High Nitrate Levels and Bettas

SilverB

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I previously had a betta in a 5 gallon Aqua One Nano Tank.

In all honesty, I had lots of issues with water quality and the impact of me not understanding the Nitrogen Cycle until very recently.

I'm on a quest to try and understand as much as possible about the errors I made, so that I can set up a more successful and thought out tank later on (maybe early next year).

Barring issues with Nitrite which I had spikes of quite regularly. What would be the impact of high nitrates for a Betta? I've recently found out that my source water has 33.6 ppm for Nitrate, so I expect over time, I'd see a big build up of this. I didn't have a test for Nitrate so I don't know what levels it reached, but I did have massive issues with cyanobacteria and hair algae by the end.

My betta I think had developed some cloudy eye - I know now that this would have been caused predominantly (like all things) by poor water quality, but how much influence might the Nitrates have had? Or none at all?
 

Colin_T

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Nitrates do adversely affect fish but not as much as ammonia or nitrite.

33ppm of nitrate is common in UK water supplies.

20ppm of nitrate is the maximum I prefer but that's not always possible, especially when you have nitrates in the water supply.

If you grow lots of plants in the tank (especially floating plants), they will use the nitrates and reduce the level. You can also buy a reverse osmosis (R/O) unit or buy R/O water form some pet shops. If you use a 50/50 mix of R/O and tap water, it will reduce your nitrates by half and make it safer for the fish.

You can set up a container of tap water and grow live plants in that. they will use the nitrates and then you can use that water in the fish tank.

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If you have ammonia or nitrite problems in the tank, the simplest way to deal with it is to do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until the levels come down to 0ppm.
 

seangee

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Lots of plants and regular large water changes (50-75% per week) will stop your nitrates from going up, but are unlikely to bring them down.
Since London water is very hard and bettas are soft water fish @Colin_T's suggestion of 50/50 RO/tap water is a good one - pehaps even 2:1 - that way you kill two birds with one stone.
 

hansgruber7

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The ideal solution if feasible is to use RO water if you can. Otherwise, plants like frogbit can help.
 

Geordie Paul

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My best advice would be to a small water change every 5 days or so and try adding some small live plants that absorb nitrates to grow. Make sure the water has movement of some sort. Lastly some oxygenation in the water will lower the PH and reduce algae blooms or oil slicks on the surface. If you don't have one I'd definitely recommend a small airator. This shouldn't cost you more then 15-20 bucks.
 

Essjay

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Airstones won't lower pH. But they do churn the water up helping gas exchange (oxygen in and CO2 out of the water)
 

Geordie Paul

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Airstones won't lower pH. But they do churn the water up helping gas exchange (oxygen in and CO2 out of the water)
If your PH is extremely high like around 9 an airstone will lower it over time. If your PH is closer to neutral it will NOT lower it. I should have clarified.
 
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SilverB

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Thanks all!
When I first set up the tank I later added Duckweed. My ignorant self didn't realise at the time how much of a godsend that nuisance plant was until now. My Betta was happier with it (for may reasons and I imagine the Nitrate reduction was one) but I also had less problems with algae.

But, you know, it grows like mad and was driving me round the bend, so I scooped it all out. It took a while, but after that things in there really started getting messy!

Yeah the water here is HARD. I made a separate thread with my parameters (sorry I'm posting all over the place with loads of questions at the moment), but hardness is at 254 ppm. Which seems way too hard for most tropics. Ph though is usually between 7-8. I don't know about the Kh though.

As a few of you have suggested, I'm planning to use RO water for the next set up. I just need to do more research on the re-mineralising process and also decide what I'll stock since I'll have to work the water based on stock. I know I could just mix with tap, but part of me wants to keep it pure somehow. I'm probably not helping myself.

Honestly, I've learned so many lessons from my first tank though, if painful ones. I expect that's the same for most beginners in this hobby!
 

seangee

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Amazon frogbit is a great alternative to duckweed. Grows just as fast but big leaves makes it much easier to catch

Just make sure you use Amazon frogbit (limnobium laevigatum) and not European frogbit (hydrocharis morsus-ranae) which is grown in cold water in the UK and often struggles to adjust to tropical temps.
 

Essjay

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If your PH is extremely high like around 9 an airstone will lower it over time. If your PH is closer to neutral it will NOT lower it. I should have clarified.
And I should also have clarified that running an air stone in freshly run tap water can change the pH, both up and down.
With acidic water, water suppliers sometimes add something to raise the pH to prevent the mains pipes corroding and in hard water areas they add something to lower pH to prevent limescale building up in the mains pipes. Both of these additives gas off in around 24 hours or faster is an air stone is used.
 
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SilverB

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I've heard that the fertiliser/substrate you use in the tank can reduce the pH as well - how much does it really impact it though? Enough that it needs to be a big consideration?
 

hansgruber7

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I second the frogbit recommendation. It has been great for my tanks. Also, I use Seachem Equilibrium with my RO water and it seems to be working well.
 

seangee

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I've heard that the fertiliser/substrate you use in the tank can reduce the pH as well - how much does it really impact it though? Enough that it needs to be a big consideration?
London water has a very high KH (aka alkaline buffer). I'm just outside of London and my dKH is 18 from the tap. Yes you can drop the pH but it will simply bounce back within a few hours. The re-mineralisation product I recommended in your other thread takes the dKH up to 3. The only way to get pH to stay down is to exhaust all the KH by continuously bouncing it. Repeatedly changing the pH is a lot worse for fish than pH that is higher than ideal. And exhausting the KH would mean not ever doing water changes - which is not recommended. This is exactly why I said
OP lives in London. There is nothing you can add to London water to lower the pH...
Well not without killing the fish
 

seangee

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I second the frogbit recommendation. It has been great for my tanks. Also, I use Seachem Equilibrium with my RO water and it seems to be working well.
I can't say its a bad product but when I started with RO I bought 2 large tubs (assume there was a multibuy deal). I ended up throwing them out.
It only increases GH so to create the correct environment for shrimps you need to mix in another product - alkaline buffer if you stick with the seachem brand. SInce we are talking small amounts for a nano tank this would require fairly precise measurement (and testing). So that may appeal to some, and is great if you want absolute control but I just want a simple life.

Additional factors were that it turned the water yellow and did not fully dissolve. I prepared my water a week in advance so quickly discounted the label's claim that this would only last 15 minutes.

From the label:
Equilibrium™ is specifically designed to establish the ideal mineral content for the planted aquarium. Equilibrium™ is ideally suited for use with RO (reverse osmosis) or DI (deionized) water or any mineral deficient water. Equilibrium™ raises the essential mineral/electrolyte content (General Hardness) of the water to balance with and promote stability of the carbonate hardness without the introduction of chloride or sodium (both can be detrimental to a planted aquarium at elevated levels). To maintain KH, we recommend Alkaline Buffer™. Equilibrium™ and Alkaline Buffer™ are all that is needed to maintain the ideal mineral/electrolyte balance in the natural planted aquarium.
The magic ingredient for plants turns out to be potassium - so getting to the same GH with more potassium means less calcium. Think I will continue not using it.
 

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