Nitrate question - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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post #1 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrate question

After 10 agonizing weeks I believe my tank has finally cycled. Im not sure why it took so long, but after advice from a member at week 8 Ive seen a nitrite spike come and go, ammonia drop and nitrates rise. For every day in the last week-ammonia-0, nitrites-0, nitrates- 3-5ppm. My question is at what level do nitrates become dangerous(when should I change water)?

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post #2 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 12:22 PM
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After 10 agonizing weeks I believe my tank has finally cycled. Im not sure why it took so long, but after advice from a member at week 8 Ive seen a nitrite spike come and go, ammonia drop and nitrates rise. For every day in the last week-ammonia-0, nitrites-0, nitrates- 3-5ppm. My question is at what level do nitrates become dangerous(when should I change water)?
Nitrates are truly toxic to fish are levels exceeding 100ppm.

I think it is unhealthy for fish to swim in water that has more than 50ppm of Nitrate. The legal limit for drinking water in the United States is currently 45ppm of N03 (Nitrate).

I would say just do weekly water changes. You want to keep Nitrate (N03) under 20ppm.
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post #3 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrates are truly toxic to fish are levels exceeding 100ppm.

I think it is unhealthy for fish to swim in water that has more than 50ppm of Nitrate. The legal limit for drinking water in the United States is currently 45ppm of N03 (Nitrate).

I would say just do weekly water changes. You want to keep Nitrate (N03) under 20ppm.
Sounds good.Thank you Termato.

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post #4 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 12:46 PM
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Np, glad I could help.

I'm personally getting 33.8ppm N03 out of the tap water, so you are lucky! hahaha.
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post #5 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Np, glad I could help.

I'm personally getting 33.8ppm N03 out of the tap water, so you are lucky! hahaha.
If it makes you feel any better, I have to drive to the next town for the right water for mine.

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post #6 of 21 Old 07-02-2012, 06:33 PM
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If there are live plants you shouldn't have an issue with nitrates. I would go into normal qweekly water changes. While it is true that nitrates are not as deadly as their cousins ammonia and nitrite, they still do impact fish so maintaining them as low as possible is always wise.

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 #7 of 21 Old 07-03-2012, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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If there are live plants you shouldn't have an issue with nitrates. I would go into normal qweekly water changes. While it is true that nitrates are not as deadly as their cousins ammonia and nitrite, they still do impact fish so maintaining them as low as possible is always wise.
Thank you

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post #8 of 21 Old 07-03-2012, 09:37 PM
I have to disagree that nitrates have to exceed 100ppm in order to be lethal.
(I lost dozens of Platy fry over time with nitrates less than 100ppm).
First of all, nitrates are so low in fresh water in nature they can't be measured to any perceptible level. Some species of fish will succumb to nitrate poisoning at very low levels. Long term exposure to nitrates above say 20-25ppm stunts growth and shortens life spans. It is best to keep nitrates as low as possible. If you have nitrate free tap water, weekly water changes of up to 50% can keep nitrates at bay. Tank nitrates can also be reduced or eliminated by living plants and good tank housekeeping.
Failing in the above, there are scavenger resins that can adsorb nitrates, but these are only typically required by those of us country folks that fight nitrates in our tap (or well) water.

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post #9 of 21 Old 07-03-2012, 11:14 PM
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I have to disagree that nitrates have to exceed 100ppm in order to be lethal.
(I lost dozens of Platy fry over time with nitrates less than 100ppm).
First of all, nitrates are so low in fresh water in nature they can't be measured to any perceptible level. Some species of fish will succumb to nitrate poisoning at very low levels. Long term exposure to nitrates above say 20-25ppm stunts growth and shortens life spans. It is best to keep nitrates as low as possible. If you have nitrate free tap water, weekly water changes of up to 50% can keep nitrates at bay. Tank nitrates can also be reduced or eliminated by living plants and good tank housekeeping.
Failing in the above, there are scavenger resins that can adsorb nitrates, but these are only typically required by those of us country folks that fight nitrates in our tap (or well) water.
Yeah that was the reason I suggested keeping the Nitrates under 20ppm. I was only stating the 100ppm thing as a general guide that it is a lot of Nitrate.

Thanks for the great explanation AbbeysDad, all the help you can give is always appreciated. I was not aware such levels of Nitrate could effect fish, but in all reality it does make a lot of sense. They live in the water after all. I will have to do a lot more reading on this. I know it does not effect humans the same, as I have been doing more research on that.

What are these scavenger resins that can adsorb nitrates?
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-04-2012, 09:21 AM
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What are these scavenger resins that can adsorb nitrates?
First, let me explain (whine - lol) about my high nitrates in my well water - the result of a 95 acre farmers field across the road that gets ample amounts of organic (manure) and chemical fertilizer! My well water has 80-100+ppm nitrates.

I use Fluval Lab Series Nitrate Remover (FNR) in a spare 10g tank to filter nitrates from my well water to use for water changes*. In my 60g display tank, I sometimes use API Nitra-Zorb.
Both of these products are synthetic resins (look a lot like tiny plastic pellets) that adsorb nitrates. They both do a good job and can be regenerated/reused several times in salt water.

(*I mix FNR filtered well water 50/50 with deionized (DI) water made using the API Tap Water filter.)

Another product I use is Seachem Purigen. Purigen is a synthetic resin that adsorbs dissolved organics keeping water clearer and preventing the decomposition that would ultimately result in nitrates. It can be regenerated/reused several times using chlorine bleach.

All this said, as I mentioned, with good nitrate free tap water for weekly water changes, living plants and good tank maintenance, nitrates can typically be kept very low. I was forced to research and use these products to economically combat the high nitrates in my source (well) water.

Note: High nitrates (in drinking water) is a health hazard for humans, especially young children, and there are federal standards. Unfortunately, these standards can be regulated in sewage treatment plants and municipal water supplies, but not in rural America private water supplies. (The farmer can't be prevented from fertilizing his farm land).
Footnote: We have bottled water delivered for drinking.

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