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FAQs on Marine Freshwater Quality involving Nitrates: Measure

Related Articles: Nitrates in Freshwater Aquariums, Establishing Cycling, Freshwater Filtration, Know Your Filter Media, A Concise Guide to Your Options by Neale Monks, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for BeginnersWater Quality and Freshwater Aquariums

Related FAQs: Nitrates 1, Nitrates 2, & FAQs on FW Nitrates: Importance, Science, Sources, Control, Chemical Filtrants, Troubleshooting/Fixing, & Ammonia, FW Nitrites, Biological Filtration, Freshwater Nutrient Cycling, Establishing Cycling 1,

Do your own testing... note whether the kit is measuring Nitrogen as Nitrate or total Nitrate... with the three oxygens per molecule...

Water testing... NO3... SW?   2/15/10
Hi crew,
<Hi Pat>
I've been testing for nitrates with API drops, and they show "0" nitrates.
<NO3? Not likely>
I bought 6 way test strips by Jungle Laboratories, and they registered a solid 40 ppm mg/L
<This>
Water for both tests was sampled from same location in the tank.
Your thoughts please
<A dodgy test kit. Have you checked the expiry date? Try Salifert for a better, more reliable kit>
Pat
<Simon>

Re: Water testing  2/16/10
I failed to mention that this is a freshwater tank. Will this test kit work with freshwater?
<Should do. If in doubt, consult with the manufacturer. Cheers, Neale.>

Molly Crossbreeds and susceptibility to white spot    1/5/07 Hello from the middle of the UK <And hello from Chicagoland, Illinois, USA!> Firstly, your site really is a fantastic resource, many thanks for the hard work you must all put into it. <On behalf of the WWM Crew, thanks for the kind words.> I have found different websites have slightly varying opinions on the finer points of keeping tropical fish... <...there really are lots of views out there.  Of course, there are some concrete basics that cannot/should not be varied, but many things are debatable...lots of differences of opinion, even amongst crew members at times...> ...your site deals with this so well as the answers in the FAQs come from different people as do the questions, it's very informative, thanks again. <Glad you find it useful! I am always looking things up on the site - it's how I've learned much of what I know about the hobby.> Having prostrated myself at your feet and declared myself "not worthy" :-)..... <Well, you don't have to go that far!! lol...> I have a 150 gal tank with 2 female Bettas, 1 Plec, 1 Algae eater (long thin light orange sucky fish, not sure what to call it really)... <another type of Pleco, perhaps? Any pictures for identification?> ...7 tetras of varying types, 1 Lyre tail molly and 12 fish that came out of the Molly, I think they may be crossed with a Guppy we have in our other tank... <crossbreeding between livebearers can, and does, indeed happen> ...(we moved her and some of the offspring, she is getting quite big and the kids were taking over the tank). <Yup, livebearers can/will do that! I'm amazed they haven't taken over the planet with their reproduction rate...> Water is at 28.3 deg C +/- .2... <This is the high-side of OK for most tropical fish, but good for the Bettas...> ...ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate around 40ppm... <MUST reduce the nitrate levels...20 ppm is as high as they should be.> (most of the time) ph 7.8 constant. Filter is an Atman 882, it's an in tank filter, housing a heater, 2 compartments holding bags of different filter medium and a pump, in that order as the water flows through. I do a 10% water change/clean every week and add a little stress coat type treatment (Nutrafin AquaPlus) each time to the fresh water to remove the chlorine and help the fish, I normally age the new water for 24 hrs before doing the change and add a little AquaPlus (20ml) to the tank. <Your water change schedule generally sounds OK, but since those nitrates are so high, I would recommend doing a 10% change 2 times per week, until the levels fall under control.  They really are too high and are likely stressing the fish, causing them to be more susceptible to disease.> The water from my tap is quite high in nitrate (around 40ppm) so 1 of the bags in the filter contains "Nitrate Sponge" to help keep the nitrate at an acceptable level. <Well, there's the problem, then...if you keep doing water changes with this water, the nitrate levels likely won't drop.  I'd recommend looking into a RO/DI unit, or at the very least, a DI product such as this one: http://www.aquatichouse.com/WaterPurifiers/tapwaterfilter.asp The RO/DI unit will cost you more, but will save you money in the long run, as the filters don't have to be replaced nearly as frequently as the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Filter product.  I don't know if they'll ship to the UK, but I am a big fan of www.airwaterice.com for RO/DI units. I'm not familiar with the "nitrate sponge" product you refer to, but it clearly isn't working.  I really suggest a water filtration system.  Everything else you describe seems great.> Questions: Can a Molly cross breed with a Guppy? <Yes.> The offspring certainly look like that is the case though there was also a male Swordtail in the other tank when she gave birth (She has also had normal Molly babies before and after this bunch arrived). <From my understanding, all livebearers are capable of cross-breeding. Might want to consider just housing a single sex, if you want to keep all these different species.> A quick aside here, she also gave birth to a Platy! <Without a platy parent?!> And we don't have any, well we do now! <OK- I'm confused a little about that one...> Why are these cross breeds so susceptible to whitespot (The pure Molly is fine as are the rest of the fish)? <I am by no means a geneticist, but my general understanding is that too much genetic variation causes all sorts of problems, including a weakened immune system.> If the nitrate level climbs above 50ppm they start breaking out with it,... <Nitrates really need to be between 0 and 20 ppm...> ...which is fine when I spend a lot of time watching them as I see the first spots and drop in some of the stress coat stuff and check the nitrate levels straight away and the whitespot goes in a day or 2. HOWEVER, if it's Christmas and I don't pay enough attention, they get in a hell of a mess in a very short time and it's out with the blue stuff (Waterlife Protozin) to fix them. <Do read here for some helpful information on treating ich.  Keep in mind that the ich parasite goes through various life-stages, and truly the only way to get rid of it is to run the affected tank fallow for at least a month... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > Probably worth mentioning the fish in question are now at least 4 months old, maybe more.> Any ideas? The best I can come up with is that it's a genetic failing, but I wanted to check it's not something I am doing wrong, I'm not sure they like it! <It is likely a genetic weakening, and these fish will likely always be more susceptible to disease than their "purebred" parents.  The one thing you can do is to lower your nitrate levels - that's about the only problem I can see.> Many thanks again John <You're welcome. Get rid of those nitrates and you're fish you all likely be more healthy.  Best of luck, Jorie Re: Molly Crossbreeds and susceptibility to white spot (Now about Nitrate levels)  1/5/07 Hi, have replied with the previous message and comments below so you know what's going on. <OK, sure!> Firstly thanks for the info, a brief overview of your reply would be that I need to get my nitrate levels down. Great, I have something to do that should fix the problem so... 3 reasons for my reply: 1) Many many thanks to you all 2) Discussing reason 3 may help others with their searches when this message goes into the site 3) I'll be as brief as I can....... <(1) thank you,(2) this will be posted on our FAQs, and hopefully others can benefit from the info. also, and (3), no worries - I can be long-winded myself!> Up until now all the information I have read and been to me given about nitrate levels has been that they don't matter too much, and yet "Graham T" says 20ppm Nitrate is good, any more is bad, 60ppm a big no no... <Graham is one of my fellow volunteers; for some reason, I think his name got attached to our general "crew" e-mail box.  In any case, my humble understanding of water chemistry is that 20 ppm is not "good", per se, but on the high-end of acceptable.  In an ideal world, nitrates would be at zero, but that's pretty hard to achieve in reality. If the reading is 20 ppm, I do a water change, but I understand that in your case, since your tap water is coming out at 40 ppm, this really won't help.> ...and yet when I ran up my first tank a year and a half ago, I took a sample of water from the newly cycled tank to my local shop and they tested the water and did not comment on the nitrate being around 50ppm. <This is precisely why I test my own water and do independent research.  I can't tell you why your fish store wouldn't advise you the same way, all I can say is that my own readings, research and experience have all led me to the conclusion that FW nitrates must be 20 ppm or less for the ultimate good-health of the livestock.> The water from my tap has a nitrate level of 40ppm!!! <I remember - I was shocked when I first read that!> so my frequent water changes are just making matters worse. <Well, I wouldn't say worse, but it certainly explains why your last reading was 40 ppm...> I shall put my hand in my pocket and buy a water purifier. <Reverse osmosis/de-ionizing units can be expensive, but well worth it, in my opinion.  We had a problem with high phosphates in our tap water, which is what led us to purchase ours...our fish have never been healthier.  Plus, there's a drinking water switch, so you may be able to benefit from that, personally, as well!> But, a couple of questions: A quick search of WWM shows that you all think that nitrate levels are important, how come I had so much info that said otherwise? <"So much" contrary info., or just what your local fish store folks told you? Again, I certainly can't comment on why others say what they do, but I can tell you that most, if not all, reputable research in the hobby shows that nitrates, while not as toxic as nitrites and ammonia to fish, certainly aren't good and should be as low as possible...> I am beginning to thing my beautiful male Betta died because of the high nitrate levels, I won't replace him until I have got the nitrate down, he was more of a pet that a pretty fish in a tank, real personality, sob sob etc... <I agree with you - I've got three Bettas (two males and one female, all separate, of course), and they are my favorite fish.  So much personality, and beautiful, as well.  I can't say that the nitrates killed your Betta, but they surely didn't help.  Another common problem with folks keeping Bettas is not keeping them in a min. 2-3 gal. filtered tank, with a heater set to a constant 80-82 degrees F...I'm sorry you lost your little friend.  Once you get your RO/DI unit, and a suitable tank for the Betta, you will be all set, as they are very low maintenance once these general requirements are met...> sorry, had to let it out somewhere :-) best to do it where I maybe understood. <Ask my boyfriend - I am the nutso-save-all-the-Bettas-in-little-cups-in-PetSmart lady - I'm in the process of writing a simple how-to-care-for-your-Betta article.  It's one of my passions! Long life the Bettas...I can keep going for ever:-) > Second and maybe even more importantly, myself and my family (and everyone else in the town) are drinking tap water with a nitrate level that makes fish ill. Is this bad for humans?????? <Well, I'm not a doctor, but I can't imagine it's good.  Again, if you invest in a RO/DI unit, I would look into the drinking water attachment...> Finally a note for the Google search to help others... " High nitrate levels in tap water " :-) <Thanks - will pass this along.> My complete thanks to you all John <You're welcome, John.  And, your P.S. re: a FAQ on sending pictures - I am forwarding that along to Bob Fenner himself.  I'll happily admit I am not a computer junkie, and as this is Bob's site, he's the best one to help you out on that note. I'm sure he'll appreciate the advice/suggestion.  Best regards, Jorie>

No Nitrates  - 01/09/2006 Hello I have 4 tanks that have been running 6 months +.  I was wondering when I tested the water I have as follows: 0 ammonia,0 nitrites and 0 nitrates.   I have contacted the test company and they ensure that the test was produced in may of last year so that it is unlikely that the test has gone bad. I was wondering if I should worry about this or just consider myself lucky that I have good tanks.  I have had several fry, my fish all seem very healthy, and their coloring it good. Thanks for any info. Jill < Plants and algae will remove nitrates. Get a water sample from one of the tanks at your local fish store. If it still reads zero then I would change kits and get one with a powder reagent instead of a liquid reagent.-Chuck>



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