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Old 04-22-2012, 02:47 PM   #1 
SlabSided
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Nitrates - How high is TOO high?

My 5 gallon tank finally cycled and I've been patting myself on the back because the ammonia and nitrites are always 0 and the nitrates are always below 10 ppm. Or so I thought until I read a couple of threads on what a pain shaking the bottle of nitrate solution is....wait, what? You're supposed to shake it? So I reread the instructions before I do the next 50% change and the nitrates, properly tested this time, are around 40 ppm. I change the water and test again the next day and, holy crud, it's 40 ppm again! So I test the water out of the tap....you guessed it, 40 ppm. Is this a problem? If so, what can I do? Use bottled water? Add a moss ball or something? Lower it chemically (how?) I don't have a planted tank, would like to eventually, but from what I've read I would need a LOT of plants to really have that much impact on the nitrates. I should mention my fish, Tuna Bob, seems quite healthy and happy but I've only had him 2 weeks.


Thoughts?


Thanks
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:01 PM   #2 
Olympia
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Usually 40ppm is the upper limit for nitrate...
You are going to have to look into a nitrate absorbing product..
I can't recommend anything because I have never used any of them.
Best of luck! :D
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:37 PM   #3 
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I haven't use this but there is nitrate filter material:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=23764
The description of the product looks good, but it says you kind of need some plants or something else with it to be more effective.

I am no kind of expert at all on live plants, but if you have a moss ball it wouldn't hurt things to toss it in, unless it is not done being quarantined. I can't give you any help on lowering nitrates other then get a few plants. Mo made a very nice thread about floating plants that can just be loose in your water. They are also lower light requirements for the most part.

Personal experience: I can't kill my java moss unless perhaps I threw it in a completely dark box and sealed it up.

I have java fern, but it is still too new. I can't say how hardy it is by experience. Mine has big brown spots on the leaves. My betta really enjoys some of the small fern plantlets that floated to the top of his tank though, he has a large bubblenest he is guarding built under the leaves, holding them at the top of the tank. I catch him re-arranging them too lol.

I hope someone can help
best wishes
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:42 PM   #4 
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Some easy rooted plants include apongeton and hygrophilia. I love my apongeton crispus, it's got thrilly leaves that are really something else. Don't worry about ferts... What kind of lighting do you have?
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:57 PM   #5 
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While 40ppm nitrate is getting into the high side and long term high nitrate can cause health issue, compromise immune response, shock new fish if not properly acclimated and stunt growth in growing fry-but you are talking about years in 80-100+ppm nitrate and fry....While its not ideal, generally with adult Bettas 40ppm will be tolerated without any long term issue....But adding live plants won't hurt....water lettuce would do the job and not need any special care since you have it in the source water to start.

You might want to go to your city water supply web-site and see what is going on...unless this is well water.......
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:59 PM   #6 
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Having a goldfish tank I know a few things about high nitrates. It's considered excellent to have nitrates at 20 ppm in a goldfish tank. Most of us aim for lower than 40 ppm (generally considered a safe upper limit). Seachem Purigen is a chemical method of lowering nitrates and is often used when high nitrates are present in tap water. Live plants will also help, but plants use ammonia before they use nitrate; they also uptake ammonia at a faster rate than bacteria. So is you add live plants and then decide you don't want them, you will probably get an ammonia spike.

Here is the interesting thing. If the level of nitrate is constant and doesn't fluctuate wildly then you might be fine. Betta and many other hardy fish can adapt to many conditions, one of those being high nitrate (which is usually indicative of poor water quality). Provided it stays constant, your betta should be fine. But if you want to add other fish, they might not be.

If your betta is fine and you don't want to add any more fish, the biggest problem I can see is the excess nutrients causing algal blooms.
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Old 04-22-2012, 04:54 PM   #7 
SlabSided
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Wow, lots of responses, thanks! - must be raining where you guys are too and nothing else to do but browse the forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
You might want to go to your city water supply web-site and see what is going on...unless this is well water.......
Yup, well water. So unless there is some sort of filtration I can add beyond what I already have, which is iron removal and softener (hmmm...wonder if either of those affect nitrates??), I'm pretty much stuck with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
What kind of lighting do you have?
Pretty lame....it came with the tank and I figured I would upgrade if and when I was ready to start a planted tank. I'm just wanted to concentrate on keeping the fish alive in the beginning. But I think it's enough to support a low-maintenance plant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thekoimaiden View Post
Seachem Purigen is a chemical method of lowering nitrates and is often used when high nitrates are present in tap water. Live plants will also help, but plants use ammonia before they use nitrate;
I just took a look at the Purigen and it sounds interesting - you can replace your carbon with it. I don't have any problem with algae yet and the water is crystal clear so my only concern is lowering the nitrates.

So it sounds like I don't need to panic just yet. Here's what I'm thinking....
I do want a natural planted tank but really want to do my homework before diving into that (I'm anal that way). So maybe replace the carbon in the filter with the Seachem Purigen and work on getting some plants and a better light? Or should he be okay for a few weeks/months with the higher nitrates while I figure out this plant thing?

Oh, here's Tuna Bob - don't you love his blue lips?



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Old 04-22-2012, 05:16 PM   #8 
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Yep. You guess it. Raining here, too. But you aren't too far away from me. I'm in Virginia, too. Great day to look for salamanders, tho.

Tuna is a really pretty boy. I love that classic blue color and plakats are fast becoming a favorite of mine. <3

If you want to do a lot of research on NPT, Tuna should be fine in your well water for a while. But I will give you a word of caution about softened well water. Most softeners don't really soften the water in the way a fish sees it; they use salts to bind up with the stuff that produced hard water stains. There is some debate in the fishkeeping world as to whether or not this is good for fish and plants. I know another user here, Sakura, has had trouble keeping plants alive in her tanks due to her softened well water.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:07 PM   #9 
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What a beautiful Betta...it looks like he kissed wet paint....lol....

What kind of water softening unit are you using....as Izzy posted-water from home water softening units are not ideal to use with the fish/aquarium-especially if they are the type that use salt-they are Ion exchangers and you end up with high sodium water that lack calcium and magnesium-both are really important for long term fish health.....

I would bypass the softening unit for the water used in the aquarium-I would test the bypassed water too-a full test....both high/low pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate-run the test on a clean glass of water-then re-test this same glass of water in 2 and 24h-compare numbers-and if you use any additives in the tank-pour a second glass of bypassed water to add the additives to test in 2 and 24h....This will give you a base line and help tell you more of what is going on.....

I have well water too and I have found that the water prams will change based on season, rain, drought and especially if you live in a farming area the nitrate can be higher at different times of the year due to ferts added to the fields.....

Be sure and properly acclimate him to the bypassed water when/if you change him over since it will be a chemistry change.

NPT's natural planted soil based tanks are all I keep...check out my album for pic and more info if you would like.....NPT's are great systems-as close to a natural ecosystem you can create in a closed system.....
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:31 PM   #10 
SlabSided
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Well, now I'm really concerned about my water. Apparently, people aren't supposed to have nitrates over 10 ppm either . Not sure how long this has been a problem, but I'm going to have the water filtration company out to check everything out and may need to add an RO system or something. I don't have any large farms nearby - it's very wooded where I am - but even if there were, there's not much I can do about stuff getting in the ground water other than deal with it after the fact.

OFL - The softener is the kind with salt. There's also an iron filtration system. I can bypass the softener by turning it off completely, but would have to drain the hot water tank to actually get down to unsoftened water. Not sure if I can bypass all my filtration systems. I think I'll have to crawl under the house for that. Since I have absolutely no plans to crawl under the house every time I need water for a tank change , I think I'll just pick up several gallons of spring water at the store and slowly replace his tank water using that for the time being.

Sigh....all I wanted was a little fishy in a little tank to sit on my bookshelf by my desk....not replumb the whole darn house.
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