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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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? :shock: 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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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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I haven't use this but there is nitrate filter material:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, lots of responses, thanks! - must be raining where you guys are too and nothing else to do but browse the forums. :lol:

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.

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.

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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, now I'm really concerned about my water. Apparently, people aren't supposed to have nitrates over 10 ppm either :blink::sick::blueshake:. 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 :lol:, 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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Even if you don't have any farms nearby, your groundwater can come from a reservoir that goes under a farm hundreds of miles away. Especially in karst topography, your drinking water might be the poop water for cattle a long distance away. Virginia hasn't been the greatest about keeping cattle out of streams, so there is a lot of pollution in our rivers and groundwater. Don't even get me started on the James River.

Spring water from the store is a good alternative. Just be careful to adjust him to it slowly as spring water is often very hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
... your drinking water might be the poop water for cattle a long distance away
Oohhhh.....thank you for that image. :lol:

As for acclimation, would it be better to do a 100% change and acclimate him from the cup like when he first came home, or should I leave him in the tank and replace a gallon (or two) at a time over the next few days?
 

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Sorry! I drank bottled water for a little while after my hydrology class prof showed us how farms far away can affect our water. It's also one of the reasons I never want well water.

I think it would be better to spread the water changes out over a few days. I think the shock of going from soft water to what has the potential to be very hard water would be too much for him.
 

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I had a nitrate level of 40ppm yesterday....it's never been that high for my fishies living where I'm at now....but, I'm also doing a fish in cycle with a 10 gallon divided tank with 2 boys....I did a partial water change by the end of the day and am doing water tests at least every other day...my 15 gallon is so going to be fish-less cycling, but I didn't want to continue to keep the boys in 16 oz clear cups....I have no clue what my water kind is...it might be well water...
 

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You don't have an outside tap-maybe one on the well house.....

Personally, I think you will be fine with the nitrate level-its the long term sodium and absent magnesium/calcium that might be a problem....

Agree, you don't want to replumb the house........if you can find real spring water that should work fine-but use a dechlorinator with it too......Make 25% water change every day for a week to get him acclimated-then back on your regular schedule-be sure and do a slow acclimation if you do any 100% water changes later down the road too-this is with any source water and 100% changes....

Good luck....
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You don't have an outside tap-maybe one on the well house.....

Personally, I think you will be fine with the nitrate level-its the long term sodium and absent magnesium/calcium that might be a problem....
Don't have a well house. It's newer construction so just a PVC pipe housing sticking out of the ground. Everything else is under the house, there might be a spigot, can't get under there right now because I just had the house painted and the painters painted the access door shut. :evil: Just haven't had the time or inclination to pry it open. I'm pretty sure the spigots on the outside of the house are piped after the filtration systems, but I think I'll test them too just for grins.

So is there something I need to do for the sodium/magnesium/calcium? AQ salt?

Anyway, I'm going to replace a gallon today with spring water and another tomorrow then test and see where we are. I might be able to use a mixture of the two, just dilute things a bit with the spring water. That way I can use my tap water to bring it up to the right temperature.

I'll let you know how things progress.

Thanks!
 

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Dang those painters......how do you water things outside...like if you had a garden or flower bed or something...I guess every state is different with codes...In my state the well house with the pump has to be at least 50 feet from the house and from any sewer/lateral line so not to cross contaminate drinking water...

The softening unit that use salt- makes the water soft by Ion exchange-the sodium/salt used in the unit exchanges the magnesium/calcium and other minerals in the water- and by soft I mean in the sense that it limits mineral deposits, soap suds and rinses out better/easier...etc....you can add stuff back to the water but you can't take the sodium out-You should research the unit you have-it should have a web-site that you can get a lot better information from than I can give you.
 

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I still think if you can find it easily, you should toss in a glob of java moss ;) It really doesn't need anything but a little light, which you have. :D It's really a pretty indestructible plant ;) that's just my own opinion anyway. :D

Really hope this all works out for you, just checked in on the thread to see how you were doing :)
Best wishes again
TS :p
 
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