Nitrites are a natural byproduct of the nitrogen cycle that occur in all tanks. Nitrite levels should be kept below 20 ppm to prevent nitrite poisoning and other health problems for fish, such as mouth rot. One way to lower nitrites is by using an ammonia reducer that converts toxic ammonia into less harmful substances like nitrate. The best ammonia reducers will also remove phosphates which can lead to algae blooms and make your tank cloudy. They’re also good choices if you’re cycling your tank with live plants because they won’t stunt their growth or kill them off like some other products do.
How to lower Nitrites in Fish Tank
Nitrite is much less toxic than nitrate. Nevertheless, it still has a negative effect on your fish. There are some methods that can be utilized to lower the nitrite level of your aquarium water as well as the nitrates level. A healthy and balanced biological filter is needed for this process which will convert ammonia into less toxic compounds through the nitrogen cycle.
Aquarium keepers know what happens when they perform a large water change with tap water: The nitrogen cycle needs time to catch up with the changes and will transform ammonia and nitrite from harmful forms into harmless ones. If you do not wait long enough, your tank may become unstable; which basically means that various issues occur, such as rapid disease or die-off of your fish, and you will need to treat the water.
We can observe a similar phenomenon when changing 10% to 20% of the water in our aquariums; however, this change should be followed by another one which is 50% of the water volume. This process has shown good results when dealing with most issues related to high levels of nitrates or ammonia.
1. Desired Level
In nature, nitrates in water remain very low and generally below 5 ppm. In freshwater aquariums, the highest concentration should be kept at 50 ppm or less; ideally you want to keep it around 25-10ppm depending on your situation. You will need a lower threshold if fish are being bred or algae growth is prominent as those contribute more nitrogen into the tank’s system which leads to an increase of nitrate levels.
You should try to keep the level below 10 ppm.
2. Effect on Fish
Nitrite is toxic if present in excessive amounts in your tank; it basically prevents oxygen from being released into water, which will harm not only fish but aquatic plants as well. Your fish are likely to die within 24 hours after nitrites reach their lethal values.
3. Nitrite and Algae
Having too much of nitrites may lead to an algae bloom because of the nutrients that are released into the water by dead bacteria when they decompose; therefore, you should eliminate both problems simultaneously: decrease nitrites and increase plants in your aquarium so that they can absorb this nutrient before algae do. Another way to deal with high levels of nitrites is to add a few live plants into your fish tank because they absorb nitrites from water. Also, you should lower the amount of light that is given to the aquarium and remove any decaying material.
4. How to lower Nitrites in Fish Tank
There are many different ways to lower nitrates: by using special filters such as Bio-Media/Bio Balls or Poly Foam; by converting them back into ammonium; by performing 50% water changes; and so on. In order to decrease high levels of ammonia or nitrite, you will need to use an additive called ALGONE which works by binding itself with excess nitrogen compounds and turns it into harmless ones (nitrate). This process is taking place inside a filter where it is trapped.
5. Keeping Aquarium Water Clean
In order to lower nitrates, you will need to keep your fish tank clean and to do that you should remove any organic substances as well as solid wastes manually or by using a vacuum system. As for substrate, it may be beneficial if you wash it in water with reverse osmosis and replace 20% of your aquarium volume every month (a 50% water change). You can buy a special brush called an ‘Aquarium Power Sponge’ from your local pet store which will help remove dust particles from the surface of decorations; however, avoid doing this while plants are having their photosynthesis period because they can become stressed out too easily.
6. Feeding amounts:
If you want to lower nitrates and keep your fish healthy, you will need to feed them smaller amounts of food at least four times a day. It is better if you do not use ordinary tap water; instead, try to find a source with low levels of nitrate and ammonia for feeding purposes only. Aside from regular water changes that are necessary in order to keep the aquarium clean and for lowering the level of toxic compounds such as nitrates, you will also need additional solutions that can clean up toxic waste efficiently.
7. Water Changes
You should change 50% of the water volume every month or two and include either ALGONE additive (0.25-1 ml per 10 liters) or potassium permanganate 0.5%- 1.0% to each liter of water that is being replaced. ALGONE works by binding with nitrogen compounds and turns them into harmless ones (nitrates) while potassium permanganate lowers the level of nitrites and oxidizes any organic material that went through decomposition process, slowing down its decay.
8. Keeping live plants:
If you want to lower nitrate levels in tank, you will need an abundance of plants as they are beneficial for several reasons. First, they can absorb nutrient before algae do; second, depending on their types you can grow either floating or submerse forms; third, you can adjust light conditions according to their requirements; fourth, some plants act as natural filtration system because they remove solid waste from water. Plants that are beneficial for a clean environment are red plants with leathery-textured leaves, i.e., Amazon sword plant (Echinodorus bleheri) or Madagascar lily (Agapanthus africanus).
See more: Best Aquarium Plants To Reduce Nitrates
11. Water Temperature
Warm water holds oxygen better than cold water; therefore, you should keep your fish tank at temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius in order to lower nitrate levels effectively. Cooler temperature is good for raising live food such as tadpoles while warmer temperature helps to increase their growth rate by providing more oxygen so that they become healthy quickly. In addition, the higher level of dissolved oxygen makes it possible to breathe easier underwater which in turn allows them to grow faster.
You will also need to lower temperature if you are keeping cold-blooded animals such as Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemiliopterus), Albino Cave Tetra (Astyanax fasciatus) or Black Phantom Tetra (Hemigrammus spp).
12. Avoiding copper and adding trace elements:
Avoid using copper products such as Cupramine which can be found in many medications for fish; instead, add a trace element which contains molybdenum and manganese in order to avoid copper toxicity.
These minerals aid the fish’s metabolism by releasing energy from organic substances they eat while not affecting water’s pH level at all. When it comes to hard water with higher levels of nitrate, plants can benefit from the molybdenum and manganese in trace elements but they cannot do so if there is too much of these minerals.
In order to lower nitrites you need more oxygen in the water; therefore, it is good to have a filter system which creates movement with its bubbles or a device like an aquarium air pump. If you are keeping fish that prefer well-oxygenated water such as cichlids (e.g., Severums) and catfish (e.g., Corydoras spp), you should get an air stone for increasing oxygen levels in your tank.
Puffer fish, on the other hand, don’t require extra oxygen because they are capable of storing air in their stomachs which serve as a secondary respiratory organ and is called “buoyancy compensation mechanism.” In addition, some fish species can live in waters with very low levels of dissolved oxygen such as Labyrinth fish (e.g., Silver dollars) or some catfish; still, if you plan to raise them, be careful not to put them in an aquarium with plants that might need extra high amounts.
14. Avoiding toxins:
To make sure nitrates level will lower effectively after initial stages of nitrogen cycle when the water contains ammonia and nitrite, it is necessary to add additional elements that will bind with toxic compounds the same way Kordon’s ALGONE does. Adding potassium permanganate or other products containing iron can lower nitrate levels, too.
15. Lowering other substances:
Many of the substrates used for decoration contain high levels of phosphate which in turn encourage algae growth as they are good fertilizers; therefore, you should choose decorations that don’t contain any added substances at all. You can also use natural pebbles and rocks from a nearby stream or river bed if you want to create an authentic underwater scene with a touch of nature at home.
16. Reducing nitrates by removing plants:
If your goal is to eliminate protein skimmers due to their many unwanted disadvantages , you will need to remove certain tank inhabitants so that more nutrients won’t be available for undesirable organisms such as filamentous algae. Since live plants are one of the best ways to create such habitat, your only solution is to cull some fish species from your tank once they reach an adult size; however, it might be a hard decision if you are keeping community fish tanks with many species as you will have to remove them and set them free in order to lower nitrate levels.
If you want to use this technique for raising new generations of aquarium fish then it is better not to feed them at all for a week or two before setting them free. This way they won’t have any reserves available inside their bodies which can potentially make them survive outside the tank for longer periods in case that doesn’t work out well, i.e., due to the lack of food or other factors.
16a. Nitrate levels in Marine Aquariums:
Fish keepers should also know that nitrates can be removed from saltwater aquariums by lowering pH to 7.2-7.4 and doing a large water change with dechlorinator solution such as Kordon’s RODI; however, if you want to avoid fish loss this method is not recommended for marine tanks because the sudden pH drop might cause osmotic shock which is lethal for many species out there, especially the ones that are not suitable for low levels of carbonate (e.g., Cornish rex cichlids). The same thing will happen if you lower alkalinity; therefore, it is always better to give your marine fish species some time to adapt to such drastic changes by making small modifications and test the water for nitrate levels.
16b. Nitrate removal in Marine Tanks:
If you are planning to have a marine aquarium then be sure that it will contain at least 30% of natural rock or live sand which helps lowering nitrates effectively because those products provide biofilters with biogenic surfaces (live rock) or scavenge nutrients from the environment by utilizing various bacteria which grow on their surface (reef sand). This way, waste can be broken down into its elements and absorbed by organisms that colonize rocks and sands; therefore, they will not produce excessive amounts of nitrates as well as other substances that can be problematic.
As additional steps you should remove coraline algae and clean your aquarium tank regularly using products such as Kordon’s ALGONE which might not get rid of nitrates instantly but will lower them effectively if used properly over a period of time (ideally once per month).
Also, it is recommended to use dechlorinator solutions made for marine tanks like Kordon’s RODI because the levels of chemicals in tap water differ greatly from one location to another rendering some types ineffective while others can poison your fish within a short period of time if added without proper cleaning equipment.
16c. Fish loss risk:
Kordon also recommends lowering ammonia as much as possible to reduce fish death risk by 50% since this deadly substance can build up in an uncycled aquarium, especially when organic wastes are being broken down by bacterial colonies that have not been established yet.
Since the risk of fish dying off at this point is very high it is essential to do frequent water changes (ideally 25%) for the first 2-3 weeks so that ammonia doesn’t accumulate too much inside your tank. At this stage you should also pay attention to nitrite levels since they must remain as low as possible while ammonia level goes up and down until both are eliminated completely; therefore, you will need to test your tank water regularly until there are no more signs of these deadly substances.
After ammonia and nitrate levels drop to zero all you need to do is maintain them by doing regular water changes (ideally 25% once per week) and keep an eye on pH levels which might drop during this process since it is a known fact that nitrate levels are higher when pH decreases.
16d. What we know about nitrates:
Fishkeepers commonly ask how to lower nitrates in their tanks; however, they should also know why they are interested in lowering them at all. Well, the answer is simple because too much of anything can prove harmful if not deadly especially for fish species that cannot tolerate low amounts of nitrate or may become too stressed due to sudden changes in environment no matter how small they might be; therefore, maintaining correct concentrations will reduce stress risk as well as chances of diseases occurring to your lovely little fish.
16e. Nitrate levels:
Nitrates are a form of nitrogen compound that is found in high amounts in tap water which then gets accumulated in your aquarium unless you do regular water changes or utilize other techniques to lower nitrate levels; therefore, it is essential to get properly acquainted with its basic characteristics so that you can understand the methods that need to be used to lower them.
16f. Desired level for Aquarium:
14-20 ppm NO3 (nitrate) – This level can be considered acceptable provided you have a large number of corals and/or invertebrates in your tank as well as types such as Arothron meleagris and Siganus canaliculatus which are susceptible to nitrite and ammonia spikes; this level is also considered acceptable if you plan to utilize sand but have an efficient biofilter.
16g. Effect on Fish:
0-10 ppm NO3 – There are no cons associated with levels in other ranges because zero level will kill all types of fish while over 30 ppm can stress them so much that their immune system weakens making them more susceptible to disease as well as any change in environment, no matter how small it might be.
16h. Nitrate and Algae:
Algae grows at a constant rate regardless of the levels of nitrogen compounds since they need only phosphates in order to grow; therefore, even if there is not enough nutrients left in water to feed algae it will still consume as much of it as possible since its growth is fast and excessive just like other plant life.