Nitrous oxide injection - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrous oxide injection

Hi all,

Iíve been revisiting some of takashi amanoís older writings and the story of how he stumbled on to co2 injection got me wondering if injecting small amounts of nitrous oxide in to a planted tank might be a viable means of adding nitrogen.


Itís a pretty radical departure from current methods of fertilization, but no more so than co2 injection was intitially. It would also be fairly easy and inexpensive to try out... basically, just swap out the co2 cartridge for a whip cream n2o cartridge in one of the small fluval co2 kits.


N2O is a naturally occurring step in anaerobic bacterial heterotrophic denitrification and aerobic autotrophic nitrification and is the last compound in both processes before the nitrogen is in its free state. Given that itís a simpler compound than ammonia, nitrite, or even nitrate, my guess is that the nitrogen would be easily taken up by plants.


Since plants utilization of nitrogen is metabolic and not tied directly to photosynthesis the way the uptake of co2 is, it would be interesting to see if n2o injection during lights out would result in increased oxygen levels in the tank as a byproduct of the plantsí metabolization of nitrogen. I think there are two possible ways this could occur: 1. Through bacterial nitrification or denitrifcation, free oxygen molecules would be released in to the water column or 2. If the plants can uptake n2o directly and utilize both the oxygen and nitrogen during the night, it could reduce the amount of oxygen plants strip from the water column through the process of respiration.


Obviously there are a lot of unknowns like the effect of fish and inverts, as well as the bacterial populations, just to name a few, but I think itís worth experimenting with. Unless anyone can think of a serious health or safety reason not to try this, Iíd like to set up two identical 40 gallon tanks using one as a control, and see what happens.


Any thoughts?

Experience: worked in fishroom of Eddies Aquarium in Albany all through college, 20 years of keeping reef tanks, planted tanks, and dart frog vivariums.

Current/in-progress tanks: 20 gallon hi tech tank in office, 120 gallon nature/tetra aquarium at home.


Philosophy: work with what youíve got, and make choices based on the conditions that easiest for you to maintain over time.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 04:17 PM
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Hey, all research is good research.. but best to start here (sort of backwards):

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/aess/2014/685168/
https://www.nature.com/articles/srep36517

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamRT View Post
...my guess is that the nitrogen would be easily taken up by plants.
Hi, great idea, but I don't think it will work. Here's why...

I quote directly from Wikipedia, a few sentences here and there, put together explain it well...

"Nitrogen fixation is a process by which nitrogen in the Earth's atmosphere is converted into ammonia (NH3) or other molecules available to living organisms. Atmospheric nitrogen or molecular dinitrogen (N2) is relatively inert: it does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. The fixation process frees nitrogen atoms from their triply bonded diatomic form, N≡N, to be used in other ways."

Also...

"Microorganisms that can fix nitrogen are prokaryotes (both bacteria and archaea, distributed throughout their respective domains) called diazotrophs."

============================================

That being said, atmospheric nitrogen and nitrous oxide are not the same compound and nitrogen fixation occurs with diatomic nitrogen, not nitrous oxide. Now, there is nitrous dioxide fixation, but it is something seen mostly by extremophiles, that's bacteria (prokaryote/archaea) that live in nearly boiling water at underwater marine volcanic vents, it's not anything relevant to keeping a planted tank. See:
Biological N2O Fixation in the Eastern South Pacific Ocean and Marine Cyanobacterial Cultures

Also, keep in mind that something like 70% of our atmosphere is nitrogen already, which you would be aerating in an aquarium for the 16ish% oxygen content.

I would be very surprised if adding nitrous oxide to your tank would have any effect at all for the plants. I'd be more worried of the effects it could have on your animals.


Edit:
I'm not discouraging you from trying something new, I just don't see it working as you might have planned out. If you do decide to try it, I would be interested in your updates and methods.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 06:23 PM
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not sure if nos will work the same way it did in fast and furious
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 06:47 PM
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I think it will give your plants a case of the giggles!

I am doubtful that N2O will have much of an effect on plant growth... but a thousand internet opinions aren't worth the results of one well conducted study.

If you decide to give your experiment a go I think you will need a minimum of 2 tanks for your results to have any credence. A N2O injected tank and a control tank without N2O injection setup to be as identical to the test tank as possible. Just adding N2O injection to an existing tank and seeing what happens would have very little meaning as far as its effect on plants without a control tank. I would not include any fish in your experiment and I would choose and inert substrate to limit the number of variables.

The cool part is you will be performing an experiment that it is likely no one has done before. Remember, if your results are that N2O injection does not appear to have any effect on plant growth that is a meaningful and useful result!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 06:53 PM
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Following for fun. The one with the iron pan turned into a nice cooking thread, wonder where this will go.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 07:49 PM
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When you mix NO2 with water you get Nitric acid which will make the water acidic. The KH in the water (I am assuming from potassium or sodium bicarbonate) will react with this to form potassium or sodium nitrate which the plants can use. The trick here is to add just enough to get your nitrate up without making your water too acidic. Note you could also increase the sulfur content of your aquarium water with sulfur dioxide which reacts with water to form sulfuric acid.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf View Post
When you mix NO2 with water you get Nitric acid which will make the water acidic. The KH in the water (I am assuming from potassium or sodium bicarbonate) will react with this to form potassium or sodium nitrate which the plants can use. The trick here is to add just enough to get your nitrate up without making your water too acidic. Note you could also increase the sulfur content of your aquarium water with sulfur dioxide which reacts with water to form sulfuric acid.

Orig is referring to laughing gas.. N2O ..................
Anyone messing w/ NO2 is err.. loopy..


Quote:
Acute harm due to NO

2
exposure is only likely to arise in occupational settings. Direct exposure to the skin can cause irritations and burns. Only very high concentrations of the gaseous form cause immediate distress: 10Ė20 ppm can cause mild irritation of the nose and throat, 25Ė50 ppm can cause edema leading to bronchitis or pneumonia, and levels above 100 ppm can cause death due to asphyxiation from fluid in the lungs. There are often no symptoms at the time of exposure other than transient cough, fatigue or nausea, but over hours inflammation in the lungs causes edema.[22][23]
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