Nature's Wonders 1

Nature's Wonders 1


By Jim E. Quarles
Part 1

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 often ignore.

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

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