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Whole House Nitrate Filter on order! GULP!


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I've been doing battle with high nitrates for years now. It was a long while before I tested my source [well] water and realized it wasn't a tank issue, but a source water issue. I was seeing 160ppm straight out of the tap. Had it verified by my County Ag Dept because I thought maybe I was doing my testing wrong. They said my water is essentially 10% Nitrates (likely from agricultural run-off).

We drink a ton of water here, obviously bath in it, cook, etc. So I knew we had to do something about it. I thought RO was the only option. Then I happened upon nitrate filters! You can indeed get under the sink nitrate filters, but you have to replace filters every few months*. We wanted to cover all of our needs. So we decided to go with the whole house filter.  *The nitrate filter resin must be changed an estimated every 3-5 years at the cost of about $700.

The place I ordered from even has a portable system that is geared for serving livestock. Which made me think of people that have set ups in rental units. They also have off-grid systems!

I'm eyeing up the inline UV filter as my next upgrade - which would be beneficial to people and fishes.

By the new year we will hopefully be done with nitrate saturated water and the fish and plants will be happy! There are some plants that are not happy with my excessive nitrates.

Anyone have experience with a whole house (or industrial application) UV filter? Below are reasons for using it...

Effective in killing off bacteria and viruses such as:

  • Coliform Bacteria
  • Leptospira Interrogans (Infectious Jaundice)
  • Salmonella Typhosa (Typhoid Fever)
  • Bacteriophage (E. coli)
  • Hepatitis Virus
  • Chlorella Vulgaris
  • Influenza Virus
  • Legionella Pneumophila (Legionnaires' Disease)

UV Disinfection is suitable for Industrial & Commercial

  • Agriculture, Dairy, Livestock, Irrigation Water
  • Food & Beverage Industry
  • Beer Breweries, Wineries
  • Drinking Water
  • Ice Companies
  • Well Water
  • Aquaculture
  • Restaurants, Schools, Hospitals, Hotels

Nitrate filter installation kit




nitrate filter.png

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No experience with those but eager to see how it goes. I'm fortunate to have relatively clean water that just needs some dechlorinator and a GH boost. How were you battling them before? Curious how the fish handled the nitrates, since only once or twice have I ever let anything get above 50-ish.

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Water changes didn't work for obvious reasons,  so then I switched to buying distilled water when I should have been buying drinking water. Lol wrong turns!

I hated the amount of plastics I was using (I wasn't able to get refilled Water). So then I tried some resin in a bag and plants - lots of plants and a mesh like filter that was supposed to reduce nitrates. They are simply too high to be effective.

I have 6 tanks (which were an outgrowth before I understood what was happening and that if wasn't something I was doing wrong). They range in size between 3 and 55. I have sworn off buying any more fish until I can provide them with proper water.

The three houses two neon tetras and some snails and is a grow out quarantine plant tank. Unheated.

I have a 10 that contains two fathead minnows, some pond plants, a few snails and a damselfly larvae. (They live in rainwater and drinking water. They were surprises I found remaining in my summer stock tank pond thing!) Plants brought it from the pond. Unheated

A 20 L with a few White Cloud Mountain Minnows, a female fathead, and rainbow glow shark. Snails. Well water. Planted. 78°

A 40 Long with a South American Puffer, upside down cat, a zamora cat 6 black neon tetras, two dwarf rainbows, and 2 dwarf cories. Well water, planted, snails. 80°

A 55 gallon with a 9.5" female Chinese Alge Eater. This fish is adopted for a friend. I actually drive 20 miles one way to get water  from their house to do water changes because I promised I wouldn't put any more new fish in my water until it was corrected. 78°

But I felt bad for her being alone so i got some small,  quick, upper tier fish to go with her but they are currently in quarantine and then they'll go in the 55. 78°

I've lost dwarf gouramies,  mollies, and tetras. I suspect due to the long term high nitrates. But I had an Otocinculos for years. Supposed to be sensitive to nitrates.

And blue rams but those weren't totally my fault.  I bought at an LFS and I feel like I had "SUCKER" written across my face (because I was trusting) . I asked specifically about this fish and my water parameters. Guy said no problem.  GRams are fine in high nitrate.  Yeah. Later research showed exactly the opposite. I was excited, able to go to a big shop been around for 50 years.  I feel like I got sold. But I should have tempered my eagerness.  

My fish never breed. Exception - the dwarf gouramies did, but it was a small hatch.  One fry survived.  Got to 25 cent piece size and died .

Java fern does not like my water.  I'm hoping that will change. In general plants are slow to grow.  Once established they seem to grow nicely.  I grow algae like a boss.

My fish I think live a shorter life span.  I'm really looking forward to giving them good water and more plants.  

All of my tanks have sponge filters, various decent LED lights, a current generator,  and snails.  No CO2. Plants. And in the temp range

These are just my opinions through observation and without science to support them.


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@braids I've had similar struggles with nitrates due to runoff from a golf course/country club behind me. I'm not at quite as high a level as you, but I'm just under the EPA safe drinking limit. When I cross that line, I'll have my well-service guy l do a whole-house install for me.

In the meantime, as a stop-gap measure, I've installed a smaller filter (DIY, larger than under the sink, smaller than whole house) for my aquarium change water (this is plumbed in-line with an auto water change system). I have it fronted by a sediment filter, and have a flow restrictor valve installed to keep the flow rate optimal for resin exposure.

The nitrate resin cartridges run me about $150 each and last about 3 months. They are meant to be disposable, but I've figured out how to manually recharge them and so far I've not had to buy any replacements (I do keep a backup on hand, just in case).

In my experience, the nitrate resin I use will also strip the KH out of the water (does not touch my GH). These resins are 'nitrate-selective', meaning they 'favor' nitrates, butt hey will also attach to other ions. Your specific resin could be different in terms of its behavior, but I'd get to know your water params pre-filter and post-filter, just so you know what you're working with for your aquariums. For me, I just use it raw for soft-water tanks, and everything else gets some crushed coral.

Also, for household reasons, make sure you understand how all this affects your Ph (or if it does at all -- it might not). Highly acidic water can be rough on copper plumbing and lead to other issues. 

I don't think I'd worry about UV unless a comprehensive water test from a professional told me I had a problem that only it would remediate. A UV sterilizer in your aquarium has benefits, but I'm not sure your aquarium fish will benefit if its treating water outside the aquarium. Like I said, unless a professional instructed me to have one installed . . . sounds like a solution in search of a problem.

Pics of my setup below. This setup would not keep up with the 'whole house' demands of humans. But it's been great for aquarium purposes.


Edited by tolstoy21
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I probably would have gone for RO. Not necessarily whole house RO though as RO water would be corrosive if your house has metal plumbing and a remineralization stage would be required.

Nitrate is only toxic if you ingest it. It doesn't pass through skin or gills so you could get a smaller RO system to produce water for drinking and aquariums only.

RO membranes are fairly effective at rejecting nitrate and an RO filter should be much more cost effective than ion exchange resins.

The stages of an RO/DI filter work in concert. The coarse sediment filters protect the finer sediment filters which in turn protect the carbon stages from being clogged. The carbon stages remove, among other things, chlorine to protect the RO membrane.

With effective prefiltration, RO membranes can reject >95% of dissolved solids without fouling for years. Anything that gets through is picked up by the ion exchange stages.

Skipping the RO membrane and relying on ion exchange alone will exhaust the resin much, much faster.

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Yeah I agree with @Coronal Mass Ejection Carlin terms of household needs. Whole house RO is probably a better, more comprehensive option. The DI stage of RO/DI units will clean up anything not rejected by the membrane. But never having looked at whole house RO, in not sure if those also incorporate ion/anion (mixed bed) resin stages. 

This adds a complication for freshwater aquarium usage but only in the sense that you have to build the water back up with buffers and remineralizers but that’s not difficult. 

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How deep are your wells? My well is farm adjacent  but luckily I haven't seen nitrates when I've tested.

For drinking water I have a hard time fully trusting my well and the same for municipalities. We use our well water like normal after it only goes through a softener but any water we drink is first run through our home water distiller. We tried buying water there for a while too but it was so much single use plastic plus the issue of ingesting whatever plastic leeches out, now we distill it ourselves we notice water out of plastic doesn't taste good.

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Well water makes me nervous. There are potentially a lot of more toxic things than nitrate in it. Fairly sophisticated testing should be done regularly. That's all taken care of for you with tap water as federal regulations are fairly strict.

I wouldn't drink well water or use it for aquariums unless it went through a good, well-maintained RO/DI system first. Even then I have a bit more confidence in tap water.

I'm not that confident in ion exchange alone for well water.

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@TheDukeAnumber1 You know, don't know well depth. I do get it tested on a semi-annual basis, as I don't trust it either since I live on a busy road in a congested, polluted state with a gas station and well traveled highway not to far away (few hundred yards?).

The city a few miles down the road from me routinely finds lead in their municipal water, so i'll stick with the well. At least I can have someone tell me what I'm drinking (and slowly dying from). Free poison is better than poison you have to pay for!

Honestly, I'm pretty confident of the makeup of my water; its been stable in terms of what's in it for many years. 

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Our well is about 140 ft deep.


@Coronal Mass Ejection Carl In a large town in my area they released an in-depth report about the cities water - and after filtration they found an IMMENSE amount of medications detected. So much medication is excreted in urine or flushed and that all goes into a cities water supply. And that is in your city supplied drinking water. And then there are places like Flint and a few hundred other towns with toxic water.

On the flip side in the country you have holding ponds where the - and I hope you're sitting down for this - where the tanks filled from septic tank clean outs, and the waste from the dairy barns (where cows virtually stand in a stall all day long - no pasture time) are emptied into. Its a giant slurry of human and animal waste. Which is aged and then sucked out of the pond and put into giant tanks and hauled out to farms. The liquid is sprayed onto food crops and the sludge is flung about by a tow behind cart called a manure spreader.

Water is a crap shoot in either local. Literally.


I was curious if there was a way to regen the resin myself. Just hadn't gotten that far - would welcome tips if you want to share them.

I did a pretty wide panel water test on my water pre order so I'll have that to go off of, which is minimal at best but is at least some sort of baseline. That was done outside at the nearest point to our well per test instructions. I'm not as familiar with understanding Kh Gh and pH and how it all intersects as I would like to be. But I saw there is a video put out by Fish Girl/AC that covers that chemistry that I'll take a look at - hopefully that will help me. I feel like there is a potassium issue too with high nitrates, but I don't have any proof of that.  Just a suspicion based on what my plants are telling me. Like I don't have the right ratio or there's a usage problem or absorption problem. This chart I found at aquariumbreeder . com (providing this info as a source citation) helps me because of the graphing layout. I'm really hoping to see a little drop in my pH and and my nitrates drop to low levels. I'm not one that chases numbers. I prefer the stability and work on the long term fix. And definitely not messing with chemistry with additives. One of my reasons for going with a Nitrate WHF (Whole House Filter) VS RO is because I don't want to remineralize and such. My fish rely on me, and if I go down I need their care to be as easy as possible on the people in my home (I have a health condition) and simple to explain if there is trouble.


I may finally be able to keep shrimp after this! Can't wait! And maybe I'll get babies! (FISH AND SHRIMP!)



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45 minutes ago, braids said:

I was curious if there was a way to regen the resin myself. Just hadn't gotten that far - would welcome tips if you want to share them.

I regenerate mine using a solar salt brine solution like one would use in a water softener. I let the entire cartridge sit in that for about 24 hours, then drain it and then flush it with water till the nitrates leaching out read zero on a test strip. That's been working for me, but i came to that solution via about a week of trial and error. I'm sure it probably does not regenerate it 100%, but it regenerates it enough for me to get more use out of it. I do this it bi-weekly, but that's just an interval I invented. I have no idea what the required interval really should be.

I've experimented with re-generating with Lye (sodium hydroxide) but that was a royal pain in the butt. Salt is waaaaay easier.

I think the basic idea, like in a water softener, is that you're looking to the displace the nitrate from its spot on the resin beads with sodium ions. The waste water coming out of my cartridge when i lift it out of the brine is like 20 bazillion ppm nitrate.

if you're getting a whole house unit, I would imagine they should be able to auto-regenerate from a brine tank weekly. if you're replacing the media every few years, it could be because the media breaks down over time, not because it's saturated with nitrate. I doubt the resin itself has years worth of capacity in it. But that's just a complete, un-educated guess. I'm certainly not a professional at this, and just know what i know from chatting with my well/water guy when he comes to service stuff, and from my tinkering with RODI and figuring out how to regenerate my nitrate filters to save money.

Someone posted a good link to a video on this forum a few weeks back that was basically a nice, easy to follow, lecture on understanding water chemistry. If I can locate that, I'll re-link.

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1 hour ago, braids said:

One of my reasons for going with a Nitrate WHF (Whole House Filter) VS RO is because I don't want to remineralize and such.

Exactly why I set up a nitrate filter.  Got tired of making RODI and re-mineralizing it. I was burning through Equilibrium. 

In the end, i found I still did have to adjust the Kh via crushed coral. But my well-water is about 0.5 Kh to begin with. The nitrate filter strips that down to 0.

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