The effect of inorganic suspended solids (ISS) on nitrification in freshwater samples has been described inconsistently and remains unclear. This study therefore investigated the effects of the chemical characteristics and concentration of ISS on the nitrification rate by focusing on Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter winogradskyi as the two most dominant nitrification species in freshwater. Batch-wise experiments were conducted using three chemically well-characterized ISS (i.e. the clay minerals montmorillonite, sericite, and kaolinite in the concentration range 0–1,000 mg L−1). The results show that the ammonium oxidation rate constant (kNH4) was significantly affected by the ISS type, whereas changes in the ISS concentration had an insignificant effect on kNH4, except for kaolinite. The highest kNH4 was observed in samples containing sericite (kNH4, 0.067 L mg−1 day−1), followed by samples containing montmorillonite (kNH4, 0.044 L mg−1 day−1). The ammonium oxidation rate was low in the control and kaolinite samples. Nitrite oxidation was enhanced in the presence of all types of ISS. The rate constants of ISS-mediated nitrite oxidation (kNO2, 0.13–0.21 L mg−1 day−1) were not significantly different among the three types of ISS, but kNO2 was significantly affected by ISS concentration. Overall, our study indicated various effects of the ISS type and concentration on nitrification and, in particular, a notable positive effect of sericite.