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  1. #1

    Default Help! High Nitrates in my tap water...

    0 Not allowed!
    First let me thank you for reading through my post. I appreciate your time and help.

    My problem is my tap water has 30 to 40 Nitrates in it. I know that 10ppm is the legal limit and my cities water
    report says the city water has 10 ppm Nitrates. But when it comes out my faucet is tests at between 30 and 40.
    I know the city pipes are probably further contaminating the water with more Nitrates, but I can't do anything about that.
    Using RO water is not an option for me and it would really mess with my PH. My tap PH is at 7.8 and the tank PH runs at 8.2.

    I use the API Master test kit. Expires in 2016.
    I shake the solutions as per instructions and test accordingly. This is what I have:
    Ammonia - 0
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 40 - 60
    PH - 8.2

    Tank: 29 gallon freshwater tank up and running since August 2012. It is cycled.
    My Nitrates stay at around 40 to 60 with weekly 8 gallon water changes. I gravel vac the tank and keep the algae cleaned
    on the glass. I also rinse the decor in the tank in the dirty tank water. I change the filter pads monthly. It is not a planted tank
    however I did put one Anubias Nana in the tank last week. It seems to be doing OK so far.

    I have 3 neon tetras, 2 cory cats, 1 male guppy, 2 platys and 2 small angel fish.

    Decor: two resin decorations and plastic plants. One live plant. One silk plant

    I have a penguin filter with bio wheel and SeaChem Matrix bio media added to the box.
    I also have a Whisper filter with a Pura Pad added to that box to try to help with the Nitrate levels.
    I have a glass top and use a Coralife lighting fixture.
    I have a 3 " bubble disc going at about 50% flow.

    PRE-FILTERING WATER: I also have a tub of water that holds about 12 gallons of water where I pre-filter the tap water
    to try to rid the tap water of the Nitrates before adding it to the tank. I also use the dechlorinator in this water.
    I have a Whisper filter (sized for a 30 gallon tank) going on this tub with a Poly Filter pad only
    in this filter to get rid of the Nitrates.

    So far pre-filtering the water for 7 days using the Poly Filter makes only a minimal difference in
    the Nitrate level. It went from about 40 to about 30. These are best guesses with trying to match
    the colors on those charts.

    I have tried running the tap water for over 20 minutes so as not to use stagnate water from the city pipes.
    I have tried letting the water sit for up to 2 days and still there is no change in the Nitrate levels in the tap water.

    I am at a loss as to what else to do to try to get these Nitrates down in the tank.
    Is there anything else I can do??
    Thanks for your time,

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    First off - NEVER drink that water- period. Nitrates above 10 ppm are not healthy and over 40 is not safe. Use bottled water to drink and cook.

    The EPA sets the upper limit for infants as 10 ppm; I'd never use water above that level for any children at all. The EPA sets 45 ppm as the upper limit for adults.

    Next, you can't filter nitrates from your water. Letting it sit will do zero as will boiling (which will make it worse.)

    You should consider an R/O system for your own needs. As for the tank, either an R/O system or a large algae scrubber (those remove not only nitrates extremely well, but also phosphates, ammonia/nitrites and even other organics.) These units do require a light source (red is best) and can be built a number of ways but all work very well at removing nitrates.

    Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES can any human drink water processed by an algae filter - the algae is toxic to humans!
    Last edited by Cermet; 02-09-2013 at 08:09 PM.
    Knowledge is fun(damental)

    A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is down to just two Sterba's Corys. Filters: continuous new water flow; canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber!! Finally, junked the nitrate removal unit from hell.

    For Fishless cycling:

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    WOW, that's pretty bad tap water quality

    Are you sure that test result is accurate ??? Have you had these test results confirmed by someone else or maybe try another test kit ? The reason why I ask is that rusty old pipe tyically do not add nitrates, mostly will just add other mineral elements
    If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
    "Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
    Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL=""]

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    Nitrates are NEVER caused by piping; they are always due to waste products produced by living creatures - local farms, a specic system too close to a well, or systems that use run off. Get your water tested and DO NOT DRINK IT or use it for cooking until it is proven to be within EPA acceptible levels!!!! Even then, I'd be careful (i.e. not use) for any water with levels over 10 ppm.
    Knowledge is fun(damental)

    A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is down to just two Sterba's Corys. Filters: continuous new water flow; canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber!! Finally, junked the nitrate removal unit from hell.

    For Fishless cycling:

  5. #5

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    0 Not allowed!
    I agree with Cliff, before you do anything get a second opinion on the nitrate levels from your tap. If the other source confirms the levels here are a couple links with some options for you.
    When I go fishing I just throw sharp rocks in the water and wait for the dead fish to float to the top... Kingfisher
    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions.

    I think my fish is adjusting well to the four gallon, He's laying on his side attempting to go to sleep on the bottom of the gravel.
    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Dear naps, sorry I hated you so much when I was a child... Love me

  6. #6


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks to each one of you who replied. We don't drink this water or cook with it. We buy RO water at the local Water n Ice store for our water needs.
    And I buy bottled water by the case at Walmart.
    I have a call into our city officials about the Nitrate levels in the water. The water source for our city water is ground water and we are in an agricultural
    area. I suspect things are seeping into the water from fertilizers, etc.

    Where would I get a second opinion test on my tap water? I do know the API test kits are testing all the same....I am on my second test kit for Nitrate.
    And what about the fish....will they be OK living in Nitrates from 40 to 60?
    If I plant more live plants in the tank...would that help?

    I can't afford any expensive filtration system to remove the nitrates. What is an algae scrubber?
    So I wonder if I should just accept that fact that my tank will have this
    level nitrate in it.

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