Aug 8, 2003, 5:14 PM
Post #17 of 19
I know this is a touchy subject because many hold to an opinion about trickle towers here, and Iím not one to rock the boat. Since someone else brought it up I might as well share what I have seen and what I know about the subject.
Re: [budgenator] Trickle filter / low nitrate in aquarium ?
[In reply to]
Let me start by saying the intention is not to cause an uproar or put anyone down if your beliefs are contraire to what Iím going to say. It is based on scientific evidence and facts that have been shown time and again as proven from results found in many studies and observed by the scientific community related to the fish keeping hobby.
The term nitrate factory was first used by Martin Moe who has a masters degree in marine biology and has published books on reef keeping. He wrote The Marine Aquarium Handbook in 1982 (were the term nitrate factory was first used) and The Marine Aquarium Reference in 1989.
I have used this term for a better part of 20 years since being part of the fish keeping hobby at the manufacture and distributor levels and again as a hobbyist speaking to hobbyist in seminars and workshops.
As I am fairly new here, I felt it inappropriate to use the term and itís meaning. From your postís many feel strongly about the value of trickle towers and filters and rightly so as they are very useful pieces of equipment that if well used and understood benefit more than inconvenience in our segment of the hobby. But proper understanding is important, that way we and future hobbyist get a clear understanding of any piece of equipment before investing large sums of money, with expectations that just canít be realized.
So let me explain trickle towers and filters work in the following and have to be built with this concept in mind. First off, they are biological filtering towers used scrictly to encourage the growth of Nitrosomanas and Nitrobacters bacteria that convert ammonia or ammonium too nitrite then nitrite too nitrate (the simple explanation). Under normal circumstances (will explain later) the nitrate by product cannot and will never be eliminated in said tower simply because the bacteria or enzymes that are required to do so live and thrive in a completely different environment. The reason why TT are so affective for the conversion process is simple. The bacteria used require 5 main environmental factors to thrive = humidity, oxygen, darkness, media to grow on and a food source. These conditions are very well met in a TT if properly made. The added benefit if water flow is well balanced is increased oxygen levels for the pond. Despite the fact that these bacteria consume and require lots of oxygen they donít use it all so we have that as a plus.
Now to nitrates. Anaerobic bacteria live and thrive in the following environment = wet, oxygen deprived, darkness and a food source nitrite so oxidization can acquire . Warning unless you understand the implications and dangers involved do not try to attempt to reproduce these living conditions as it is very dangerous and almost impossible to balance water flow, food source and other environmental factors. If you create this environment and it becomes disturbed, hydrogen sulfide (the rotten egg smell) will leach into your pond and can cause serious damage to your pets.
Question, is there a possible way for a trickle filter to harbor anaerobic bacteria? The short answer is no. The long answer is possibly if the right conditions can be produced even though highly unlikely. Let me explain in hypothetical terms. If we used a very porous material in our TT (as example crushed coral or volcanic rock) pores of this material may block to a point were oxygen flow is cut off completely but for some reason nitrite is still available for oxidization. The result would be reduction of nitrite. But in all honesty I donít believe that a TT filter can be built with this process in mind, if it happens itís by pure luck, nothing more. It certainly canít happen if one uses none porous media like bio balls etc. as they have surface area but no internal area.
I have reduced the amount of explaining on the whole TT question to the bare minimum, as this subject can be very complex as to all the processís involved. I have used the simplest explanation, and I hope it is well understood that itís not an all encompassing explanation of such.
Is there a way to reduce and eliminate nitrites in a pond ? Yes, but because this post is already long enough, I will answer to the best of my knowledge if requested to do so. Maybe in another thread.
Thanks to those that read the whole thing, LOL