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DIY Nitrate Filter

This is a discussion on DIY Nitrate Filter within the DIY Aquarium forums, part of the TFK Resources category; --> Originally Posted by AbbeysDad Finally, it's my understanding that the anaerobic bacteria processes the nitrate to obtain the O2 it needs, but this is ...

Old 02-22-2012, 08:09 PM   #11
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Finally, it's my understanding that the anaerobic bacteria processes the nitrate to obtain the O2 it needs, but this is not food. The Aquaripure system adds alcohol or sugar water to feed the bacteria. Not sure how I 'feed' new friends in this filter???
I posed this question to Seachem Tech support. They indicated that they do not recommend supplemental feeding with alcohol/sugar as there should be enough food for the bacteria in dissolved organics. I suggested and they agreed that I should discontinue use of Purigen for the time being to better ensure bacteria colony development in the new filter.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #12
Wouldn't it just be cheaper to go planted? I mean one mistake or accident and O2 gets into the reactor doesn't it cause a major die off?

Also if you really had 60ppm out of the well you know thats above drinking water standards?

At 40ppm in the tank I personally would not be worried at all. Thats fine IMO. Before I moved my 55 gallon ran 40ppm of nitrates constantly for years. I kept lots of fish in there and many spawned and were very happy. Along with rainbows, tetras, and angels spawning I had an unintentional spawning of GBR.

Last edited by Mikaila31; 02-23-2012 at 10:48 AM..
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:12 AM   #13
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Wouldn't it just be cheaper to go planted? I mean one mistake or accident and O2 gets into the reactor doesn't it cause a major die off?
Perhaps a good point, but a retrofit for new lights is about $100+, plus substrate, plants and ongoing fert cost. Maybe cheaper if I built a DIY canopy with a Lowes/HD type 4' florescent light.

You're correct. Most nitrate reactors are dependent on low oxygen levels in the canister. Quite true in the Aquaripure filter, for example, that uses sponge material (graduated course to fine) as the bacteria platform.
In this case, the 'secret' is in the media. Seachem claims that the macro pore structure of matrix and de*nitrate promotes aerobic bacteria colonies on the surface and anaerobic bacteria colonies deep within the pores. This is why the larger Matrix supports faster flow rates, while the smaller de*nitrate requires a much slower (<50gph) flow rate.

Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Also if you really had 60ppm out of the well you know thats above drinking water standards?
Yes, I think the standard for drinking water is like <=10ppm. However, My wife became seriously ill 20 years ago and as a precaution we began using bottled water (delivered) for drinking and have ever since.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:22 AM   #14
I may have jumped the gun here. After a PM from Beetlebz asking about Matrix, I got to thinking...

I didn't know I had high nitrates in my well water. Long ago, Byron indirectly convinced me to do 50% water changes weekly...which I did like clockwork. Quite awhile ago I added another Aquaclear 70 filter filled with Matrix for no other reason other than increased bio-media capacity. Even though the Matrix may be knocking down my nitrate levels, I was pumping them back up every weekend with the 50% water change.
Making matters worse, a few months ago, I began using Purigen which removes organics in solution. The same material that serve as food for anaerobic bacteria. With prudent tank maintenance, no Purigen and reduced water changes (frequency or volume), my existing system (with 1.5 liters of Matrix in the AC70) may be able to handle nitrates.
Testing now. I pulled the Purigen out. I will perform modest water changes with good water and monitor nitrates before installing the new filter.

Living and learning
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:34 PM   #15
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you and i are in the same boat bud. I tested my tap water today (also a well on farm lands) and realized it tested out with 0.25ppm ammonia and 30ppm nitrates.

I posted in the planted forum about my plants to make a DIY nitrate filter also. im considering a different approach however. I was going to take the outflow from my ehiem 2236, go into a bulkhead at the bottom of a 3 gallon bucket (sealed top) full of lava rock or something porus (not just textured) like matrix. then out the top using the head pressure from the canister, and back into the aquarium. My hopes is that the bio media in the ehiem will perform as usual, and then by the time it reaches the bucket the o2 will be used up before it reaches the top. Im still debating though. the 30ppm in my 55 and 20 long arent going to cost me sleep (though id like them lower), but the 60ppm in my 110 will definitely cost me sleep!

im afraid using an actual chemical media to absorb nitrates will keep me broke changing it out constantly.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:36 PM   #16
IMO you should both just toss your nitrate kits in the trash and chill lol. Very few fish are bothered by 60ppm and nitrate in general. Also remember nitrate test kits are extremely inaccurate.

Or maybe I am just the weird one lol. I would rather have my old well water with its 25ppm of nitrates then my new city water with 0ppm. The GBR I moved should of loved the new softer, slightly more acidic, overall 'better' water quality at my new place. Despite that they decided to die after a month.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:41 PM   #17
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I dunno. Ive lost alot of fish recently, and alot of it (alot of tetras, most gourami, and a female betta) can be attributed indirectly to nitrates (dropsy, in a few cases). Now the params are perfect for the fish I keep in most cases, however the only fish im having issues keeping alive are the sensitive ones. Its like, its the only thing it could be! I know its not but...

Cories, and glass cats are both getting sickly in my 20 long at 30ppm, and I inexplicably lost a common plec in my 110g a month or two ago, WAY younger than he shoulda gone. He was only like a year old. I had trouble keeping firemouths alive in that tank for some reason too, one of the reasons I got the sevs instead.

Last edited by beetlebz; 02-23-2012 at 09:43 PM..
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:06 AM   #18
Dunno what to say about that, but I've kept things like rummy tetras in 40ppm and they had great colors and lived for a long time. My GBR I bought and raised from 1/4" fry in a tank around 20ppm nitrate. Two eventually paired and spawned in my 55 gallon community. That tank ran average of 40ppm with weekly 50% water changes. The rams decided it was best to spawn when I neglected to do a water change for two weeks.

Just the way I see it... you know its not the nitrate, so what is the point in putting in all the effort to control the nitrate when you know that's not the issue? I'm not sure how dropsy is indircetly related to nitrates, since it can be caused by anything from constipation, bacterial infection, to organ failure.

@Abbey it may cost you for lights and plants, but I highly doubt you would need a different substrate or fertilizers with that water. Plants have extra benefits as well. I honestly would of quit the hobby years ago if I hadn't gone planted. I'll convince you one day .
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:01 AM   #19
I also initially questioned the accuracy of the test results which is why I also tested store bought bottled water and distilled water. Finding they were both zero for nitrates suggested that my well water and tank water are very high in nitrates. We could quibble over absolute values, but it wouldn't change the fact that based on comparative analysis the nitrates are way high.

It's generally held that aquarium nitrates should be less than 40ppm, preferably less than 20ppm. At some point, high nitrates causes problems - not as short term deadly as ammonia and nitrites, but general health and longevity. I too have had numerous fish losses that I could not explain. A couple recently due to dropsy or constipation. Of the first brood of some 20 Red Wag Platy's we raised, only two remain and before they passed, most showed signs of stunted growth.
While some fish seem okay, others are lethargic and rest on the bottom or at the surface much of the time. I have a couple right now showing signs of shimmy. Of course, I can't be certain that the high nitrates are the root cause, but now that I know there's a water quality issue, I need to take steps to resolve it.

I have read that by themselves, plants prevent nitrates better than removing them by using the nitrites and nitrates are not created. Plants can process nitrates, but in an environment where ammonia exists (like the aquarium) it will use ammonia instead as it requires more energy to process nitrates.
Lazy plants! So plants would help by otherwise reducing tank generated nitrates, but likely not solve the overall source nitrate water problem.

When you research lowering nitrates in an aquarium, the #1 solution is the water change - increased frequency or volume. But of course this is the last thing we should do if the source water is high in nitrates.
We would either need to use other water for partial water changes and/or find a way to keep nitrates in the tank low. Water is about $1 a gallon. I was doing a 30g water change on my 60g tank weekly. Even if I reduce to a 10g weekly change, it adds up. API makes a $50 tap water filter for nitrates (which I may also get), but the filter cartridges are expensive and some reviews suggest that the cartridges exhaust very quickly. It has to produce 50g+ to break even (over purchased water).
API also makes Nitra Zorb which is yet another synthetic adsorbant that removes ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. It can be recharged in salt water for numerous re-use (unclear how many times). I'm hesitant to use this as it upsets or circumvents the beneficial bio-filtration.
Then there is the dedicated bio/nitrate filter on the tank.

The obvious solution to this problem is to remove nitrates from my well water...but shooting the farmer or moving just doesn't seem practical and a house system for nitrate removal is expensive. Although I'm usually against shot gun solutions, I think a combination of nitrate reduction methods may be the answer and may allow a prudent water change with my well water.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:19 AM   #20
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I wonder if there is a purely chemical solution. I wonder if it could really just be as simple as finding a chemical (that wont kill fish) that splits the nitrate and oxygen. For the life of me I cant find on the seachem site (ill email them) where it tells you exactly HOW prime detoxifies nitrates. I wouldnt even mind drip dosing prime, if they would explain to me why it would work

in the mean time, Ill stop hijacking your thread until you get some test reults AD!

I finally found the information on the seachem website about prime lol this is priceless, but at least theyre honest.

" The detoxification of nitrite and nitrate by Prime (when used at elevated levels) is not well understood from a mechanistic standpoint. The most likely explanation is that the nitrite and nitrate is removed in a manner similar to the way ammonia is removed; i.e. it is bound and held in a inert state until such time that bacteria in the biological filter are able to take a hold of it, break it apart and use it. Two other possible scenarios are reduction to nitrogen (N2) gas or conversion into a benign organic nitrogen compound.
I wish we had some more "concrete" explanation, but the end result is the same, it does actually detoxify nitrite and nitrate. This was unexpected chemically and thus initially we were not even aware of this, however we received numerous reports from customers stating that when they overdosed with Prime they were able to reduce or eliminate the high death rates they experienced when their nitrite and nitrate levels were high. We have received enough reports to date to ensure that this is no fluke and is in fact a verifiable function of the product."

Last edited by beetlebz; 02-24-2012 at 10:22 AM..
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