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Re: Nitrites and bacteria

Scott McLaughlin had a few thing to say about my last posting:

> >Ali ("spiny eel" - come on Ali, use your REAL name on the APD, especially
> >you want people to take you seriously)
> There is really no need to make such comments. Perhaps this is what the
> is known as, or wishes to be known as, It is petty to suggest that he is
> to be taken seriously because he has a nickname.

No need? Petty? This may very well be the case - if so, sorry. But check the
archives - I've gone on record as being against "handles" being used on the
APD, especially cryptic ones. This is NOT a USENET newsgroup - a lot of us
are excentric, but I don't think any of us are downright dangerous. This is
a serious mailing list which people have to join, and they can be un-joined
at Cynthia's pleasure if they get seriously out of line. But I am from the
"old school" - I prefer to deal with real people who use their real names -
I'm not trying to hide anything, and I hope that my correspondents aren't

But this is an issue that has been dealt with in the past - if someone,
ANYONE, wants to use a handle here, they are free to do so. I just won't
respond to anyone who fails to give their real name, UNLESS they have
something interesting to say - and Ali ("spiny eel") DID have something
interesting to say, which is why I kicked in with my response. Please don't
take my comments personally, it was an off the cuff remark, and not meant as
a "shot" against a fellow list member with a serious question that deserved
(and received) a serious response..

Regarding bottled bacterial cultures, Scott interjected over my

> It is also speculation to say that these products do not work as claimed.
> do not use them but know several people who have had success with them. I
> of no actual studies to prove that they are ineffective or effective.

Actually, I have used several of the "commercial" products and have never
seen any shortening of the typical "cycling time", as measured by regular,
daily tests for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate (using LaMotte test kits) in
tanks where I have used the cultures vs. those without. Sorry, I never
attempted to publish my water test results, but I assure you that none of
the products I have used did anything but waste my hard earned money.

Check back issues of AFM for published results - this is another old dog
that has been discussed (and published) before. Dr. Timothy Hovanec has done
extensive research on this (check out
Several people have acused him of being a "renegade" (again, check the
archives), but as he has the credentials and I don't, I'm not about to call
him on it (come to think of it, the chap who called him a renegade didn't
have any professional scientific credentials either). Dr. Hovanec was also
very careful in his articles to spell out quite explicitly his experimental
procedures - it made perfect sense to me, and I tend to believe him - if he
was blowing smoke, he would have been a lot more vague and "new age" (IMHO).

As to the specific "species" of bacteria involved...

> There has been much debate over the actual "status" of the bacteria in
> products. Many are claiming to be enzymatic, not bacterial cultures. The
> that I have seen with bacteria claim that it is in some sort of spore
> and will be "reactivated" by the presence of NH4. I have seen studies
> that this is possible, but the studies suggest that it would require a
> higher concentration of NH4 for "activation" of the culture than is found
> the typical aquarium.

I lack both a phD and access to a complete laboratory, so I will defer to
more learned people on this - published studies by reputable people have
cast doubt on the identity of the actual species of bacteria responsible for
these processes in freshwater ecosystems. The actual species is not really
important - just so long as the job gets done. But if some company is
selling a culture of something which is not going to work in my aquarium,
why would I be interested???

But I will definately NOT make any detrimental claims about products
claiming enzymatic action as opposed to bacterial cultures - too little is
known within the hobby about the possible benefits of those types of
substances. They may very well be beneficial.

> How can you say what the reproduction rate of the bacterium is if you do
> know what species it is as you said earlier? I am not slamming this
> just wondering if they have isolated the organism and just not put a name
> it.

Go to the library and check it out for yourself - most of the bacteria which
are capable of doing this sort of work are not capable of reproducting at
anywhere near the rate that the average, run or the mill bacterium is. You
may have to do some digging, but the search will do you good. (Or just look
it up in Spotte - Seawater Aquariums, the Captive Environment, pg. 148 -
Time Lags.) I doubt that Spotte did anything other than parrot the currently
held view of the identity of the bacteriim involved, but the reproductive
rate of whatevever species responsible is not excessive and WAS measured.

> I hope this is not interpreted as a flame. I found the post
> by Mr. Purchase to be very informative, I just disagree to an extent with
> mentioned items.

Flame? Not at all! It's actually a pleasure to read and respond to a
question that does not relate to LATERITE and where to find it. I am always
thankfull when someone calls me on a factual error in any of my posts... we
all have a lot to learn and this list has taught me a lot.

Crow can taste quite good if your season it correctly.

[Scott, you have to realize that I sometimes have a rather twisted sense of

James Purchase