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Thread: Nitrite in tap water

  1. #16
    Silver Member Willie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    So the nitrification reaction proceeds from NH3 (ammonia) -> NO2 (nitrite) -> NO3 (nitrate). The kinetics of this process is that NH3 -> NO2 proceeds comparatively slow, while the reaction of NO2 -> NO3 proceeds rapidly. So in effect, NO2 does not accumulate in the water during nitrification. Fundamental biochemistry, cannot be changed.

    When the tank is cycling (NH3 -> NO2), there's a brief phase (very brief) when nitrite levels shoot up. Then just as quickly, it drops down because the NO2 -> NO3 reaction occurs so fast. When the tank is fully cycled, there is no accumulation of NO2 for that reason.

    So, in brief, NO2 can only be measured in a system that's going through cycling. I cannot imagine a situation in which the source of your tap water is going through cycling.

    Hope that helps, Willie
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    Nitrite can also be
    formed chemically in distribution pipes by Nitrosomonas bacteria during stagnation of
    nitrate-containing and oxygen-poor drinking-water in galvanized steel pipes or if
    chloramination is used to provide a residual disinfectant and the process is not
    sufficiently well controlled.


    Chloramination may give rise to the formation of nitrite within the distribution
    system, and the concentration of nitrite may increase as the water moves towards the
    extremities of the system. Nitrification in distribution systems can increase nitrite
    levels, usually by 0.2–1.5 mg of nitrite per litre, but potentially by more than 3 mg of
    nitrite per litre (AWWARF, 1995).

    Excerpts from: Nitrate and nitrite in drinking-water
    Background document for development of
    WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality

    I'd get a new/different kit or try and find your local water report. I found the Dallas report and it does list nitrite and nitrate at measurable levels, but focuses on contaminants and doesn't list other parameters like hardness or pH etc.

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    Thanks everyone, some very interesting information here. I have never delved that deep into water parameters, mostly because I never considered they could be so mad!

    So I got my seachem ammonia test and tested (with the longer, more accurate version) my currently active goldfish/newt tank and got a reading of 0 free and .01 total, I then tested from my 24 hour aged tub and got 0 free and then I think over 5ppm total as the spot turned purple and the guide strip only went to blue! I'm going to do a straight from the tap test tonight....

    I'm guessing that as there is no free ammonia, this is a good sign, however how much less toxic is the rest? I have read that as long as there is no free, then high readings are ok, others say that any ammonia is bad ammonia. I can also imagine this is going to create a higher concentration of nitrates in the end, so more water changes for me!

    I have just bought the Seachem nitrite/nitrate test, may as well keep going with the research (Liz, I am far too tenacious sometimes, it's exhausting, but only happens when I really, really want something, which isn't often!:P) I am also going to the local fish store on Saturday to get my tap water tested and discuss with them, and also to have a look at some awesome display tanks, in case I need any help making decisions... I am at a rock and a hard place right now, trying to decide if I have the time and willpower to deal with Discus if my water is going to be so difficult, I don't mind a challenge but I don't want to stress myself or my fish if I am banging my head against a wall and forcing them to live in unpleasant surroundings, however I have no idea at this stage whether my water readings are a Really Bad Thing, or just a Thing, and aging my water and having a good filter and water change regime will fix it all! (Or if I should have different fish in the meantime, learn to deal with the water/get a big volume RO system and then make it a goal for a year or so's time)

    However, all my testing has already helped my goldfish, i'm in the middle of naturally buffering their water to raise the PH for them, as at least that result is consistent at 6.4 after aging!

  4. #19
    Moderator Team LizStreithorst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    If James doesn't see your question about the ammonia I'll shoot him a PM. He knows more about water than anyone I know.
    Last edited by LizStreithorst; 07-12-2019 at 05:43 PM.
    Mama Bear

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    The ratio of NH4 : NH3 is governed by temp and pH. High temp and high pH increases the NH3. NH3 (free ammonia) is much more toxic than ionised NH4. I'm pretty sure that those ammonia blocking products just shift all of the NH3 to NH4 "detoxifying" it. Having said that >5ppm is high, too high for sensitive fish IMO.

  6. #21
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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    Conversion of Ammonia (toxic) to ammonium ('non-toxic') is a pH phenomenon, temperature matters but the range we are talking about 20 - 30C we can essentially ignore it.
    At pH 9.2 it is 1:1, at 8.2 it is 10:1 Ammonium/Ammonia, 7.2 100:1 and 6.2 1000:1.


    Your goldfish tank has no ammonia and has a cycled filter (probably), hopefully your nitrite is also 0 and you have measurable nitrate.

    What is the pH of the 24h aged tub? If it is 6.4 then it makes sense that your free is low and total is high.

    My guess is that your source water has chloramines, this would explain the transient nitrite measurement and the high total ammonia measurement after aging.

    If you have a spare sponge filter run it in the goldfish tank for a week or so then put it in a bucket with fresh tap water. After a day the pH should've dropped, the total AND free ammonia should be low/zero, nitrite maybe measurable and nitrates measurable 10-20ppm.

    All of this points to needing to age your water with a cycled sponge filter to aerate and detoxify the nitrogen species.

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    Default Re: Nitrite in tap water

    Thank you everyone so much! Some really awesome information in here. I have actually set up a 5 gallon tank and seeded it with some media from my goldfish tank - will be keeping a note of what happens in my "main" thread if anyone else is interested - http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showth...uestions/page3

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