Most Effective Method of Nitrate Reduction--Methanol Dosing - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 08:09 AM
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The problem with fluidised filters is, they only work right when they are BIG.
For the most part, you are better off just using quality ceramic media, with a bit of floss on top to keep the dirt off.
I use the cylindrical tube type and arrange them like straws, I never touch the media after putting it in the filter, only the floss on top gets dirty and replaced.

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post #32 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 10:52 AM
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Since the OP is on hiatus I'll be happy to answer any technical/scientific questions I can. Hopefully wastewater will chime in too, he/she seems to know a lot in this realm too.

One thing I'd like to point out about "biomedia being a nitrate factory". That's -EXACTLY- it's purpose (conversion of ammonia to nitrate) and if it's doing that then it's doing its job well. Removing biomedia in exchange for physical media isn't usually a good thing for an established system as you'll potentially lose a lot of nitrification potential and possibly start seeing ammonia levels increase. Instead of exchanging media try cleaning the substrate as well and as deeply as possible whenever possible. That can help solve a lot of nutrient issues.

Gunnerthesnowman,

Can you post some pics of your big tank and the filtration system? It's a bit difficult to get a feel for just by the verbal description.

In addition to the NO3 test I'd recommend getting a PO4 kit too. I'd be interested to see what the levels are relative to each other. I got skyrocketing NO3 and PO4 in my tank when I added the discus. All that meaty food puts out a metric assload of N, P, and organic C. There may be other solutions to your nutrient issue than NO-POx addition. Not saying it's bad (I think it's a great product for its intended purpose), but simpler is better when it comes to dosing and getting your tank's ecosystem balanced is the ultimate goal.
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post #33 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 11:23 AM
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I forgot to add some things and think they're worthy of a separate post.

NOTE: In scientific terms, REDUCTION means the chemical change of one element/compound into a different form or the breakdown of said compound. For example, in anaerobic environments Fe+3 gets reduced to Fe+2 (gained an electron). Denitrification is the biological reduction of NO3 to N2 gas through various biochemical reactions. The OP may have been using reduction in scientific terms instead of "decrease", which can cause some confusion.

1. Supplements like NO-POx are designed for, and intended to be used in, saltwater systems that are DOC limited due to protein skimming and chemical filtration. Please see my above post for a brief discussion of C/N/P balance.

2. Products like this don't address the cause (other than DOC limitation mentioned above), they address the symptoms and are like a band-aid on a wound that really needs stitches. DOC limitation as it pertains to bacterial growth is exceedingly rare in normal freshwater systems. I've only seen it in barebottom discus systems that are heavily cleaned and get large frequent water changes.

3. If NO3 is high that means the input of NH3/NH4 is equally high. Rather than address NO3, one needs to address the source (NH3/NH4) and remedy that first. Feeding less, feeding foods that are not high in raw/unprocessed proteins, cleaning filters frequently, and regularly cleaning the substrate well are all effective ways to remove the sources of NH3/NH4.

4. Increasing CO2 and PO4 to boost plant growth and balance out the C/N/P levels for filter bacteria may help naturally decrease NO3 in the water.

Cheers,
Phil
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post #34 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 12:04 PM
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Since the OP is on hiatus I'll be happy to answer any technical/scientific questions I can. Hopefully wastewater will chime in too, he/she seems to know a lot in this realm too.

One thing I'd like to point out about "biomedia being a nitrate factory". That's -EXACTLY- it's purpose (conversion of ammonia to nitrate) and if it's doing that then it's doing its job well. Removing biomedia in exchange for physical media isn't usually a good thing for an established system as you'll potentially lose a lot of nitrification potential and possibly start seeing ammonia levels increase. Instead of exchanging media try cleaning the substrate as well and as deeply as possible whenever possible. That can help solve a lot of nutrient issues.

Gunnerthesnowman,

Can you post some pics of your big tank and the filtration system? It's a bit difficult to get a feel for just by the verbal description.

In addition to the NO3 test I'd recommend getting a PO4 kit too. I'd be interested to see what the levels are relative to each other. I got skyrocketing NO3 and PO4 in my tank when I added the discus. All that meaty food puts out a metric assload of N, P, and organic C. There may be other solutions to your nutrient issue than NO-POx addition. Not saying it's bad (I think it's a great product for its intended purpose), but simpler is better when it comes to dosing and getting your tank's ecosystem balanced is the ultimate goal.
Am well aware of biomedia and it's purpose's and also aware of most effective way to keep nitrates under control.
Stock less fish,feed less food's,keep filter's cleaned regularly,and change water regularly.(cheaper and faster also)
If one does these thing's,then nitrate's are of little concern and might even need to add KNO3 to feed the plant's.
Plant's are best biofilter's ,for they much prefer ammonia/ammonium over nitrogen
As for vaccuming the substrate, I could not if I wanted to, without pulling out near all of the plant's/hardscape but did it religiously in fish only tanks for year's.
Bacteria colony exists on all hard surfaces in the tank.
The glass ,the substrate(large surface area here),plant leaves,wood,rock's,inside wall's of filter's,inside hoses on filter's .as well as the biomedia used in filtration.
Yes, by removing the biomedia all in one go and just using mechanical media such as foam,one might could see brief ammonia spike, but removing the biomedia a little at a time over a few week's, replacing it with foam pad's,and moderate to large plant mass,one could just as easily see ZERO ammonia spikes.
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post #35 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 12:39 PM
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I disagree about bio media being the most effective way to keep nitrates under control. The whole purpose of bio media is to convert ammonia into nitrate, and as such is a source of nitrate, not a sink. Plants and water changes are the most effective non-chemical means of decreasing NO3 present in the water column. Reducing feeding/stocking, physical removal of organic debris (food, feces, etc), and keeping the tank and filter clean are the best methods of controlling input of ammonia.

In my time doing research, lecturing on the topic, and doing technical support for a company that makes a DOC supplement, my First Rule was (and still is) Biology Before Chemistry. Biology addresses the cause while chemistry addresses the symptoms. Aquariums can, and do, become dependent on chemical supplementation (ferts or what have you) as the ecosystem adjusts according to chemical addition. When that chemical is taken away things can quickly get out of whack and problems occur. Getting an aquatic system as biologically balanced as possible prior to the use of chemical filtration or supplements creates a much more stable system that can handle variation in supplementation better.

If one can't or doesn't want to reduce bioload and/or feeding and good husbandry practices aren't fixing the problem, then it may be time to start looking at chemical ways of addressing issues.


Cheers,
Phil
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post #36 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 12:53 PM
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I disagree about bio media being the most effective way to keep nitrates under control. The whole purpose of bio media is to convert ammonia into nitrate, and as such is a source of nitrate, not a sink. Plants and water changes are the most effective non-chemical means of decreasing NO3 present in the water column. Reducing feeding/stocking, physical removal of organic debris (food, feces, etc), and keeping the tank and filter clean are the best methods of controlling input of ammonia.

In my time doing research, lecturing on the topic, and doing technical support for a company that makes a DOC supplement, my First Rule was (and still is) Biology Before Chemistry. Biology addresses the cause while chemistry addresses the symptoms. Aquariums can, and do, become dependent on chemical supplementation (ferts or what have you) as the ecosystem adjusts according to chemical addition. When that chemical is taken away things can quickly get out of whack and problems occur. Getting an aquatic system as biologically balanced as possible prior to the use of chemical filtration or supplements creates a much more stable system that can handle variation in supplementation better.

If one can't or doesn't want to reduce bioload and/or feeding and good husbandry practices aren't fixing the problem, then it may be time to start looking at chemical ways of addressing issues.


Cheers,
Phil

Completely agree with ^
Most issues with excess organic matter which in turn result's in excess nitrates (can't have one without the other) are self inflicted.
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post #37 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 01:46 PM
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Yes, bacteria live on all hard surfaces, but I believe they are much more effective where they are provided with a constant stream of food and other elements required.
Which is why it grows so well inside pipes and on ceramic media (INSIDE A FILTER). The same media sitting in the corner of a tank is not going to be nearly as effective.
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post #38 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:04 PM
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I wonder how many of us would do water changes if it wasn't necessary to remove anything excess in the tank. If I had a tank that was so called "balanced" I would take it to mean that anything I put in the tank, fish food, fertilizers etc. is virtually being used up in the tank(plants). Any ammonia is at a level that when converted to nitrate is being used up. Anything else I put in as nutrient is being used up. The variables here would seem to be amount food(eaten or not by the fish) and capability of whatever plant population to eliminate any resulting toxins to protect fish health. Even if it was necessary to supplement plant growth with additional nutrients as long as they were utilized wouldn't the tank still be in "balance"?

Wouldn't the question then be is there anything else present that is at a level or could build to a level to be a detriment to the fish or plant health? Does water "wear out" and need to be replaced or is it just that levels of things in the water need to be reduced or eliminated?

If the answer is we just have to remove or eliminate things that create an unhealthy environment for the flora and fauna does it really mater how this is achieved as long as the healthy environment is maintained?

So most of us probably have a tank that isn't in "balance" and we have to maintain a healthy environment for the livestock in it. I personally don't get any enjoyment out of doing water changes and cleaning filters. If something came along that relieved me of this chore I'd take a good, long look at it.

Makes me think of the Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie where they stumble onto something that mimics alcohol without any of the negative side effects. There must be a catch.
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post #39 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 03:55 PM
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Yes, bacteria live on all hard surfaces, but I believe they are much more effective where they are provided with a constant stream of food and other elements required.
Which is why it grows so well inside pipes and on ceramic media (INSIDE A FILTER). The same media sitting in the corner of a tank is not going to be nearly as effective.
Oxygen levels are much more important than organic matter in the way of fish poo.fish food's,plant matter,detritus,allowed to accumulate inside a sealed canister.(can create anaerobic condition's)
Less O2 inside dirty sealed canister than say HOB filter or Wet dry sump type filtration.
So long as one has good O2 level's the bacterial colony will thrive anywhere/everywhere.
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post #40 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 09:48 PM
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I wonder how many of us would do water changes if it wasn't necessary to remove anything excess in the tank. If I had a tank that was so called "balanced" I would take it to mean that anything I put in the tank, fish food, fertilizers etc. is virtually being used up in the tank(plants). Any ammonia is at a level that when converted to nitrate is being used up. Anything else I put in as nutrient is being used up. The variables here would seem to be amount food(eaten or not by the fish) and capability of whatever plant population to eliminate any resulting toxins to protect fish health. Even if it was necessary to supplement plant growth with additional nutrients as long as they were utilized wouldn't the tank still be in "balance"?
Balanced is different than being in equilibrium. A system where the inputs = consumption would be in equilibrium or homeostasis. It's theoretically possible, but difficult to achieve from a practical standpoint. The closest thing I've seen to a tank in equilibrium was a really old school and ooooold tank that just got top offs and fish food. However, even then, there were mineral and nutrient inputs from water and food. Since our aquariums aren't closed systems and get regular input of food, nutrients, etc the best we can achieve is balance. Good balance is when the ecosystem has developed enough to handle the inputs we give it with little to no negative impact. Some elements of balance would be sufficient filtration to handle and process the majority of waste, lighting and CO2 adjusted so there's not too much of one or the other, enough fertilizer to grow plants without causing issues, and sufficient export (water changes) to reduce levels of unwanted chemicals to tolerable levels. Another way to say balance might be buffer. The whole system is stable and mature enough to handle minor variations or temporary neglect without negative effect.

Quote:
Wouldn't the question then be is there anything else present that is at a level or could build to a level to be a detriment to the fish or plant health? Does water "wear out" and need to be replaced or is it just that levels of things in the water need to be reduced or eliminated?
No, water doesn't wear out. It's a matter of concentrations of dissolved materials in the water that need to be diminished or eliminated. Good filtration can process a lot, but there's always going to be a build up of byproducts that need to be removed.

Quote:
If the answer is we just have to remove or eliminate things that create an unhealthy environment for the flora and fauna does it really mater how this is achieved as long as the healthy environment is maintained?
In theory, with enough mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration it's possible to create a healthy environment that requires little work. The problem is it won't be stable/balanced over the long term as the chemical media will lose effectiveness over time and the stuff it was removing will start building up again. Water changes and filter cleaning are still the best ways of exporting physical debris and dissolved chemicals.

Quote:
So most of us probably have a tank that isn't in "balance" and we have to maintain a healthy environment for the livestock in it. I personally don't get any enjoyment out of doing water changes and cleaning filters. If something came along that relieved me of this chore I'd take a good, long look at it.
I would disagree with that. Anyone with a mature system more than likely has a balanced/stable system. It's just not in true equilibrium. There's no magic bullet that will remove the need for good husbandry, regardless of what some supplement manufacturers claim. The very best we can achieve is reducing the time between maintenances, but that comes at the cost of purchasing lots of chemical additives and filtration media.

Cheers,
Phil
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Last edited by PEdwards; 02-09-2017 at 10:08 PM. Reason: finished an incomplete sentence
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post #41 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 11:02 PM
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@PEdwards making some really good points here...
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post #42 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 11:43 PM
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@klibs

I'm glad to hear all the money and years spent gathering fancy pieces of paper related to this topic hasn't totally gone to waste.
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post #43 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 10:34 AM
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1. Supplements like NO-POx are designed for, and intended to be used in, saltwater systems that are DOC limited due to protein skimming and chemical filtration. Please see my above post for a brief discussion of C/N/P balance.
2. Products like this don't address the cause (other than DOC limitation mentioned above), they address the symptoms and are like a band-aid on a wound that really needs stitches. DOC limitation as it pertains to bacterial growth is exceedingly rare in normal freshwater systems. I've only seen it in barebottom discus systems that are heavily cleaned and get large frequent water changes.
Cheers,
Phil
If a decently balanced planted tank isn't DOC limited then does that suggest that dosing additional organic carbon would not be likely to result in lower nitrate levels?

Do you happen to know by the way the chemical formula by which anaerobic reduce nitrates to nitrate gas? I wasn't sure how or where the organic carbon comes to play in that, or if that carbon is instead necessary for a different process such as feeding the bacteria the other nutrients they require apart from that, (to put it imprecisely).
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post #44 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 12:05 PM
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Mxx,

Before I get going, in the interest of full disclosure, organic chemistry and the specifics of microbiology aren't areas I'm particularly well-versed in. I remember enough of the general concepts to explain the basics, but I would have to research the details to address specifics. My knowledge is more along the macro scale of how nutrients, microbes, plants, and water/soil interact; not biochemistry.

To briefly answer your question, yes, if a system is not limited in labile (easily accessed) DOC/POC then addition of extra will theoretically not increase the amount or metabolism of microbes. What I forgot about in previous posts is lability. If you add a source of DOC that is more easily used than say, proteins, microbes will likely preferentially use that instead. Adding a little may also be enough to stimulate growth of bacteria to the point where, as a whole, they're more able to break down more complex molecules. This may be why one of the previous posters noticed increased clarity in his water. I can't be certain though, I'm just taking a SWAG (Scientific Wild A$$ Guess) here.



That's a basic diagram of denitrification. Carboniferous molecules are broken down for energy and the nitrogenous materials are the electron acceptor. (gross oversimplification) We do the same thing with carbohydrates and O2.

Here's a diagram of anaerobic metabolism in humans, specifically during exercise. When you "Feel the Burn" that's anaerobic and results in lactic acid.


Organic molecules are Carbon (usually more than one, but not always) atoms typically with Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen attached. Some examples are Excel, alcohols, sugars and startches, lignins (structural carbohydrates), proteins, amino acids, Chlorophyll, and humic acids. The brown tint released by new wood is an organic molecule, but it doesn't have much in the way of things that might cause us problems like Nitrogen or Phosphorus. It's a great source of carbon for bacteria and fungi though. That's why we see slime and such growing on new wood.

Here's the structure of Methanol (NO-POx): Notice the lack of N and P? It's a very simple organic molecule and is easily used by microbes.

Here's the structure of a protein (I have no idea which one), notice all those Ns? That's a lot of Nitrogen that will be added to the system on a molecular level when it's broken down. Without getting into details, some of that N will be released into the water and bind with free Hydrogen atoms to form Ammonia (NH3). The rest will be used by the microbes.

Here's the structure of an Amino Acid, so named for the Amine (NH2) group. Sounds a lot like Ammonia, doesn't it? http://www.nutrientsreview.com/wp-co...-Structure.jpg

Getting back to the original topic: In the presence of oxygen (electron acceptor) bacteria will take an electron from methanol to provide an electron for metabolism which results in the breakdown of the molecule and nets a Carbon atom. In systems lacking dissolved (DOC) or particulate (POC/POM) organic carbon/material, aerobic and anaerobic microbes are C limited, meaning they lack the carbon needed to metabolize. Because our plants are exuding complex acids, dead leaves are decomposing (source of C, N, and P), excess food and feces are present (rich source of proteins with N and P), and "mulm" is generally abundant there are tons of sources of labile carbon.

Diagram of aerobic, anaerobic, and chemical processes going on in aquatic soils, and to some extent filters.


Time to get ready for work. Hope this makes things as clear as mud. :P
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post #45 of 49 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 12:24 PM
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Wastewater,

Would you pop in and clarify/correct anything I got wrong? You seem to know a lot more about this than I do.
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