more than we used to assume. Different species may have different levels of tolerance to nitrate poisoning and nitrate shock. Nitrate causes stress for fish, and this opens the door to health problems and disease.

The nitrate in any aquarium should never be above 20 ppm, and preferably not be above 10 ppm. If nitrates in the source water (tap or well) are above 10 ppm, action should be taken or another water source found.

Obviously wild caught fish will be more readily affected by nitrates; the nitrates in any tropical freshwater habitat are zero or so low as to be barely measurable. Some argue that tank-raised fish are miraculously adapted to nitrates. If this were true, then tank-raised fish would be equally unaffected by ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate is just a different form of the same thing.

Dr. Neale Monks, in a recent issue of PFK, mentioned that we are now recognizing that all species of cichlid may be having problems when exposed to a continual nitrate level as low as 20 ppm. He suggests 10ppm should be the highest we allow in any aquarium. Dr. Jeffrey Howe writes the same. Marc Elieson gives stress caused by elevated nitrate levels, salt (common salt), and improper diet as causes for Malawi Bloat, in that order.

Byron.
Yet on the other side of the coin Tom Barr says for planted tanks 5-30ppm nitrate is proper range, this is what the many many EI users including myself aim for. Nitrate above 40ppm may cause health issues in some sensitive fish.

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post #15 of 20 Old 02-10-2013, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Yet on the other side of the coin Tom Barr says for planted tanks 5-30ppm nitrate is proper range, this is what the many many EI users including myself aim for. Nitrate above 40ppm may cause health issues in some sensitive fish.
Tom Barr keeps plants first, and few fish; some of his tanks have no fish. I have read his comments about nitrates in his tanks at 160 ppm [yes, that is 160] for several weeks. But Tom is not a ichthyologist, he is a botanist. And his priority is plants before fish. In a personal discussion, he suggested to me that I should not be doing water changes at all, as it was harmful to the plants (the fluctuating CO2 issue in natural planted tanks). I pointed out the benefits to the fish, and he responded that the plants would be "better" and the fish might manage. That is not my approach to an aquarium.

The effects of nitrates above 10ppm are not readily seen, but according to the ichthyologists and biologists they do occur. Different fish species have varying levels of tolerance to this. Controlled scientific studies are few for this topic, since it has long been considered relatively unimportant.

Fish do not adapt to things as some assume--or more accurately, want to believe. Evolution is the only way a fish can adapt to changes in its environment, and this takes thousands of years. When it comes to nitrates, it seems logical to assume the fish will never adapt; these forms of nitrogen at significant levels kill life, and after all this time since life first appeared, if it was going to adapt to ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, I think it would have done so by now.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #16 of 20 Old 02-10-2013, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Tom Barr keeps plants first, and few fish; some of his tanks have no fish. I have read his comments about nitrates in his tanks at 160 ppm [yes, that is 160] for several weeks. But Tom is not a ichthyologist, he is a botanist. And his priority is plants before fish. In a personal discussion, he suggested to me that I should not be doing water changes at all, as it was harmful to the plants (the fluctuating CO2 issue in natural planted tanks). I pointed out the benefits to the fish, and he responded that the plants would be "better" and the fish might manage. That is not my approach to an aquarium.

The effects of nitrates above 10ppm are not readily seen, but according to the ichthyologists and biologists they do occur. Different fish species have varying levels of tolerance to this. Controlled scientific studies are few for this topic, since it has long been considered relatively unimportant.

Fish do not adapt to things as some assume--or more accurately, want to believe. Evolution is the only way a fish can adapt to changes in its environment, and this takes thousands of years. When it comes to nitrates, it seems logical to assume the fish will never adapt; these forms of nitrogen at significant levels kill life, and after all this time since life first appeared, if it was going to adapt to ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, I think it would have done so by now.

Byron.
While I do agree with some of this. It is odd about the no water change suggestion. The EI method that he recommends requires 50% weekly waterchanges.

.... I'm probably drunk.

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post #17 of 20 Old 02-11-2013, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
While I do agree with some of this. It is odd about the no water change suggestion. The EI method that he recommends requires 50% weekly waterchanges.
Yes, but he sees that as a different thing. I really did have an extensive private discussion with him (via email) on this. With high-tech methods, he believes in overdosing nutrients and then doing a 50% water change to get rid of the "excess," but not because of the fish but the plants. Her recognizes that excessive nutrients can cause problems for plants, hence the massive water changes. CO2 is not affected here, since CO2 diffusion is adding CO2 consistently so the level in the tank is supposedly stable and thus not harmful to plants.

But in the low-tech or natural method, he maintains that fluctuating CO2 caused by water changes will somehow setback plant growth and likely cause algae. In my 20+ years of doing partial water changes I have not seen any problems, my plants are growing well to me, even flowering in some cases. I sent him photos of my tanks as evidence, and he came back that I had floating plants so they likely balanced out the CO2 issue.

I have never been a fan of EI dosing because this is adding excess nutrients into a closed system, and aside from possible plant issues I again consider first my fish. I have soft water fish, mostly wild caught, and TDS is a concern, and the more nutrients going in, the more TDS. I can't say scientifically the precise extent to which fish are affected by all this, but I do believe the ichthyologists who write that they are. I'd rather follow their advice as I feel is it more sound.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #18 of 20 Old 02-11-2013, 11:41 AM
I'll just add that it seems to me that to an extent, adding extra 'nutrients' although perhaps a plus for plant growth, somewhat reduces the water purification efficiency/value of the plants. I think we want the plants to assimilate the food, plant and fish waste in the aquarium first and foremost, with only enough additives if/as required to supplement that which may be missing. In some cases, this may be little or no additives at all (think organic [water] garden).

I've had the high nitrate discussion in several forums and it's surprising how many well meaning fish keepers believe that high nitrates, even as high as 200+ppm is not a problem. I think this is like the lore that you need 4-10x the tank size in filter GPH.
These prevailing myths are just wrong.

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post #19 of 20 Old 02-11-2013, 06:38 PM
Yes and this is also taken into account in EI. When I had well water with 25ppm nitrate I did not dose nitrates much at all. Dosing all the other nutrients only increases nitrate uptake from what I have seen.

As far as TDS goes byron I think you are over estimating the change. Of the two tanks I dose regularly their TDS is 180 and 220. Where as my tap is 140ppm. Why the one tank has so much higher TDS then the other I am unsure exactly, it has lower stocking then the other tank. The tank with the higher TDS has zero nitrate atm since I need to buy some more fertilizers, its also go some nice algae . The tank with only 180 TDS has nitrates levels of about 30ppm. In comparison my mature soil tank has a TDS of 150, and my fairly new still establishing soil tank has a TDS of about 500ppm, but I don't think thats normal since it hasn't done anything normal yet lol.

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post #20 of 20 Old 02-11-2013, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Yes and this is also taken into account in EI. When I had well water with 25ppm nitrate I did not dose nitrates much at all. Dosing all the other nutrients only increases nitrate uptake from what I have seen.

As far as TDS goes byron I think you are over estimating the change. Of the two tanks I dose regularly their TDS is 180 and 220. Where as my tap is 140ppm. Why the one tank has so much higher TDS then the other I am unsure exactly, it has lower stocking then the other tank. The tank with the higher TDS has zero nitrate atm since I need to buy some more fertilizers, its also go some nice algae . The tank with only 180 TDS has nitrates levels of about 30ppm. In comparison my mature soil tank has a TDS of 150, and my fairly new still establishing soil tank has a TDS of about 500ppm, but I don't think thats normal since it hasn't done anything normal yet lol.
I probably should get a TDS meter, someone locally told me that Home Depot have these for around $10-$12. I suppose it would be worth it, since I would then have numbers instead of guesses.

Most of my fish are wild caught. Just last week I obtained $140 worth of fish from Peru and NE Brazil, namely Paracheirodon axelrodi, Carnegiella marthae, Nannostomus eques, N. unifasciatus, Corydoras habrosus and Corydoras treitlii. These fish came out of streams with basically zero TDS. I know I am adding TDS with fish food, fertilizers, water conditioner.

I intend to look into TDS further. I don't have much doubt about the high nitrates though.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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