How long can beneficial bacteria stay alive in a canister with NO oxygen? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 06:25 AM Thread Starter
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How long can beneficial bacteria stay alive in a canister with NO oxygen?

I have been without power for 5 days now, thanks to hurricane Ike.

I have 3 canister filters that have been turned off this entire time.

Is there any chance the nitrifying bacteria is still alive inside the canisters or is it all dead by now? Keep in mind that these canisters are full of water that's not moved for 5 days now so they have not received any oxygen in all that time.

What are the odds that any of the bacteria is still alive?

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 06:45 AM
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5 days I have no idea... a buddy of mine went for 2 days and had no ill effects... I hope it all turns out alright.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 06:48 AM
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The bacteria is most likely dead.
I wouldn't take the chance of poisoning your tank,so I would give those filters a thorough cleaning.


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lescarpentier View Post
The bacteria is most likely dead.
I wouldn't take the chance of poisoning your tank,so I would give those filters a thorough cleaning.
That's what I've been thinking, but I thought I'd ask just in case I was wrong.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 07:15 AM
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i think just a few hours without O2 will kill them.


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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I wish I had thought ahead and pulled the baskets out and placed them in the tank with the air pumps keeping them oxygenated. Now I have to start all over again with uncycled tanks, but they are loaded with fish.

I think I'll try to get some of those ammonia alert tags to see how fast the ammonia is rising (in a general sense) along with real tests for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. This might help guide me to how often I need to do water changes and how much I need to change out each time.

Looks like I'll be doing a LOT of water changes in the next month or two.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 08:31 AM
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It's true that you filters contain a lot of biological filtration, but don't discount the fact that there's a lot of bacterial on your glass, and especially in your substrate.

You won't start all over. You'll probably have a cycle, but it won't be like a new tank. It might be possible to see if you can find a LFS that'll give you some used filter pads from one of their tanks to help you seed yours. Just watch out for parasites.

Good luck.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Good point, Epicfish. I haven't cleaned the inside glass or disturbed the substrate. Plus, there's rocks and driftwood. And, even though the plants are suffering, they should also have bacteria on them.

You just cheered me up! This means that if I can just keep things going until the power comes back on, clean out the filters (if they smell bad; good tip given to me from APC), and let things rip. The canisters should reseed themselves from the tanks in no time!

In fact, you just gave me a great idea. I can clean the sponges in the canisters and put them in the tanks now so they can start getting bacteria. That way they'll be able to jump start the canisters when I get power again.

Thanks for the great info!

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 10:27 AM
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the bacteria within the canister itself are dead. they need to respirate aerobically just like we do. 5 days is too long. DO NOT START YOUR FILTER WHEN THE POWER COMES BACK ON. the bacteria will have started to rot, being decomposed by other bacteria (anaerobically) and anaerobic decomposition has biproducts which are often toxic to fish (and people). so you should rinse all your filter media at least twice in dechlorinated water (dechlorinated just in case there are some still alive in there, you dont kill them). dont worry about killing the anearobes, they cant compete with aerobes (aerobic respiration is by far more effective) so they will die out on their own once the filter isnt anoxic.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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I've already unplugged the filters so they won't come on until I get them cleaned out. I think I'll just clean the hoses and filters and leave them to dry until the power comes back on. But I think I will, as I mentioned earlier, put the sponges inside the tanks to allow them to accumulate new bacteria. That should help jump start things when the power comes on.

I've already cleaned the filters on my two smaller tanks with fish and have those filters either sitting out to dry or in place, but not filled with water or plugged in.

They have a zip code list for when the power is supposed to come back on, and my zip code is in the "substantial power restoration by the end of day on Monday, September 22" group; however, that doesn't guarantee that it will truly be on by then. It does give me some hope, though. That's another 5 days away so I can spend that time cleaning the filters, doing water changes, and putting some of the canister medium inside the tank to recolonize with bacteria.

I'm not going to bother using dechlorinator. I'd rather do a thorough job of cleaning out the dead bacteria by using a sprayer.

Never a dull moment with our tanks!

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 04:49 PM
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Good luck Vicki, sounds like your plan to re-seed those sponges/filters will work well, especially since you're still running those battery operated air pumps.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
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I've already unplugged the filters so they won't come on until I get them cleaned out. I think I'll just clean the hoses and filters and leave them to dry until the power comes back on.
Oh god i can just guess at what the smell will be when you open them up! BO AND BBQ!!!!!!!!! YUK!!!!!!!!!! Lol
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 06:08 PM
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I think opening up the canisters and cleaning them out now so you can put the media in the tanks to start recolonizing is a great idea for jump starting! Hopefully you'll just get a quick mini-cycle if anything!

I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but you could try seeding the bacteria further with a little mulm maybe? Though without filtration, maybe mixing up mulm isn't a great idea. I guess if the filter media is resting on the ground, the bacteria will be in contact with it and they might move to colonize the media quickly. hahaha sorry for my train of thought post here

And cleaning the filters gives you something to do even though there's no power

Good luck!


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Guess what...

I HAVE POWER!!

I have lights on all tanks, but one. I've been working on my 75g first. I have the XP4 and CO2 connected to it running. I'm doing a complete change out of the water in the tank right now. Even though I cleaned out the canister, it was a mess to remove the hoses and CO2 reactor, pH controller, etc. to get it all cleaned out. So I emptied the water from the lines and reactor, allowed the tank water to run through it (pushing crud into the tank), and now I'm changing the water in the tank so remove that crud.

I've been able to identify all fish except the torpedo barb I knew already died. I found my apisto, but he's looking terrible. He's so bad that when I was draining the water, I found him stuck to the side of the glass! I don't think he'll make it, but things are back on the upside now so if he can just hang on a little longer, conditions will be greatly improved.

Plants took a hit, but only a few look really bad. This definitely solved my algae issues! Now I just need to get those plants back to doing their job, they'll help with the cycling problem.

I am sooooo thrilled to get electricity back! I wasn't expecting it until Monday, given the report posted. So it was a huge surprise to have it turned on today! A huge WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLE surprise!

Oh, and with the electricity, I now also have internet!!

I'm not happy, am I?

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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 07:27 PM
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Oh, awesome news, Vicki!!

Don't go TOO overboard with your cleaning- you don't want to trigger a mini-cycle.





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