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Is My Water Ok?

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Offline tff_pb

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2016, 12:48:39 PM »
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First of all, for a well stocked tank and no live plants, I would change at least 30% a week. With live plants it can be less because the plants will use some nitrate as fertiliser. But a lot of nitrate is not good for fish, and in the absence of live plants, water changes are the best way to remove the nitrate made by the nitrogen cycle.
As a rough guide, you should keep your nitrate level less than the amount in your tap water plus 20. It will be highest just before a water change, so this is the time to check your reading.

I have never used nitrate removing media so I'm afraid I can't help with that. I am lucky that my tap water has under 5 ppm nitrate so it is easy for me to keep my nitrate low.


When I had gravel, at every water change I used the gravel siphon to suck the debris out of the gravel. I moved decor to one side to 'hoover' under it. With no plants growing in the substrate, the muck (fish poo, uneaten food) will just sit there unless you suck it out.

I never bleach any decor. The simplest way to remove algae is to buy a cheap toothbrush and just scrub the rock or whatever in old tank water.
However, you can try to stop the algae growing in the first place. Keeping your nitrate level low will help, as will not having the lights on very long. How long are they on for at the moment?
Another way to help with algae is by having live plants. You don't need to get a jungle, but some floating plants would help enormously. These float - obviously - and are near the lights so they don't need anything fancy. They are on the surface so they can absorb carbon dioxide from the air so you don't need to add that. And fish like to have a shaded area in the tank. Look at Salvinia for small plants or water lettuce and Amazon frogbit for larger plants. Even duckweed would help.



As for checking levels in the tank, maybe check ammonia and nitrite after each water change for a few weeks to be sure they stay at zero, then test whenever you feel like it.
I would test nitrate before and half an hour after each water change for a while. And test your tap water so you know what the nitrate in the new water is.
The amount in the tap water will give you a base line to work from. If the tank nitrate just before a water change is more than 20 higher than the tap reading, you need to do a big (and I mean big) water change. If the after water change nitrate is still 10 or more above tap water level, you need to do another water change because in a week it will get higher still, probably back over tap + 20.

Hi Sue,
Thank you so much for your advice.

Offline adenann

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Re: Is my water ok? - A sort of answer
« Reply #51 on: December 07, 2016, 02:34:47 PM »
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 :wave: @Sue @andytheminion

3 x 20% water changes since my last post with absolutely no change in the parameters!

Today I took samples of the tank water after yesterday's change and tap water off the main today to MA.

Their JBL liquid based tests showed Nitrate at only 20 from the tap and less than 40 from the tank, so I'm a reasonably happy bunny in that respect, for now.

They also checked both samples with JBL test strips and came out with readings in excess of 100.  When I got home, I checked what was left of the tap sample with a Tetra strip.  It too gave a reading of 100.  So no wonder I've been going round in circles trying to get the Nitrate level down.  The manager at MA commented that there is usually a discrepancy between their JBL liquid and JBL strip tests but not that much and couldn't throw any light on how that large a discrepancy has occurred.  Bear in mind this is water off the tap with nothing added, supposedly.

There's obviously something in the straight-off-the-tap water that's throwing the Tetra and JBL strips into confusion as 100 ppm in tap water is illegal and I don't think Cambridge Water would be allowing that, but I'll check that with them.

It could be that the strips are correct and the liquid test is wrong.  Which is why I'm not completely happy as I need to get to the bottom of what's going on so as to be able to manage the parameters correctly.

I haven't bought a liquid based Nitrate test yet, as the only ones I've seen so far are still to wide ranging at the 40 ppm point, i.e. they go something like 20, 40 then 100 and 250, so anything over 40 and less that 250 is just guesswork again.

For now though, as none of the fish are exhibiting Nitrate poisoning, I'm going back to 20% weekly changes to get the detritus out of the tank on a regular basis whist I try and find a proper solution.

Offline Sue

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #52 on: December 07, 2016, 03:49:14 PM »
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I have just looked at Cambridge Water's website but they don't give a water quality report for a given postcode unlike Northumbrian Water (my company). All they do is give a link to the DWI annual summaries which don't give any numbers.

You could try contacting them to ask what your tap nitrate is. Then at least you'll know for sure which set of test results are the right ones.


I did find something.
This admits that Cambridge Water nitrate levels have increased over the years but are mostly currently still under the 50 ppm legal upper limit. Though they do confess that they are likely to break this limit during the next 5 years.
Quote
However, detailed analysis of data taken from  routine samples has given us a  clear indication that chemical quality and an ability to comply with the water quality nitrate standard is likely to fail during the next five years, as nitrate levels continue to increase.
Some nitrate tests have been over the limit and until now they have responded by adding water low in nitrate to dilute it. But they say this can't continue doing this.
The problem is that this report is out of date - it refers to their plan to build a third nitrate reducing plant before 2015, and we are now almost at the end of 2016.

Maybe they are afraid of the public finding out just how much nitrate is in their drinking water  :-\

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #53 on: December 07, 2016, 04:09:07 PM »
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I have always found nitrate levels of 40ppm in my tap water when using the API Freshwater Master Test kit.
I know that this is quite an unreliable test due to the reagent that comes out of solution and having to shake the reagents/test until your arm drops off, but I've always got the same result.

Offline adenann

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #54 on: December 07, 2016, 06:49:27 PM »
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 :wave: @Sue Thanks for the info on Cambridge Water.  I'm outstanding a reply to an email I sent over a week ago asking for all the most relevant fish related parameters in our tap water.  Their own code of conduct says they should have replied by now.  If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll give them a g-up on a response.

 :wave: @Littlefish You're in the Cambridge water area so it looks like they are, for now maintaining the below 50ppm requirement for drinking water.

Concerning the API test kit you use, I see on the Net that in the Master Kit are 2 tests for pH, one low range (6.0-7.6) and one high range (7.4-8.8).  I think my pH is consistently coming out 7.6.  This seems to be on the boundary between low and high.  Do you use both for your testing?  Or just the high range? 

The Master Kit seems to be good value against the sum of individual API tests but, as I've still got plenty of NT Labs NO2 and NutraFin NH3  I might just go for a stand alone NO3 API kit and rely on the Tetra strips for pH, GH, KH and CL2.  Does that make sense?

MA's JBL Nitrate test doesn't seem to require much shaking, but there is quite a lot of precipitation that can obscure the colour checking.

:isay: Does anyone else have recommendations for their favoured test reagents?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #55 on: December 07, 2016, 08:07:49 PM »
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@adenann when I first started I used both pH tests due to the boarderline results. After a while I changed to just using the high test. My water seems to come out of the tap at 7.4 (ish) but after 48 hours reads around 8.2-8.4.
Everyone here seems to be dealing with that, but I'm also aware that if I ever have to do a very large emergency water change I would have to keep this change in pH in mind.

Offline tff_pb

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #56 on: June 07, 2017, 02:47:16 PM »
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First of all, for a well stocked tank and no live plants, I would change at least 30% a week. With live plants it can be less because the plants will use some nitrate as fertiliser. But a lot of nitrate is not good for fish, and in the absence of live plants, water changes are the best way to remove the nitrate made by the nitrogen cycle.
As a rough guide, you should keep your nitrate level less than the amount in your tap water plus 20. It will be highest just before a water change, so this is the time to check your reading.

I have never used nitrate removing media so I'm afraid I can't help with that. I am lucky that my tap water has under 5 ppm nitrate so it is easy for me to keep my nitrate low.


When I had gravel, at every water change I used the gravel siphon to suck the debris out of the gravel. I moved decor to one side to 'hoover' under it. With no plants growing in the substrate, the muck (fish poo, uneaten food) will just sit there unless you suck it out.

I never bleach any decor. The simplest way to remove algae is to buy a cheap toothbrush and just scrub the rock or whatever in old tank water.
However, you can try to stop the algae growing in the first place. Keeping your nitrate level low will help, as will not having the lights on very long. How long are they on for at the moment?
Another way to help with algae is by having live plants. You don't need to get a jungle, but some floating plants would help enormously. These float - obviously - and are near the lights so they don't need anything fancy. They are on the surface so they can absorb carbon dioxide from the air so you don't need to add that. And fish like to have a shaded area in the tank. Look at Salvinia for small plants or water lettuce and Amazon frogbit for larger plants. Even duckweed would help.



As for checking levels in the tank, maybe check ammonia and nitrite after each water change for a few weeks to be sure they stay at zero, then test whenever you feel like it.
I would test nitrate before and half an hour after each water change for a while. And test your tap water so you know what the nitrate in the new water is.
The amount in the tap water will give you a base line to work from. If the tank nitrate just before a water change is more than 20 higher than the tap reading, you need to do a big (and I mean big) water change. If the after water change nitrate is still 10 or more above tap water level, you need to do another water change because in a week it will get higher still, probably back over tap + 20.

Hi Sue,

It's 6 months since I started re-stocking my tank, after I successfully followed your advice. I've gradually adopted the following 4-week cycle that seems to have worked:
Week 1: Deep clean - dredge, clean plants and filters. Change approx. 40% water.
Week 2: Change approx. 30% water.
Week 3: Dredge approx. 30% water.
Week 4: Change approx. 30% water.
Latest test strip readings are: NH3 = 0, NO2 = 0, NO3 = 25 taken 1 day after a 33% water change.

Thanks again for your advice.

Offline Sue

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Re: Is my water ok?
« Reply #57 on: June 07, 2017, 04:18:07 PM »
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Glad to hear your tank is running nicely now  :)

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