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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; --> Unfortunately Seachem is also quick to admit that Prime detoxifies for only 24 to 48 hours so unless you redose every two days, the ...

Old 02-24-2012, 01:04 PM   #21
Unfortunately Seachem is also quick to admit that Prime detoxifies for only 24 to 48 hours so unless you redose every two days, the detox wears off. Prime is great, but it's powers are limited for our problem.
The only 'chemical' solution I found was Nitra Zorb. In theory, I suppose if you used it constantly it might be an aid. However, it claims to remove ammonia, nitrite and nitrate... but if we truly remove ammonia, there is not nitrite or nitrate. I'm not really sure it will remove nitrate from the source water as opposed to preventing it????
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:27 PM   #22
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oh no doubt prime would break the bank in pretty short order. Dont we have any chemists here than can destroy the nitrate molecule with some household chemicals and a few gigawatts of current through the flux capacitor?

MacGyver would know what to do.

Its all so daunting. For the last 2 days ive been reading everything there is to read about nitrates.
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:38 PM   #23
Well, I was gonna play 'wait and see' with my existing setup, but then changed my mind after the order arrived. After testing the Tom pump, I pulled the AC70, rinsed the used Matrix, rinsed the new De*Nitrate, Added 6 capfuls of stability to the filler, installed the pad, mixed and added the Matrix/De*Nitrate mix.
I filled the canister with tank water and let the Tom pump circulate to mix the Stability/water. After I time, I went ahead and hooked up on my tank - see pictures.
The Tom is pretty cool since it pumps water and/or air. I didn't have to start the siphon, it just pulled the air out on it's own.

So now it's a bit of a waiting game. Even though the used Matrix makes for a partial bio-seed, there's a lot of new De*Nitrate and the Stability in play, so there will be a cycle of sorts.
Time will tell.
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:14 PM   #24
You both underestimate the uptake of plants. Yes they will use ammonia first, but do not disregard their nitrate absorbing capacity. If nitrate was a poor nitrogen source we would not dose it as fertilizer. Your right that the biofilter is basically a nitrate factory. IMO this is why my filterless tanks aways preform so much better then my filtered tanks. They uptake the ammonia preventing nitrate formation, but once the ammonia is consumed they WILL readily uptake nitrate. I was actually surprised how much my first soil filterless tank consumed. I expected that with the 25ppm out of my old well, the pounds of rich organic topsoil in the tank(nonmineralized), and a moderate bioload that nitrates would be considerably high. I don't test my tanks normally, I did my first nitrate test on this one when it was a few months old. I got a <10ppm reading which surprised me so much that I had to retest it and use controls from the other tanks to convince myself the reading was correct. The tank was very consistent about dropping at least 10ppm nitrate every week.

Now that I am on city water after weekly 50% water changes I add ~20ppm of nitrates to my high tech 55 via fertilizers. According to aqadivser the tank is:
Your aquarium filtration capacity for above selected species is 83%. (Really? +6X turnover isn't enough lol)
Recommended water change schedule: 82% per week. (You might want to split this water change schedule to two separate 57% per week)
Your aquarium stocking level is 206%
Your tank is seriously overstocked. Unless this setup is temporary, you should consider a larger tank.
I just tested my nitrate and its ~15ppm. I did a water change 4 days ago(City water has 0ppm). I don't actually measure my fertilizer I just eyeball it. My goal is to bump it to 20ppm right after a water change then I usually don't dose any more nitrate after that. The tank stays roughly stable to whatever the weekly starting value is. I'm not sure how much of a biofilter the tank has though. I don't agree with the common saying that plants will consume ammonia before bacteria. They will both consume it, it simply depends who gets to it first. I would assume if you had a fast current and high filtration turnover the bacteria have the upper hand. Low filtration and its the plants. I know I can clone tanks from that canister filter but its been a long time since I have done that. You know how my filters looks too lol

However I will be blunt, when using plants what you NEED, NEED, NEED is growth. The more growth the more assimilation of nutrients. If you have little growth then yes plants won't do much at all. You don't need high tech, but you do need light. A lot on this site seem to stick to really low or low light. You need moderate/medium light and specifically fast growing stem plants or similar.

It's generally held that aquarium nitrates should be less than 40ppm, preferably less than 20ppm.
I vaguely agree with this. The limit for nitrate in safe drinking water is 44ppm, most we know have much less. IMO the only point of testing nitrates is to get a idea of the nutrient load/cycling in a tank, to me a nitrate reading is almost useless unless you compare it to the tap levels. Your tank IMO is fine. A tank with a heavy bioload and non-planted will produce about 20ppm of nitrate a week from my experience. As long as nitrate in the tank shows a reasonable increase for the given bioload things are fine. Its when you see elevated nitrate buildup compared to the tap levels it points to either lack of water changes or a feeding/waste issue. Its my belief that you need really high nitrates before most fish are effected, like +100ppm. Health issues are not always related to water quality. While water is a big factor in fish health you can have perfect water and still have fish get sick.

Anyway I'll stop digressing on this lol. I just can't understand the reluctance to move to planted. Its when you first introduce fish that have never seen a live plant into a densely planted tank their bewilderment and initial fear of their natural environment always strikes me.

If you are really insistent on removing nitrate from the tap why not just get a cheap RO filter. You don't need a house system and you don't need major capacity. You would need a large holding bin for the water and likely a pump unless you put the bin in a location higher then the tanks. I found this RO filter. Its cheap for an RO filter but I would not expect it to live up to all advertising values. Either way if you can get 1/2 that GPD thats still more then enough. Its 4 stage but 2 of those are simple carbon filters. The only one I would really change regularly is the first stage 5 micron filter. There is no reason to change the 3rd stage until you see nitrate levels increase. I'm sure you can cheaply change the first stage. It says they are a standard filter size. You can get cheap generic media replacements off ebay. You could replace the carbon filters with something more helpful like 1 micron filters. Its really just the membrane thats the expensive one to replace. That is also the one that is going to be removing your nitrate. None of the others really will, but they will protect the membrane.
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:20 PM   #25
Yes Makaila, plants are good...that's why I added floating (Anacharis) plants. But as I mentioned, I'd need all new lighting/hoods to support plants in this 24" deep tank. I did see an Aqueon retrofit recently at Petsmart for $90 (that would fit over my existing hood/covers.) Alternatively, I could build a canope with a 48" light set. Still $100+, not counting the plants and on-going ferts, etc.

I'm not sure I'd go with an RO unit when API has a $50 tap filter for nitrates which may be an option. My only concern are some reviews that suggest that in some cases, filter cartridges don't last very long at all. The replacement cartridges at $25 aren't cheap.

Perhaps my $50~ dedicated bio/nitrate/denitrator filter is an off base, knee jerk reaction. It surely is if it doesn't work....we'll see.

In the meantime, I am treating the tank/filter like a new tank. Not too far off since I tore it all down just a week ago.
I added 6 capfuls of Stability per the Seachem directions in the new filter and will add 3 capfuls a day to the tank for the next 7 days. I will report back on nitrate test results.

Btw, I think the flow rate on the Tom aqua lifter (3.5gph) is perfect in this application.

Last edited by AbbeysDad; 02-24-2012 at 07:32 PM..
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:41 PM   #26
Originally Posted by beetlebz View Post
oh no doubt prime would break the bank in pretty short order. Dont we have any chemists here than can destroy the nitrate molecule with some household chemicals and a few gigawatts of current through the flux capacitor?

MacGyver would know what to do.

Its all so daunting. For the last 2 days ive been reading everything there is to read about nitrates.
If I was you I just might give API's Nitra Zorb a shot.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:54 PM   #27
Just a reference point of my 40-60ppm tank nitrates:
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:06 AM   #28
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I have a well planted 20g mikaila, and im still showing tap levels of nitrates. Maybe in time as the plants get more and more substantial they will feed off the nitrates, but they arent yet. I only lightly dose flourish. I just set up an anchoring system for my 110g to hold clumps of water sprite until they get established, just to see what happens, but I suspect it will be the same. It will reach a point where it consumes ammonia and such but not enough to consume nitrates. But we will see. Thats the fun part about it, I get to learn something, if nothing else
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:21 AM   #29
As someone else in another forum suggested (and my PM to you Beetle) Fluval Lab Series Nitrate Remover may be the chemical you seek.

Fluval Lab Series Nitrate Remover is a high capacity, laboratory developed Ion exchange resin that is safe for fish, plants and invertebrates. Developed from a pure High Grade String Base Anion Exchange resin, Nitrate Remover rapidly and selectively removes nitrate and eliminates toxic nitrite within a matter of hours, resulting in a healthy environment for your fish. It removes up to 25 mg/L (ppm) of toxic nitrate per 50 gallons of water (189L). It does not contain phosphate, will not affect pH or Hardness, and can be recharged several times. The Fluval Lab Series Nitrate Remover is for freshwater use only.

I may get some to bring levels down until my filter kicks in and manages.
(I've tried a few water changes with 'good' water with negligible success.)
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:28 AM   #30
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Studies I have seen/read on the effect's of nitrAtes on fishes health, were largely based on studies of a few game fish species.
My early expieriences with fishes were large waste producing cichlids, and in unplanted aquaria ,with no nitrates from source water,,the nitrates were end result of bacterial activity breaking down organic's, animal proteins,waste.
These south American,Central American cichlids, did much better for me with nitrate levels under 40 ppm with 20 ppm being even better.(above this,fish were sickly)
Now that I am running a couple three planted tank's, I add pottasium nitrate, KNO3 as macronutrient to these tanks each week, and believe there is large difference between the inorganic salt KNO3, and Nitrate levels as result of afore mentioned decaying or processesd organics, the latter being an indication of poor maint, with exception of situation where levels are recorded from source water.
If fishes exhibitied any abnormal behaivor from this inorganic salt,,I would cease and desist (trust me)
Brazilian Penny wort grows on surface of 55 gal tank I have holding five plecos, and some white cloud minnows,guppie fry, with nothing more than one 32 watt T8 bulb.
In fact ,,it grew fairly well with just light from north facing window, and it was then,, that I decided to give it some more light to see if it would not out grow the plecos attempt's at consuming it.
I now pull 3 gal bucket of this from the tank around every three weeks,(trade for store credit) and it sops up enough Nitrates that I have been able to go from two weekly water changes ,to once a week which pleases me.
Don't need full on planted tank to provide benfit's that plant's such as the floating plant's mentioned,provide with regard to reducing the nitrates from source water and or those from end result of nitrification.
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