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Bacteria filtration

>I wrote:

>>>If you have more then very small (10 ppm or less) amounts of nitrate, you
>_need_ that bacterial filter! <<

Darren wrote:

>Hi Karen.  Is this right?  A bacterial filter _creates_ nitrate.  

A bacterial filter can't "create" anything.  If there is not ammonia/um
available, it can't be converted into nitrate.

>always operated under the assumption that our main goal is to get the plants
>cranking and the animal load balanced so the plants would "intercept" the
>ammonium prior to its entering the nitrogen cycle, thus avoiding unsightly
>nitrate buildup.  A full throttle bio-filter would compete with the plants
>for the available ammonium, producing nitrate.  

In a reasonably loaded tank, you are absolutely correct.  With fast growing
plants and a reasonable bio-load, there is little if any need for extra
bacterial filtration.  There are _lots_ of attachment points in the tank
already, and what little ammonia/um escapes the plants will easily be
handled by the bacteria in the tank.

However, an overcrowded aquarium often produces more ammonia/um than the
plants can possibly handle.  If you don't have enough bacterial filtration
on line to handle the excess, the fish die.  If you _do_ have enough
filtration to handle the excess and don't change lots of water, you get
algae problems instead.<g>

>Aside from whatever bacteria
>reside inside my tanks and my frequently cleaned canister filters, I stopped
>using bio-filters of any kind, and my nitrate levels dropped within days.

Certainly sounds as if your tanks aren't overstocked.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association