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><< Whether you have a filter or not, the bacteria are all over your tank, in
> whatever populations the nutrients will sustain. I think it's absurd to
> think that single-celled organisms have a complex enough metabolism to do
> much adjusting for low nutrient levels. I tend to think that theirs is a
> digital existance. They are living, or dying. >>
What happens to dead bacteria? You say they die so what happens to dead
bacteria? It's loaded with all kinds of good chemicals for growing more
bacteria/plants and algae (perhaps in large die offs/quantities etc).
It has been stated, I feel correctly, that when conditions are good
most of the nutrients can be utilized by the plants. When these bacteria
die in the gravel the waste gets nabbed up by the plant's roots primarily
the other organisms if all is working well.
Think about it. The bacteria die off in slow small amounts where the
algae cannot get at it but the roots of plants have very good access to
this sump of slowly added brew of bacterial fertilizer added in nice small
constant amounts for plants. A water column approach can be applied also by
adding small amounts at a low constant level.
What happens when there is a big die off of bacteria? You get a crash
or/and algae. Now why would that happen if the bacteria's role was not an
important nutrient sump? If you remove a filter you remove the source of the
die off so you get no algae bloom/crash etc and an added boost of nutrients.
You were starving the plants before in this case so the growth is not a
result of competition but of *****balance******. Plants and bacteria can
coexist to your advantage not your disadvantage depending on how you apply
it and view it.
Bacteria will always be there and be replaced by new bacteria constantly
adding new bacterial fertilizer to this system/cycle. Some of the die off
will be recycled by the bacteria (cannibals). Plants may/do have the upper
hand when obtaining these nutrients added to the tank but there will always
be some that are used up by the bacteria adding to this source of
living/dying/self sustaining fertilizer or sump.
Bacteria *can* grow at lower nutrient levels also. They just don't grow
as fast. They can handle quite a bit of torture actually and have optimum
ranges(temp,nutrients) etc. Their needs are far less demanding than plants
in almost all
cases. They can have very complex metabolisms also, even altering their
genetic make up to adapt to stress and find new sources of food. There's a
lot we still don't know about many of the metabolic pathways in many cases.
There are other factors besides nutrient levels to consider like temp, time,
antibacterial agents, growth rates, disturbing the to area where they
live(as in moving the gravel all over or moving the gravel to another tank
etc), relationships with other bacteria(there are many in our tanks not just
one) and more that can influence bacterial growth. Saying that nutrients
alone sustain a quantified population is not looking at the whole
picture,it is not that simple nor is their metabolism and cycles within a
tank in many cases.