• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Will filter bacteria survive and function under 6 Ph?

Michal

Seedling
Joined
7 Nov 2016
Messages
11
Location
Czech Republic
Hi everyone,

I keep Chocolate and Samurai Gouramis in RO water and when I add peat to the aquarium, the PH drops to 5,2 - 5,5 in a few days, until the next water change. Then it will rise up a little.
I´ve been searching the internet for the answer, but what I found is either too technical for me or it´s lab testing.
So I need to know for sure. Does nitrifying bacteria survive and work at 5 Ph or just survive or even start dying?

Michal
 
Joined
27 Oct 2009
Messages
2,918
Location
Cumbria
De-nitrifying bacteria are found in some really hostile places including very acidic conditions so my guess would be that they should be fine. Don't know if there's a lower limit of PH on the strains found in our aquariums. Interesting question, unfortunately I don't have the answer but I'm sure someone who has will be along shortly.
 

Manisha

Member
Joined
1 Apr 2016
Messages
762
Location
Bangor Northern Ireland
Hi Michal, welcome to ukaps ☺ in post 34 http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/how-to-know-if-your-tank-is-cycling.43253/page-2#post-464120 a member explains their thoughts on how a low pH can effect bacteria when cycling. I have soft water and at pH5, my tank seemed not to be making any progress when starting up. I can't link any scientific evidence - this is just based on my observations. I understand extremes of temp & pH can denature enzymes so wonder if it may be a similar process?
 

Michal

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
7 Nov 2016
Messages
11
Location
Czech Republic
Thanks very much for your replies.

My tank is running for almost two years now. Chocolate gouramis are in about a year and Vaillanti for few months. Problem is, that every time the pH drops bellow 5,5, I get stressed and do daily RO water changes until the pH rise again.
It´s common knowledge (between fishkeepers around here) that de-nitrifying bacteria stops working at pH bellow 6. (I don´t know if that is the true or not. I have read that they stop or that they don't.)

I just can´t use chocolates as the subjects for testing.

I am thinking of stopping to add any peat or oak leaves to the water, but it wouldn't be like their home anymore :)
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
My tank is running for almost two years now. Chocolate gouramis are in about a year and Vaillanti for few months.
OK the important bit there is "Chocolate Gouramis are in about a year", showing that conditions are good.
Problem is, that every time the pH drops bellow 5,5, I get stressed and do daily RO water changes until the pH rise again.
Just ignore pH, it isn't a very useful parameter in very soft water. pH is a ratio, and when you have very pure water it is pretty much meaningless.
It´s common knowledge (between fishkeepers around here) that de-nitrifying bacteria stops working at pH bellow 6. (I don´t know if that is the true or not. I have read that they stop or that they don't.)
No it doesn't, but nitrification does slow down when carbonates are in short supply. In these acid environments nitrification will overwhelmingly be carried out by Archaea, not Bacteria, and they are much more tolerant of low pH.

This is for soils, but exactly the same processes will occur in the filter <"Ammonia-oxidizing archaea have more important role than ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in ammonia oxidation of strongly acidic soils">. Also because the pH is acidic the ammonia is in the form of the ammonium ion NH4+, and much less toxic than NH3.
Why are you worried about bacteria? Grow plants, not bacteria, problem solved.
As simple as that?
Pretty much, "plant/microbe" nitrification is much more efficient than "microbe only" biological filtration.

cheers Darrel
 

Manisha

Member
Joined
1 Apr 2016
Messages
762
Location
Bangor Northern Ireland
Hi all,OK the important bit there is "Chocolate Gouramis are in about a year", showing that conditions are good.Just ignore pH, it isn't a very useful parameter in very soft water. pH is a ratio, and when you have very pure water it is pretty much meaningless. No it doesn't, but nitrification does slow down when carbonates are in short supply. In these acid environments nitrification will overwhelmingly be carried out by Archaea, not Bacteria, and they are much more tolerant of low pH.

This is for soils, but exactly the same processes will occur in the filter <"Ammonia-oxidizing archaea have more important role than ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in ammonia oxidation of strongly acidic soils">. Also because the pH is acidic the ammonia is in the form of the ammonium ion NH4+, and much less toxic than NH3.Pretty much, "plant/microbe" nitrification is much more efficient than "microbe only" biological filtration.

cheers Darrel

Oh dear, now I'm really confused again! Is low pH not a problem because ammonia is usually ammonium under these circumstances? Even if you had a wet/dry filter with more oxygenation - does pH have no effect on bacteria?
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
Is low pH not a problem because ammonia is usually ammonium under these circumstances? Even if you had a wet/dry filter with more oxygenation - does pH have no effect on bacteria?
Yes pH has an effect on the ammonia oxidising bacteria that were thought to be responsible for nitrification in aquariums. This article is by Dr Tim Hovanec, <"Bacteria revealed">, and it summarize what we know now. This is the paper which first indicated that the Archaea are the primary oxidising organisms in aquariums: <"Aquarium Nitrification Revisited: Thaumarchaeota Are the Dominant Ammonia Oxidizers in Freshwater Aquarium Biofilters">. The Archaea are much less constrained by low pH, but they still need a source of CO2 (usually from dissolved HCO3-).

All decomposition is slowed in acidic water, if you put dead leaves into a fish tank with oxygenated alkaline water they will much more quickly oxidise via bacterial activity, when compared with a tank with acidic water.

This is the pH response curve of total ammoniacal ammonia (TAN). Oxygen becomes quite relevant here, because it is a base, and even water that is naturally acidic may become alkaline if oxygen saturation is at, or above, 100%, so there are risks involved in assuming pH will protect your livestock.

1809-4430-eagri-36-2-0377-gf01.jpg

It is really back to plants again, plants are a massive plus in biological filtration, they really are the <"goose that lays the golden egg">, and a lot of this is to do with their positive effect on oxygen levels.

As long as the oxygen supply exceeds the oxygen demand biological filtration will carry on at any pH level. Plants give you "belt and braces" and particularly plants with access to aerial levels of CO2 and dissolved oxygen.

The ideal situation is to have emergent plants, because these engender more suitable conditions in the substrate for microbial colonisation, but floating plants are a very good alternative and their root structure still supports microbial activity, as well as the direct uptake of NH4+ from solution (details in the quoted text).
From Gilroy, S & Jones, L. (2000) "Through form to function: root hair development and nutrient uptake" Trends in Plant Science, 5:2, pp56–60.
Available at <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1360138599015514>
limnobiumroothair-gif.41278.gif
cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
Thanks for the detailed information & links - I'm getting there, I think ☺
The really strange thing is that there are loads of papers on <"constructed wetlands">, <"aquaculture"> and <"sewage treatment"> which look at the processes that underlie biological filtration, but the traditional ideas are about aquarium cycling are like a multi-headed hydra, as soon as you provide evidence to debunk one part, it just pops up again.

I know that oxygen is the prime metric in biological filtration, and that plants are the single most important factor in maintaining water quality, but I can't convince the majority of aquarium keepers.

cheers Darrel
 

Michal

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
7 Nov 2016
Messages
11
Location
Czech Republic
Yes, I agree. The aquarium keepers around here work mostly with very old myths. I had to go to the foreign forums to get some fresh info.
Thanks again.

I knew about the importance of oxygen, thats why I built wet and dry sump filter. Didn't know about the plants though.
Now I just need to find some more plants for very soft and acidic water.

I wonder if orchid hanged above the aquarium with the roots reaching to the water will work any good?
 
Last edited:

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
Didn't know about the plants though.
I think plants are still regarded as ornaments by many aquarists. Often, even when they realize that they can improve water quality, they are seen as very much a minor player compared to microbial filtration.

The reason why plants are net oxygen producers is just a simple chemistry. During photosynthesis one molecule of oxygen is released for every molecule of CO2 taken up. When the light levels reach light compensation point plants become net oxygen producers, when light levels are below light compensation point plants are oxygen consumers, due to respiration, but plants must be net oxygen producers, after respiration is taken into account, because they grow, and that growth (the carbohydrate produced from photosynthesis) is a measure of the extra oxygen production.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQfaewREAOe1I_jrvk4qwBo2lIaTpAC4_2Mdr68-mpa_ycpYLkP_isN7Vc.png


The same applies to nitrification, it is an oxygen intensive process. Every ion of NH4+ that plants take up doesn't enter nitrification and doesn't consume any oxygen.

wdes5-3.gif
Now I just need to find some more plants for very soft and acidic water.
Ceratopteris thalictroides is a good one.
I wonder if orchid hanged above the aquarium with the roots reaching to the water will work any good?
It won't really grow quickly enough to have much effect, but a plant like a Philodendron would work. If you did want an orchid something like a Vanda would enjoy life.

Have a look at "Hydrophyte"s <"threads on this forum">.

This is a tank featured on <"PlanetCatfish">
normal_DSC_0005~1.JPG


cheers Darrel
 

Aqua360

Member
Joined
15 Feb 2016
Messages
1,637
Location
paisley
I have no idea if pothos or as it's also known as devil's ivy does well in acidic, but it will devour nitrates and generally seems to contribute to healthy tanks whenever I utilise it
 

Michal

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
7 Nov 2016
Messages
11
Location
Czech Republic
Beautiful!

I always wanted plants hanging over the aquarium. This is perfect. I think I start with orchids, which I've got and then I get some Philodendrons as well.
Also, lucky bamboo would looks nice. And help I think.
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I have no idea if pothos or as it's also known as devil's ivy does well in acidic, but it will devour nitrates and generally seems to contribute to healthy tanks whenever I utilise it
I always wanted plants hanging over the aquarium. This is perfect. I think I start with orchids, which I've got and then I get some Philodendrons as well. Also, lucky bamboo would looks nice. And help I think.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and Lucky "Bamboo" (Dracaena sanderiana) are both good ones. Umbrella papyrus (Cyperus alternifolius) is another option.

Have a look at <@Iain Sutherland's> <"Copella riparium">.

cheers Darrel
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,370
Beautiful!

I always wanted plants hanging over the aquarium. This is perfect. I think I start with orchids, which I've got and then I get some Philodendrons as well.
Also, lucky bamboo would looks nice. And help I think.

I love emersed plants....In most cases they need extra light besides room light. I never had pothos but its one of those that does well on room light. It is very low light tolerant. The ones I've tried require tank light additionally to room light to stay healthy and grow. Otherwise they slowly wither and die. But if the room is very bright or the plants get plenty of window light, a lot of species will work. Just look for plants that like being watered a lot and also ones that require moderate humidity, not high humidity like aquatic plants. There's a period of adaptation though, if they haven't previously grown in water. It may take a few months for them to adapt but they should not be dying while adapting. Their growth is just stopped in time and then all of a sudden they take off. They also flower quite well once established. Plants that don't like too much water, will eventually start melting in aquarium, including the roots. You'll be able to smell the pot :) when that happens...
 

Michal

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
7 Nov 2016
Messages
11
Location
Czech Republic
Hi everyone,

Thank you.

I'm thinking (I already started to build it actually) that I hang wooden beam (small one) or big oak branch, by chains from the ceiling. Then I can attach plants to that beam somehow.
Problem will be the humidity in the room, specially during the winter. I'll have to put some acrylic around, up to the ceiling. There will be 250W HPS lamp, which I already use, during the winter, when light from the outside is low, for my house plants. So, light won't be a problem. Only acrylic, which is three time more expensive than normal glass.

But I will get there.

I've got one question though. It might be from different circle, but still is about filters.

Recently I built wet and dry sump filter (with foam and bio balls) and I'd like to ask if anyone know how long does it takes for bacteria or Archaea to colonize the sump filter, so I can give away my canister filters?

Thank you again for your answers. It's priceless :)

Michal
 
Last edited:

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,335
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I'm thinking (I already started to build it actually) that I hang wooden beam (small one) or big oak branch, by chains from the ceiling. Then I can attach plants to that beam somehow.
Problem will be the humidity in the room, specially during the winter. I'll have to put some acrylic around, up to the ceiling. There will be 250W HPS lamp, which I already use, during the winter, when light from the outside is low, for my house plants. So, light won't be a problem. Only acrylic, which is three time more expensive than normal glass.
I'm at RBG Kew next week, I'll try and get a shot of the water lily pool in the <"Princess of Wales Conservatory">. It used to have a great epiphyte branch above it, but it has gone now.

kew_princess03-jpg.40301.jpg

Recently I built wet and dry sump filter (with foam and bio balls) and I'd like to ask if anyone know how long does it takes for bacteria or Archaea to colonize the sump filter, so I can give away my canister filters?
If you can move some of the media from the canister filter to the sump it should only take a few days. Sponges are really good for transferring microbial communities. You can swirl the sump sponge in the rinsings from the canister filter media and it will start functioning straight away.

If you have plants they will take up any "spare" ammonia. For those who don't own Diana Walstad's <"book">, there is a useful summary in <"Plants vs Filters">.

Can you run the filter and sump simultaneously? If you can I would. Longer is nearly always better.

Have a look a this article by Stephan Tanner <"Aquarium biofiltration">.

cheers Darrel
 

Similar threads

Top