My Nitrate Lowering Water Aging Barrel

bigemrg
Member
So, I thought I'd create a thread explaining how I go about lowering the high nitrates in my tap water.

As my tap water has about 50ppm of nitrate, it makes sense to lower it before adding it to my aquariums. My downstairs system involves an under sink nitrate filter kit made by POZZANI which requires a new filter cartridge every couple of months. However, since I've started keeping aquariums upstairs, I had to come up with a different solution to avoid lugging the dreaded buckets around.

So, here's what I have done. Firstly, I purchased a 60 litre food safe plastic barrel. This is obviously used to store the water.


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I then drilled a couple of holes into the top rI'm of the barrel. This would be where the electrical wires for the pumps would go.


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I'd decided to use a product called Nitrasafe to absorb the nitrates. This would absorb with no possibility of nitrate leaching back into the water. It can also be recharged using a simple salt solution.


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After a quick rinse the Nitrasafe was placed in a filter sock and installed inside the filter chamber of a Fluval U2 internal filter.


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I then ran into a problem. Because the walls of the barrel were curved, the suction cups of the filter wouldn't stick properly. No problem, I'd just super glue them. Unfortunately this didn't work either although I'm not exactly sure why.

After a lot of head scratching I decided to suspend the filter using string, which required another couple of holes drilling.


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Once I had the nitrate removal system sorted, I turned my attention to getting the water out of the barrel and into the aquarium.

So, I installed a power head pump meant for powering a small pond fountain and rated with a two metre head height - meaning it can pump water 2m up!

I then fitted it with a quick release garden hose attachment that would allow me to attach a hose and run it into the aquarium.


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This is what it looks like from the outside...


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Finally, all that was left was to move the barrel into position, fill with water using a hose attached to a tap in the bathroom and switch on.


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As you can see, surface agitation is good, so I'm hoping that this will discourage bio film from forming. I could add an air stone if further water movement is required.

I also thought about adding a heater, but I believe that the ambient temperature of the room will keep the water temperature high enough to add it into the aquarium,

Just for the record, the nitrate reading before switching on was about 50ppm. Only a couple of hours later it was down around 25ppm.

Let me know if you do something similar or if you have any tips or improvements. ️
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
So, it has been about 24 hours since I last tested the water in my aging barrel for nitrates, and they've now reduced to less than 10ppm.

Not bad considering it started up around the 50ppm mark.

I'll do another test tomorrow and keep my fingers crossed that it's down to zero! ️
 
Philippians 4:13
Member
Why do you want your nitrates at 0?!?!?!?
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Phillippians 4:13 said:
Why do you want your nitrates at 0?!?!?!?
So when I transfer the water to my tank during a water change it brings the nitrates in the tank down as far as possible.
 
Philippians 4:13
Member
So your tank does not have 0 nitrates?
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Phillippians 4:13 said:
So your tank does not have 0 nitrates?
No, this thread is about removing nitrate present in my tap water before I do a water change!
 
TwoHedWlf
Member
Phillippians 4:13 said:
So your tank does not have 0 nitrates?
Very few tanks do, unless they're heavily planted.

I'd be interested to see how many water changes you get before the nitrate absorbing media is exhausted. I suspect it's probably almost exhausted already, but I don't think I've ever seen an exact amount they can remove. Be annoying if you can't at least get a month or two of water changes.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
TwoHedWlf said:
I'd be interested to see how many water changes you get before the nitrate absorbing media is exhausted. I suspect it's probably almost exhausted already, but I don't think I've ever seen an exact amount they can remove. Be annoying if you can't at least get a month or two of water changes.
I'm using it in a 60 litre barrel, and the packaging claims that it will remove 7000mg of nitrate before requiring recharging.

If my maths are correct, that means each untreated barrel of water contains 50mg/l x 60l = 3000mg of nitrate.

So, it should work for more than two barrels, or in other words 120l of water.

I do 25% water change per week on my 30 gallon (120l) tank which equates to 30l.

So, all this means is that I should be able to get at least 4 weeks of nitrate free water. More if I do 20% changes! ️
 
TwoHedWlf
Member
That sounds about right.

So...It would be barely enough for a water change in my tank. Haha.

I have thought about getting a bunch of the resin for my tank...But that would require getting a nitrate test kit.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
TwoHedWlf said:
That sounds about right.

So...It would be barely enough for a water change in my tank. Haha.

I have thought about getting a bunch of the resin for my tank...But that would require getting a nitrate test kit.
Yeah, it's not a great solution for bigger tanks! Although I'm using the 250ml bag, and could easily fit another one into the filter chamber.

However, my plan is to swap out the used one for a new one while I recharge the old one.

The under sink POZZANI filter I use for my bigger tanks downstairs will reduce nitrate from 50ppm to 0ppm for approximately 700l of water before it starts showing up again. I then run them for another 100l, by which time nitrate is usually at around 10ppm.

No nitrate test kit? It's pretty much the only thing I measure once a tank is cycled! ️
 
TwoHedWlf
Member
bigemrg said:
Yeah, it's not a great solution for bigger tanks! Although I'm using the 250ml bag, and could easily fit another one into the filter chamber.

However, my plan is to swap out the used one for a new one while I recharge the old one.

The under sink POZZANI filter I use for my bigger tanks downstairs will reduce nitrate from 50ppm to 0ppm for approximately 700l of water before it starts showing up again. I then run them for another 100l, by which time nitrate is usually at around 10ppm.

No nitrate test kit? It's pretty much the only thing I measure once a tank is cycled! ️
I haven't actually done any tests on my tank in probably 7-8 years. Tested it pretty regularly for the first 10 though.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
TwoHedWlf said:
I haven't actually done any tests on my tank in probably 7-8 years. Tested it pretty regularly for the first 10 though.
That's a long time to go between tests!

I've only just returned to the hobby this year after a ten year break, and already have three of my old tanks setup. MTS hit me hard!

I've been testing the usual parameters using API test kit until cycling has finished, then just monitor nitrates using test strips.

It was a bit of a shock to find such high nitrates in my tap water as they are close to the maximum allowed by UK law. They are certainly a lot higher than they were during my last stint of fish keeping. ️
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Just a quick update to report that the nitrates in my aging barrel have now been reduced to 0ppm.

The maths say I should be able to do at least 4 x 25% water changes on my 30 gallon tank before I need to recharge the Nitrasafe.

I'll update the thread when I have some concrete figures...
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so it's two weeks on, and I've performed 2 x 25% water changes on my 30 gallon tank. I have also filled up my 15 gallon QT tank, all with water containing 0ppm nitrate - down from about 50ppm.

So by my reckoning that means that the Nitrasafe should be just about exhausted, and will need recharging.

However, I've left it in the filter and will report back if it reduces the nitrate any further. At the moment it is at around 40ppm in the aging barrel, and has been reducing to 0ppm after about three days.

Watch this space and I'll report back after the weekend...
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Right, good news! The Nitrasafe is still doing its job.

Nitrate is down to about 5ppm, which means I still have 60 litres of water I can use for water changes.

That means that so far, it has treated 180 litres of water successfully, which is better than I expected.

Of course, if the initial level of nitrate in your tap water is lower than mine, it would treat much more water!

It will be interesting to see how much longer it will continue before it needs recharging.

I'll keep you posted... ️
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so since my last post, I've used up the previous 60l of treated water, which had reduced down to 5ppm, and have refilled with tap water.

After filtering for 48 hours, the nitrate is now at about 10ppm, which is still an acceptable level to use for a water change.

That means this one sachet of Nitrasafe has successfully treated 240 litres of water (containing approximately 50ppm nitrate) without needing to be recharged.

Much better than expected.

I'll update you when I next do a water change...
 
NightShade
Member
This is such a great idea! That is a really high amount of nitrates for tap! I'm sure there's somewhere on this side of the pond that has nitrates as well though glad to hear you found a solution to your problem!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
NightShade said:
This is such a great idea! That is a really high amount of nitrates for tap! I'm sure there's somewhere on this side of the pond that has nitrates as well though glad to hear you found a solution to your problem!
Thank you!

50ppm is close to the legal limit allowed by UK law. It's a real pain, but this solution makes it a little easier to deal with. Just wish I had room for bigger aging barrels!
 
NightShade
Member
bigemrg said:
Thank you!

50ppm is close to the legal limit allowed by UK law. It's a real pain, but this solution makes it a little easier to deal with. Just wish I had room for bigger aging barrels!
It sounds like a pain!

Lol... more room for tanks too!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
NightShade said:
It sounds like a pain!

Lol... more room for tanks too!
Hehe! You can never have too many tanks! ️
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so after performing a water change today, I've had to make a small modification to the system!

As I was refilling the barrel with tap water, the string that I used to hang the filter from the side of the barrel snapped. Thankfully, the weight of the filter was borne by the power chord, so it didn't fall very far and wasn't damaged.

I knew that the string would rot eventually, just wasn't expecting it to be quite this quickly.

Anyway, I've now upgraded the system to use some plastic coated wire - the type you use for tying back plants in the garden.

That should last quite a while longer! ️
 
blue acara
Member
very interesting read I have the same problem with tap water I have just bought the pozzanI nitrate removal filter with the hozelock fitting I was just wondering about flow rate as the website has no answers on it ie how long it takes to fill a 14 litre bucket and does reducing the flow matter either way to the results thanks
 
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bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
very interesting read I have the same problem with tap water I have just bought the pozzanI nitrate removal filter with the hozelock fitting I was just wondering about flow rate as the website has no answers on it ie how long it takes to fill a 14 litre bucket and does reducing the flow matter either way to the results thanks
I've set mine up to filter about 1 litre per minute. The theory being that the longer the water is in contact with the filter media, the more nitrate will be removed. It reduces nitrate levels of close to 50ppm to 0ppm in my case.

Hope this helps!
 
blue acara
Member
yeah thanks I used it this morning I filled a 14 litre bucket in 5 mins checked the levels and they were zero might have to reduce the flow as the filter gets used up but it wirked a treat I changed 60 litres in my 240 and the nitrates are niw 20 ppm from 40 I plan on doing another in a couple of days so far so good just wondering now how long the filter lasts before its exhausted I understsnd its ion exchange so could last a while
 
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bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
just wondering now how long the filter lasts before its exhausted I understsnd its ion exchange so could last a while
Well I use mine until Nitrate starts to climb above 10ppm, then I buy a new filter. It allows me to do 25% water changes on my 40 gallon and 55 gallon tanks for a couple of months and works out at about 700-800 litres of water containing 50ppm Nitrates!
 
blue acara
Member
thanks for the info so its pretty good value as I have seen replacement filters for around £14 thanks again
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
thanks for the info so its pretty good value as I have seen replacement filters for around £14 thanks again
Yeah, that's about what I've been paying for replacement filter cartridges. Wish you could recharge them though!
 
blue acara
Member
yeah that would be great can't have everthing I suppose
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so I had to recharge the Nitrasafe for the first time today, and that meant building some sort of recharging apparatus.

Here's what I came up with...


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First of all, excuse the colour of the salt water in the water bottle. I used a recommended product called Interpet Aqualibrium to make the salt solution and this is the colour it stains the water. Next time I think I'll go for Kosher salt!

Anyway, the salt solution was made up by mixing a ratio of 100 gallon of Aqualibrium to one litre of water.

The first stage of recharging involves passing one litre of the salt solution through the Nitrasafe bag over the period of an hour.

This was achieved by getting a syphon started from the water bottle to the bag of Nitrasafe and then adjusting the flow speed using the control valve. It didn't take long to get the flow right after a bit of trial and error with some fresh water. The bigger the height difference between the bottom of the water bottle and the bag, the more control you have.

Once the salt water solution had been used, the process was then repeated with two litres of fresh water.

Once the fresh water had been used, I stored the Nitrasafe bag in a jug of tap water. This is where it will remain until it is required in the aging barrel filter again.

Please feel free to ask questions or point out improvements in the process if you can spot any.

I'll report back on how effective the recharge process was when I next start using the bag! ️
 
TwoHedWlf
Member
bigemrg said:
I'll report back on how effective the recharge process was when I next start using the bag! ️
Yeah, that should be interesting.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
TwoHedWlf said:
Yeah, that should be interesting.
Haha! Yes, I'm rather interested to see the results myself. If I don't get at least half of the initial life out of the recharged Nitrasafe then it will have been quite an expensive exercise to go through!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so I placed the recharged Nitrasafe bag into the filter three days ago and did a first water test today.

The results were a little disappointing!

Nitrate levels have been reduced, but only to 20ppm from 50ppm. That's still okay for a water change but not as good as the 0ppm I was getting from a brand new bag of Nitrasafe.

Of course, I may be able to recharge the Nitrasafe better.

I think I'm going to try soaking it in a salt water solution for a couple of hours before flushing it through with fresh water next...
 
blue acara
Member
bigemrg said:
Okay, so I placed the recharged Nitrasafe bag into the filter three days ago and did a first water test today.

The results were a little disappointing!

Nitrate levels have been reduced, but only to 20ppm from 50ppm. That's still okay for a water change but not as good as the 0ppm I was getting from a brand new bag of Nitrasafe.

Of course, I may be able to recharge the Nitrasafe better.

I think I'm going to try soaking it in a salt water solution for a couple of hours before flushing it through with fresh water next...
sounds like its getting more expensive everyday lol can u not just plumb in a pozzanI upstairs ..?
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
sounds like its getting more expensive everyday lol can u not just plumb in a pozzanI upstairs ..?
Haven't really got any room in the bathroom for that unfortunately.

I have thought about installing a PozzanI filter inline from my aging barrel directly into the tank but I don't really like that idea much as it would be difficult to control the flow rate.

Anyway, I'm going to see how many water changes I get out of this bag and the next recharged one before I'm willing to throw in the towel! lol
 
blue acara
Member
lol good stuff
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
lol good stuff
I will report back with my findings of course!
 
NightShade
Member
Sorry to hear it didn't recharge! Hope you have better luck next time!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
NightShade said:
Sorry to hear it didn't recharge! Hope you have better luck next time!
Well, it did recharge, but not back to the original level. I've now filtered 120l of water through the recharged bag and it's still reducing nitrates from 50ppm to 20ppm.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so I've now filtered 180l of water at 50ppm nitrate, and the recharged Nitrasafe is still reducing it to about 20ppm after 48 hours.

That's still pretty good I think.

The original bag, before recharging, processed 240l down to between 0ppm - 10ppm, so there does seem to be a loss of capability after recharging.

However, this may be down to the recharge process, which I've changed for the second bag.

See post #30 for details of how I recharged the Nitrasafe bag for the first time.

I'm going to switch bags now and will report back on how the new recharge process has effected the filtration capability of the Nitrasafe bag... ️
 
blue acara
Member
That's good considering .What do them bags cost ? I have been usinig the pozzannI at a flowrate of 1 litre per minute and its coming out at under 5 ppm
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
blue acara said:
That's good considering .What do them bags cost ? I have been usinig the pozzannI at a flowrate of 1 litre per minute and its coming out at under 5 ppm
I think I paid £25 for the two bags I've been alternating between, so they're probably £12.50 each.

It all depends on how many times they can be recharged as to whether they're better value than PozzanI filters, which is what this experiment is all about.

Also, the faster you run the water through the PozzanI filter, the less Nitrate it will remove - but the longer it will last!

You also need to keep in mind that I'm using the Nitrasafe in an unconventional way because my tap water has so much Nitrate. It's supposed to be put in the filter in the aquarium, reducing the levels produced by the fish, not the local water supply company! ️
 
TwoHedWlf
Member
bigemrg said:
It's supposed to be put in the filter in the aquarium, reducing the levels produced by the fish, not the local water supply company! ️
Meh, the media doesn't care, it'll remove nitrate from water regardless of where the water came from.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
TwoHedWlf said:
Meh, the media doesn't care, it'll remove nitrate from water regardless of where the water came from.
Well yeah, I get that!

I don't know whether the levels of Nitrates it's being subjected to in one hit will effect the ability of it to absorb Nitrate in the long term though. In the aquarium it would be subjected to a much more gradual rise in levels.

Again, that's what this experiment is hoping to determine.

Anyway, it would have been nice if my water company had taken some effort to better clean the water. I certainly pay them enough! ️
 
Natalya
Member
That is interesting...I wonder if anybody knows nitrate removing medium that is available in us? I want to try putting it into my filter first
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Natalya said:
That is interesting...I wonder if anybody knows nitrate removing medium that is available in us? I want to try putting it into my filter first
I think Nitra-zorb works similarly to Nitrasafe and is available in the US.
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Okay, so I used a different method to recharge the second Nitrasafe bag.

This time I mixed 50 gallon of Interpet Aquilibrium with 500ml of fresh water - that's half the recommended volume - and is just enough to fully submerge the Nitrasafe bag.

I then left the bag submerged for 24 hours.

After soaking, to flush the saltwater away, I put the bag into a small container and left it under a tap that was basically just about dribbling water for about an hour.

When the water no longer tasted salty I exchanged it with the Nitrasafe bag in my filter.

That was two days ago, and Nitrate is currently at about 15ppm, down from 50ppm.

For the record, the bag I recharged using the method in post #30 was reducing it consistently to 20ppm, while a new bag was reducing it to 0ppm.

So, from now on I'll be using this method to recharge as it's much easier than fiddling around with airline tubing and water flow rates!
 
NightShade
Member
Yay!! Glad to hear you found a method that works!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
NightShade said:
Yay!! Glad to hear you found a method that works!
Thanks! Now I just have to find out how many times a bag can be recharged. ️
 
Swampgorilla
Member
Great thread!
 
  • Thread Starter
bigemrg
Member
Swampgorilla said:
Great thread!
Thank you! It has been an interesting experiment so far! ️
 
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