Nitrate Poisoning in Bait Tanks


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 their environment. 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 excessive algae,
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.

Glazed eyes.
Heightened coloration.
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 Ammonia or Nitrite levels where if left the fish would probably die anyway.

The Nitrogen Cycle

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 cycle.

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