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A puzzle: Does Seachem Stability really reduce Nitrates (sic, not Nitrites)

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by aadro, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. aadro

    aadro Subscriber

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    HI folks, I have a puzzling situation, and was wondering if others have had the same experience.

    I am puzzled about whether Stability has bacteria that reduces nitrates. Yes, I meant nitrates, not nitrites. The bottle does say that it helps reduce ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, but I originally ignored it, as everything I know "in theory" says that you can get rid of nitrates only through water changes or use by plants!

    Here's why I am asking. I was recently cycling a 10g quarantine tank (QT) without fish. [Okay, okay, hold your sarcasm about fishless cycling :) I was only doing this for the QT.] I have been putting in about 5-7 drops of ammonia from Ace Hardware (10% Ammonium Hydroxide), bringing the NH3/NH4 level (API test) up to about 1-3 ppm on average. At the same time, I have been dosing Seachem Stability as recommended on the bottle for a 10g tank. The first few days, my NH3/NH4 levels were dropping to about 0.5 ppm by the end of the days -- I couldn't tell whether it was due to evaporation of ammonia or the beginning of bacterial action -- perhaps a combination of both. Nitrites were zero initially, as expected. After about 3-4 days, nitrites started picking up very quickly, so that between the 4th day and the end of the 7th day nitrites had skyrocketed to 5.0 ppm and more (off the API test color chart). Nitrates had increased from about 5-10 ppm in my tapwater to about 40+ ppm.

    The nitrite peak and gradual increase of nitrates were of course expected, although I was a little disappointed that the nitrites were lasting so many days even with Stability in there. So I "harrumph"ed away at the uselessness of Stability and big-corporation "wool over your eyes," but THEN SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED! Yesterday, on the 7th day of Stability dosing, the nitrites were still at 5.0++ ppm, so I tested to see if nitrates had gone up (indicating establishment of the nitrite-to-nitrate converting bacteria) but to my utter amazement nitrates had actually gone down to about 10-20 ppm! I redid the test after washing the test tube with distilled water and drying it. Still exactly the same result. How the h*** dod nitrates go down? [Other than the possibility of the API test suddenly giving up the ghost on me...]

    I have no (real) plants in this QT, only some artificial ones and a "scenery ornament" with caves for sick/new fish to hide in. I have not dosed anything in this tank except for the initial Prime at recommended dosage on starting the tank 7 days ago. In addition to this conditioned tapwater, I had also initially added about two liters of water from my main (planted) tank into the 10g QT. The filter in the QT is an attachment to an Aquaclear powerhead (the attachment is like this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002566L0/?tag=barrreport-21), and I had slipped into this attachment a few Fluval Biomass (sinterglass?) thingies from my main tank Fluval canister filter, and also a polisher-type filter media from a main (planted) tank powerhead filter attachment (identical attachment to the one on the QT). Other than that, my QT should have had no contact with any plants at all. [I was thinking of using the term "plant virgin," but in addition to offending some people, I might have confused the reader, so I held back. :) ]

    Other possibly relevant information: The QT has no lights on it, and is being maintained between 77-81 degrees Fahrenheit. It is aerated 24/7 through a bubble wall and the aeration feature of the powerhead. Also, my maintank -- while cycled -- is not that old. It is only about one month old, and some plants are still getting established. I only say that to indicate the possible contents of the media pulled out of the main tank.

    So my question/puzzle is this:
    Does Stability really have anything in it that can reduce Nitrates (not Nitrites)? And if so, how does that work?

    Thanks in advance for helping me solve this puzzle. I have placed a similar post on the Seachem Support forum, and will try to post here any Seachem Support responses that I might get, if and when I get them. [Also, I have started a similar thread at The Planted Tank, so please don't be confused. I will read responses at both sites.]

    Cheers!
    aadro
     
  2. Yo-han

    Yo-han Guru Class Expert

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    I don't know what is in the bottle but I do know there are denitrifying bacteria. These bacteria convert NO3 into N2, so if they included these bacteria than it is possible to reduce nitrate;)
     
  3. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Lifetime Members
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    Generally when Seachem mentions nitrate reduction for any of their products they mean through the process Yo-han mentioned above. They usually don't mean through some magic chemical reaction from the compound/mixture. Even when it is a chemical filtration media they actually mean the media sequesters or eliminates precursors to nitrates in the nitrogen cycle thus reducing nitrates as an end result.

    Stability is meant to establish a bio filter by providing the bacteria necessary to get the ball rolling.
     
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