Can plants get nitrogen from NH3? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Can plants get nitrogen from NH3?

This may sound like an odd question, but I have done a fishless cycle on my tank, added plants at the end, and continue to add a bit of ammonia to the tank to keep the no3 up until I can decide on what fish to put in there and/or get my dry fert shipment. However, I really want to tear down the tank to cap the flourite with sand, because the flourite isn't making a very good cap for the mineralized soil i have under it and my water is always very cloudy. I will have to replace all the water, and I'm afraid that I will lose a good bit of my bacteria, and at the very least I'll be working with fresh water and it may take a bit of time to have the ammonia convert back to no3 for the plants to use. Can plants use ammonia as well in low concentrations or does it have to be no2/no3?

My main concern is that my java fern is not doing well, as I was an idiot and buried the roots for a couple days, and I'm afraid that the lack of nutrients will finish it off. All the big box pet stores around me carry is flourish, which to my knowledge is just trace elements, and the ferts at my lfs are crazy expensive so I want to use that as a last resort. My tap water has a bit of potassium and phosphates according to the water report for the city, but my testing kit shows that it carries 0 nitrates.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 11:19 AM
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I assume not but may be wrong. I had always thought that ammonia was toxic to pretty much all life forms. Again may be wrong but I have seen some fish tanks that have had plants onion there since the beginning of cycling.

Back to your problem, put half of your water in buckets and then change your water cap your substrate ya da ya da ya da then add the water back in and add new water. Plug your filter in and you should be fine. I did a 90% WC in the weekend and have had no adverse affects.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 11:21 AM
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Plants prefer ammonia to nitrates and nitrites.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 12:30 PM
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Aquatic plants will select ammonia over nitrate:
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 01:21 PM
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some people actually dose ammonium in their tanks for plants, not so much these days though
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ElBoltonero View Post
Plants prefer ammonia to nitrates and nitrites.

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Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
Aquatic plants will select ammonia over nitrate:
No, they like ammonium
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2012, 04:29 PM
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Most plants can use the nitrogen in any of the 3 forms it is commonly found in the aquarium.

There is not a significant amount of nitrifying bacteria in the water, so go ahead and do a 100% water change, you will not be losing a significant amount of bacteria just from the water change.

The substrate change, however will cause some issues. Most of the nitrifying bacteria lodges on surfaces that are exposed to maximum water movement where there is a lot of oxygen and a fresh supply of ammonia. That is, in the filter media, and in the top layer of the substrate.
By replacing the cap, you may be removing 25% or more of the nirtifying bacteria in your system.

This need not actually cause a problem, though. Simply go back to dosing ammonia like the fishless cycle and the bacteria from elsewhere in the system will colonize the new cap.

Since there are plants in the tank, and some plants do not do well with high levels of ammonia, I would dose to no more than 1 ppm, but perhaps you could do that twice a day, if the bacteria remove that much ammonia that fast.
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