High Nitrates in Source Water

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AbbeysDad

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This is another example of a problem in this hobby of providing "numbers" for whatever.
Sadly measuring for nitrates is our only means of monitoring tank pollution. Even in my heavily planted tank (including fast growing water sprite) with just a handful of fish, I've never ever had zero nitrates and continue to strive for nitrates less than 20ppm. Attempting to hit an impossible target can be maddening.
Uhhhh don't.plant need nitrates.
Actually no. Plants must convert nitrates to ammonium to extract the nitrogen. Since ammonia is nearly always present in the average aquarium, plants typically use that for their nitrogen source.
A That is not what I am saying. I only say that nitrates of zero isn't what we should be aiming for cause plants need nitrates to grow.
As above, not the case. If we could achieve zero nitrates, it would be great! In theory, if we had a heavily planted tank with only a few fish, the plants would use nearly all (or all) of the ammonia and there would be zero resulting nitrates from nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria. However, in most tanks the numbers of fish, fish food, and fish/plant waste (along with tank maintenance) produces more ammonia than the plants can effectively use, so nitrate levels rise.
 

DoubleDutch

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Sadly measuring for nitrates is our only means of monitoring tank pollution. Even in my heavily planted tank (including fast growing water sprite) with just a handful of fish, I've never ever had zero nitrates and continue to strive for nitrates less than 20ppm. Attempting to hit an impossible target can be maddening.

Actually no. Plants must convert nitrates to ammonium to extract the nitrogen. Since ammonia is nearly always present in the average aquarium, plants typically use that for their nitrogen source.

As above, not the case. If we could achieve zero nitrates, it would be great! In theory, if we had a heavily planted tank with only a few fish, the plants would use nearly all (or all) of the ammonia and there would be zero resulting nitrates from nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria. However, in most tanks the numbers of fish, fish food, and fish/plant waste (along with tank maintenance) produces more ammonia than the plants can effectively use, so nitrate levels rise.

Funny how my plants start growing no
Sadly measuring for nitrates is our only means of monitoring tank pollution. Even in my heavily planted tank (including fast growing water sprite) with just a handful of fish, I've never ever had zero nitrates and continue to strive for nitrates less than 20ppm. Attempting to hit an impossible target can be maddening.

Actually no. Plants must convert nitrates to ammonium to extract the nitrogen. Since ammonia is nearly always present in the average aquarium, plants typically use that for their nitrogen source.

As above, not the case. If we could achieve zero nitrates, it would be great! In theory, if we had a heavily planted tank with only a few fish, the plants would use nearly all (or all) of the ammonia and there would be zero resulting nitrates from nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria. However, in most tanks the numbers of fish, fish food, and fish/plant waste (along with tank maintenance) produces more ammonia than the plants can effectively use, so nitrate levels rise.
May I ask where you got your info ?
Not that I don't believe this but there is so much confusing info on this part.
Same discussion on phosfates btw
 

Byron

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There is some real confusion in this thread concerning plants and nitrogen.

Most aquatic plants, and overwhelmingly the majority of those we use in our aquariums, take up ammonia/ammonium as their preferred source of nitrogen. They do not take up nitrates unless the ammonia/ammonium is depleted and then provided the other nutrients are still adequate and the light is sufficient to drive photosynthesis. We are here referring to natural or low-tech method planted tanks, which is what most of us have. Things are different in high-tech method planted tanks with brighter light and diffused CO2 and nutrients have to be in balance; ammonia/ammonium from the fish and decomposition may well become exhausted in such tanks, and adding nitrates is safer than adding ammonia.

Scientific studies have shown repeatedly that the vast majority of aquatic plants greatly prefer ammonium over nitrate. Moreover, they prefer taking it up via leaf uptake from the water, rather than root uptake from the substrate. The ammonium preference of aquatic plants is substantial. For example, when Elodea nuttallii was placed in a mixture of equal parts ammonium and nitrates, the plant removed 75% of the ammonium within 16 hours while leaving the nitrates virtually untouched. Only when the ammonium was gone, did the plant begin to take up nitrates. Likewise, when the giant duckweed Spirodela oligorrhiza was grown in nutrient media containing a mixture of ammonium and nitrate, it took up ammonium rapidly, whereas it virtually ignored the nitrates. Because the plants for this particular study were grown under sterile conditions, the ammonium removal could not have been due to nitrification. Also, the investigator showed that plants grew rapidly during the study suggesting that N uptake was due to the plant’s actual use of this major nutrient. Nitrate uptake does not occur until plants are forced to use it, that is, when all ammonium is gone. Even then, there is a delay, because the setup for nitrate uptake must be generated first. Thus, Water Lettuce required 24 hours to attain its maximum rate of nitrate uptake. [cited from Walstad who provides links to the various studies.]

All plants use the N from ammonium—not nitrates—to produce their amino acids and proteins. If a plant takes up nitrate, it must convert the nitrate to ammonium in an energy-requiring process called ‘nitrate reduction.’ Plants must expend essentially the same amount of energy (83 Kcal/mol) that the nitrifying bacteria gained in order to convert nitrates back to ammonium. The overall reaction for the two-step process of nitrate reduction in plants is: NO3 - + H2O + 2 H+ ⇒ NH4 + + 2 O2. The energy required for plants to reduce nitrates to ammonium is substantial, equivalent to 23% of the energy obtained from glucose metabolism. [cited from Walstad; and it is aquatic not terrestrial "plants," just to be clear before someone tries to muddy the waters.]

The above clearly shows that nitrates at zero is not going to affect plant growth--again, in natural or low-tech method tanks. But it will benefit the fish. Many of us with low-tech planted tanks have very low including zero levels of nitrates (using our hobby tests, which admittedly may not be scientifically accurate but reading zero nitrates is still very low nitrates}. No fish we keep in our tropical aquaria come from natural habitats that have nitrates above a few mg/l (ppm), and many are zero. The nitrates in my tanks, which are fairly well stocked with fish, have been in the 0 to 5 ppm range using the API test for over twelve years, never rising. My Echinodorus plants thrive in my tanks.
 

Tez_20

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(I write this post as we continue to see many posts over time about high nitrates in source water.)
We have 30ppm of nitrate in our water here but we have sewage works over the back of the canal, then there's all the canals by we, it was only 5 when we moved here years ago and last year it went up.
Got intouch with severn trent and the excuse they gave was our testing kits are properly made for testing water where API aren't.

Who's to say there's not been a leakage from the sewers.
 
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We have 30ppm of nitrate in our water here but we have sewage works over the back of the canal, then there's all the canals by we, it was only 5 when we moved here years ago and last year it went up.
Got intouch with severn trent and the excuse they gave was our testing kits are properly made for testing water where API aren't.

Who's to say there's not been a leakage from the sewers.
You might find great value in the article I referenced above and or the section on Filtration/Water Quality. Perhaps not in creating a nitrate pre-filter, but API Nitra-Zorb is sold in pouches intended to be placed in filters after fine filtering media (to prevent fouling the resin with detritus). The beauty of Nitra-Zorb type resin products is that they collect/remove nitrates very well and they are easily recharged and reused many times with ordinary non iodized salt water. It only loses it's effectiveness if/when the resin gets coated with detritus. If when this happens, I do not know if it can be reclaimed with a bleach/water solution like Seachem Purigen is.
In any case, I've found API Nitra-Zorb to be a valuable tool to keep nitrates at bay. :)
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Note: Even though I may sound like a 'cheerleader' for API Nitra-Zorb, I have no affiliation with API with the exception of being a hobbyist consumer of some of their products.
HOWEVER, if you can get/keep nitrates low with fast growing plants, exceptional tank/filter maintenance, sufficient volume/frequency of partial water changes, deep sand, anoxic biocenosis clarification, or whatever, you need not explore 'chemical' filtration.
 

Tez_20

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API Nitra-Zorb is sold in pouche
Sorry for being late replying.
I checked these out on amazon and some said they worked and other said rubbish so left them alone but i do two water changes weekly that keeps it a steady level and i vacuum twice weekly besides.
 
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AbbeysDad

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I checked these out on amazon and some said they worked and other said rubbish
I don't know what you saw on Amazon because the reviews I see are all glowing and my personal experience verifies API Nitra-Zorb's effectiveness in adsorbing nitrates from fresh water.
 
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On Amazon in the UK, 63% of reviews give API Nitra-Zorb 5*. There are quite a few 1* reviews.
The only downside that I have seen with API Nitra-Zorb pouches is that in time (after several recharges with salt water) the effective use life diminishes as the resin becomes coated with detritus gunk. So if it's not placed after fine filtration media (or eventually even when it is) the resin no longer adsorbs nitrates well. This is not the case in my DIY filter as only clean well water is trickled through it. As a matter of fact, to date, (with countless recharges with salt water - about after every 200g), I have filtered over 13,000 gallons and it's still going strong!

my nitrate fight.jpg
This is the reclaimed API Tap Water Filter (no loner available) that is completely filled with API Nitra-Zorb. Water trickles through the filter, then an inline carbon filter into the 45g Brute Trash can. The water is on a timer to prevent spills and it takes 12+ hours to fill the trash can. The water is preheated as/if necessary to use as source water for partial water changes on several colony breeding and grow out tanks in the basement.
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Note: The API Tap Water filter is no longer sold, but for DIY hobbyists out there, a filter like this could easily be constructed with PVC pipe and fittings.
 

dasaltemelosguy

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For what it's worth, as it certainly may not appeal to most people, but we have a water tank in a closet holding water for our weekly WC's. In this case it's a round, plastic, water tank from Home Depot and is 55G. Very cheap. I keep dechlorinated water in the tank and in the top cover, I drilled a hole and put the stalks of a $20 pothos plant, roots in the water, leaves above. The intrinsic nitrates in that tap water was often as high as 40ppm! Within a week I could measure NONE. IF you're able to store water for WC's, you can place a pothos in the opening of the water tank and virtually remove nitrates completely for $20 and it never needs changing or recharging or power. You simply lift the lid off with the pothos in it, do your usual WCs and refill your reservoir tank, replace the lid with the pothos and that tank too will be devoid of nitrates within a few days. It's actually far less work and expense than doing it with de-nitrating medium or adding an extra filter with such media. You do need to trim a yellow leaf from time to time though! Below is a picture of such a plant in a fish tank but doing the same in a reservoir tank would be for source nitrate reduction. In the tank below, it naturally is for the reduction ongoing nitrate production of the inhabitants rather than the water source.
Sev2Bamboo.jpg

Sev2OscarRear close.JPG
ebas72.jpg
 

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