Tropical Fish Aquarist

Ask a Question

The 7 Best Beginning Tropical Fish Species For Starting A New Aquarium

Now Available On Kindle

No Kindle? Read It On Many Devices, Free Downloads

Enter Your Email Address and once a week, we'll send you the most highly shared Tropical Fish video of the week

Aquarium Equipment

Nitrate Removal – A New Aquarium Filtration Technology

Since people have been keeping fish, the water change has been a vital part of the the health of the fish being kept.  The smaller the aquarium, the more important the removal and replacement of the water in the container.  Nitrate removal is the main reason for this.  It is the final compound produced when ammonia is detoxified to nitrite and then finally to nitrate.  Nitrate removal is required since it does not dissipate over time and can become quite dangerous for fish in high enough concentrations.

We are lucky that the concentration does need to be rather high to hurt the fish.  Since it does build up constantly, though, it has been a problem for aquarists for a very long time.  Although many have tried, there really has never been a good way to automate nitrate removal in any meaningful way.  European aquariums in the early days tried to do much if this by lightly populating their tanks and densely planting them.  This allowed the plants access to abundant nitrate for their growth requirements.  But in most cases, even densely planted aquariums still over produced nitrate, more than the plants could use.  In addition, when this crowded with plants, carbon dioxide was often required to permit the proper growth f the plants.

Other styles of filters, such as nitrate boxes have been tried. These segregate a volume into an anaerobic chamber with very low flow of water through it. By forcing bacteria to switch from aerobic use of ammonia and nitrite to produce nitrate, to anaerobic use of nitrate to produce nitrite and a whole pile of other toxic gases.  It was never a favourite solution of mine.   Electronic solutions have been tried, as have specific filter media designed to remove nitrate through special resins are now available.

Through all of this, the most effective way to remove nitrate has always been the partial water change that removes a high concentration of nitrate and replaced it with water with low or no concentration of nitrate – this dilutes the concentration and makes the water safer for the fish.  This of course takes work on the aquarist’s part.

AquaponicsThere is new and very exciting technology becoming popular that is possibly the most important food production style that has ever been possible.  Aquaponics combines keeping fish with growing organic vegetables, herbs and fruits in quantities and efficiency that has never been seen before.

Using terrestrial plants for nitrate removal from the tank and purifies the water for the fish living in your home aquarium. The book outlines a DIY aquaponics system that can be retrofit to a 20 gallon tank – 24″ x 12″.

My new book has just been published on kindle called Aquaponics Systems for the Freshwater Tropical Fish Keeper. Aquaponics is the way to remove nitrate from an aquarium safely and actually get a return in the form of organically grown plants that can become part of your dinner.

Done well, there is no loss of looks for the home so they can be integrated into anyplace where an aquarium is located. I have personally dropped the amount of filtration used for the tank ( went from a leaking Fluval 205 to an internal Fluval Nano sponge filter). Now all that is used for a 20 gallon is a small pump and an internal power sponge filter. The bioload has even been increased to give the plants enough nitrate to grow!!!

Nitrate Removal is natural using an Aquaponic Filter

So many resources are wasted to grow GMO foods on factory farms. The foods that result are questionable, if not downright dangerous to human health. It only makes sense to use a resource you have in your home, an aquarium, and retrofit it to begin to explore the methods to start to grow your own safe, organic foods. No real need to change the fish you are keeping, or lose the tranquil setting, it just adds a large growing area right above that finally makes the dream of nitrate removal a reality for fish keepers and people who want safe food as well.


Steve Pond, of Tropical Fish Aquarist, has kept fish both personally and professionally for over 50 years.  He writes regularly on the wide range of current topics that are important to people who keep tropical fish tanks as a passion and a hobby.

Tagged , ,

About blueram

Steve Pond, of Tropical Fish Aquarist, has kept fish both personally and professionally for over 50 years.  He writes regularly on the wide range of current topics that are important to people who keep tropical fish tanks as a passion and a hobby.

View all posts by blueram →

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *