Tap water quality

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Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:02 pm

Hi every one and thank you for taking the time to read this.
I've recently upgraded from a 95l "goldfish" tank to a tropical 125l tank. I'm still in the process of setting up my new tank but after testing my tap water I find that it has between 80 and 120 ppm Nitrates (API Master test). This was never a problem for my goldfish tank, I had a shibunkin, (Huey) in there that grew from a 1" tiddler to a gorgeous 12" long specimen in 3 years along with his fairground friend, (a common goldfish, Nemo). They have both recently been rehomed in a friends, large well established garden pond.
I have always kept 4 or 5 live plants in the tank and performed regular maintenance and water changes.
After what I have read here I am concerned that the nitrate levels will be detrimental to any new tropical friends. Am I worrying unnecessarily or is there something I can do to keep these pesky nitrates to a healthier level.

I am currently attempting to cycle my filter using just fish food, (5 tiny pellets a day) and my levels are ammonia 0.25ppm, nitrites 0ppm, nitrates 80-160ppm. I am only on day 2 of the cycle.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thank you everyone for the masses of information available on here that is gratefully adsorbed and digested at every opportunity.
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
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Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby Rockfish » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:00 am

Hi,

That does sound like a very high level. I'm sure it's actually above what your tap water is supposed to be on the guidelines set by the water authorities, so it might be worth contacting your local water authority.

They probably won't accept readings from hobbyist test kits as 100% accurate or reliable, but they may follow it up to check the level. I have found that API kits read on the higher side across the range of nitrate kit brands, but that's not to say the reading is necessarily incorrect (plus the higher level colours are not easy to match to the colour chart).

There is a huge amount of variation on what different sources consider a 'safe' level of nitrate for freshwater fish, and very little concrete evidence. The best guideline is to change enough water so that your tank level is never significantly above your tap water source. That way, you know you are keeping all wastes in check - after all, nitrate is only one measure of waste build up. Even if your source of water is high in nitrate, frequent water changes have other benefits like renewing mineral levels and pH buffering.
Sean


Remember there's lots of info at The Tropical Tank main site!
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Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:58 pm

Thanks Rockfish,
I think I might give them a quick call and find out what they have to say, I know Stoke on Trent has very hard water, (the inside of our kettle makes that obvious). The published figures for our water are Nitrates are 34.83ppm with a national limit of 50ppm
I would be interested to hear if anyone else in this region has similar readings?
I'm still a while away from introducing fish so I have some time to investigate further.
Thanks again
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:04 pm

Ive been in touch with water board and they are coming out to test my water tomorrow, I will post the results they give me.
Though they assure me that their testing process has never given them readings as high as the ones I am getting and they think it is an inaccuracy with my test kit. (API freshwater master test kit)
I would be interested to hear if anyone has had false high nitrate readings with these kits and what is generally regarded as the best test kit on the market
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:26 pm

Just an update.
Southern Trent Water took my concerns about my water quality quite seriously, a couple of days after contacting them they came and took a water sample, I received their analysis today.

Nitrate 35.51 mg NO3/l

All I can conclude from this is that my water test kit isn't as accurate as it could be.
Any suggestions as to which is the best test kit available for domestic use?
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby SparkyST » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:27 pm

Good that they came out and took a sample.
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Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:46 pm

Must admit I was surprised that it was relatively easy to get it done, I thought I was going to face a pile of red tape and possibly even a fee. Well done Severn Trent Water.
On a side note, the chap who came to take the sample said that he was visiting more and more fish keepers in recent years, it only used to be keepers of Koi Carp that had concerns but now tropical fish keepers are taking a closer interest in water quality. I see this as a good sign that more and more people are trying to do the best for those who depend on us for their environment and well being. Well done TTT and all concerned fish keepers for enlightening and educating us beginners.
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby Rockfish » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:58 pm

It's good that they came out and did the analysis, and it's also good that the levels weren't as high as you feared. Around 35 mg/l still isn't exactly ideal, but the main thing is just to do enough water changes to keep your nitrate level close to the starting level.

As regards test kits, I do think the API one tends to read on the high side (though falsely low readings could be more of an issue of course). I remember Practical Fishkeeping magazine doing a review a few years back where they compared several brands of nitrate kits and also had a lab analysis done to get the 'definitive' result. I remember the hobby kit readings were very varied, with some showing hardly any nitrates when the readings were actually quite high.

The take-away message was that they are better for showing general trends than specific accurate results (apart from a few high-end expensive kits). It's probably best to stick with a kit you find easy to use and hopefully be able to spot trends if your nitrate levels are climbing.
Sean


Remember there's lots of info at The Tropical Tank main site!
Rockfish
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Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:26 pm

Thanks for the advice, I will as you say use the tests monitor trends, I do keep records of my test results so any major deviation from the norm should be easy to spot.
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent

Re: Tap water quality

Postby Rockfish » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:58 pm

Nerdy though it may sound, it's a great idea to keep records of tests and any other changes to the tank, especially if like me you end up with multiple tanks! :)
Sean


Remember there's lots of info at The Tropical Tank main site!
Rockfish
Site Admin
 
Posts: 869
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: Tap water quality

Postby MartinC » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:18 am

If only I could figure out how to turn my spreadsheet into a graph! That would be even more useful / nerdy. I'll work on it when I have some time
125l Fluval Rio
7 Tiger Barbs
5 Zebra Loaches
4 Red Harlequin Rasboras
5 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Otocinclus
MartinC
Member
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:06 am
Location: Stoke on Trent


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