Nature Wonders 2

Nature's Wonders 2


By Jim E. Quarles
Part 2


Until recently, most of the information about Nitrosomonas has remained hidden in the more professional published data. And the hobbyists has not been exposed to any real detailed information to any extent. The intent of this article is to help disseminate what has been learned about these vital aquarium Inhabitants.

Hobbyists spend millions of dollars annually on bacterial products for establishing and maintaining a healthy biological filter in their aquariums. There isn't a healthy aquarium in existence that does not support billions of these organisms. Most successful hobbyists are avid readers of information on the latest developments in aquarium science and the environmental requirements of the specimens they choose to keep. Very little is written, read, or generally known about these critically important bacterial members of our aquarium communities.

For those new to the ( NTS) problem here are the three bacteria that are of importance to the aquarist. The rest of you can review these and it won't hurt a thing.

Heterotrioguc - the most common type of bacteria which consume complex hydrocarbons ( organic waste) and produce very toxic ammonia.

Nitrosomonas - Bacteria which consume ammonia as their sole energy source and produce toxic nitrite.

Nitrobacter - Bacteria which consume nitrite and produce relatively harmless nitrate.

The most common form of bacteria in the aquarium is called heterotrophic bacteria these bacteria like fish and invertebrates eat complex organic compounds (called Organics). Complex organic compounds enter the aquarium in the form of fish food and later in the form of fish waste. Fish, invertebrates and heterotrophic bacteria all produce ammonia, the principle end product of their metabolism, as waste. Heterotrophic bacteria are ubiquitous to the environment. They are everywhere and reproduce at astonishing rates. Many heterotrophic bacteria can double their population every 20 minutes.

There are two types of nitrifying bacteria of importance in aquarium maintenance. The first group, called Nitrosomonas (also referred to as ammonia oxidizers) convert the extremely toxic ammonia into nitrite. The second group, called Nitrobacter (also referred to as nitrate oxidizers) convert the toxic nitrite molecules into much less toxic nitrate.

Over the years many different approaches have been used to establish the required populations of beneficial bacteria in new aquariums. The simplest approach is to just let the aquarium cycle itself over time on its own without the use of any special products or procedures. The major drawbacks to this procedure are the large number of fish, which are literally sacrificed during this process, and the seemly endless period of time required. Using the approach, several months may be required before ammonia and nitrite levels fall to safe levels. To expedite this process, numerous chemical and biological products and procedures have been use with varying degrees of success. Not all work well, some not at all.

To keep your fish alive and healthy you must learn to keep your filter alive and healthy.

continued in part 3

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