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Using Lava Rocks
To Remove Nitrates from Aquarium Water. 
Click here now to buy a bag of Lava Rocks.
     
Every freshwater aquarium and fish bowl should contain the appropriate amount of Lava Rock, which provide the ideal living  environment for beneficial denitrifying bacteria. These bacteria will remove nitrates and greatly improve the quality of the water.
     
Denitrifying Lava Rocks for Aquariums, Fish Bowls, and Ponds.
   
Click here now to buy a bag of Denitrifying Lava Rock, like one shown just above .These Lava Rocks are very porous, which allows the aquarium water to diffuse through the rocks. As the water passes through the rocks, beneficial nitrifying bacteria consume all the oxygen in that water to produce an anaerobic environment inside these rocks.
    
In this anaerobic environment denitrifying bacteria consume nitrate and produce oxygen and nitrogen. More than 40-parts-per-million of nitrate in aquarium water is not good for most types of fish and aquatic invertebrates like crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. These Lava Rocks are the best way to remove the nitrate.
 
 
 
Corydoras Catfish at AquariumFish.net
   
Corydoras Catfish at AquariumFish.net
   
Shown above, a beautiful Gold Line Corydoras Catfish swimming between some pieces of Lava Rock on the bottom of one of our aquariums. We have Lava Rocks like these in all of our aquariums and fish bowls.
 
 
 
African Dwarf Frogs at AquariumFish.net
   
Just above, an African Dwarf Frog living in an aquarium with several pieces of Lava Rock that always keep the nitrates low, which is very important for frogs.
 
Click here to shop online for African Dwarf Frogs.
 
 
 
   
Above, a Red Sakura Shrimp loves to examine Lava Rocks for tiny bits of food to eat.
 
Click here to shop online for Red Sakura Shrimp
   
Lets Start over at the Beginning.
You feed the fish in your aquarium or fish bowl, and much of that food is converted into ammonia in the fish's waste. Ammonia is very toxic to fish and must be removed. Beneficial nitrifying bacteria combine ammonia and oxygen in the water to produce nitrite, which is still very toxic to fish but usually not as toxic as ammonia. So this is an improvement in the water quality!
   
Next another type of beneficial nitrifying bacteria combine that nitrite with more oxygen to produce nitrate, which is still toxic to fish in concentrations of more than about 40-parts-per-million, but less toxic than the nitrite. So this is another improvement.
   
As aquarium water diffuses through Lava Rocks, beneficial denitrifying bacteria, living inside the lava rocks, convert the nitrate to oxygen and nitrogen, which are both harmless, and this completes the process of converting very toxic ammonia to non-toxic oxygen and nitrogen.
   
For a Long Time ...
Many aquarists, including the Bailey Brothers, were told that nitrate dissolved in aquarium water was harmless to fish, but we've now  learned this is not true. Nitrate in concentrations above 40-parts-per-million is harmful. The best way to control nitrate is to have the right amount of Lava Rock in your aquariums and fish bowls.
   
Where do you put the Lava Rocks?
The Lava Rocks must be in the aquarium water. You can use them as ornaments. They look natural and pretty good. They do not need to be in an aquarium filter.
   
Will any old Rocks Work?
No! Rocks may contain insect sprays and other toxins that are very poisonous to fish. Some types of rock, including many types of Lava Rock, contain minerals that are not good in aquariums. Even if the rock is non-toxic, it also needs to be porous. Most Lava Rocks are porous. The Lava Rocks shown at the top of this page have been carefully chosen and tested to produce many good results and few bad results. Of course, as with any natural material, something could occasionally go wrong.
   
Can the Nitrate get too Low?
Yes! If the concentration of nitrate in aquarium water gets very low, yet another type of bacteria can begin to produce hydrogen-sulfide, which is extremely toxic to fish. So ideally it is probably best to try to keep the concentration of nitrate between about 20 and 40-parts-per-million.
   
Jungle Quick Dip 5-in-1 Aquarium Water Test Strips.
   
How to Test for Nitrate?
We use Aquarium Water Test Strips, shown in the picture just above. They are rather inexpensive, seem to be pretty accurate, and are quick and easy to use. Just take a small strip out of the container, dip it in aquarium water, and the colors on the strip indicate the amounts of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and the pH of the water. Click here to learn more about these Aquarium Water Test Strips.
   
If your Nitrate goes too Low.
If you test for nitrate, using the Aquarium Water Test Strips, and the reading is below 20-parts-per-million, we recommend removing some of the Lava Rocks, then wait a few days and test again. If the nitrate is still below 20-ppm, remove some more of the Lava Rocks. Adjust the amount of Lava Rocks in your aquarium until the nitrate is between 20 and 40ppm of nitrate. This is really kind of fun, not much work, and will greatly improve the water quality in your aquarium.
   
Lava Rocks in a Fish Bowl?
Yes! Every fish bowl should have a nice piece of Lava Rock, which is kind of decorative and will greatly improve the water quality in the fish bowl. One piece of Lava Rock is usually enough. Just like with an aquarium, you should test the water in the fish bowl with Aquarium Water Test Strips, then adjust the amount of Lava Rock, which may require you to break a piece of Lava Rock into smaller pieces and put a smaller piece of Lava Rock back in your fish bowl. It doesn't take much Lava Rock to reduce the nitrate in a fish bowl to a safe concentration.
 
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Lava Rocks in a Pond?
Yes and no. First test the water in your pond, using Aquarium Water Test Strips, mentioned above on this page. If the test strips show nitrate is below 20-ppm or above 40-ppm, you should take action.
 
Above 40-ppm you should add some Lava Rocks to grow the beneficial denitrifying bacteria that will remove the nitrate. Below 20-ppm you should investigate or seek help with your pond's water quality. Because with very low levels of nitrate another type of bacteria may start to produce hydrogen-sulfide, which is very toxic to all fish.
   
Lava Rocks in Saltwater Aquariums?  
Probably not. Saltwater aquariums usually have other ways of dealing with nitrate, such as live rock and deep sand beds.  
   
Pet Fish Talk, an MP3 PodCast, is a weekly internet talk show about keeping pet fish, such as Tropical Fish and goldfish, in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds. The shows were hosted by the Bailey Brothers, DrTom and Nevin, Click on this image for more information.  
Click here to hear the special discussion by DrTom and Nevin Bailey about denitrification of aquarium water.
 
   
Pet Fish Talk, an MP3 PodCast, is a weekly internet talk show about keeping pet fish, such as Tropical Fish and goldfish, in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds. The shows were hosted by the Bailey Brothers, DrTom and Nevin, Click on this image for more information.  
Click here to hear the special discussion by DrTom and Nevin Bailey about aquarium water quality.
 
     

Customer Comments

 
Hello Bailey Brothers! While I wait hopefully for a new show I thought I would take this moment to ask a question about Lava Rock. I went to Lowes and picked up a bag of red Lava Rock. Soaked it for about a week until most of the sediment was gone. 
 
I have a colleague who let me experiment on his tank (ok ok I was too chicken to try it in mine) He has feeder goldfish and is not terrible attached to them. I however am very attached to my fish  So I first tested his water and noticed that his ammonia and nitrates were off the charts.
 
I quickly told him to do some waters changes to get that under control.  I went ahead and dropped a few rocks in his tank to see what would happen. I have tested his water every day for about 2 weeks weeks with no real change in his nitrates. They are about 100ppm. 
 
So I decided to take some of my water and put it in a bowl with some  of the Lava Rock to see if I would see any changes there. I don't really know if this is a good experiment or not. I have just tested the water and the Nitrates are high about 80ppm. 
 
Is there something I am doing wrong? The bowl maybe has a cup of water and about 13 pieces of small red Lava Rock.  Thank you for all your help and everything else you do.  Hopefully you guys are not hanging up your hats on the show.  Take care and fish on!
 
Jose From Maryland
 
   
Reply: Hi Jose and thank you for your interesting email. We think the Lava Rocks that you're testing probably don't yet contain enough of the beneficial denitrifying bacteria.
 
It may take many months for the bacteria to colonize your Lava Rocks, and that's one reason that we recommend ONEdersave's Eco-Bio Products, which are made of Lava Rock that are already seeded with the denitrifying bacteria.
 
Click here to learn more about Eco-Bio Products.

 
We have ONEdersave products in each of our personal aquariums, but we also use Lava Rock, like those that you bought, in the aquariums in our business. However, apparently we were lucky and got Lava Rock that was already seeded with the beneficial denitrifying bacteria.
 
How did that happen? Well the Lava Rock that we bought must have been extracted from a place that had been exposed to water like a riverbed, where that Lava Rock was populated with denitrifying bacteria.
 
It was a big surprise to us, when the nitrates in our water began to immediately decline. Otherwise we would have had to wait, until the denitrifying bacteria colonized our Lava Rocks.
 
By the way you want to keep the nitrates in your aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds between about 20ppm and about 40ppm. So 100ppm is high, but not really extremely high. Before we began using Lava Rocks in all of our aquariums and aquarium systems, our nitrates often test at 160 and higher, which is dangerous for almost all fish.
 
When we added Lava Rocks, the nitrate came down in a few days to right about 20ppm. Our Lava Rocks worked like a miracle, but as we stated, we were lucky. Once your Lava Rocks become populated with denitrifying bacteria, your nitrate should come down to about 20ppm like ours did.
 
Where do you get some denitrifying bacteria to begin the colonization process in your Lava Rocks. There are some in every aquarium, fish bowl, and pond, but it takes a while for them to migrate to your Lava Rocks and then begin to multiply, until eventually there will be enough of them to reduce the nitrates in your aquarium water.
 
This can take as long as many months. That's why we recommend the ONEdersave Products, which begin to work immediately. Click here to shop online for Eco-Bio Stones now.
 
If the ammonia in your aquarium is also high, as you mentioned above, then it needs to be digested by nitrifying bacteria, which are usually different from the denitrifying bacteria.
 
The best way to do that is with a Bio-Wheel filter, as we've mentioned during many of the Pet Fish Talk Shows, and the Eco-Bio Stones will also help with the nitrifying bacteria that grow on the surface of those Stones.
 
The denitrifying bacteria live in the interior of the Stones, where the oxygen is low and so they use nitrate as an oxidizer instead of oxygen.
 
Perhaps we should mention here that ONEdersave does not advertise their products for denitrification, though they may mention it on their web site. They recommend their products as a safe haven for nitrifying bacteria, but we know that their products work for both nitrification and denitrification, and both of these processes are very important in aquariums.
 
Thanks again for your interesting email.
 
 

Customer Comments

Hello
 
My name is Bill and I was interested in some info about lava rock and denitrification. I am trying to determine how much lava rock per gallon to use and if the size of each rock matters for denitrification. I have a 135 gallon aquarium and a 90 gallon sump. My goal is zero nitrates.
 
Thanks for you help
 
Bill V.
 
   
Reply: Hi Bill, thank you for your email. We don't know of anyway to calculate or estimate the amount of lava rock to use. But here's what we do. First, we test our aquarium water for nitrates using an inexpensive test strip.
 
Click here for information about these test strips, which seem to be accurate enough for this project.

 
If the nitrates test between 20 and 40 ppm, then you don't need to do anything. If the nitrates are a little bit above 40 ppm, you might change 20% of the water and retest. Maybe you just need to do more partial water changes. If your nitrates remain too high above 40 ppm, then add some aquarium-safe lava rocks, and retest in a few days.
 
Keep testing and adding or removing lava rocks, until your nitrates are between 20 and 40 ppm. By the way sometimes the lava rocks will start removing nitrate in a a couple of days, but sometimes it takes several weeks.
 
Why? If the lava rocks already contain plenty of denitrifying bacteria, those bacteria will come out of stasis in a couple of days and start removing nitrates. On the other hand if the lava rocks do not contain plenty of denitrifying bacteria, they will need to start invading the lava rocks and slowly multiply before they can reduce the nitrate in the aquarium water.
 
This is sort of analogous to establishing the nitrifying bacteria in an aquarium.
 
You mentioned that your goal is zero nitrates, but this is dangerous! It's good to have zero ammonia and zero nitrites, but not zero nitrates, because zero nitrates will encourage bacteria in the lava rock to start using sulfates as an oxidizer and producing hydrogen sulfide, which is very poisonous to fish. The presence of 20 to 40 ppm of nitrates inhibits the production of hydrogen sulfide.
 
Remember, keeping nitrates between 20 and 40 ppm is very important to almost all freshwater fish.
 
I hope this information helps you and your fish.
 
 

Customer Comments

 
Hey AquariumFish.net,
 
I watched a video on Youtube that was selling a big device that removes nitrate from aquarium water. The device had lots of adjustments and required adding vodka - yes vodka. The video also said it was very good because it reduces nitrate to 0, as in none.
 
All of this is quite different than your advice, and I just wonder if your method with lava rock, which costs a lot less and is much easier, will work as well.
 
Bubba
Da FishMan
 
   
Reply. Hi Bubba, and thank you for your email. Actually over the years we've seen lots of these devices and even bought some.
 
All the ones we bought were very expensive, very complicated, and required lots of adjusting. Plus they did not work as well as the Lava Rock, which require no adjusting at all!
 
Unfortunately there is lots of really bad advice about aquarium equipment, and using a device to lower nitrates to 0, as in none, is one of the worst pieces of advice.
 
As mentioned above, if an aquarium has 0 nitrates, then other bacteria will begin to convert sulfates into hydrogen sulfide, which is very poisonous and smelly. From time to time I've been able to smell hydrogen sulfide from an aquarium, and the fish in those aquariums all looked poor.
 
Lava Rock is cheap, works great, and is adjustment and maintenance free. It's like a miracle. Very important to the health of your. So just get some and pop it into your aquarium, while keeping your money in your pocket and the vodka in the bottle! ;^ }
 
5 Important Aquarium Products

For excellent health, pet fish need very good food and very good water conditions. These five products are very important.

 
Premium Fish Food Flakes
Premium Fish Food Pellets
DrTim's Water Conditioner
DrTim's WasteAway
Denitrifying Lava Rocks
 
Click here now to learn more and add one or more of these products to your fish order.
 
   
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Click on this ad to go to Graystone Creations for Pond Pumps, Pond Kits, and Pond Supplies.
 
 
Click here to verify our "PayPal Reputation", which shows we have been selling on PayPal since 2002, and we've sold items to thousands of satisfied customers.
 
 Best Selling Books 
     
  Click here now to order The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums, a bestselling reference, offering an easy-to-understand look at setting up and maintaining a successful first freshwater aquarium.
     
  Click here now to order The New Marine Aquarium: Step-By-Step setup and stocking Guide, the best selling book about starting a new marine aquarium.
     
  Click here now to order 500 Freshwater Aquarium Fish: A Visual Reference to the Most Popular Species, a beautiful book, lovingly written and illustrated, with information for the beginner or the longtime enthusiast.
     
  Click here now to order Fancy Goldfish: A Complete Guide ... by Eric L. Johnson, DMV, and Richard E. Hess. The most encompassing and thorough treatment of the fancy goldfish hobby to date. Hardcover with 176 pages.
 
Click here now for many more fishy books.
We hope these suggestions help!  ;^ }
 
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