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 Nitrogen Cycle

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PostSubject: Nitrogen Cycle   Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:33 pm

The Nitrogen Cycle.

Break-in period:

When you have just started a biosphere it takes time to perform, unfortunately. Water placed in a new aquarium will be changed quite radically. It takes time for the aquarium to balance, to be able to remove all of the waste material (ammonia) to a less toxic substance (Nitrate). New aquariums generally take about 5 - 7 weeks to able to sustain a full biological load. Thats why you shouldn't just shout "Weeehay!" and chuck in tons of fish at once, it should be a gradual change.

The Nitrogen Cycle itself:


Fish go to the toilet, well, they don't really give a damn they just drop it anywhere, so because of that they add a lot of Ammonia. Its not just fish excrement, its fish respiration, excess food, plant remnants and even any dead fish that cannot be found. If you had a huge amount of water, the ammonia would dissipate quite well, but where you have a new aquarium ammonia tends to concentrate. This is a vulnerable time as no fish will enjoy such high levels, but some are tough (platys, barbs) and can withstand these levels. But your ammonia level is just a stage, as biological filtration and beneficial bacteria will reduce it, but it takes time to do this.

To remove ammonia altogether would be bloody hard: instead, we use numerous bacteria that uses ammonia as a food source. The bacteria strain that is important is Nirosomonas. This strain needs time to colonise the aquarium, the desired population doesn't just happen overnight. This is useful as it absorbs ammonia, and reduce it to Nitrite.

Once Nirosomonas have reduced ammonia to nitrite, beneficial bacterias isn't finished yet. Nitrite can be reduced further to Nitrate. The next step is the bacteria strain of Nitrobacter. Nitrobacter takes even more time to adsorb nitrite, and in this stage nitrite is prominent and it is another dangerous time for a fish, even a hardy one. But, after a while, nitrite levels have reduced and the less toxic compound nitrate is left. Although this toxin is far less dangerous than the earlier two, you must not let it build up in your anquarium. Standard water changes are a chore, but I would recommend you to do them as this reduces nitrate concentrations, and your fish will then be more healthy and will appreciate you for it!! (Well, maybe not but it can prolong the life of your fish). In technical terms, the Nitrogen Cycle process is called Nitrification - the oxidation of nitrogen by bacteria.


This diagram shows the basic Nitrogen cycle in a tropical freshwater aquarium.

This graph shows how the ammonia concentration builds to a spike, then rapidly falls. That is because Nitrosomonas has taken hold, and reduces ammonia to Nitrite. Then Nitrobacter comes along and reduces it further to Nitrate.


These values are just what could happen in an aquarium, your values will vary.

Also there is always the option of the Fishless cycle which will then prevent any fish going through the hazadous experience.

source: http://www.tropicalfishcentre.co.uk/Cycle.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Nitrogen Cycle   Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:09 am

i don't know whether you aware or not but the main component of the nitrogen cycle starts with the element nitrogen in the air. Two nitrogen oxides are found in the air as a result of interactions with oxygen. Nitrogen will only react with oxygen in the presence of high temperatures and pressures found near lightning bolts and in combustion reactions in power plants or internal combustion engines. Nitric oxide, NO, and nitrogen dioxide, NO2, are formed under these conditions. Eventually nitrogen dioxide may react with water in rain to form nitric acid, HNO3. The nitrates thus formed may be utilized by plants as a nutrient.

Nitrogen in the air becomes a part of biological matter mostly through the actions of bacteria and algae in a process known as nitrogen fixation. Legume plants such as clover, alfalfa, and soybeans form nodules on the roots where nitrogen fixing bacteria take nitrogen from the air and convert it into ammonia, NH3. The ammonia is further converted by other bacteria first into nitrite ions, NO2-, and then into nitrate ions, NO3-. Plants utilize the nitrate ions as a nutrient or fertilizer for growth. Nitrogen is incorporate in many amino acids which are further reacted to make proteins.

Ammonia is also made through a synthetic process called the Haber Process. Nitrogen and hydrogen are reacted under great pressure and temperature in the presence of a catalyst to make ammonia. Ammonia may be directly applied to farm fields as fertilizer. Ammonia may be further processed with oxygen to make nitric acid. The reaction of ammonia and nitric acid produces ammonium nitrate which may then be used as a fertilizer. Animal wastes when decomposed also return to the earth as nitrates.

To complete the cycle other bacteria in the soil carry out a process known as denitrification which converts nitrates back to nitrogen gas. A side product of this reaction is the production of a gas known as nitrous oxide, N2O. Nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas" - mild anesthetic, is also a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.
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