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Nitrate Mass Balance
I'm new here. I'm a chemical engineer and have worked with a lot of water treatment projects. I'm a bit skeptical of some of what I read on the internet of aquariums, but enjoy reading about the biology of a planted tank. The problem with biology is the lack of quantitative data. I uptake of Nitrate by plants is over estimated.
Nitrate contains about 22.6% nitrogen. A 100 gallon tank with 30 mg/L nitrate contains 2.7 grams of nitrogen.
Now a dry plant contains 10% N and a wet plant contains 98.5% water. So for the plants to consume 2.7 grams Nitrogen they must grow 10 times that or 27 grams (dry). With the water this is 27/1.5%= 1800 grams. Remember Nitrogen is an element it can't be broken down (short of nuclear fission!) so what comes out= what goes in minus what stays in.
In other words for plants to clean a tank with 30ppm NO3 to 0 ppm NO3 the plants would need to grow 1800 grams or about 4 POUNDS WET. If I'm wrong on these calculations it would be the estimates for % H2O in an aquatic plant and the % N in an aquatic plant but I shouldn't be off by much.
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