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Ammonia

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by MediaOne, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    In an effort to minimize the ammonia levels in my system I am siphoning out detritus & dead plant material. I am also going to reduce my 50 cardinal fish load by half (90 gallon).

    It occured to me that if ammonia is so important to minimize, why aren't more people running zeolite?

    Does using zeolite have a significant impact on the trace minerals & iron levels.

    I know that carbon can help with NH4 but that it will also remove some trace minerals and elements.

    Is carbon or zeolite worse?

    Why isn't everyone out there with a planted tank running zeolite to help constantly lock away ammonia?

    Regards,
     
  2. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    I certainly used zeolite in the setup stages of my new aquasoil tank to reduce ammonia. Zeolite works great, and I dont think it really has any impact on trace minerals or Fe. Carbon might, but only a little bit--not really noticeable, and is still useful in the setup of new tanks. After the zeolite has been exhausted in a few weeks, it will have been colonized by beneficial bacteria, and become great bio-media (The same with the carbon). At this point, the plants should be established well enough to take care of any ammonia that might occur.

    Aquasoil really leaches a lot of ammonia and organics(DOC) into the water of a newly setup tank. Zeo-Carb is perfect for this. Zeolite for the ammonia, and activated carbon for the dissolved organics.

    I think that the continued use of zeolite & zeocarb would be great in fish only tanks, and only really be useful in the startup phase of new plant tanks.

    Great point, MediaOne.

    -Mike B-
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think the ammonia problem, when we are talking about algae, is that fish and plant waste generates a nearly constant small amount of ammonia in the tank. The concentration will likely be too low to measure, but down at the substrate it could fluctuate and hit high enough levels to trigger algae spores to start the growth cycle. Removing that ammonia by filtering it out with a canister filter, for example, wouldn't be effective, because of the time it would take for that ammonia to make it to the filter inlet, where it would be very dilute anyway. But, plants growing well right there on the spot where the ammonia is generated, are effective just by being so close to the source, and plants quickly absorb that ammonia. This is how I think it works, anyway.

    And, this suggests another idea: if the substrate were zeolite sand, and if you used an UGF, would those tiny spikes of ammonia get quickly sucked down thru the zeolite, be absorbed by the zeolite and rendered harmless? An obvious flaw in this is that the substrate could only absorb a limited amount of ammonia, but wouldn't the plant roots be constantly removing the ammonia to "recharge" the zeolite sand? Just an idle thought I had the other day.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Until the zeolite sand was saturated with NH4 at the Cation exchange sites on the grains,............bacteria will play a role as well, so ..............

    Bacteria do very well on zeolite sand BTW, excellent biomedia.

    Zeolite can be recharged a few times using NaCl brine, Na+ replaces and exchanges with NH4+.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. MediaOne

    MediaOne Prolific Poster

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    Hoppy,

    I agree with you that the ammonia levels we are dealing with are extremely low. However, i don't feel that these low levels are only signifigant at the substrate. If i remove the ammonia in the column with zeolite, the concentration gradient created should "pull" it out of the substrate. That being said, this is far from an excuse to avoid siphoning out detritus and dead plant material.

    I can see that a tank with healthy plants is more than capable of dealing with the average ammonia production. In my case, even though my tank is established it might still benefit from a period of carbon and zeolite from what im hearing here.

    Thanks for all your help!
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    As more and more organic materials, sources of carbohydrates and less labile forms, are degraded via oxidation(thus consumes O2) by bacteria, what happens to the sediment over time?

    Are the bacteria more able or less able to consume NH4 and convert it into NO3?

    Clearly less able.
    What about loading more organic carbon and dead plant materials?

    Clearly, again, less able.

    This is what is meant by an old sediment/substrate.

    It's not so much the accumulation of toxicants etc, it's just over loaded, and no O2 can get down there. So the cycling of waste from above slows down, some times a great deal.

    Now.......this is more complicated than this simple system.

    1. We have plants roots, sometimes massive root systems growing down there.
    These pump large amounts of O2 into this low O2 system and increase and enhance the cycling rates.

    2. We uproot and replant, vacuum, remove and minimize the loading rate.
    This removes the waste and opens up the pore spaces, that had been clogged prior. We also remove the roots, so that part is a negative. But they tend to grow back pretty fast.....

    3. Many tanks have little issue with loading rates, some tend to have a lot.
    Depends on the feeding, the plants and their health(ya think??!!), driftwood and sediment grin sizing.

    You cannot suggest one size fits all here, heating cable folks love to suggest that, but that is a huge pile of Bovine male manure.

    Always has been.

    By increasing the rate of flow between the sediment and water column, the effect is that it clogs faster is all. Once the pore spaces are clogged, the rate of flow goes way down. All it does in speed up the clogging.
    RFUG's flow rates are high enough to prevent that clogging.
    Even these can be clogged if the water is not prefiltered prior.
    The sand bed acts as a giant sand filter with heat cables and normal no cable set ups. And like all filters, they clog.

    The main issues are listed above concerning sediments (1-3) and clogging.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr




    We also uproot and vacuum every so often.
     
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