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After my newly set up 55gal unstocked planted aquarium was reading at 40~60ppms, I checked my faucets parameters. This is the reading of the faucet water with dechlorinater in it. Nitrates: 20ppm, ph is at 8.2., ammonia is at 0~0m25ppm. Is this normal?

Also, after a 50% water change my waters sitting at about 40ppms still and ph is now 7.8. Should i do another 50% water change? Are there any products that are shrimp and scaless fish safe to adjust the water during water changes? Im currently using prime to dechlorinate. Im getting a reverse osmosis system for my sink for drinking water. Should I use that water instead? Im hoping to have shrimp in the tank

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Plants will naturally consume Nitrates. Mostly it'll be managing how often you change water to keep parameters in line. Lots of plants will make this easier. 

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Sounds like you have hard water with high pH.  In my opinion, the nitrates are nothing to worry about at that level out of the faucet.  You say you're planning on keeping shrimp, and if you should use reverse osmosis or not, that really depends on what shrimp you plan on keeping.  most neocaridina shrimp do great in hard water, and most caridina shrimp do better in softer waters.

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Also, are you allowing your water to de-gas? I'm on well water, if I test straight out of the tap my water looks soft and acidic. Once its sat for 24 hours and all the gas has pearled all over the tank and bubbled up to the surface my water sits at about 8-8.2 ph and around 30°gH. Gasses in the water can really throw off your tests.

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@hemali -- Warning, long reply ahead! But could be informative as I've gone down the same path as you.

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I am in a similar situation as you are. High nitrates out of my faucet (above 40ppm). I do have an RO unit for making water for caradina shrimp, and have dealt with my nitrate problem so I can offer some first hand advice.

Using an R/O unit to target nitrate removal is a long term expense, and not the only option. The R/O unit will strip everything from the water, so if you're going to have to build the water back up for use in your aquarium with buffers and remineralizes. This means staging and mixing the water, and paying for an ongoing supply of products, not to mention the DI resin, R/O membrane and filters for the R/O unit itself.

Another solution could be to set up a one or two-stage filter just to remove nitrates (I say two-stage cause its good to have a sediment filter before the nitrate filter). Some companies make plug-and-play under-the-sink nitrate filter kits that look like the RO units and install just as easily. Or you can put together your own if you're even slightly handy.

Setting up your own is a process similar to how folks with fishrooms plumb carbon block filters into their water supply to remove chloramines. The only thing to know about setting up your own nitrate filter is that you have to place a rate-limiter, or flow restrictor, in-line with the system to force the water to run slow enough for optimal nitrate removal by the resin (under-the-sink kits normally come with these pre-installed). Most de-nitrate filter manufacturers will usually list the flow rate for optimal nitrate removal for a given cartridge. You can get most of the supplies to do something like this from any water system supplier or from a good LFS that supplies a lot of reefing equipment. The de-nitrate cartridge can easily be ordered online from a number of suppliers.

In my experience, a de-nitrate filter will also strip some KH from the water, but can't really say how much (some? all? not 100% sure as I have never tested). The KH in my tap water is pretty low to being with.

In my experience, I have also found that high nitrates exhaust the standard mixed DI resin in typical R/O units faster than if you had no nitrates. So, a nitrate filter of any sort before the DI resin filter can extend that filter's life and possibly cut some costs. DI resin is typically more expensive that de-nitrate resin, long term.

I like experimenting and tinkering and so I have setup, and used, both of these systems.

For my current setup I used a larger nitrate/sediment filter in-line with my drip system that feeds me display tank, and a small breeding rack I'm still in the process of completing. (Pic below). I like tinkering and am good with plumbing, so I plumbed my own up instead of going under-the-sink.

So the take away from this somewhat long thread -- 

1) R/O unit will be a simple plug-and-play setup, but will be the most costly in outlay and long-term costs given that you'll have to remineralize the water, and you'll burn through a lot of mixed-bed DI resin.

2) Nitrate filter will target nitrates, last longer and be a less expensive solution. The initial expense will be roughly the same as an R/O unit, but could be a more DIY solution in which you acquire the canisters and fittings and build yourself.

3) Plants are cheap and easy. (I cant resist the challenge of tinkering so I went with targeted nitrate filters!)

I got my de-nitrate filters from APEC water solutions online. I got my filter housings from Bulk Reef Supply. The fittings and what not I got from Home Depot. Can't remember where I got the flow rate restrictor online, but I can easily find that in my email somewhere if I search.

If I didn't completely overwhelm you with this response, please feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

IMG_6042.jpg.36b2b057970e4caf009bad05e9615635.jpg

Edited by tolstoy21
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If it were me in your situation, I would try to manage the tap nitrates with plant growth.  I just know if I had to mess with RO filters at every water change, I'd burn out faster. I think it would be do-able to manage that nitrate level with plants, and would be the least expensive and most sustainable (for me personally) in the long run. Maybe also have the RO unit on hand as a backup. A well planted tank could use up 20 ppm nitrates in a few days or less, and if you're only water changing a few times per month, you won't be adding that many nitrates to the tank. I kinda enjoy figuring out the balance of a tank, so that would be my approach. There's nothing wrong with going towards the RO units if that's your preference. 

Granted, I don't know what fish you're stocking, so that could change this. If the bio load was especially high or the fish were extra sensative, maybe you can't get away with not pre-filtering.

A bunch of floating type plants, like water lettuce, salvinia, frogbit, would help with nitrate uptake. You can also grow pothos out of your tank and leave the roots in the tank- 

 

Tropica makes a fertilizer that has everything except nitrogen (nitrates) or phosphorus. It's meant for a tank with a heavy fish load, where fish are producing all the nitrates and phosphates. Perhaps it would help in your situation? You'd need to see if your tap also has enough phosphates for plants, or maybe the fish would produce enough. Or, you dose tropica premium after a water change, then dose easy green when the nitrates dip from plant consuming them. 

Tropica Premium on Amazon Link

Edited by Jessica.
fixing broken link
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11 minutes ago, Jessica. said:

I just know if I had to mess with RO filters at every water change, I'd burn out faster.

@Jessica. -- As someone who used to do that, 100000% agree. You get tired of the labor (and expense) of all of that after a while.

This is why I went the route I posted earlier in this thread. I wanted something in-line with my plumbing that required a cartridge change maybe every 6 or more months, and that was it. Granted plants are waaaaaaaay easier than this, but I can't resist the challenge of tinkering and creating an easy automated solution to things.

Right now I just use my R/O for shrimp water, but I pre-make a couple of buckets and set those aside in my basement. That way the work is minimal and I have a supply of water-change water for my shrimp on hand when it's a lazy day and I don't feel like making any.

Edited by tolstoy21
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18 minutes ago, Jessica. said:

Tropica makes a fertilizer that has everything except nitrogen (nitrates) or phosphorus. It's meant for a tank with a heavy fish load,

@Jessica. Very good point as well. I did this also at one point. Knowing my nitrates would always be high from the tap, I selectively fertilized with Seachem phosphorous, potassium and flourish, skipping the nitrates.

If 20ppm is the baseline from one's tap and the fish load isn't super extreme, this is another great alternative if you also plan on having a planted tank.

Edited by tolstoy21
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I just saw this recently, Ben Ochart discussing nitrate levels out of the tap. His used to be zero, and changed at some point. He noticed when he saw his nitrates creeping up, even after water changes.

 

 

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On 10/20/2020 at 4:50 AM, McNubbin said:

Also, are you allowing your water to de-gas? I'm on well water, if I test straight out of the tap my water looks soft and acidic. Once its sat for 24 hours and all the gas has pearled all over the tank and bubbled up to the surface my water sits at about 8-8.2 ph and around 30°gH. Gasses in the water can really throw off your tests.

I dont think the tap here is on well, but i did the tests on water that was sitting our for over 24hr and straight out of the tap with sadly the same results 😕

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On 10/20/2020 at 4:29 AM, Mr_Manifesto said:

Sounds like you have hard water with high pH.  In my opinion, the nitrates are nothing to worry about at that level out of the faucet.  You say you're planning on keeping shrimp, and if you should use reverse osmosis or not, that really depends on what shrimp you plan on keeping.  most neocaridina shrimp do great in hard water, and most caridina shrimp do better in softer waters.

I didnt know this, thank you! I think I'll get blue velvets and sakura orange then. I though all shrimp needed extremely "clean" water. Im glad i can still have shrimp in my waters. 

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