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Re: Biowheels-CO2-plants redux

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Dixon <dandixon at home_com>
Date: September 15, 1999 10:54 AM

>Tom, Shannon, Karen, et al, thanks for your input.

>> Unless you are keeping a high fish load, or can't keep the
>> plants growing, the plants are a better filter than the bacteria on the
>> biowheels anyway.
>Oh yeah, forgot to mention that. I have about 50 community fish (most an
>inch long or so) in this 45 gal. Is this high or low?

fairly high. Plants help water quality by using up fish wastes but having
significant amounts of plants results in less water volume thereby reducing
water quality. bit of a trade off. opinions will probably vary quite a bit
on this. please don't take it as the absolute truth.

>> OTOH, bio-wheels are _strictly_ biological filtration, so they compete
>> the plants for nitrogen.  If your tank is over stocked or under planted,
>> they will give you a margin of error.  If you are having trouble keeping
>> the nitrate levels up in the tank anyway, biological filtration is more
>> a nuisance than a help.  (If you have to change water to keep your
>> levels reasonably low, you probably benefit from the bio-wheels, if you
>> have to add nitrogen, remove them)
>Is the consumption of nitrate by the bacteria really significant? They seem
>to have left enough for the algae. BTW, can anyone recomment a good,
>sensitive, accurate nitrate test kit?

Although there are bacterialogical systems for removing nitrate, nitrate is
generally the end result of our bacteria breaking down ammonia to nitrite
and then to nitrate. So no, the consumption of nitrate by the bacteria is
NOT significant. The statement about changing water to keep the nitrate low
meant that if the plants are not using the nitrate, then you probably need
the bacterial filtering. If you can't measure any nitrate or very little
nitrate, then the bacteria are probably no big deal since the plants are
using up the ammonia before the bacteria.
Note that plants will use nitrates but in general, it is easier for them to
use ammonia (and nitrite).