Nitrifying Bacteria Facts (Or fiction)

One of the most important yet least understood aspect of a successful aquarium is the upkeeping of biological filtration and its fuction in the nitrogen cycle.

Novice hobbyist become disillusioned at the frequent high deaths rates of their aquatic pets after setting up their new aquarium.. I think this reason is why lots of new hobbyist (shrimp/fish keepers) give up within their first year of trying..

So here I hope that I can give some explanation on a good cycling and some of the details which I have found out (all thanks to Mr Google) as well as my own experience.

Here i go.........

'New Tank Syndrome' - shrimp/fish are poisoned by high levels of ammonia which are release from the soil, fish wastes, excess food and decomposition of dead animals or plant tissues. Excess ammonia is excreted into the water column by the faunas themselves also.. Effects of ammonia poisoning in aquatic livestocks are well documented which includes damages tissues (especially the gills), impaired growth, resistance to disease and mainly DEATHS..

Nitrite Poisoning - this inhibits the uptake of oxygen by the livestock.. Well, simply explained is, the livestock die of suffocation..

All successful hobbyist know about the importance of establishing the nitrifying cycle well and matured before adding in livestock, this falls especially to shrimps where they are very sensitive.. Right now there is so many types of bio-media which has proven to be very effective in bacteria colonization from splintered glass, undergravel, trickle filters and i think the most recent is fluidized bed filters (moving bed media).

Nitrifying bacteria are considered obligate chemolithotrophs (don't understand what it is but Mr Google told me so.. haha). This simply means that they must use inorganic salts as energy source, so they must oxidize ammonia and nitrite for their energy needs. They are non-motile and must colonize on surface like gravel, soil, all those bio-media which we are using now.. and they secrete those slimy, sticky matrix to attach themselves.. (Yucks.. now we know where those are coming from..) They cannot convert ammonia or nitrites in the absence of oxygen (so remember to oxygenate your water during cycle)..

Based on their biological data of these Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria and many strains among those species. Here are the information of their optimum growth and etc..

25~30 deg Celsius is the optimum growth temperature for nitrifying bacteria

7.8~8.0 is optimum for Nitrosomonas (no wonder i need to cycle so long, hahaha)
7.3~7.5 is optimum for Nitrobacter (darn.. another reason for long cycle..

Nutriments -
All species of Nitrosomonas uses ammonia (NH3) as energy source during the conversion to nitrite (NO2).
All species of Nitrobacter uses nitrites (NO2) as energy srouce during the conversion to nitrate (NO3).

Colors -
Reddish are the Nitrosomonas while the brownish are the Nitrobacter.

Before adding any bacteria(powder/liquid),shrimp or fish please make sure that all chlorine must be completely neutralized. Residual chlorine will kill bacteria and livestocks..

Most cities now treat their water with chloramines and most chloramines are very hard to remove.. The only way will be to use products to lock chloramines in their inactive state or to some will just double dose their anti-chlorine (which i will not advise for shrimp keepers)

Hope this helps to let more hobbyist understand why a good cycle is required in order to make sure that the aquarium environment is stable and good for every kind of aquatic pets going into it...

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Welcome to the world of 'poisonous' shrimp keeping where you will deeply fascinated..

Name: Alvin (Singapore)
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