High NitrAtes, what do I do to reduce?
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High NitrAtes, what do I do to reduce?

This is a discussion on High NitrAtes, what do I do to reduce? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Hi there, could someone help me please. My tap water is naturally high in nitrAtes, reading 40ppm on my API liquid test kit. I ...

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High NitrAtes, what do I do to reduce?
Old 02-19-2011, 08:35 AM   #1
 
Exclamation High NitrAtes, what do I do to reduce?

Hi there, could someone help me please. My tap water is naturally high in nitrAtes, reading 40ppm on my API liquid test kit. I cannot get my NitrAte levels in my tank below 80ppm. It worries me that my fishes health is at risk so I am doing 30% water changes every 3rd day to try to keep the levels down. Afew weeks ago I upset my tank and ended up with a mini recycle but that has sorted itself out now and ammonia and NitrItes are reading 0.

Here is some info on my tank that may help.

4 x juvenile F8 puffers (1.5 - 2 inches each)
Sand substrate with caves, fake plants and 4 java live ferns (about 20 leaves in total)
Lit with a sunglo bulb for 8-10 hours per day
Normal water changes of 20% each Saturday.
2 pumps running clearseal (contains charcoal) and stingray
P.H. 8.2
Temp 26
Brackish water of S.P. 0.004 (gradually raising by 0.002 each week)

What else can I do other than 30% water changes every 3rd day to lower the Nitrates ideally right down to around 5ppm?

Thank you in advance
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:50 AM   #2
 
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that's unbelievable to have that level of nitrates from the tap. How frustrating for you! Yikes. I'm doing a water change if my nitrates get to 5.0, so having that high from the tap is a no win situation. Can you contact the water company and see if that is normal for your area? Is it possible to have some problem in your pipes, or somewhere along the way? I would imagine this would be hard on your fish. Using Prime would help, as it does dexoify nitrates. Best of luck, I'm sure someone else will have ideas.

Plant too soak up nitrates, so you could get more of those if you don't have any.

Gwen
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:20 AM   #3
 
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All is not lost.

First, when using the API test, you need to shake Regent #2 for 2 minutes. The instructions say 30 seconds, but this frequently gives false (and high) results. Try testing the tap water and the tank water with 2 minute shakings of Regent #2 and see what results you get. They may be lower.

Aside from that, using a water conditioner that detoxifies nitrate is advisable when nitrates occur in tap water. Prime made by Seachem is the only one I know of that detoxifies nitrates. This will deal with the tap water nitrate at the weekly water change.

As for the tank, let's see what test results you have after retesting before we go further.

Byron.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:27 AM   #4
 
hi guys. for plants, i read that 'lucky bamboo' can be used to take out nitrates, not too complicated, just stick a few rooted plants in your tank, ideally dont submerge the leaves. not a miracle maker though. Byron, the prime stuff, says it renders ammonia harmless. i use it then still get ammonia reading when i test for it, is this normal? are they still there but harmless?
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:17 AM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by efishency View Post
hi guys. for plants, i read that 'lucky bamboo' can be used to take out nitrates, not too complicated, just stick a few rooted plants in your tank, ideally dont submerge the leaves. not a miracle maker though. Byron, the prime stuff, says it renders ammonia harmless. i use it then still get ammonia reading when i test for it, is this normal? are they still there but harmless?
Yes, that's normal, and yes, its harmless. I'll explain.

Prime and most other water conditioners or similar products that detoxify ammonia do so by changing ammonia to ammonium. In acidic water (pH below 7), this occurs automatically. Ammonium is basically harmless, unlike ammonia which is highly toxic to all life forms--fish, plants, etc.

Most test kits read ammonia/ammonium as the same thing, ammonia. So even though you may have a reading above zero for ammonia, if it is in acid water, or after using an ammonia detoxifier, it is most probably ammonium.

With respect to the nitrification cycle, nitrosomonas bacteria which use ammonia and produce nitrite will take both ammonia and ammonium. So the ammonium has no effect on the nitrification cycle.

If you have live plants, their preferred source of nitrogen is ammonium. Plants grab ammonium (in acidic water) or ammonia (in basic water) fast, faster than nitrosomonas bacteria, and they have the ability to change ammonia into ammonium to use as a nutrient.

Last word on Prime and similar ammonia detoxifiers: they work for about 24 hours, maybe slightly longer. [Ammonia detoxifier filter media are different, they are intended to work continually, or at least until the manufacturer says they no longer function, whenever that may be.] So if there is ammonia in your tap water for instance, and you use Prime or a similar conditioner, it will detoxify the ammonia in the tap water for 24-48 hours. But by then, the bacteria and/or live plants will be using the ammonia/ammonium anyway. Prime and similar conditioners should not be used to deal with ammonia constantly produced in the tank; this should be resolved by finding the source and removing it. Once the tank is cycled, or if it is well planted, you should never, and I mean never, see ammonia or nitrite that can be detected by test kits like the API. It is only if something drastic occurs that ammonia or nitrite will suddenly rise in a cycled and established tank, and in that case the source needs to be addressed. Ammonia in the tap water as I said is easily dealt with by a suitable conditioner.

Byron.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:21 AM   #6
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
All is not lost.

First, when using the API test, you need to shake Regent #2 for 2 minutes. The instructions say 30 seconds, but this frequently gives false (and high) results. Try testing the tap water and the tank water with 2 minute shakings of Regent #2 and see what results you get. They may be lower.

Aside from that, using a water conditioner that detoxifies nitrate is advisable when nitrates occur in tap water. Prime made by Seachem is the only one I know of that detoxifies nitrates. This will deal with the tap water nitrate at the weekly water change.

As for the tank, let's see what test results you have after retesting before we go further.

Byron.

Hi Byron, have done as you said here are my readings:

Ammonia 0
NitrIte 0
NitrAte 160!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Tap water is 40)

I am doing the water changes (using water conditioner) and hoover once weekly
Tear tank apart and thoroughly hoover under where caves and fake plants have been once a month (fish hate this)
Wash filter through (in used tank water in bucket) once a week
Have planted 4 Java Ferns (puffers eating these tho!)
Lights on 12 hours

Have tried Tetra Nitrate minus in recommended doses, after 1 week and a whole bottle Nitrates rose from 80 to 160

The fish are fed sparingly on 1 block of frozen food measuring 1cmx1cmx2cm once per day (bloodworm/brine shrimp/Krill/Muscle meat/ cockles/snails

I am considering 3 things now, would be very glad of your opinion on them:
1. Upgrading to a bigger 90l tank
2. Using Prime with every water change
3. Buying some Seachem Purigen
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:00 AM   #7
 
I think you could try seachem matrix or lava rock, they have the deep pores for the denitrifying bacteria. I probably would not use something that absorbs ammonia like purigen as that will reduce your bacteria population.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:26 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pufferfish22 View Post
Hi Byron, have done as you said here are my readings:

Ammonia 0
NitrIte 0
NitrAte 160!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Tap water is 40)

I am doing the water changes (using water conditioner) and hoover once weekly
Tear tank apart and thoroughly hoover under where caves and fake plants have been once a month (fish hate this)
Wash filter through (in used tank water in bucket) once a week
Have planted 4 Java Ferns (puffers eating these tho!)
Lights on 12 hours

Have tried Tetra Nitrate minus in recommended doses, after 1 week and a whole bottle Nitrates rose from 80 to 160

The fish are fed sparingly on 1 block of frozen food measuring 1cmx1cmx2cm once per day (bloodworm/brine shrimp/Krill/Muscle meat/ cockles/snails

I am considering 3 things now, would be very glad of your opinion on them:
1. Upgrading to a bigger 90l tank
2. Using Prime with every water change
3. Buying some Seachem Purigen
There are two issues here. First, nitrates in the tap water at 40ppm. Second, nitrates in the aquarium at 160ppm, which indicates that something is off biologically.

Re the tap water, I would in this case use Prime at every water change. There may be another conditioner that handles nitrates, I haven't seen any [Ultimate that I also suggest handles nitrite but not nitrate according to the label]. This will detoxify the nitrate in the tap water.

As for the aquarium, nitrates should be kept below 20ppm. Weekly partial water changes of 50% should handle nitrates, unless the tank is overstocked or is being overloaded with organics (excess food, dead fish, dead plant matter, dead snails, dying bacteria...). Plants also help because they use ammonia (as ammonium) so most of the ammonia does not get through the nitrification process to create nitrates; but slow growers like JF will have less effect obviously. How deep is the sand? Sand compacts easily, and this might be an issue. And I realize this is brackish water; I've no experience with this so can't suggest what effect if any this may have on nitrates. Perhaps someone in the brackish area could help on this point.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:45 PM   #9
 
How deep is the sand? Sand compacts easily, and this might be an issue.

The sand is about 3cm deep but isn't fine sand, the grains are about 2mm in size. When i water change I try to agitate the surface of the sand with the nozzle as I've read pockets of ammonia can build up. I'm really miffed as there are no dead fish, snails get devoured immediately, no rotting plants, but am wondering whether I'm overstocked, using the rule of 1 inch per gallon I'm OK but am thinking of moving up to a larger tank, do you think this will help? Also should I reduce the fish feeding to every other day to see if this helps?

Last edited by Pufferfish22; 02-27-2011 at 12:49 PM..
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:28 PM   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Pufferfish22 View Post
How deep is the sand? Sand compacts easily, and this might be an issue.

The sand is about 3cm deep but isn't fine sand, the grains are about 2mm in size. When i water change I try to agitate the surface of the sand with the nozzle as I've read pockets of ammonia can build up. I'm really miffed as there are no dead fish, snails get devoured immediately, no rotting plants, but am wondering whether I'm overstocked, using the rule of 1 inch per gallon I'm OK but am thinking of moving up to a larger tank, do you think this will help? Also should I reduce the fish feeding to every other day to see if this helps?
From everything you've mentioned in this thread, there should not be a nitrate issue (except from the tap water). I really don't know how brackish water affects this, and hope someone with that experience may come along.
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