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Extending the Nitrification Cycle into DeNitrification......

Discussion in 'Aquatic Microbiology' started by Naja002, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Setting up a Denitrification System using Seachem's De*Nitrate. According to Seachem:

    Seachem Post/Response

    I am looking for a Layman's explanation on Why these compounds are converted back to Ammonia and/or Nitrite and then rendered harmless? I am assuming it has to do with the conversion created by the Specific Bacteria that grow in the low/no oxygen environment. Is that Correct, or am I way off-base?

    Any Insights would be Greatly Appreciated.....!

    Thanx!
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    NO3 under extreme reductive conditions can be reduced into NH4 and assimilated into plant tissue, but it's much more likely that the plants will get the NO3 first.

    We do not keep such conditions that are that reductive in our tanks, least I hope no one does...........

    Most of the NO3=> N2 gas is what occurs, not NO3=> NH4.
    NO3-> N2 gas is a moderately/slightly anaerobic condition.
    These conditions can and do exist in most aquarium sediments and are the basis for DBS's in marine systems for export of NO3 out of the system.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Ok, I understand what You said. So, I guess my question is: This occurs because of the specific bacteria that grow in the anaerobic/slightly anaerobic conditions of a Denitrate system, Correct?

    They convert it directly from NO3 to N2 gas that then dissipates into the air, Correct?

    Whereas, the "Normal" aerobic bacteria in an aquarium convert it from ammonia to nitrites then nitrates, and that's it.

    If this is correct, then it explains why I would not expect to find an increase in ammonia and/or nitrites after adding a Denitrafication system. According to Seachem's statements, I would expect both of those to increase while waiting to be processed into N2 gas.

    Conformation on my Thoughts/Understanding? :D
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You got it.

    There's a good Nitrogen article here for the subscriber section of the BarrReport's.

    The diagram explains a fair amount and gives you the redox values required for bacteria to do these process transformations.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Thanx Tom!

    I'm a Subscriber, so I'll check it out......:)
     
  6. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Nitrate Reduction

    There are an assortment of variations to the process. Yes ! They do work. I worked with at least 5 such systems in the mid to late 80's. The simplest being low flow high porosity media. The more complex being percolated, and fed metered lactic compounds. The latter being very volatile (occasionally becoming toxic due to excess sulfides) when dosing became erratic.

    The most efficient systems were so maitenance prone that they quickly became unproductive. Yes, They do work, but it's Alot Like re-bristling a tooth brush.

    These systems are only advantageous for dealing with Extreme Levels of Nitrates. Such as industrial applications IE: Power Plants

    Most hobbiest could easily double their success with half as much work, and far less investment. Water changes come to mind...:rolleyes:

    Most of us accomplish this daily with sufficient planting, Good light and adequate Co2.

    I DO Loath Naysayers, and I wish you all the success in the world ! Myself ??? I tried them out personally. They were alot of work for underwhelming results.

    Given a choice I might just as well pay a friend to shoot me in the foot...?
    Economically more efficient, and ultimately less painful ! :D

    I do still utilize high porosity media in low flow filters. If it works...Fine ! If not I won't sweat the details. Honestly my nitrates seldom exceed 12 ppm. so something must be working ?

    Just to be clear on this both of the Seachem products do work to varying degrees. In my opinion they are good products, but be wary of other exotic systems making outrageous claims. Those that have the greatest success with them tend to focus myopically on individual details of chemistry, instead of respecting a broader scope of balance. Mi Dos Centavos, Prof M
     
  7. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Well, Your post gives me mixed feelings on this Denitrafication System...! :D

    Its already built and loaded with about 3.5L of De*Nitrate, so I am going to hook it up and see how it goes.....Wish me Luck! :rolleyes:

    Would You care to give further info in regards to:

    My initial guess would be from a lack of adequate Pre-filtering before the water enters the Denitrate system causing the pores to clog. But that's just a guess....I run a UV, Diatom filter(regularly) and the pump is seriously Pre-filtered with a mass of Floss and 2 mirco-filter pads--Not the Best, but a noble effort nonetheless. :p

    Any Insight would be Greatly Appreciated! I've spent enough money, time and effort on this system--and will continue to do so just checking nitrate levels and flow-rate.....

    TIA
     
  8. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Percolated Filters

    The most advanced models were highly automated percolation types. These utilized multiple dosing pumps 2 even 3 on one system. One pump meters the the affluent in. One doses a lactic food source, and when used a 3rd. as a recombinant return.

    These types consumed nitrates like a Mad Demon ! Unfortunately they required an extremely Specific ratio to function properly. If the metering or the food source were allowed to fluctuate by even the most minute tolerances they either went into dormancy, or bloomed exponentially releasing toxins or pathogenic bacteria. This type of articulation may be fine for industry where a clinical staff can administer their maintenance, but were all but impossible for the average hobbiest to maintain, and very often disaster was only a drop or two away ! :eek:

    As always the key was moderation utilizing BOTH Ammonification, AND Anoxic Denitrification. Instead of myopically focusing, and Amplifying one individual process !

    I rarely use chemical filtration in a closed system, or catalyst components. But I do tend to load all my filters progressively both mechanically, and biologically. This is how decomposition occurs in nature, and has done so historically for millions of years.

    I'm confident that the Seachem DeNitrate WILL function splendidly within those parameters. Seachem's staff isn't prone to fad marketing. Their product line is based on Solid Science and our mutual success.

    I'm not trying to introduce a Boogie Man into the mix, but very often enthusiasm can cloud judgement and some folks get overzealous in the process. Once enjoying the initial success they may free chain their own logic to extrapolate the process to the endth degree, or focus on individual components only to have it blow up in their face. When dealing with living organisms it's often very bad to let our egos get the best of us at their expense ! ;) Waxxing Parsimonious As Ever, Prof M :D
     
  9. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Ok, bare with me here.....LOL.....this should be kinda of long......

    I agree Completely. I have become a Big Fan of Seachem and their products.


    This is what I am dealing with and what the overall setup is for,...The smear of Duckweed is from Drip-Acclimating some Food (Comet Goldfish--which ate the Duckweed--Yay!):

    [​IMG]

    Its an Acrochordus javanicus which is a fully aquatic snake. They are Extremely Sensitive. Zoos cannot manage any Long-term success (over 6 months) and only a Handful of people (literally!) on this planet can keep them alive "Long-term". I do not yet know if I am one of those people, but, if not--I am close. I have over 30 yrs herping experience and about 2yrs of working with Acrochordus species. They are animals that are Extremely Sensitive to "Stress" which includes Light, Temps, Water Quality, Vibrations, and the list goes on.

    This setup is as follows:

    40g Breeder-36x18x13"H
    ~100gph Overflow to
    ~30g Plant Filter full of Hygro Polysperma
    which overflows to
    ~40g Filtration Sump/Return(back to the 40g Breeder)

    The 40g Br is filtered Directly with an xP2 which is full of sponges, filter floss and micro pads.
    The ~40g Sump is currently just housing 18w UV, heaters and the Return pump--which is prefiltered by ~1g container full of floss and 2 micro-pads.
    the Return Pump plumbing has a "manifold" like this:

    [​IMG]

    One ball-valve will feed the UV. -110gph to kill parasites et al.
    The other ball-valve will feed the Denitrate System--30-40gph.
    The large valve is to balance the Return-flow.


    Ok, so this is why I posted all of the above. With all of the sponges, floss, subtrate, etc: Is it safe to assume that I can avoid:

    ???

    The Denitrate System is simply a SUB-system of the entire setup--Its just there to help maintain water quality. And will only run at 30-40pgh. I can increase the flow slighty--if it works too well. Water will by-pass the Denitrator via the Return, since Denitrator flow is only 30-40pgh.

    The reason for this Original post was becuase of confusion over a response from Seachem to another poster there:

    Their statement above says that nitrite and/or ammonia will be produced BEFORE it is converted to nitrogen gas. Tom says otherwise--from the way I understood it. I'm not picking sides here: because I am confused. What confuses me more and leans me toward what Tom says is Seachem's response to my question of whether I should see an ammonia and/or nitrite spike when I hook up the system:

    I realize now that they didn't answer specifically about the nitrites.

    So, the result is: I'm confused......LOL

    I understand, I think, what has been said here, so far, but I now have 2 questions:

    1) IS there a step in the Denitrafication process that creates Nitrites and/or Ammonia from Nitrates before it is turned into Nitrogen gas?

    2) What, from Your Experience/Knowledge, should I be able to expect from the Denitrate system used as described above as a sub-system?

    Here are the specs for the Denitrator:

    [​IMG]

    It contains ~3.5L of De*Nitrate. Flow: 30-40gph (Current calculation: 80oz in 60secs=37.5gph). Water well Pre-filtered.

    Just trying to get a grip on this stuff.....LOL

    TIA
     
  10. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Aquatic Reptiles

    I would not anticipate any known problems with that working model. To be perfectly honest, the single greatest challenge I've ever encountered with aquatic reptiles was that the very enviornment we strive to create is fundamentally flawed by it's own virtues.

    When "Contained" the warm moist humid environment they thrive in in nature, becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Naturally occurring tannins are seldom present in any reasonable balance. While mildly toxic they also impart an antiseptic quality. In nature their moist humid environment does still possess air and convection circulation. In a tank it quickly becomes stagnant, and fetid. If you notice dew point sweating in the enclosure you WILL want more circulation.

    Water quality itself never enjoyed the luxury of time to degrade. Bacteria took hold first perpetuating respiratory infections, and secondary virus was crippling.

    In a 40 gal. tank I would run no less than 35 W U.V. and In hindsight I might keep a supply of carbenicillin and a few insulin syringes handy. Practically all mortalities were due to respiratory infection. I had actually considered incorporating a nebulizer into the enclosure for prophylactic therapy, but quite honestly the concept of prophylactic antibiotic therapy Scares the hell out of me in an "Andromeda Strain" kind of way ! :eek: Grtz, Prof M
     
  11. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    Thank You. From my Simple understanding of all of this and our mutual faith in Seachem--I am hoping that this system suits its intended purpose. But comments like the one below cause me to wonder:

    I am assuming here that they are referring to the anaerobic "pockets" that can form in substrates. But I might as well ask....LOL: From Your Experience, with the Denitrator built and setup as above--Should I expect any problems from "deadly Hydrogen Sulfide" or any other negative by-product?

    One of the problems with these snakes is that in identical setups--some thrive, some don't. Of the ones that thrive--Normally: Eventually Something occurs, sooner or later, that causes a downward spiral from which the animal cannot manage to recover.....I agree with your secondary infection leading to a respiratory infection followed by death. They are plagued by a "Fungus" that is theorized not to actually be a fungus at all, but probably a bacteria. Most of the information available on these snakes is from field studies. The water "Quality" et al was not looked into very much at all---it's a shame.

    Your out-of-the-blue reference to tannins and their antiseptic qualities is intriguing. I add Kent's Blackwater Expert--for the Tannins. These snakes not only seem to do better with it in the water----they definitely don't do as well without it--in my experience.

    It appears at this point that these snakes and some extremely difficult turtles from the same general region of the planet (Indo, PNG, Australia) benefit from Highly Oxygenated water......but that hasn't been confirmed yet.

    Any thoughts on the Hydrogen Sulfide?
     
  12. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Hydrogen Sulfide

    If you are pushing 40GPH or better Hydrogen sulfide should never become an issue.

    My out-of-the-blue referrence to Tannins is infact the very nature of SEA water chemistry as it pertains to Aquatic Herps. Acidic environments retard bacteria. You may also consider 1. a HB oxygen reactor, or 2. an O3 reactor (once over 63* and 30% humidity Ozone decays at warp speed) indirectly contributing o2.

    The fungal infection you speak of is in fact mycobacteria (it will not tolerate O2)

    I'd also suggest a mesh top, and positive ventilation, but that's just me...;) Prof M
     
  13. Naja002

    Naja002 Prolific Poster

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    I am currently pushing ~37.5gph(=80oz/min). I can tweak it up to above 40gph. Seachem recommends 50gph or below (optimal:30-40gph). I've asked them the same question, but I am currently waiting on a response.

    I did some Googling, but came up pretty blank. Would You care to elaborate? And are either one of them DIY?

    I will definitely look into this. I will be pretty busy over this weekend, but next week is a new week! :D

    I've been running a limewood "airstone" on a dedicated pump. I just added another airstone and increased air exchange ability. I've been pondering how to oxygenate the water and get the airstone(s) out of the tank for a while now. I have a couple of airstones in the sump currently, but I plan on increasing that soon.
     
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