ammonia vs nitrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 07:01 AM Thread Starter
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ammonia vs nitrate

I thought you guys would find this interesting if you haven't read it already.
http://www.aquabotanic.com/plants_an...filtration.htm


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 09:45 AM
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Tom Barr has been saying that for a while now, how the plants will use NH first if it's there before using NO3.

I think it's the explanation for the excessive pearling straight after a water change, with the plants going crazy for all the (detoxed with Prime) NH in the new water from the tap. But as that article says, it's all gone within hours.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awrieger View Post
I think it's the explanation for the excessive pearling straight after a water change, with the plants going crazy for all the (detoxed with Prime) NH in the new water from the tap. But as that article says, it's all gone within hours.
huh? You have ammonia in your tap water? I wouldn't drink that if I were you.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awrieger View Post
Tom Barr has been saying that for a while now, how the plants will use NH first if it's there before using NO3.
Not so.....

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...t=ammonia+kno3

In this thread, discussing the same article as a matter of fact, Barr says....

"The graph shows that NO3, not NH4 is preferred under our plant tank conditions."

Kekon from APC has been doing some cool experimenting with Urea, I am also adding Urea to my tank with no side effects. I dont know that i am seeing any benefit so far however.

jB
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 03:08 PM
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Many cities use chloramine (contains both chlorine and ammonia) to treat the water. They do this because it is less reactive than chlorine (no swimming pool smell) and it's more stable.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 04:38 PM
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Indeedy I do. Ammonia PLUS chloramine. Plus fluoride. The NH fluctuates from 0 to 0.3ppm, then the unbinding from the chloramine is another 0.5 or so extra. And no I don't drink it any more. Once I started testing my tap regularly, I switched to Pepsi Max. But then learned the aspartame they use as a sweetener is converted into formaldehyde by the human system, so I drink bottled spring water now.

I filter the tap water into a resevoir for use in my non-plant fish-only tanks, but use detoxed tap water for the planted tank because the plants can clear the NH pretty fast anyway.

Edit PS. It never used to be like that. I think it's because the Sydney's Warragamba Dam level has dropped down to 20% or so due to the drought so they've been pumping the sludge and mulm in the bottom half of the reservoir.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2007, 04:47 PM
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Jason, from what I always understood him saying was that the plants will choose to use NH if both an NH and an NO3 molecule arrived at the plant at the same time because the NH requires less energy to convert, so it's a matter of efficiency.

But the amount of NH required on a constant basis would kill any fish, so the less efficient but less harmless NO3 is the preferred choice in our systems.

How often are you dosing the urea? Are you drip feeding it in smaller but continual doses?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 01:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Baliban View Post
Not so.....

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...t=ammonia+kno3

In this thread, discussing the same article as a matter of fact, Barr says....

"The graph shows that NO3, not NH4 is preferred under our plant tank conditions."

Kekon from APC has been doing some cool experimenting with Urea, I am also adding Urea to my tank with no side effects. I dont know that i am seeing any benefit so far however.

jB
Yep, I've never seen any growth differences in an aquarium.
I've done several tanks for about 2 years with no fish and just NH4.
I tried a number of CO2/light intensities.

The graph used for support, that's from Diana Walstad's book BTW, suggest that NO3, not NH4 is preferred when the levels of NH4 drop below 0.5ppm.

It does support that NH4 is preferred with this plant under these conditions, when the levels are above 0.5ppm and NO3 uptake stops at 1.0ppm or so.
It does not address acclimation, or up regulation, genetic supression of NO3 transportors or a host of other plant physiological parameters.
But that's a lot more work to answer those.
There is some research done already however on that topic specifically with several species of aquatic plants.

Some questions one might ask:

Do you have NH4 at that level(1-2ppm?) in your tank?
Do you think or assume that it is health to have that much dosed all at once, like a toxic slug going through your tank when it's 400-13,000X more toxic than NO3? Is that the same as low trace doses of NH4 from fish gills 24/7?

And you do not see that significant difference in growth?
Perhaps under natural stressed conditions, a subtle difference is ecologically significant, horticulturally under our conditions is another matter, or with specific species(I never tested the difference between every species, just 100 of them or there abouts).

I have attempted to over load fish tanks with progressively more and more live stock to see the efffects, namely to see why can't we just add more and more critters to supply the demands of the plants.

I have not really done much testing with urea.
However, in most systems, urea tends to rapidly convert to NH4. But it might be different for algae blooms.

Also, it may depend on the light, CO2 and biomass and general health of the starting tank.

If you added urea/NH4 (say 0.5ppm) to a somewhat shaky tank, lacking much resiliency, then you could destabilize it many times easier than say with 10 ppm of NO3 addition.

There are other issues to consider and trade offs.
The question is: are these trade offs worth it?

With CO2 gas, although it's toxic as well, we add it within a range, so for many the answer is yes.

NH4? Do you get 10-20X faster growth rates with additions?
Algae?

No, those are not particularly good trade offs it seems to me.

I'm namely doing sediment testing right now at the lab.
I'll be getting around to adding NH4/urea vs NO3 into a "macrophyte-algae alternative stable states in lakes paper hopefullly at some point. If some sucker does not beat me to it

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 01:35 AM
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Just a follow up, the NH4 vs NO3 thing is lakes: under lower nutrient and potentially limiting conditions for algae, the NH4 uptake and cycling is maintained at a very low residuals and rapidly recycled rate.
As soon as it(NH4/urea) appears, it's rapidly gobbled up.

If you disturb this system, this can be done a number of ways, then you have a higher residual of NH4, then the clear water macrophyte dominated system can be loused up.

Changes in CO2, light, runoff from farms, urban regions, temp changes, unwelling during fall/spring turn over events, wind driven turnover, etc can all cause algae blooms.

These also all correlate with both vegetated lake algae and planted aquarium algae.

I can measure to about 7-10ppb, or ug/l for NH4 and have several methods for various forms, total, reactive etc.

Still, this needs that at least, as well as a stable isotope measurement using 15NH4 and 15NO3 spiked enrichments to offer support as well to help answer such questions better.

I think given the observations and test folks have done thus far, there is good support for this model for both locations. The alternatives do not appear to be as likely a candidate.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 01:44 AM
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Thanks for the info Tom.

Currently i am adding about .5ppm of urea a day at one dose. Really the goal is to not provide faster growth, but larger growth(leaves/whirls). So far i have not seen much in a positive or negative way, but i just started....so a few weeks of consistency is in order before i am comfortable saying one way or another. I will certainly report my findings after i am done.

Thanks again

jB
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Do you guys know anything about Seachem's Nitrogen.. It has some fish safe 'complex ammonium' in it & nitrate. What's the complex ammonia?


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2007, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Baliban View Post
Thanks for the info Tom.

Currently i am adding about .5ppm of urea a day at one dose. Really the goal is to not provide faster growth, but larger growth(leaves/whirls). So far i have not seen much in a positive or negative way, but i just started....so a few weeks of consistency is in order before i am comfortable saying one way or another. I will certainly report my findings after i am done.

Thanks again

jB
BTW, I estimated using mass balance ratios for NH$ uptake rates max per day, I think I came up with a max of 0.8ppm of NH4 per day max usage.

Note: your bio section is FAR more aggressive with NH4 and urea than it ever was with the much more difficult NO3. The oxidizing bacteria are very quick and many are likely just growing more bacteria to large degree, and that, is one reason you are not seeing more plant growth.

NO3 is much harder to attack and remove via bacteria.
NH4/urea is much more ephemeral.

I know a feller who dosed pure NH4 to his tank daily, adding about the suggested amount I gave, 0.8ppm, he had good growth, though not that much better one way or the other.
But he did daily 80% water changes, blah, way too much work etc.
He stopped for a weekend and got green water.

I think small amounts of NH4 are fine and adding more fish does the trick there. They dose at low levels all the time, so that is more practical/safer.

Main thing is being consistent.
You add for awhile, then stop, then resume, be prepared for issues.
Bacteria colony build up takes some time but can be fairly responsive(or not if things like say CO2 are not addressed well etc or go sour).

I think what we are seeing is mainly bacteria, the rates of uptake, see the graph, are not that high at the ppms we add if NO3 is also present.

Bacteria are better at lower levels general if they are consistent.
The study she used had no bacteria in the test.

So that is big issue to apply here in our situation, we have bacteria and they use NH4. The other issue is the plant adaption prior to the short test. you can adapt plants to various routines.

As fas as larger growth, eg larger leaves etc, less light produces consistently larger leaves. As long as less light is not from shading by other plants, this works well.

If you make the assumptions about NH4/urea, then you can also assume we should similar results in the sediments as well.

Eg ADA AS, sand+ soil and so forth.
I really do not see it there either.

Again, bacteria, plant roots+ O2, tend to convert a fair amount into NO3. In agriculture, they try hard to keep in NH4+ forms, but water + urea etc, = NH4 fast and it loses about 50% to NO3 in most soils.

So if we lost 50% of the urea/NH4, that's a fair amount vs the study she used to support.

It's not so dang simple as many like to suggest and is real issue in other areas. I do not think it's that big of a deal for us though.
At least nothing I've seen or test suggest it does, I'll be happy to try something to see though.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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