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Old 05-18-2014, 01:49 PM   #1
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Nitrates in well water

any water experts out there? I have a 50 gal. freshwater aquarium and I live in an agricultural area in California, so the nitrates that enter the ground water and that are present in our well water are high. They are even higher at this time of year because there has been a drought and new rain has not washed away the ferts in the ground, so I can only assume it will get worse as the growing season progresses...Please understand that the nitrates are NOT high due to a dirty, filthy, or overstocked tank. So my planted tank is clean and beautiful, all the plants are thriving, and because of the high nitrates, I only have 2 mollies, who are so completely happy and healthy and colored beautifully..I have added some pics so you can see what I mean...here are the water parameters:
ammonia 0
nitrites 0
ph 8.2 (yes, its hard)
nitrates 80
Because of the nitrate problem, I have planted heavily and have not stocked any fish, except the two mollies who were grandfathered in, ha ha. NOW, I WANT TO STOCK MY TANK...
So here's the question folks: Is there a difference in nitrates that come in with the well water, versus a dirty filthy tank that is producing its own nitrates from within? because, the tank is sparkling clean and is probably producing close to 0 nitrates on its own. I know I can do RO, but I am just wondering if there is a difference since my fish are so happy.???
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:21 PM   #2
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Anyone know anything about this? ��
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:34 PM   #3
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Tank looks great. As far as I know nitrates are nitrates.

I assume you are getting about 80 out of the well? Fast growing plants will help use some. There are some products out there that claim to be able to grow nitrate reducing bacteria (anaerobic) but I've never tried them and you would probably need a separate filter with slow water flow (to allow the water to O2 deplete).

I have some links on this for human and fish guidelines. Will post tonight - those levels as I understand it are not great for young kids.
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:14 PM   #4
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Unfortunately NO3 is NO3 whether it is man-made or nature produced from bio-waste.
Hygrophilia corybrosa and Hygrophilia difformis(water wisteria) are a couple of plants that are high NO3 consumers. To make life bearable so you could continue to use your water is to put on a small HOB(ie.Aqua Clear 20) dedicated to just removing NO3. You could load it with just NO3 removing media packets. These have to be changed out when your test shows the NO3 rising again(usually monthly). An option that would cost more up front but be cheaper in the long term would be a home RO system. You can get one for about $100 and be set for years. Rivercats has one that works for her very well.
You could mix your well water with the RO water at whatever ratio would give you about 5-10ppm NO3 for your WC water. OS.
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:44 PM   #5
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Nitrate Level

Hello mom...

Consider more floating plants. Anacharis and Hornwort. These floaters thrive in water with high nitrates. Certain aquarium plants use more nitrogen fertilizers than others. These two in particular will grow as fast as fertilizers are available. Just drop as many individual stems as possible into the tank.

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Old 05-18-2014, 09:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies!
@Delapool- Thanks!! And yes, I get A LOT of nitrates out of water, probably more like 90 ppm, from my previous tests from the well water. Pretty much all of my plants are medium - fast growers.. Except anubias, and my vals are taking awhile. My Mexican oak leaf, was literally 7 inches when i got it, and was going across the top of my two foot high tank within three weeks, and I've already replanted the cuttings and they are now reaching the top. (Almost)' I feel like my nitrates are too much for my plants to handle.
@Old Scales - I actually have both of the plants you listed! (lol) I have two bunches of both.
I will check out the HOB and talk to Rivercats
Also, We DO NOT drink or cook with our well water, as it is very harmful.

But still wondering if I could get fish, I have had my mollies for almost a year and a half, and haven't had any sort of sickness or anything. But, maybe mollies are mollies! :P
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:49 PM   #7
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Bbradbury, thanks for the reply. I will consider getting floaters, but I'm just afraid it will take away too much light from my other plants. My radican sword is doing so well, but every time another leaf covers the other it dies away, and I have to clip it away. I'm just afraid it will take away too much light..? Your thoughts?
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:04 PM   #8
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High Nitrates

Hello again mom...

Plan B would be to use nitrate absorbing filter medium in the filter equipment, provided the padded, cut to fit material would work. Acurel has a good product that might work in your tank.

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Old 05-19-2014, 05:22 AM   #9
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Certain fish are tolerant of higher nitrates. Definitely not optimum, but as long as ammonia an nitrites are kept low, should still thrive. Danios come to mind. PH is pretty high, too, though. RO/DI 50/50 would help keep things "safer".

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Old 05-19-2014, 06:59 AM   #10
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Rosy barbs maybe as well or some of the other barbs? The rosy barbs I have seem pretty hardy.
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Old 05-19-2014, 01:20 PM   #11
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Water wisteria as mentioned are good. Stem plants such as cobomba and elodea also as you can recycle the cuttings and remove the older stems. Your plants are probably thriving more because of the high mineral content in your water that is making it hard. Don't worry about plants growing too quickly it took me ages to find the right balance because of my super soft water.

In your case I would cut with RO water definitely.
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Old 05-19-2014, 08:19 PM   #12
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I also think the RO unit. Tank sounds like its jam packed with plants or about to be but of course there is the high cost upfront.

I have a recollection from a paper that inverts, shrimp, snails, etc are more sensitive than fish to nitrates (in general terms) - would anyone know?
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Old 05-19-2014, 10:04 PM   #13
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If I end up getting an RO unit it would not be very soon... I may be able to just put in RO water when doing water changes, though.

And, I was really hoping to have this as my future stock:
Neon Tetras or Glowlights
White Cloud mountain minnows
Panda Corys
Guppies

Would that be possible if I got down to 60? I know that's still really high but I don't know how low I could get it as of now.

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Old 05-20-2014, 10:47 AM   #14
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The white clouds might prefer cooler water.

White Cloud Mountain minnow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you can get the neons established in the tank they should do ok after that.

Can someone correct me if wrong but I think cories are sensitive to nitrates?
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:57 AM   #15
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While I haven't used it, there is a product called Purigen, that is supposed to remove nitrate. Those who do use it claim it works as advertised. It goes into a filter and can be recharged with bleach to be reused many times. Might be worth looking into.
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