Nitrate Poisoning in Bait Tanks
Although less toxic than ammonia and nitrite,
excess nitrate causes stress making a fish s organs work harder to adjust to
The increasing stress results in the fish losing the ability to fight
diseases, heal themselves and reproduce. The only way to avoid losing fish to this condition is by prevention.
Ideally no more than 25ppm should be present but the lower the better. Nitrate is the result of the nitrification process
therefore it will always be present.
Another sign that nitrate levels are high is the appearance of
algae thrives in water where nitrate levels are above 10ppm so keeping
nitrate levels low will also help reduce the outbreak of algae.
Symptoms of Nitrate Poisoning in Fish:
There are several symptoms which may indicate the condition but they are the
same as general poisoning making a positive diagnosis very difficult.
Some or all of the following symptoms will be present.
Very erect fins.
Unaware of surroundings.
Loss of balance
Action to remove Nitrate from your bait tank:
Once the symptoms are showing it is usually to late to save the fish.
If the fish came from neglected water with a high Nitrate content and then
was placed in clean water it is possible the fish will go into shock and the
symptoms will begin to show 24 to 48 hrs later.
If possible return the fish to the original water and carry out partial
water changes of 10% daily to gradually make the transition to clean water.
There is only one sure way of controlling nitrate levels and that is to do
regular partial water change. The correct way to determine the water change
needs of you tank is to test the water Ph and nitrate levels before and
after water changes, if the Ph is lower and the nitrate is higher after a
water change than the result after the previous water change that the
frequency or amount need to be increased.
If the fish is generally unwell due to a high Nitrate level again make a
slow improvement in the water quality by making small daily water changes of
no more than 10% until the Nitrate level is at a reasonable level.
Nitrate is often overlooked as a potential problem but it is
still toxic to fish if enough of it is present.
It is easily prevented from rising to high by carrying out regular partial
water changes and by checking the water any new fish arrive in so that any
adjustments can be made slowly. Even if you look after your tank's and keep
the Nitrate levels low doesn't mean you are immune to the problem because if
you buy a fish which comes from water with a high Nitrate content it will
need to be slowly acclimated over several days or it could go into shock and
it could easily die as a result.
All changes should be made slowly.
The exception to this is where there is a toxin present such as high
Nitrite levels where if left the fish would probably die anyway.
You can establish a naturally occurring bacteria cycle that converts Ammonia
to Nitrite and in turn, to the less toxic Nitrate known as the Nitrogen
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