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What You Need To Know About Nitrifying Bacteria


Canadianeh

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I am still cycling my tank. 14 days in now.

My tank seems to be able to consume 2 ppm of ammonia within 24 hours. However, it seems very slow in consuming the Nitrites and bring it to 0 or close to 0 at least (since I believe there will always be a very small amount of Nitrites in water).

I believe I found the answer as to why my tank is much slower in converting to Nitrite to Nitrate.

 

As many of you know, there are two kinds of bacteria that we care the most when we talk about tank cycling. Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter.

Nitrosomonas converts ammonia to Nitrites. Nitrobacter converts Nitrites to Nitrates.

Nitrosomonas ideal environment is with ph level between 7.8-8.0

Nitrobacter will have optimal growth with water ph between 7.3-7.5

 

Saltwater aquarist will aim to keep their tank ph level 7.8 and up. This will put Nitrosomonas bacteria in their optimal growth environment, and slow down Nitrobacter growth. Hence, it is normal to see high nitrite concentration in new tanks. I believe this is the answer to my question.

 

The other interesting thing is how many people leave their lights on during cycle. According to the article apparently nitrifying bacteria is photosensitive, and lights should stay off for minimum of 4 days until bacteria have colonized surfaces. During the first 3 days or so, bacteria may still suspended in water column which is sensitive to lights.

 

On the article, it also talks about how Phosphate is needed for Nitrobacter to oxidize Nitrite to Nitrate. But wait! All the talk on forums are how people trying to remove Phosphate from their tank by using macroalgae or chemipure! This is the part where I am confused and not sure. Quote from the article:

All species of nitrifying bacteria require a number of micronutrients. Most important among these is the need for phosphorus for ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) production. The conversion of ATP provides energy for cellular functions. Phosphorus is normally available to cells in the form of phosphates (PO4). Nitrobacter, especially, is unable to oxidize nitrite to nitrate in the absence of phosphates.

 

The article is provided by an aquatic design and consulting service company. This is the link to the article:http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html

 

I enjoy the article and I hope you all as well

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I have not yet read the article, but I will. My tank cycled very similarly to yours. My pH was also around 8. I did not leave my lights on during my cycle, I only turned them on to look at the tank for a couple minutes periodically. I did not run chemipure (or macro or anything) during cycling, but I do run it now. There does remain a small amount of phosphate in my tank, usually testing between 0 and 0.03. I do have tiny tufts of hair algae growing here or there. They spread from a frag I bought that was contaminated with hair algae. I was unsuccessful in manual removal multiple times apparently.

 

I look forward to reading the article. I have much to learn.

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If you really want to get into the complex nuances of nitrification/denitrification refer to "The Reef Aquarium', Vol 3 (Deelbeck/Sprung), pgs. 255 - 261. Seems that the nitrification/denitrification model that was found in many texts (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter as the main bacterial species) was based on terrestrial studies and has to be modified for aquatic environments.

 

What I do find interesting is that the use of phosphate removing media is now being linked to persistent testable nitrite levels in some reef tanks which is also spawning a market for the continued use of 'bacteria-in-a-bottle' and the dosing of phosphate back into the system. This was/is a non occurance for those who do not use these types of media since they are not selectively targeting one of the three main elements, phosphate, which then has the very real potenital of upsetting the natural C-N-P ratio.

 

Seriously, can we make this hobby any more complicated than stripping something as necessary as phosphate out of the system, and then having to put it back in, all the while having to carefully monitoring the system for overdose/underdose?

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If you really want to get into the complex nuances of nitrification/denitrification refer to "The Reef Aquarium', Vol 3 (Deelbeck/Sprung), pgs. 255 - 261. Seems that the nitrification/denitrification model that was found in many texts (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter as the main bacterial species) was based on terrestrial studies and has to be modified for aquatic environments.

 

What I do find interesting is that the use of phosphate removing media is now being linked to persistent testable nitrite levels in some reef tanks which is also spawning a market for the continued use of 'bacteria-in-a-bottle' and the dosing of phosphate back into the system. This was/is a non occurance for those who do not use these types of media since they are not selectively targeting one of the three main elements, phosphate, which then has the very real potenital of upsetting the natural C-N-P ratio.

 

Seriously, can we make this hobby any more complicated than stripping something as necessary as phosphate out of the system, and then having to put it back in, all the while having to carefully monitoring the system for overdose/underdose?

I am newbie and there is much to learn. I found the article during my search for answer as to why my tank is quickly remove ammonia but not nitrite. No one in this forum or the other forums that I am on is able to provide me with answer. The answer is nothing to do with Phosphate however.

 

On diffrent topic, I also read from the same article that adding Phosphate is recommended to boost Nitrobacter so that they can oxidize nitrite to nitrate. This part confused me as I thought as far as I know everyone wants phosphate out of their tank.

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I applaud your efforts to find probably causes for your issues.

 

What is known is that if the nitrogen cycle proceeds properly, nitrite will be converted very quickly to nitrate. If phosphate levels are extremely low, then it is possible that the process could be impeded as the bacteria responsible for this conversion wouldn't have enough of this essential nutrient to efficiently complete the task (hypothesis).

 

Phosphate is needed, but in a typical pristine reef envioronment the level can be very low (0.005 ppm). The organisms on the reef have adapted to this naturally low level and supplement their phosphate needs by feeding on detritus, bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, etc. We can't realistically provide the same amount of food that animals receive on a reef, so an alternative is to have a somewhat higher inorganic phosphate level (typically 0.02-0.03 ppm). Phosphate usage is complex, but this should help:

 

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-09/rhf/

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I am newbie and there is much to learn. I found the article during my search for answer as to why my tank is quickly remove ammonia but not nitrite. No one in this forum or the other forums that I am on is able to provide me with answer. The answer is nothing to do with Phosphate however.

 

On diffrent topic, I also read from the same article that adding Phosphate is recommended to boost Nitrobacter so that they can oxidize nitrite to nitrate. This part confused me as I thought as far as I know everyone wants phosphate out of their tank.

When I did research my understanding was that the bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite grow much faster than the bacteria that convert nitrite into nitrate. I don't remember it ever having to do anything with phosphate, but I have heard having 0 phosphate isn't good and have any real appreciable amount of it is bad.

 

Edit: Now that I've read the article, I don't think I would have done anything about cycling differently.

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When I did research my understanding was that the bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrite grow much faster than the bacteria that convert nitrite into nitrate. I don't remember it ever having to do anything with phosphate, but I have heard having 0 phosphate isn't good and have any real appreciable amount of it is bad.

 

Edit: Now that I've read the article, I don't think I would have done anything about cycling differently.

 

Correct, typically phosphate wouldn't have anything to do with cycling as it wouldn't be limited in a typical reef tank. However, if a properly cycled reef tank has persistent testable nitrite levels, then there is something amiss. If the tank has extremely low phosphate levels, this *could* be a contributor to the problem.

 

There is a big caveat with the assumption that '0' testable phosphate is 'bad'. My 12g nano has had '0' phosphate for years (it's 8-1/2 years old) and I have good color and growth. The reason behind this is that our test kits only read 'inorganic' phosphate (PO4), but can't read 'organic' phosphates. In a tank like mine, 2x/day feeding is a large part of keeping the organisms supplied with the phosphate that they need. In a tank that has less food input, having ~ 0.03 ppm inorganic phosphate helps supply the corals/other orgnanisms' needs.

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Correct, typically phosphate wouldn't have anything to do with cycling as it wouldn't be limited in a typical reef tank. However, if a properly cycled reef tank has persistent testable nitrite levels, then there is something amiss. If the tank has extremely low phosphate levels, this *could* be a contributor to the problem.

 

There is a big caveat with the assumption that '0' testable phosphate is 'bad'. My 12g nano has had '0' phosphate for years (it's 8-1/2 years old) and I have good color and growth. The reason behind this is that our test kits only read 'inorganic' phosphate (PO4), but can't read 'organic' phosphates. In a tank like mine, 2x/day feeding is a large part of keeping the organisms supplied with the phosphate that they need. In a tank that has less food input, having ~ 0.03 ppm inorganic phosphate helps supply the corals' needs.

Interesting. Mine has completely 0 nitrite, but I was assuming the originally poster was concerned about the speed at which their tank cycled. And generally when people question it the answer is "all tanks are different, some are fast, some are slow". But there is science behind it of course.

 

When mine cycled, the ammonia spike was quick, the nitrite was 0 and then super off the chart high for a long time (like over a week) before it dropped to 0. Which just justified my belief on the different rates of growth/reproduction of the two different bacterias.

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When mine cycled, the ammonia spike was quick, the nitrite was 0 and then super off the chart high for a long time (like over a week) before it dropped to 0. Which just justified my belief on the different rates of growth/reproduction of the two different bacterias.

 

Yes, true, denitrufying bacteria (there are many different species) are known to take longer to reproduce than nitrifying ones. But compared to typical heterotrophic bacteria that can reproduce every 20 minutes, both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria are super slow-pokes taking many hours to reproduce.

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Yes, true, denitrufying bacteria (there are many different species) are known to take longer to reproduce than nitrifying ones. But compared to typical heterotrophic bacteria that can reproduce every 20 minutes, both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria are super slow-pokes taking many hours to reproduce.

This is talked on that article as well. They compared the bacteria with E Coli which produces trillion times faster.

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I have never cycled my tanks by dosing bacteria or ammonia so I really can't offer any advice on the process.

 

I've always used liverock, watched my ammonia rise and drop to 0, same with nitrites, and I've never experienced nitrates above 25.

 

The longest cycle was 5 weeks that was using base and liverock. My 15g cycled in 10 days.

I have never encountered issues with this method and I've done it 4 times.

 

A little bit of nitrate and phos is beneficial to the aquariums. When levels are too high thats when we run into issues.

 

I have used phosphate removers but its only been for the last few weeks and sparingly. I wouldn't want to use it regularly because stripping the tank means then adding something to replace the lack of nutrients which seems counter productive.

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