IN THE NEWLY INSTALLED AQUARIUM
By Jim E. Quarles
The aquarium is a wonderful recreation of the natural
aquatic environment. It permits us to bring the wonders of this otherwise
inaccessible landscape and its astonishing creatures right into homes for
enjoyment and study. It has taken centuries, of trial and error for man to
steadily improve his ability to successfully keep tropical fish alive and
healthy through proper and well understood maintenance. Today virtually
every aquatic environment on earth has been successfully recreated. As
more and more high tech materials and equipment are used, we often forget
the factor most responsible for maintaining this delicate recreation of
nature's balance. Whatever equipment we employ it is still the billions of
invisible microorganisms that carry out the lion's share of the work. The
work of keeping a pure aquarium environment for sustaining the specimens
we enjoy is performed 24 hours a day by creatures we cannot see and too
As new hobbyists, the first lesson we learned involved the problems
associated with cycling a new tank. After experiencing the tragic loss of
our first aquatic pets, it was one we never forgot. For as long as we
continued with this hobby we have learned to accept the inevitable and
irrefutable doctrine that new tanks will experience a lethal rise-first in
ammonia and then nitrite. Regardless of what procedures or products we
employed, the result was always the same. For several weeks or even
months, our new aquarium would remain an unsuitable habitat for any of the
specimens we wished to enjoy. The problem is commonly known as " New
Tank Syndrome." (NTS).
One day, after initially accepting this doctrine and tolerating it for
over twenty years, I finally asked why? With all the advances made in
aquarium science and with our increasing successes in breeding even
difficult species of fish, why were we having so much difficulty with two
common species of nitrifying bacteria?
As an undergraduate in college, we often conducted laboratory
experiments using a wide range of bacterial species. So long as they were
provided with their basic environmental requirements, there was never much
of a problem in establishing and maintaining actively breeding cultures.
After all, bacteria are not the most complex or intelligent of animals.
Well, anyone who knows me will tell you that once I encounter a problem,
like a brick wall in my way I will keep running into it until I find my
way around it!
I reasoned that we as hobbyists we were over looking some basic
environmental requirement that was restricting the growth of the
nitrifying bacteria. I used the computer to look up as much information as
I could find on the Internet about NITROSOMONAS BACTERIA.
The articles found dealt with very specific characteristics. A
representative title, included:
"Physiological effect of long-term energy-source deprivation on
the survival of a marine chemolithotrophic oxidizing bacterium."
If researchers were publishing data on such specialized aspects of
Nitrosomona, the basic environmental conditions required for the
successful establishment and survival of these bacteria must be known and
have been documented.
continue part 2