What To Do About My Terrible Tap Water? Important

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by ErictheWalsh, Jun 28, 2019.

  1. ErictheWalsh

    ErictheWalshNew MemberMember

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    Hey all,

    I just finished my first fishless cycle and am super proud of my work. Dosed up to 4.0ppm everyday for the past 3 days and ammonia & nitrites successfully dropped back down to zero in just under 24 hours. Success, or so I thought...

    My nitrates were through the roof, of course, so I just did an 80% water change and then wanted to test my parameters again to see what's up. Something didn't seem right about my results though, so I tested my tap water to find the results attached to this post.

    I'm not even sure what my Ph is reading out of the tap, is it over 9.0!?!? Then I'm calling that about 1.5ppm ammonia, which I'm honestly less worried about than the roughly 7.5ppm nitrates!!!

    My tap water has 7.5ppm nitrates!! What the heck am I gonna do about this? I've posted about my poor quality tap water before but decided to go through with my cycle anyways... now I'm honestly kind of regretting putting the money, time & effort into setting up this tank.

    Can I safely go through with this considering my tap water?

    (P.S. I recently bought a new API master test kit and am decently well-versed in using it)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Heron

    HeronValued MemberMember

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    If your tap water is really that bad you can't use it to bring the chemistry under control. Did you test the water straight from the tap or after it has settled for a while. Often if you test straight from the tap you get weird results. Fill a bucket, dechlorinate it and leave it overnight, then test it. If it's still bad you have a few options but they are either expensive or time consuming.
    1 buy bottled water, this is expensive as you will need to do regular water changes with it.
    2 invest in a RO unit to create clean water this is expensive to buy but cheap to use. Also the RO water will not have the kH and GH components that tap water has so you will need to add them back.
    3 find another source of water. Can you collect rainwater? Do you have a clean stream with no agricultural run off in it nearby? Remember to test any water source before using it. Well water may work depending on the type of ground the well feeds from.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    ErictheWalsh

    ErictheWalshNew MemberMember

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    I think agricultural runoff is likely the culprit. Here in central Illinois I'm surrounded by corn & soy fields that absolutely inundate the surrounding waterways, lakes & ponds with fertilizers, pesticides and whatever else they're using. Knowing that nitrogen compounds are major component of plant fertilizer I'm wondering if that may be the issue. Therefore, collecting water from a source, outside of rain water, isn't much of an option. That said utilizing rain water isn't really feasible at the moment for me either, seeing as I'm living in an apartment.

    I'm not ready to make the jump to an RO system right now and bottled water honestly just sounds like a pain & I'm not trying to waste all that plastic.

    Sorry if I'm sounding a bit grumpy right now and just shooting down all your ideas. I really appreciate you putting them out there. It's only that I'm frustrated with the circumstances I put myself in here. Wish my tap wasn't such garbage.

    I'm gonna try and let some water sit overnight, hopefully that makes a difference but I'm not holding my breath. All that changed with my old test kit was Ph, and it dropped it from 9.0+ to like 8.6

    Thank you again for your suggestions Heron! Hoping I'll have some good news for you eventually.
     
  4. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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    what size tank?

    what fish?

    pH looks like 8.4, you're stocking choices will be limited if you use the tap water.

    ammonia, you can overdose up to 5x Prime to lock up the ammonia for up to 48hrs, allowing your BB to process it.

    nitrate. we recently had a long debate, but scientific studies showed that many fish species aren't affected by nitrate until it gets up into the 300ppm or higher levels. you can use high porosity bio media like biohome, marine pure, or matrix to cultivate anaerobic bacteria to process nitrates.
     
  5. OP
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    ErictheWalsh

    ErictheWalshNew MemberMember

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    20G tank but no fish yet. I just finished the fishes cycle and am trying to start removing nitrates from my tank.

    Honestly not too worried about the ammonia, I've built up a pretty hungry colony of A > NI bacteria, they'll take 4.0ppm water and turn it to 0ppm in about 18-20hours. So once I do put fish in there I don't really see my ammonia ever having the chance to spike up. Aside from large water changes I guess, considering my tap water.

    That said, I already double dose w/ aqueoun water conditioner, which to my knowledge is roughly equivalent to prime.

    But all things considered, this is the first I've ever heard of or read anything about fish being able to deal with ~300ppm nitrates.
     
  6. Heron

    HeronValued MemberMember

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    If your local shop is close enough to have the same water supply as you they may be able to offer a suggestion. As skavatar suggests you can remove the ammonia with prime or ammolock. Avoid guppies as I have found they don't cope at all well with high nitrates. Don't bother using pH down to drop your pH. Unless you can be bothered using it daily it's effect is only temporary and it seems to harm the fish after a few days.
     
  7. PascalKrypt

    PascalKryptValued MemberMember

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    Your PH reading in the picture looks like between 8.2 and 8.4 to me, actually. I think it should still be fine as for fish whose suggested range goes up to 8. You haven't tested your GH it seems but I'm guessing your water will be pretty hard. Maybe go for livebearers (like mollies, guppies, etc.), they don't mind harder, more alkaline water.

    I would use a good amount of live plants to keep your nitrates down so you cut down on the water changes.

    I was thinking, is it an idea maybe to seed some filter media into a separate smaller container (a bucket, an additional tank, anything 5-10 gallons). Then put your tap water in that and let it sit overnight. If your cycle does its work the ammonia and nitrite should be converted to nitrates and if you put in some almond leaves or PH lowering substrate you may even be able to get your PH down to 8.
     
  8. Skavatar

    SkavatarWell Known MemberMember

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  9. Starflyr3

    Starflyr3Valued MemberMember

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    My tap doesn’t have ammonia, but it has nitrates and a pH of 8.2. My Bettas seem perfectly happy in their tanks., even though it’s well outside their recommended range of pH. I have one tank being stupid at the moment with ammonia, but you can see both the tank readings in the attached pic:
     

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  10. jmaldo

    jmaldoWell Known MemberMember

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    :emoji_thumbsup:Agree.
    Good Luck!
     
  11. Coptapia

    CoptapiaWell Known MemberMember

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    7.5ppm nitrates won’t be a problem. As for the pH, you could get some kind of storage and mix it with rainwater or RO. If you’re worried about rainwater put a tiny internal filter in the storage container with PolyFilter in it, which will remove impurities.

    Some fish start showing damage caused by nitrates at quite low levels, but there’s not a lot we can do about that. A level of 300 would be stressful, even if they survived.
     
  12. rainbowsprinkles

    rainbowsprinklesWell Known MemberMember

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    I have horrible tap also and use nitrozorb in a bucket(s) of prime treated tap for two days that I use for water changes. Use lava rocks To help control nitrates naturally and eventually like me you’ll want to add nitrate laden water for your plants.. Driftwood or oak leaves or magnolia leaves can help with the pH.
     








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