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Thread: Nitrate

  1. #41
    Oyagoi bekko's Avatar
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    What would really be interesting is that we find a tt is actually an anoxic reactor with anaerobic bacteria doing most of the work?
    I guess that possibility cannot be ruled out all together Gary. However, it would seem to be a less likely explanation than ammonia volatilization. As James said above somewhere, you would expect denitrification to operate more effectively in a submerged filter where there are more anoxic areas. Anoxic areas can exist anywhere - even in floating detritus particles only a millimeter or so in size. But for denitrification to do any good, the process has to proceed all the way to the end point of nitrogen gas. It is a sequential process where nitrate (NO3) is converted to nitrite (NO2), then nitric acid (NO), then nitrous oxide (N2O), then finally nitrogen gas (N2). Nitrogen gas is very inert (the atmosphere is full of it) and readily volatilized. However, if the anoxic zone is disturbed before the nitrogen gas end point is reached, the process reverses itself, aerobic nitrification takes over again, and the partially reduced nitrogen is converted back to nitrate. In a TT you would expect the anoxic zones to be small in size and transitory making it difficult to get all the way to the denitrification end point.

    There is another type of denitrification where nitrate is converted directly to ammonia. This process takes a special microbe which is less common than the typical anaerobe looking for a source of oxygen to scavenge. I guess it is possible that something about the TT could favor this specialized anaerobe. But, then you are back to ammonia volatilization as being the primary avenue for off-gassing nitrogen.

    -steveh

  2. #42
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I am bumping up this old thread, with lots of good technical information. A discussion on another board about a pond with no detectable nitrate over an extended period of time got me interested in re-visiting the subject of nitrate. So, over the past few days I've been doing a bit of reading. I came across something I do not recall being part of the discussion of nitrate in the koi pond: The Environmental Protection Agency's conclusions about nitrate in drinking water. Lots of studies with lots of controversy, but there is a scientific consensus that EPA standards are appropriate.

    The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for nitrate is 10 ppm, and for nitrites it is 1 ppm. Lower levels may well be more appropriate, but given present technology and resources (i.e., cost), EPA has concluded that this is the lowest level to which water systems can reasonably be required to remove nitrate from drinking water. Much of the controversy is over so much nitrate being allowed, with there being those who would set it much lower despite cost factors.

    The health effects of nitrate consumption by people are notable. Short-term: Excessive levels of nitrate in drinking water have caused serious illness and sometimes death, particularly in young children. The serious illness in infants known as Blue Baby Syndrome arises from conversion of nitrate to nitrite by the body, interfering with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the child's blood. This can be an acute condition in which health deteriorates rapidly over a period of days. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin. The same processes occur in everyone, but the young body cannot handle it. Needless to say, there is no disagreement that people of all ages would be better off if no nitrate was in drinking water. Long term exposure to nitrate or nitrite levels above the MCL has considerable impacts on a large percentage of those exposed: diuresis, increased starchy deposits and hemorrhaging of the spleen.

    Impacts on fish are not so well and thoroughly studied. However, even skimming studies of the impacts on humans and mammals causes me to question the oft-repeated notion that nitrate is not a terribly bad thing for our koi. I have been pleased with myself about keeping nitrate levels below 5ppm as a general rule. Now, I wonder if even this is high in terms of a constant exposure for life.

  3. #43
    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    As some on this BBS will know, the Koi Organisation International (KOI) has information in their KOI Guide on various aspects of water quality. For Nitrate the broad ranges on the Water Quallity chart are labeled as follows:

    Reproduction: 0-5ppm
    Growth: 4-40ppm
    Survival: 40-80ppm
    Slow Death: 80-250ppm
    Rapid Death: 250+ppm

    There are notes associated with the chart. The chart has also info on Nitrate, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, TAN, Hardness, and temperature. Anyone wanting more info about the KOI chart or wished to become a certified koi keeper should contact KOI: K.O.I. |
    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.

  4. #44
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MCA View Post
    As some on this BBS will know, the Koi Organisation International (KOI) has information in their KOI Guide on various aspects of water quality. For Nitrate the broad ranges on the Water Quallity chart are labeled as follows:

    Reproduction: 0-5ppm
    Growth: 4-40ppm
    Survival: 40-80ppm
    Slow Death: 80-250ppm
    Rapid Death: 250+ppm

    There are notes associated with the chart. The chart has also info on Nitrate, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, TAN, Hardness, and temperature. Anyone wanting more info about the KOI chart or wished to become a certified koi keeper should contact KOI: K.O.I. |
    Thanks for sharing MCA. I'm glad to know I'm now out of the survival mode range of a few months ago and into the reproductive range. I just hope they don't start breeding like rabbits.

  5. #45
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Don, that makes no sense to me? submerged filters would have far more potential for anaerobic proliferation than oxygen rich and clean TT media. If I pull out the plastic media from one of my towers it will be stained brown but clean as a whistle otherwise. The base is filled with clean water up about 26 inches in an eight foot tower. There is no point in rinsing it as it IS being rinsed 24 X 7 and no waste or organic is evident. On the other hand, we can rinse one of my submerged Jmats and you will get LOTS of organic mulm, the natural home of anaerobic bacteria species ( low oxygen leading to anaerobic proliferation , leading to decay, leading to lower oxygen, leading to more anaerobics). Anaerobic bacteria exist in two ways in a filter setting, 1) as a member of a nitrifying dominate community located at depth or dispursed as a clean up crew in all areas of the film. 2) in an environment that favors them exclusively- slow moving water, rich in organic sediment and resulting in less than saturated water conditions. I could see this type of mix easily set up in a BB, but I have trouble appreciating it occurs in a TT MORE than in a mulm rich BB? JR
    MikeM, thanks for bringing up this old thread, which showed you'd taken a lot of time and effort to research on, along with useful inputs from others such as JR and Eugene. What JR mentions about submerged jmats having characteristics favoring the development of anaerobic conditions I also take as a license to interpret as favoring anoxic conditions. As my understanding goes, anaerobic conditions will favor reverse nitrification, whereas anoxic conditions favor denitrification. Reverse nitrification will produce nitrites and ammonia from nitrates, whereas denitrification converts nitrates into N² gas.

    A jmat can be anaerobic or anoxic, whereas a filter bottom can only be anaerobic when filled with mulm and sediments. The reason being that a jmat, having a large surface area, is still in closer proximity to oxygen-laden water than a filter bottom. A dirty filter bottom will reek and smell foul when a thick layer develops, because of the putrefication (anaerobic decomposition) occurring. Whereas in a jmat, it is less likely to occur because of gravity. When the mulm becomes too thick, it falls off to the bottom, lessening the likelihood of developing anaerobic conditions. Not that it won't happen, but when you clean the jmats in situ, from time to time, you likely end up free the jmat from developing extreme conditions that lead to anaerobic decomposition. But it is a very likely that you never end up ridding the jmat of all the mulm, and that would not be a bad thing.

    It's not a bad thing because for one, to rid all of the mulm would entail also flushing out too much of the biofilm of nitrifiers that have already colonized there. And also, the pockets of mulm embedded create possible anoxic zones, where heterotrophic bacteria could possibly operate and do the job of denitrification. I only say possibly, as you would have to consciously, if not accidentally, be cultivating conditions that favor the dominance of heterotropic bacteria that denitrify.

    Which leads me to believe that, until my recent thorough flushing of my jmats, my biofilters had become anoxic, and was causing my nitrate levels to go down to 10 ppm, without ammonia and nitrites going up. And the reason for it becoming anoxic, is that I have kept those anoxic/anaerobic regions from working against me by the addition of beneficial microorganisms em1 constantly over a period of two years. It must have taken this long for that colony of biofilm to develop to enough numbers to have this effect. The danger, though, is that this salutary condition can easily be overturned and become toxic. When I allow anaerobic bacteria to dominate, it will. Which means, regular cleaning of jap mats and filter bottoms, as well as regular additions of em1.

  6. #46
    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    I have a friend with a pond with a submerged filter system where he cleans only once every quarter. I tested his water quality and he had zero nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Everytime he cleans he gets like a few inches thick of mulm and waste captured in his filter. The problem is despite his zero nitrates he has almost zero growth and many of his koi skin quality has deteriorated.

    On the other hand, I have seen ponds that are not clear with some nitrate levels but the filters unable to capture any mulm because of regular water and cleaning of filters but the koi are thriving and growing with koi having wonderful skin.

  7. #47
    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacicu View Post
    I have a friend with a pond with a submerged filter system where he cleans only once every quarter. I tested his water quality and he had zero nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Everytime he cleans he gets like a few inches thick of mulm and waste captured in his filter. The problem is despite his zero nitrates he has almost zero growth and many of his koi skin quality has deteriorated.

    On the other hand, I have seen ponds that are not clear with some nitrate levels but the filters unable to capture any mulm because of regular water and cleaning of filters but the koi are thriving and growing with koi having wonderful skin.

    Compare the TDS and ORP between the two sets of ponds.
    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.

  8. #48
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacicu View Post
    I have a friend with a pond with a submerged filter system where he cleans only once every quarter. I tested his water quality and he had zero nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Everytime he cleans he gets like a few inches thick of mulm and waste captured in his filter. The problem is despite his zero nitrates he has almost zero growth and many of his koi skin quality has deteriorated.

    On the other hand, I have seen ponds that are not clear with some nitrate levels but the filters unable to capture any mulm because of regular water and cleaning of filters but the koi are thriving and growing with koi having wonderful skin.
    Without more data to work with, hardly any conclusions can be made. Nitrate readings alone don't make a koi pond.

  9. #49
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacicu View Post
    I have a friend with a pond with a submerged filter system where he cleans only once every quarter. I tested his water quality and he had zero nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Everytime he cleans he gets like a few inches thick of mulm and waste captured in his filter. The problem is despite his zero nitrates he has almost zero growth and many of his koi skin quality has deteriorated.

    On the other hand, I have seen ponds that are not clear with some nitrate levels but the filters unable to capture any mulm because of regular water and cleaning of filters but the koi are thriving and growing with koi having wonderful skin.
    Quote Originally Posted by MCA View Post
    Compare the TDS and ORP between the two sets of ponds.
    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    Without more data to work with, hardly any conclusions can be made. Nitrate readings alone don't make a koi pond.
    MCA and yerrag are right.

    And this goes to the problem faced by too many ponders. We zero in on one set of parameters as though they stand alone rather than viewing the entire system as a whole. If you read through enough threads you'll notice a pattern that is repeated time and again. Chasing a particular set of numbers while ignoring everything else at work in the pond. It will go from pH, kH, gH, O2, ORP, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, TDS, salinity, etc... Even if you take all of those things together (which is a much better way to go), you have still only STARTED to get a good view of the water.

    All of these numbers and all of the biological activity that contributes to them exist in an intricate web of symbiotic relationships that feed on one another. It is possible to achieve a wonderful set of numbers on one side of those relationships while creating a level of toxicity on the other, and that will not bring the good results we are looking for.

    Sacicu,
    Your friends have 2 different types of systems with 2 different results. One has the "appearance" of better water but yields poor results while the other has the "appearance" of poorer water but yields good results. Freedom from any and all nitrogenous compounds does not equal good water. It can be toxic to varying degrees in a multitude of ways that you are not measuring, and that is the trap that continues to plague those who only look as deeply as a color chart can carry them. Your friend with the submerged filter is producing a toxic waste that is not being measured by a standard test kit, and the fish are providing the only evidence you need. It may be easy to maintain a pond that only has to be flushed quarterly, but that is the only good thing about it.
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  10. #50
    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PapaBear View Post
    MCA and yerrag are right.

    And this goes to the problem faced by too many ponders. We zero in on one set of parameters as though they stand alone rather than viewing the entire system as a whole. If you read through enough threads you'll notice a pattern that is repeated time and again. Chasing a particular set of numbers while ignoring everything else at work in the pond. It will go from pH, kH, gH, O2, ORP, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, TDS, salinity, etc... Even if you take all of those things together (which is a much better way to go), you have still only STARTED to get a good view of the water.

    All of these numbers and all of the biological activity that contributes to them exist in an intricate web of symbiotic relationships that feed on one another. It is possible to achieve a wonderful set of numbers on one side of those relationships while creating a level of toxicity on the other, and that will not bring the good results we are looking for.

    Sacicu,
    Your friends have 2 different types of systems with 2 different results. One has the "appearance" of better water but yields poor results while the other has the "appearance" of poorer water but yields good results. Freedom from any and all nitrogenous compounds does not equal good water. It can be toxic to varying degrees in a multitude of ways that you are not measuring, and that is the trap that continues to plague those who only look as deeply as a color chart can carry them. Your friend with the submerged filter is producing a toxic waste that is not being measured by a standard test kit, and the fish are providing the only evidence you need. It may be easy to maintain a pond that only has to be flushed quarterly, but that is the only good thing about it.
    And that is exactly what the message I was driving across. In another board, I had once a heated debate with a hobbyist who was contrary to my belief of flushing the mechanical and submerged bio chambers everyday, using a strong bakki showers and consistent water change based on how much food is given and not employing any UV as opposed to his practice of employing a much more efficient settlement trapping method, submerged chamber, a sand filter to polish and very efficient Uv system to "clean" the water. He says his intention is minimize the need to touch the filter system as much as 3 months and not be a "slave" to the koi and instead just "enjoy the view of the koi." He boast that his dealer have been very impressed to the quality of water he has achieved. He says that his water parameters are just the same as what I have and yet he has better clearer water. I say to him that although my water may not have the ultimate clarity, my objectives in the hobby are clear and that is to bring my koi to the best potential it can have. Months passed and my koi have now grown like weeds having achieve gosanke aka yonsai at around 30 to 32 inches already. A famous japanese breeder recently did a pond visit with several hobbyist and he ranked my water quality as the best among the ones he visited. While it may or may not be perhaps connected, the hobbyist who wished that he could further tweak his filter system to be cleaned only once every 3 months with little water change, one of his koi unfortunately suffered late stage dropsy and he had to PP his very clear pond with "excellent" water parameter readings.

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