Nitrates in tap water

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Bellusion, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. Bellusion

    BellusionValued MemberMember

    After testing my water the past couple of days, today I tested my tap water. My tap water is 40 ppm (same that my tank has been reading). What can I do about this?
  2. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Hi and welcome to fishlore :;hi2

    I feel for you, my nitrates run between 50-80 all year long. You have a few different options.

    #1) Mix in half RO, Reverse Osmosis water (which is one of the few ways they are removed). With them being that high you should probably have one of those systems put under kitchen sink if possible as even the EPA test would put you at 10 which is the highest levels allowed on public water. Are you on a well?

    #2) In addition, add in the roots of a pothos or two. True aquatic plants take up ammonia before they take up nitrates and have to convert the nitrates to ammonium for uptake. Land plants on the other hand or semi-aquatic plants will use up nitrates directly. One of the best plants for this is the pothos vine. Not only is it pretty as it grows over the side of your tank but is a fast grower and loves nitrates. You can pick one up at most big box stores or nurseries and is a house plant. They are toxic to cats and dogs if they eat the leaves but not fish. (Just thought I'd mention this). You rinse all the dirt off the plant as best you can and then put them in the water. Over a couple of weeks it will grow a new type of root system for the water.

    #3) There are other products out there like de-nitrate you can get. I don't know how well they work but maybe someone who has used one will post.
  3. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I've never used it, but from what I understand Purigen will remove nitrites and nitrates from the water. I personally am a little leery about using a product that removes nitrites since nitrites are the food that feeds the bacteria that converts nitrites into nitrates. My fear would be that the purigen would become saturated (unbeknownst to me) and suddenly I would end up with a nitrite spike since there is no bacteria that converts nitrites into nitrates due to the Purigen starving it out.

    But several members swear by it, and said that they have never had a problem with a nitrite spike. I believe EricV uses Purigen and is very happy with it. Possible he will see this and add his thoughts.
  4. KarenLM

    KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    I personally have a pothos on the top of my tank with the roots in the tank and also some in the back of the filter to help with nitrates (I don't have nitrates in my tap water though). The plant has brought my nitrates down to the point where I can go at least two weeks without a WC.

    You can always use one part tap water and one part bottled drinking water with every WC to reduce the nitrates you are putting into the tank. [​IMG]
  5. Sarcasm Included

    Sarcasm IncludedWell Known MemberMember

    If you go the plant route, which I would suggest, keep your water changes small, This will keep you nitrates from increasing much in the tank and allowing the plant to keep pace removing them.
  6. junebug

    junebugFishlore LegendMember

    40ppm really isn't that high. I wouldn't worry.
  7. slayer5590

    slayer5590Well Known MemberMember

    Just so you know, the mcl for nitrate in public drinking water is 15 ppm.
  8. BDpups

    BDpupsWell Known MemberMember

    But that does not mean that the PPM for nitrate does not exceed that in our tap water.
  9. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    Just FYI, there are different nitrate readings. The API test gives Nitrate as NO3, the EPA measures Nitrate as Nitrogen (NO3 as N) so you have to divide by 4.4 for that result. My understanding is that the EPA limit is 10 or 44 as Nitrate as NO3.
    I personally would never want to see my tank at 40, I think its best to aim for under 20.

    Sent from my iPad using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  10. KarenLM

    KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    I agree - I try to keep my tank under 20 as well.
  11. BDpups

    BDpupsWell Known MemberMember

    CindiL What is the need to divide 4.4 into what? To get what result? I'm guess I'm trying to understand what your getting at. I know the EPA measures nitrate as nitrogen. But you lost me with the division.
  12. OP

    BellusionValued MemberMember

    I will do some research on live plants, thanks!

    I can definitely use bottle water, mixed with tap water.. but I thought we couldn't use bottled water? Or is it just distilled water.. can I use the bottled spring water?
  13. CindiL

    CindiLFishlore LegendMember

    "Levels of nitrate can be expressed in either of two ways: “nitrate as nitrogen” (symbol: NO3-N) or simply as nitrate (NO3). To convert NO3-N to NO3 in parts per million (ppm, or mg/L), multiply NO3-N by 4.42.

    US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (primary) maximum contaminant levels are:
    Nitrate: NO3-N = 10 mg/L, or NO3 = 45 mg/L

    Nitrite (as nitrogen) = 1 mg/L"

    Its confusing because the two measurements often get mixed up together and often here and other places when someone says their aquarium nitrates are 40, they also think that their tap for drinking is 40 but in reality since the epa measures and expresses it as nitrate as nitrogen, their tap is 10 which would be the highest epa level but it is not 40, as in four times the highest epa setting.

    And you're right that just because a level is set doesn't mean it is always hit and especially on private wells there is no one to monitor and reduce it.

    You could but spring water can come from all over and its hard to say from bottle to bottle what the reading will be for PH, GH, KH, Nitrates etc. It would be a better idea to mix your tap water with bottled RO water.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2015
  14. KarenLM

    KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    I use bottled drinking water. I believe it is distilled. Be careful with spring water - a lot of it has chlorine added - read the label carefully.

    Distilled water doesn't have the trace elements in it, but my well has lots of those so mixing the two is good.
  15. Jsigmo

    JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    Bottled drinking water is not usually distilled. Sometimes it is RO water that has had some minerals added back to make it taste better. Usually it is simply municipal tap water that may be "purified" in some way.

    Sometimes it is some sort of spring water, but it varies widely.

    They sometimes describe the source and process on the bottle.

    CindiL has it exactly right.

    The fact that different tests report their nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels using various reporting formats does cause a lot of confusion. The calculations to convert between these different reporting formats arise due to the different molecular weights of the molecules in question.

    Most laboratories report these nitrogen compound concentrations "as nitrogen", which means, they only report the mass of the nitrogen atoms within the compounds in question.

    Many of our aquarium tests report the concentrations based on the total molecular weight of the compound in question.

    A nitrogen atom has an atomic weight that is 1/4.42 as much as a complete nitrate ion.

    Thus, the concentration, by mass, is reported 4.4 times as high by, for example, the API test kit (which uses the format "as nitrate") than a typical lab (or the EPA) would report it, using the format "as nitrogen".

    This freaks people out. :)

    Nitrate is generally not harmful to healthy adults in the concentrations we are talking about. But concentrations over 10ppm (as nitrogen) or 45ppm (as nitrate), can be harmful to young infants. That is why the EPA limit is set where it is.