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substrate bacterial colonies

Some data which I recently acquired indicates it takes about 4 weeks for
anaerobic bacterial colonies to reach a peak corresponding to release of
nutrients. After that time, nutrient release declines rapidly until it
is nearly stable at 10 weeks. This is a study of flooding of terrestrial
soil. These figures also correspond to my observations of a peak in
ammonia production at about 4 weeks in a fertilized organic substrate.

You can probably help pre-establish bacteria in submerged soil by
keeping the soil you want to use in your aquarium in a bucket of water
for a few weeks. This should help to avoid transitional problems from
excess nutrient release of certain fertile soil types.

Aquatic Gardeners Association