Biowheel Question

> From: williaro at ftmcphsn-emh1_army.mil (Williams, Rochelle - DCSPIM)
> Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 10:15:18 -0400
> Someone posted a week or so ago, that they took out their biowheel so
> the plants would get all the nutrients.  Please, correct me if I'm
> wrong but I thought the purpose of a biowheel was to provide increased
> area for nitrifying bacteria.

You are not wrong.

> They then convert ammonia and nitrite into nitrates.

Still not wrong.
> And that the nitrifying bacteria did nothing with the nitrates, that they 
> couldn't use them.  

Still not wrong.

> Therefore, all the nitrates are available to the plants. 
> Please, comment.

Plants generally will not use nitrates due to the amount of energy
required to extract nitrogen from the compound.  They much prefer 
ammonium as the nitrogen is less tightly bound.  By removing the
biowheel, there are less nitrifying bacteria to convert ammonium and
the conversion goes slower, giving the plants a better shot at using

Thriving plants will provide all the biological and chemical
filtration you need in a tank that is not overstocked with fish.
Extra biofiltration can be considered a safety measure in case a
biological misadventure occurs causing a larger than normal release of
ammonium.  Plant tank filtration should be mostly mechanical and
should also provide good water movement.