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Re: What happens if the bacteria in the substrate dies off?
"What happens if the bacteria in the substrate dies off?"
Mmmmm, that depends.....the results could range from minor to catastrophic.
Any established tank has bacteria everywhere. An undergravel filter that is
run at a very slow rate would probably only have an "active" colony of
bacteria in the top portion of the substrate bed, an area where sufficient
oxygen might be able to diffuse into naturally. Notice I say probably and
might because without knowing more about your set up nobody can say for
sure. If there was a massive bacterial bed in a high flow UGF design,
supported by a high fish load, its sudden loss could lead to stress and
possible death for the fish.
In a low stress, low maintenance system, there was probably sufficient
bacteria on other surfaces within the tank to quickly pick up any slack
caused by your turning off the UGF. You didn't say that you experienced any
fish deaths after you turned the thing back on.
Just turn on the UGF and leave it on. Add the yeast generated CO2, possibly
into a submerged reactor of some sort (check the KRIB for tips) and let the
system grow. Its decidely low tech, but many times they are the most
By the way, save your money on that commercial bacteria solution - I don't
care what they claim, they don't contain viable bacteria and the only
positive effect they have is on the balance sheets of the companies flogging