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JiaEn

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1 hour ago, peedeers said:

But you dont end up with nitrates and phopates due to thhesr binders.

I think you are right! Binders are mostly carbonhydrate, so they don't contribute to nitrate and phosphate in the water.  However,  I believe the presence of excessive available carbohydrates may have some impact on the bacteria population in the aquarium. 

In terms of the digestability of proteins and fats,  that's another issue all together. Pellet quality is an area where more discuss should happen. Let's keep the discussion going! 

2 hours ago, peedeers said:

Choose the food that offers the most nutritional value. But the best foods does not automatically translate into the least nitrates/phospates.

 

Fair point. When I write this I was thinking about the idea of feed conversion ratio. In a way this is more critical for reefes than fish farmers, because we need to deal with unconverted food.

 

2 hours ago, SubzeroLT said:

fish/prawn meat

I think those are fine choices, just tedious. I used to feed my fishes with blended live clams before with good results. But like I said, tedious. It's also not easy to be consistent from batch to batch when it comes to chopping. 

Another thing is,  I would only use live seafood to do this, they are less likely (I think) to have preservatives such as sodium tripolyphosphate. 

Thank you @VANAN and @Maipian80 for your encouragement!

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@peedeers I did a bit more reading up on the nutrition utilization by marine fishes. A few points can be discussed

1. Proteins from marine origin can be highly digestible 90+%, While terrestrial proteins are much worse 40-70+%

2. Digestibility of proteins is largely dependent on the quality of the source material 

3. Digestibility of raw starch is low <50% while the cooked starch is higher >80% . With the higher prevalence of cold extrusion pellets,  there maybe an impact on starch digestibility 

 

Here are two references

http://www.fao.org/3/s5347e/S5347E14.htm

https://fas.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41240-016-0027-7

 

If anyone have a lab to conduct digestivity studies, that would be great. 

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You are right fish based proteins are better but more expensive. Plant/animal based proteins are usually deficient but cheaper thus being used.
It also depends on what amino acids are available in the proteins. Some like methionine are supposedly more useful than others. Also whats interesting is how proteins are used for growth. When carbs/lipids sufficiently provide energy, then proteins are used for growth. When lipids do not provide for the energy requirements, then proteins are actually used for energy thereby stunting growth. A balance is important.
Some studies on Aminos

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288663939_Functional_amino_acids_in_fish_nutrition_health_and_welfare

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044848614001690


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The Trappers

Another group of livestock which requires feeding are the sessile organisms. Corals, clams and some worms. These creatures are fixed in place,  therefore they rely on the flow to bring the food to them.  The food is then captured by mucus or stinging cells, or filtered through mouth and gills. 

In addition to sharing the same digestivity challenges as the fishes,  they have a even bigger obstacle to overcome - the act of preying. 

Even if one were to turn off the wavemaker and target feed, majority of the fine food are not captured.  The glowing yellow color of redsea ab+, or the powdery cloud of reefroid, these represent coral food which remains in the water column. 

Here is the conundrum. On one hand,  we want to minimize decaying foodstuff in the water, on the other hand,  those food stuff needs to be in the water for a long time for meaningful feeding to occur.  To make matter worse,  we can't just reduce the amount of food used. This will just cause less food to pass by the sessle lives, negatively impact their chance of feeding. 

Lesson from Reefs

I'm not anywhere close to an expert on coral nutrition,  but I would like to take a pointer from reef waters itself. The water provide food for the corals because there is a constant supply of numerous living plaktons. Wait!  If the planktons are alive,  they will not breakdown easily,  and they will not impact the nutrient level in the water! 

So what kind of plankton should I introduce to the aquarium?  I could start a culture of phytoplankton or even some copepod.  However,  this is tedious,  and the culture medium is laiden with nutrients for the phytoplankton. 

Fortunately, I have other options. Two options really. Bacterioplankton from shaking the zeostone, as well as the diatoms which I encouraged to grow using Sponge Power.  These planktonic lives recycles the dissolved nitrate and phosphate from the water. Effectively feed the corals. 

There is no real need to feed the coral on the daily basis.  With less food wasted,  more money is saved,  and the pressure for water quality also reduces. 

 

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Add-on to previous post:

I would like to qualify the idea of "feeding the fishes is feeding the corals

On one hand,  I fully agree that sufficient nutrient input to the reef aquarium is beneficial to both fishes and corals.  However I find it presumptious to conclude that corals feeds directly from left over food from chewing or fish poop.  

Corals polyps have a mouth which is evolved to ingest planktons of a certain size.  Therefore, it's a leap of faith to suggest that the poop of the fishes coincidentally falls within that size range to be captured by corals. 

What I think is more likely to happen,  is that the nutrients from the breaking down of these organic compounds helps the bacteria flocks to grow.  Or perhaps some of these are incorporated into the coral mucus, which helps the growth of the mucus holobiont. 

Either way, I don't think coral eats fish poop. 

Am I making sense?  If anyone is familar with this topic,  please join the discussion and shed more light on this. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, JiaEn said:

Add-on to previous post:

I would like to qualify the idea of "feeding the fishes is feeding the corals

On one hand,  I fully agree that sufficient nutrient input to the reef aquarium is beneficial to both fishes and corals.  However I find it presumptious to conclude that corals feeds directly from left over food from chewing or fish poop.  

Corals polyps have a mouth which is evolved to ingest planktons of a certain size.  Therefore, it's a leap of faith to suggest that the poop of the fishes coincidentally falls within that size range to be captured by corals. 

What I think is more likely to happen,  is that the nutrients from the breaking down of these organic compounds helps the bacteria flocks to grow.  Or perhaps some of these are incorporated into the coral mucus, which helps the growth of the mucus holobiont. 

Either way, I don't think coral eats fish poop. 

Am I making sense?  If anyone is familar with this topic,  please join the discussion and shed more light on this. 

 

 

 

Maybe your discussion can make to another thread hahaha. 

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Feeding the Unseen

The last link in the chain of feeding is to take care of the tiniest live forms in the aquarium. Bacteria, phytoplankton and zooplanktons,  as well as tiny pods and worms. For the sake of simplicity,  I call them microorganisms (Some of them can be quite big).

These microorganisms are the foundation of the food web,  and their presence is essential to ensure waste are rapidly removed or recycled. Pods and worms are instrumental in feeding on detritus, further breaking them down and fixing some of the nutrients in their biomass.  Phytoplankton make use of the dissolved nutrient in the water, again fixing some of them in their biomass.  Bacteria...  Oh well, what can we do without them.  

These tiny organisms in turn feed the corals and fishes, thus the nutrients are recycled within the system. Trash to treasure. 

Keeping the Unseen Alive

Just as we feed the coral and fishes,  we cannot expect to keep the microorganisms alive without giving them adequate food source. And just like a starved yellow tang,  those micro organism will waste away if the source of food dries up.  When that happens,  they die. No only do they stop working,  they also releasing all the fixed nutrients back into the aquarium. 

Why does nutrient spike some times when we cut down feeding?  One of the possible reason is that microorganisms die.  Why does cyano or dino takes over the aquarium,  or SPS have tissue necrosis?  Disruption to these micro organisms is the suspect. Why does newly set-up aquarium takes time to mature?  It's because these organisms takes time to grow and stablize in numbers.  

The bottom line is,  with modern techniques, it's no longer a challenge to keep water parameters at any desired level.  However, keeping the army of microorganisms in their delicate equilibrium, that's a challenge and an art. Especially since this is something we can't see or measure easily. 

Biofiltration

These microorganisms, which is part of the biofiltration,  builds up slowly,  and can be disrupted quickly. There are several implications:

1. These part of the aquarium is not something which can be turned on and off at will.  Unlike a skimmer, or a gfo reactor,  even if we don't need the export capacity,  we still need to keep them running. 

2. Reef safe medications may destroy part of this group of microorganisms, without us noticing. This could explain why some reefers faced issues with some products.

3. When these microorganisms grow and multiply, the demand on nutrients will grow as well. That's why some established reef aquarium requires intense feeding,  so much so that if the feeding is dialed back,  the aquarium responds negatively. 

 

That's it.  My piece on Nutrients in the reef. 

 

 

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The Dilemma of Sandbed

My first setup was bare bottom.  I  went with this because I wanted a low maintenance tank. It was low maintenance indeed. Any waste and detritus gets pooled into neat little piles where the deadspots are. It is easy to vacuum them out when(if) I decided to do maintenance. 

Bare bottom tanks have its short comings though. Firstly,  the reflective bottom glass is rather unattractive.  Sure,  once the coraline algae started to grow,  it gets a bit better. However, personally,  I feel an aquarium is unbalanced without substrate,  and thus incomplete. 

Secondly, lack of sandbed precludes me from keeping sand dwelling animals well.  Halichoeres and Anampses wrasses are both beautiful and functional in a reef aquarium. They do best with a sand bed.  I did managed to keep a melanurus wrasse long term in the bare bottom setup,  but seeing it sleeping in detritus is ... unpleasant at least. 

Lastly. In a bare bottom setup,  detritus, loose bits of rock,  and tiny broken frags sticks out like an eye sore. The contrast is just too great. Overall,  the bottom feels cluttered and dirty,  even though they are reasonably clean. 

I switched to a setup with a shallow sand bed. 

Sandbed : the Credit Card of the Reef

Sands bury many sins. Detritus are trapped away,  the aquasacape looks balanced (it's ironic really,  most of the SPS corals I have seen during diving are nowhere near a sandbed)  and my wrasses finally have a place to sleep. 

However, burying the problem does not make the problem go away. The trouble, which is now out of sight, continue to brew. This is like taking up and credit card and spending beyond the means. The money is still owed to the bank, and the interest grows. 

As more and more matters are trapped jn the sand bed, the dynamics of the sandbed also changes. Bacteria grow explosively to take advantage of these available nutrients, and potentially depleting the oxygen level in the sandbed. For a deeper and undisturbed sandbed, the low flow and bacteria action can cause anaerobic/anoxic regions in the depth, production toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. This may take a few month to a few years dependig on how the aquarium is run. In a way, it is like accumulating hefty credit card debt, one has to put in so much effort just to stay afloat.

If the above sand bed is disturbed. Disaster happens. Not only the accumulated detritus and hydrogen sulfide are released into water column (bad), the anaerobic bacteria also perish when exposed to oxygen rich water (bad). This sudden disruption can easily trigger a crash event. Sometimes,  all it takes is to shift a piece of rock. This is not unlike when credit card payment is defaulted,  the bank and repo man will come. 

What I'm trying to say is, sand bed needs tender loving care. The lack of maintenance today, maybe the cause of disaster down the road. 

Keeping a Good Sandbed

I started with clean up crews,  hoping an army of janitors can keep the sandbed clean. Nassaurius,  cerith, sea cucumber, conches, and hermit crabs. More than 100 CUC were added into the aquarium. They did a fine job to turn over the sand,  and even eat a bit of the detritus and algae. The sand bed looks clean. However when I take the turkey baster to blow at a spot of diatom on the sandbed. What I saw changes my mind. 

I believe a sustainable,  safe sand bed needs a lot of maintenance. Such maintenance is irrespective of how the outward appearance of the sandbed itself. Even for a pristine sandbed,  a simple turkey pasting will reveal so much trapped matters.  (If you want to try this,  and have not clean the sandbed for quite a while, please only do it for a small corner). 

There are reefers who enjoys tank maintenance,  scraping algae, and water change. I'm not one of them.  I feel that maintenance work are chores,  the less the better.  Even so,  I will use a turkey baster to jet the entire sand bed every other day. The detritus flushed out either to be captured by corals, or caught in floss to be removed.  Some lives in sand bed,  such as bristle worms,  are brought up to the surface, their population are controlled by wrasses and file fish.  Those fishes follows the turkey baster, and picks up any worms and pods uncovered by jetting. 

There you have it,  keeping the sand bed like a responsible credit card user: pay the debts on time

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Picture updates. FTS and main rock-scape. 

PSX_20210131_110323.jpg

PSX_20210131_105845.jpg

The corals are doing ok.  The color should be better in a month or two.  (Hopefully). The PAR at the highest part of the rock is insane.  So some corals are struggling to adapt. Those settled down and adapted,  have beautiful florescent colors. 

Current element consumption at 45ml of all-for-reef per day. So glad that the powder product is available. 

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Major Balancing Act

After sorting out the flow and light,  getting nutrients balanced well, coral will start to grow,  fast.  When they do, they start to take up elements from water to build their aragonite skeleton. As the result,  ions such as calcium, magnesium, strontium ans carbonate are removed from water column.  At the same time,  other major ions such as sodium, chloride and sulfate are largely untouched. 

If the consumed ions are not replenished,  disaster can happen.  The corals will start to run out of reef building minerals, and struggle with their biological functions.  The depletion of bicarbonate ions from the water greatly reduces the buffering capacity of the water. This inevitably introduces pH related problems.  On the other hand,  it we add in unconsumed ions,  the ion balance starts to shift. This is not immediately detrimental, but it does defeat the purpose of using a properly formulated salt.

This leaves us with a challenging task. We need to selectively increase the removed ions,  without adding in any more unconsumed ones. 

Supplementing the Consumption 

Aquarists developed various ways to cope with the challenge of supplementing major elements. Varied complexity, varied costs,  varied unintended consequences for the reef. 

1. Water change: by changing some of the aquarium water with newly mixed water, some elements are replenished. However, unless the element concentration for the salt mix is much higher,  the supplement effect is weak. (Remember, when you take out the tank water, you removed some of those elements too.) 

2. Kalkwasser: by dissolving calcium hydroxide to saturation in the top up water,  then dripping of it into the aquarium supplements calcium and bicarbonate at the correct ratio.  It's not with out limitations though.  The amount added is limited by the evaporation rate of the aquarium.  It does not supplement magnesium and strontium. It also have a side effects of raising pH,  which may be welcomed in some aquarium. 

3. Calcium reactor: I have not use it before in my aquarium, but I believe a properly setup calcium reactor will be the cheapest way to support element consumption in the long run. By using natural coral skeletons,  or reputable media, all the important elements are supplement according to the consumption by the coral. The only down side is the space requirement as well as the low pH effluent, which can drive the pH of the aquarium low. 

3. 2 Parts/3 Parts :

Basic 2 parts dosing uses calcium chloride and sodium bicarbonate. 

A better version replace some of bicarbonate with sodium carbonate. This will negate the pH dropping effect of the bicarbonate salt. 

Another improvement to the formula is the addition of magnesium chloride / magnesium sulfate mixture. This not only top up the missing magnesium, but also keep the ratio of chloride to sulfate in the aquarium consistent. 

If you are sharp eyed,  you may have spotted the challenge here. Although chloride and sulfate are added in the correct ratio, the aquarium water is not short of these ions. Although two ion balance is maintained, overall ionic balance is disrupted.  Don't forget that a large amount of sodium is also added in the process. 

4. Balling: Full balling supplements major element dosing with sodium chloride free salt. When use correctly,  the balling dosing does not impact ionic balance. However, true balling products are limited. 

5.Calcium Formate/Acetate: these organic salt of calcium can dissolve in rodi water to form fairly concentrated solution.  When added into the aquarium, they act as a mild form of carbon dosing,  and break down into calcium and bicarbonate ions. The ionic balance of the water is unaffected. If the microbial population of the aquarium is in disarray, it is possible for such supplements to fuel the growth of cyano or dino.  Just like what happens when carbon dosing is over aggressive. 

I would like to maintain good ionic balance for my aquarium, therefore I use this method of supplement. Using all-for-reef, the need of the aquarium is taken care of with one single head dosing pump. 

 

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4 hours ago, Xtrader said:

Wow, I'm amazed by your reefing knowledge and editorial skills!

I've been reefing for the past 25 years and I knew less than 10% of what your wrote.

Amazing work! Great Job! and you're so analytical!

Thank you,  I'm just trying to write my experiences down.  I'm a chemical engineer by training,  so that's that. 

4 hours ago, Xtrader said:

balancing the main elements? 

By and large no issues. It's not a 100% replacement.  Although calcium and kh are added at the correct ratio,  the amount of magnesium supplemented is a bit... Random.  

Different corals will consume ca/mg at a different rate. So there will be a small deviation in the long run. 

But frankly, I would be more worried about the amount of trace elements added than the imbalance of major elements. 

So far I just need to check my Ca and Mg once a month,  then adjust as needed. The acceptable range for these two elements are quite wide. 

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Unintended Consequences 

One type question often asked by new reefers is "what should I do when.... ". These questions are often answered by suggestions of adding a certain product,  equipment or organism.  Sometimes, perhaps some techniques are recommend. While these answers may alleviate the immediate problem, it is probably not the most essential question for a reefer to progress. 

You see, the reef is a complex system. For any complex system,  the interdependence of different factors is the central theme. When we attempt to adjust a certain aspect of our reef,  be it feeding the corals, getting rid of cyanos,  or supplementing major elements, we do not effect change only on that aspect. There are, almost certainly, other factors which will be altered.  In some cases,  a cascade of events may take place, and drive the reef system into a completely different direction. 

It's easy to know what a product or technique supposed to achieve. Afterall,  that's plastered on the product packaging. But the key question we need to ask is: What are the unintended consequences of using it? 

I believe just by considering this question, one immediately become a more conscientious reefer. 

 

A Cyano Story 

It's with regularity that discussion of pest bacteria/algae appears on reefing platforms. In deed,  these unsightly algae not only detracts from the beautiful reef aquascape, but also smother, poison,  and other wise kill out precious coral.  Such evil should be banished now! 

So the reefer seeks out solutions,  one of the highly recommend product is cyanoclean.  Reef safe, kills cyano, why not.  The reefer added this to the aquarium. Bam.  No more cyanobacteria, all is well...or is it? 

Although "reef safe", cyanoclean is a antibiotic, and it does kills bacteria. Although the biofilter will not be completely wiped out.  Some of the bacteria are killed. These bacteria breakdown and release their bound nutrient into water. At the same time,  the aquarium also have a reduced capacity to breakdown and reduce excess nutrients. 

The removal of cyanobacteria creates a void in the reef ecology, space and nutrients become available and untapped. Since nature abhors vacuum, these available niche is quickly filled by other organisms.  Sometimes,  to our dismay,  dino flourishes instead. 

This is not an actual case study. However, events like this do happen fairly often. Many times,  dispite our best intentions and hardwork, we may adversely impact our reef system.  In order to solve an immediate small problem,  we end up creating a bigger problem down the line. 

 

So,  start asking the important question:

What are the unintended consequences?  

 

 

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9 hours ago, JiaEn said:

Thank you,  I'm just trying to write my experiences down.  I'm a chemical engineer by training,  so that's that. 

By and large no issues. It's not a 100% replacement.  Although calcium and kh are added at the correct ratio,  the amount of magnesium supplemented is a bit... Random.  

Different corals will consume ca/mg at a different rate. So there will be a small deviation in the long run. 

But frankly, I would be more worried about the amount of trace elements added than the imbalance of major elements. 

So far I just need to check my Ca and Mg once a month,  then adjust as needed. The acceptable range for these two elements are quite wide. 

Got it, thanks

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18 minutes ago, Xtrader said:

With the sand, how's your Phosphate and Nitrate? compared to bare bottom

 

Phosphate 0 by Hanna, 

Nitrate 1 ppm salifert.  Pretty consistent. 

When I had bare bottom last time, I did not run zeolite based system. So need to use phos media to keep the phosphate down. Now there is no need for those. 

13 minutes ago, Xtrader said:

You can put a magnetic rock on your upper right ,back of the tank for your corals, like what I did

Nice look!  But I want the right side to remain open and uncluttered. I feel the negative space is essential.  My wall corals were mounted on the left side. 

In any case, the magetic attachment won't work for me because the tank is flush with the wall behind it. Thanks for the suggestion though. 

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I'm using a hybrid between zeovit and zeolight.

Between the bacto reefball and automatic zeo reactor, the compulsory maintenance is less. It can probably auto pilot (go without feeding) for a few days. Any longer, probably have to switch out some product. 

Since my daily maintenance is basically feeding the corals, I can probably switch to redsea ab+ for coral food in a pinch. 

 

 

 

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The Weakest Link

What is the secret to good looking fishes and brightly colored corals?  This is one question all reefers would like an answer to. True enough,  numerous products promises to produce deep florescent metallic glowing intense colors with accelerated growth and extremely polyp extension . Something like that. 

Unfortunately, my experience tells me,  such products does not necessarily help me to get the effect I need. Let me explain why. 

A Cinematic Experience 

I still remember an experience I had when I was in sec 3. For some reason,  the school released us early.  I decided to go and watch a movie with my friend. Back then,  week day tickets are cheap.  There were also promotions for large coke and popcorns. Everything one needs for a great movie experience, right? 

Turns out it was horrible. There were few patrons on a weekday,  and the air-con becomes exceedingly cold. I spent most of the time wondering when the movie will end, so that I can return to the warmth outside. The rest of the time? Struggling about if I should take another sip of the icy cold drink,  and tahan the shivering after. 

The movie is not important,  the drink is not important,  the friend sitting beside is not important, because a basic need of warmth is not met. The experience is determined by the weakest link. 

This is the same for the reef. 

At the end of the day,  it is not about finding a better light,  or adding a better supplement. It should be about identifying what is the weakest link in the reef system,  and spend our limited resources where it counts. 

How to: Upgrades

Granted,  it is not always easy to identify the weakest link in our own reef.  What we can do,  however,  is to ensure that we do not blindly spend money on upgrades

Before pouring differnt color enhancing potions in to your aquarium, or buy the latest and greatest light and wavemakers, ask yourself this question. 

Are my corals healthy enough to take advantage of this? 

 

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The Bacteria Paradox

Every now and then, an idea trends in the reefing community,  and holds captive the mind of reefers. From ULNS,  to ICP,  to bacteria.  Nowadays,  it seems that the first course of action to any reefing issues is: add more bacteria

It helps especially when different vendors waxed lyrical about the efficacy of their bacteria products. From rapidly remove nitrate and phosphate, to instant  cycling,  to prevent the growth of algae. To us consumers, these magic in the bottle has so much appeal,  especially with a whole lot of scientific sounding jargons (chemoheterotrophe,  anyone?). However, does bacteria product work? Or rather,  how does bacteria product supposed to work?  Let me attempt to address this Pandora's box. 

 

The Niche which is Our Reef

The aquarium we keep is practically an enclosed ecosystem.  With it,  comes the limitations. Just as there is a limit of how much fish and corals could be reasonably packed into the aquarium,  there are limitations for the bacteria as well. 

There is a limit of surface for the bacteria to colonize.  There is a limit of nutrients for the bacteria to multiply.  There is also a limit of available oxygen to support their biological functions. 

Put it simply,  an aquarium can only support so much bacteria. When they run of of oxygen,  they die and foul up the tank. When they run out of nutrients, they die and foul up the tank.  When they run out of space,  they disperses in to the water column,  causing cloudiness. 

 

The Massive Bacteria

Being relatively simple organisms, bacteria takes over available resources rapidly. If left unchecked,  they can double in number every few hours,  within days,  there will be more bacteria than the volume of the whole aquarium. Luckily, the limit of space,  nutrients and oxygen prevent this disaster from happening.  However, it is safe to say that the bacteria population in the aquarium is generally at the state of saturation: they take up all available surfaces, use up all nutrients and oxygen accessible to them. If this is true,  what happens when we add more bacteria from a bottle? 

Let's get the ugly out of the way first. If the bacteria in the bottle is not viable,  they will simply break down and join the nutrition cycle as waste. Not a good idea. 

How about viable bacteria then? 

 

To Challenge the Status Quo

 When a population of viable bacteria is introduce to our reef, the residential population is challenged. Remember,  the aquarium is at capacity with the exisiting bacteria, unable to support the new addition.  

As the result,  some bacteria will have to die. Those may come from the newly added bacteria,  or from the exisiting population in the aquarium. Therefore,  adding bacteria does not increase the population for nutrient cycles, unlikely to make a huge impact on the dynamics of an aquarium. 

But wait! What if the bacteria product adds in a special strain of bacteria,  carefully chosen to be adaptable and hungry for nitrates?  Wouldn't this shift the  composition of bacteria population?  More workers,  less slackers.  This must be good,  right?  Unfortunately, no. The aquarium is likely to harbor all these different strains of bacteria since the beginning. The reasons that some of these bacteria does not flourish in the aquarium is because the environment is not conducive for them. Perhaps the wrong pH,  perhaps the wrong nutrients. Either way,  the newly added, hard-working bacteria will unlikely be able to compete with the other strains in the aquarium and effect the desired change. 

Put it simply,  the population and composition of the bacteria in our aquarium depends mostly on the state of our reef system.  It's unlikely for bacteria products to change this equilibrium. 

 

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Bacteria Redux

If we are willing to entertain the idea that adding bacteria to our aquarium is unlikely to make dramatic changes to the ecology of the aquarium, then we must at least attempt to explain how those bacteria products can sometimes effect positive change to the condition of our aquariums. 

Invariably, bacteria are grown in culture media. These media contains various nutrients required for the bacteria to grow. When added to the aquarium,  these nutrients supply the residential bacteria with much needed resources, temporarily increase the population of bacteria. It's for the same reason why certain bacteria products can cause cloudiness in the water. 

Another way by which bacteria products can help with the tank chemistry is by means of enzymes.  Enzymes are non-living.  They eventually breaks down in the aquarium. By adding enzymes into the aquarium,  they can potential help to breakdown organic compounds,  thus accelerating the nutrient cycles. 

All considered, these are a far cry from magically resolve all sorts of problems in the aquarium. 

 

Resolving the Paradox

Since the effect of adding bacteria into a fully occupied ecosystem has limited impact, we need to consider the alternative. 

Rather than adding in bacteria only for them to perish, we need to remove bacteria which frees up more resources for the new colonies to develop. Therefore I'm a firm believer of siphoning and skimming when it comes to dealing with non-ideal bacteria ecology.  

When there is cyano or dino, siphoning them out not only free up the ecological niche,  it also takes the bound nutrients with them.  In time to come,  the environment becomes less suitable for them to grow,  and their population drops down to non-problematic levels. 

When there is excess nutrients, leaving bacteria in the tank will do little to address  the concern.  Skimming them out, on the other hand,  takes nutrients out from the system. 

I believe the ability and techniques to influence the shifting bacteria population is the answer to many problems in the reef tank. Taking out,  rather than putting in bacteria should be the first course of action. 

Be a Bacteria Bender,  find the balance of your reef. 

 

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