Can an Aquarium use UREA Formaldehyde or do you need soil for that? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-12-2015, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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Can an Aquarium use UREA Formaldehyde or do you need soil for that?

Can an Aquarium use UREA Formaldehyde or do you need soil for that?

I have a fertilize tablet design for ponds and I'm using it in my aquarium.

I remember back from my hydroponics days that you would not use normal fertilizer because the UREA required a bacteria in the soil in order to break it down and convert it into the plant food which did not exist in a hydroponics system.

You had to use a special fertilizer which was much more expensive.

I wonder if the bacteria from the soil was the same bacteria which exist as part of the nitrogen cycle in the biological filtration or if these are something special for the soil/dirt?

Does anyone here know for sure?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-12-2015, 03:17 PM
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Urea is not a good idea to use in an aquarium because it breaks down into ammonia. Ammonia is toxic for livestock (pH dependent, of course), so it is generally avoided.

Most people use potassium nitrate as a nitrogen source for plants.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-12-2015, 03:42 PM
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Urea is a component in ADA, Aquavitro and Tropica fertilizers. The amounts added are quite small though and I would research it thoroughly before trying it in my tank. You can also find it mentioned in the thread below starting with post #202.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...ml#post8578514
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 02:13 AM
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ADA, tropica all use NH4 from NH4NO3 and seachem use Urea based NH4. ADA aqua soil have tons of NH4 in its soil in the form of NH4NO3, but most of it is converted into NO3. the real benefit of using Nh4/Urea is if you dose it in small amount in liquid form, plant will use these through their leaves, Urea can be dosed in higher amount vs NH4 in single dose.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 02:25 AM
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You can use it but you'd need to bury it in the substrate and use sparingly. It breaks down to CO2 and NH3. CO2 is good but too much NH3 can be dangerous or algae inducing at least.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 05:32 AM
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Dosing Urea is typically perfectly safe for most aquariums. Urea, by itself, is not very toxic. Bacteria and plants both have the ability to convert Urea into NH4 using an enzyme called Urease.

If you add 1 ppm of urea to an established aquarium there is little to no chance of NH4 even being registered by a test kit, even hours after being dosed. Why is this?

Typically the bacteria that convert Urea to NH4 are located in the same areas as the bacteria converting NH4 to NO2 and NO3. The entire process happens in the same area, under the same conditions. So when Urea is converted to NH4, one could say it is almost instantly converted to nitrate.

However, when you dose Urea, some of that will be taken up by the plants where they can convert it into NH4 and CO2. It does not require the presence of nitrogen reducase (an enzyme that converts nitrate back NH4), so therefor it can bypass the typical nitrogen conversion process in a plant...just like NH4 can.

Just like nitrogen reductase needs molybdenum to function correctly, Urease needs nickle. Seachem trace has nickle in it, and I believe easylife profito does as well.

All things being equal, however, I would NOT dose Urea under the following conditions:

1) When a tank is still cycling, and I would wait a few weeks after the cycle is complete to make sure.
2) Under higher pH conditions (pH is 7.0 or more) where NH3 can be formed which is toxic to aquatic animal life. The risk here is still marginal in a well established tank, but I still would be weary.
3) Tanks that arn't kept clean, having dying animal tissue and plant matter abundantly present. Dosing Urea in an unclean tank can cause a proliferation of heterotrophic bacteria that clouds the water, and algae are known to thrive under similar conditions.

EDIT: On a side note, I would not use Urea-formaldehyde in an aquatic environment for many reasons. Traditional Urea is all that is needed.

To answer your question, "I wonder if the bacteria from the soil was the same bacteria which exist as part of the nitrogen cycle in the biological filtration or if these are something special for the soil/dirt?"

Yes, you are correct. The same bacteria is present in an aquarium's biological filtration...perhaps in even greater numbers per square cm than what would be found in typical agricultural soils.

Again, don't use Urea-formaldehyde!
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Last edited by Positron; 12-14-2015 at 05:44 AM. Reason: more info
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