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Nitrate cycle in an aquarium – important information for beginners

The theme of today’s post will be – nitrate cycle in the aquarium. But before I start the post, I want to apologize for the delay in the new article. I promised a man a post about the practical use of the soil, but alas, I could not prepare it, because I was a little unwell.

I came back from work with my leg turned up, lame like a horse :), and in the appendage to everything else, the temperature rose from no reason at all. And as you know, with a temperature of 38 it is hard to sit and stick at the computer.

Well, now let’s go directly to the topic of the post.

The novice aquarist has a lot of horror and a nightmare. Often, only aquarists, in search of information on various aquarium forums, are faced with smart people, who literally flood their heads with clever phrases and tips, incredible predictions and assumptions. They can scare everyone with anything, but the most terrible horror story is the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium, which will destroy all living things in your bank.

Moreover, this nitrate cycle scares absolutely everyone and indiscriminately to such an extent that many immediately grab their heads and begin to think hard about why the hell hrn. I came here at all 🙂 However, there is nothing terrible here, you just have to remember a little school chemistry and nothing else.

We all need food, and the fish are no exception, but as you know, everything that you have eaten up will instinctively break free in the near future 🙂 If our feces are destroyed by central sewage, the fish excrement mysteriously disappears into the abyss of the aquarium. Naturally, fish do not complain about this matter, since the silt in natural water bodies mostly consists of fish shit. During this fascinating process, a large amount of organic matter, especially proteins, is formed in water.

Subsequently, these proteins go as food to the bacteria, which they quickly break down into amino acids and peptides. Two or three processing and we get the final product – ammonium and ammonia (NO4 / NO3).

As you know from the school chemistry course, ammonia is a very toxic compound that can lead to the poisoning of living organisms. And the most interesting, poisoning will be long, as ammonia is quickly absorbed into the internal organs of fish and blood.

Then comes the process of accumulating it in the body. If it is not eliminated, but it is removed from the body very slowly, then in a couple of weeks the fish will be bent for no reason for indisposition. It is also very negative impact of ammonia poisoning on the immunity of the fish, which subsequently leads to the fact that the little fish will be highly susceptible to various diseases and infections.

In general, you realized that this thing is not pleasant.

However, to our aid as Chip and Dale, our favorite bacteria rush, which will oxidize ammonia, turning it into nitrite. But they will oxidize it only if there is enough oxygen in your tank. You can read about the importance of oxygen in an aquarium in this article.

As a result of oxidation, we get the following formula – NO2, that is, nitrite. We got one molecule of water, a pair of hydrogen ions and the energy released at the same time, which is necessary for our bacteria.

Whatever one may say, nitrites will be somewhat better than poisonous ammonia, but at the same time this compound remains poisonous.

It turns out that fish can be poisoned by nitrite as well as ammonia. How can we be, you ask?

What do we do with toxic nitrites? As you probably already guessed, Chip and Dale – BACTERIA go to help 🙂

The next effect of bacteria is the conversion of nitrites to nitrates (NO3). And you guessed it, this again requires oxygen, but in smaller doses than it is necessary for the oxidation of ammonia.

The formed nitrates are also somewhat harmful compounds, but in order for the fish to get poisoned with nitrates in freshwater aqua, they must be very good. Nitrates in the home aquarium will not be processed and will accumulate over time.

How to get rid of them, you ask? Simple – an elementary replacement of water, and a sufficient number of aquarium plants that will process nitrates. There are still ways to get rid of nitrates using denitrator, but the most effective method denitrification of water is a simple regular water change once a week, on a Sunday morning :))

I want to note that if the concentration of nitrates in the water rises slowly, then the fish can get used to this factor, and there have been cases when the fish lived just in deadly water with an incredible amount of nitrates in the water. Only one clearly expressed problem is combined with an elevated level of nitrate – small things will slow down growth and it will be bad to grow up in such aqua.

There is also one plus from a high concentration of nitrates – the invasive disease ichthyophorosis will go to NO by itself, without the use of drugs. But in spite of everything noted above by me, it is better not to overdo it with nitrates and to keep them in check, as the problem creeps in unnoticed.

Here’s a simple example: you have an aquarium in which you just add water. In such aqua unreal concentration of nitrates, but seemingly no cause for concern seems not to be seen.

And all of a sudden you are impatient to siphon the soil, because of the dirt you can’t see the soil 🙂 What’s next? You cleaned the aquarium, some water was poured and in a few hours your eyes cling to your forehead. The fishes begin to breathe before our eyes, and the distracted aquarist rushes to the pet store for medicines, begins to add fresh water hysterically, but all attempts are in vain and some of the fish are dead.

Why did it happen so?

The answer is simple – as aquarium fish are accustomed to a high concentration of nitrates in the water, a sharp decrease in nitrate levels led to the death of the fish. You immediately decided to replace the dead fish and bought a new one in the store, and it dies. Do you know what?

She did not suffer a sharp increase in nitrates, because in the bank where you took her level was significantly less than in your aquarium. It turns out that fish is dangerous as a sharp decrease, and a sharp increase in the concentration of nitrates in the water. Remember this never forget.

At the end of the article you can look at the chain of transformation of nitrogen compounds that occur in all home aquariums.

We can see a similar situation even in that aquarium where there never was a fish in sight. It will be enough that organic matter that can decompose is released into aqua.

This is checked easily with dry food. Poured a pinch and over time it rotted and the tests will begin to show unrealistic parameters of water.

A sharp increase in the concentration of nitrogen compounds will be observed in aqua with the corpse of a living organism, be it a fish or shrimp. When you transplanted plants during regular harvesting, you damaged the roots, they broke off and began to rot – again, organic matter and food for bacteria.

A biofilter was invented to combat organic matter, but this is another story and a topic for a separate post.

For novice aquarists, I will give one important advice: when starting a new aquarium, regardless of its type, water, and so on, the inhabitants in the first weeks after launch will feed at a minimum. The fact is that in the first weeks after the launch of the aquarium, there is still no balance in the body, there is no necessary ratio of different types of bacteria and microorganisms.

It’s not about ammonia. Just according to the first, with an excess of organic matter in a young aquarium, and there is such a thing as a “young aquarium syndrome”, the number of some bacteria may increase, in another it will decrease, leading to a bacterial outbreak.

A bacterial outbreak is accompanied by turbidity in the aquarium. I will tell you more about this in the next post.

You are the main sign on the mailing list of the blog so as not to miss this post. With this, I will finish my story and wish you, dear colleagues, success in your endeavors.

See you soon.

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