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Does the presence of nitrates affect water quality? Unlike temperature and dissolved oxygen, the presence of normal levels of nitrates usually does not have a direct effect on aquatic insects or fish. However, excess levels of nitrates in water can create conditions that make it difficult for aquatic insects or fish to survive.
Algae and other plants use nitrates as a source of food. If algae have an unlimited source of nitrates, their growth is unchecked. So, Why is that a problem? Large amounts of algae can cause extreme fluctuations in dissolved oxygen.
Water's the Matter-- Introduction: Nitrates
Photosynthesis by algae and other plants can generate oxygen during the day. However, at night, dissolved oxygen may decrease to very low levels as a result of large numbers of oxygen consuming bacteria feeding on dead or decaying algae and other plants. These typically promote excessive growth of algae. As the algae die and decompose, high levels of organic matter and the decomposing organisms deplete the water of available oxygen, causing the death of other organisms, such as fish.
Anoxia — Anoxic Event: Anoxia is a lack of oxygen caused by excessive nutrients in waterways which triggers algae growth. When the plants die and decay, oxygen is stripped from the water, which then turns green or milky white and gives off a strong rotten egg odour. The lack of oxygen is often deadly for invertebrates, fish and shellfish. Can the presence of nitrates affect human health? People who use wells as a source of drinking water need to monitor the level of nitrates in their well water.
If you drink water that is high in nitrates, it can interfere with the ability of your red blood cells to transport oxygen. Just like dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH, the amount of nitrates in water is determined by both natural processes and human intervention. A body of water may be naturally high in nitrates or have elevated nitrate levels as a result of careless human activities.
Definition of Water Quality Parameters
Why do we need nitrogen? What are the sources of Nitrogen? Nitrogen is essential for all living things: Nitrogen forms a part of the proteins and DNA that are found in cells. Animals get nitrogen by eating plants and other animals.
Just like animals, plants require nitrogen to grow and survive. But they do not get nitrogen by consuming proteins like animals do. Plants get nitrogen from water and from the soil. They get nitrogen by absorbing it in the form of nitrates and ammonium. Nitrates are the major source of nitrogen for aquatic plants. Nitrates are not utilized by aquatic organisms such as fish and aquatic insects, but nitrates are used by aquatic plants.
Where do Nitrates come from?
Nitrates and Their Effect on Water Quality – A Quick Study | Wheatley River Improvement Group
All aquatic organisms excrete wastes and aquatic plants and organisms eventually die. These activities create ammonia.
Some bacteria in the water change this ammonia to produce nitrite which is then converted by other bacteria to nitrate. Nitrates NO3- are an oxidized form of nitrogen and are formed by combining oxygen and nitrogen. Nitrates also come from the earth.
Dissolved Oxygen Dissolved oxygen is oxygen gas molecules O2 present in the water. Plants and animals cannot directly use the oxygen that is part of the water molecule H2Oinstead depending on dissolved oxygen for respiration.
Oxygen enters streams from the surrounding air and as a product of photosynthesis from aquatic plants. Consistently high levels of dissolved oxygen are best for a healthy ecosystem.
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Levels of dissolved oxygen vary depending on factors including water temperature, time of day, season, depth, altitude, and rate of flow. Water at higher temperatures and altitudes will have less dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen reaches its peak during the day. At night, it decreases as photosynthesis has stopped while oxygen consuming processes such as respiration, oxidation, and respiration continue, until shortly before dawn.
Human factors that affect dissolved oxygen in streams include addition of oxygen consuming organic wastes such as sewage, addition of nutrients, changing the flow of water, raising the water temperature, and the addition of chemicals.
Most plants cannot use it in this form. However, blue-green algae and legumes have the ability to convert N2 gas into nitrate NO3-which can be used by plants. Plants use nitrate to build protein, and animals that eat plants also use organic nitrogen to build protein. This ammonium is eventually oxidized by bacteria into nitrite NO2- and then into nitrate.
In this form it is relatively common in freshwater aquatic ecosystems.
Nitrate thus enters streams from natural sources like decomposing plants and animal waste as well as human sources like sewage or fertilizer. For a sensitive fish such as salmon the recommended concentration is 0. Water with low dissolved oxygen may slow the rate at which ammonium is converted to nitrite NO2- and finally nitrate NO Nitrite and ammonium are far more toxic than nitrate to aquatic life.
Phosphate Phosphorus in small quantities is essential for plant growth and metabolic reactions in animals and plants. It is the nutrient in shortest supply in most fresh waters, with even small amounts causing significant plant growth and having a large effect on the aquatic ecosystem.
Phosphate-induced algal blooms may initially increase dissolved oxygen via photosynthesis, but after these blooms die more oxygen is consumed by bacteria aiding their decomposition.