RE: NANFA-- water quality lessons

Irate Mormon (
Thu, 26 Jun 2003 17:23:12 -0500

Steffen, thanks for the treatise on the nitrogen cycle, but that is not
I was asking. I want to explain the difference of "nitrate nitrogen"
"nitrate" and what test kits test for. Likewise, the difference between
"ortho-phosphate" and "phosphate" There are several different species
these compounds but which are the important ones from an aquarists point
view? I agree, for all intents and purposes there should be no ammonia
nitrite (although there has to be some in minute quantities) and like
for nitrate and phosphates. The question is, what is useable to algae,
Thanks for taking the time.

Maybe somebody already answered this, but I think all common
reagent-based test kits are reacting to nitrate, NO3. Now, some kits
are calibrated to report the amount of actual nitrate in ppm, while some
report nitrate nitrogen - that is, an adjustment is made for the weight
of the nitrate ion vs. just the nitrogen component. Without dragging
out a periodic table, I think the adjustment factor is on the order of
4.4 or something like that.

As to phosphate vs. orthophosphate, I haven't a clue. I slept through
most of my organic chemistry classes |-/
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