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Bacteria Maintenance

Published: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 14:38:06
By: Michael Oleksak

The importance of maintaining your bacteria colony.
Bacteria Maintenance

A good starting point in understanding the importance of bacteria maintenance in the nitrogen cycle is to appreciate the difference between a natural environment and a managed environment typical of the average pond. In nature ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are extremely scarce.

The nitrate produced during nitrification is a perfect plant food which plants, including algae, use to feed upon. Plants are then eaten by fish who convert the plant protein into animal protein. When plants or aquatic animals die their protein is decomposed and released as ammonia to start the cycle over again.
The important point is that, in a natural system, no extra nitrogen in the form of fish food is being introduced so virtually all the available nitrogen is 'locked away' as plant or animal protein. Therefore high levels of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate are extremely rare.

In a Koi pond we see a noticeable difference in both stocking levels and feeding schedules.  These factors combine to produce substantial amounts of ammonia. The volumes of water in a Koi pond are obviously far smaller when compared to a large lake so there is far less dilution of the nitrogenous compounds (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate). The other main difference is the lack of plant life in the average Koi pond. Algae produce 'green water’ and blanketweed and as such are undesirable in Koi ponds. 

When we eliminate algae this leads to very little nitrogen being converted into plant protein. The end result is that free nitrogenous compounds (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate) are common in Koi ponds.  To put things back in ‘balance’, we have a need for proper bacteria maintenance.

Fortunately, bacteria known as Nitrosomonas utilize ammonia as a food source breaking it down into nitrites. Nitrites are almost as bad as ammonia as far as fish toxicity is concerned and it's just as well that nitrites form a food source for a second bacterial grouping called Nitrobacter. Nitrobacter break nitrites down into nitrates, which are relatively harmless when compared to ammonia and nitrites.

Organic Digester has twenty specific strains of beneficial bacteria, including Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas.

Other reasons we continue with a "maintenance dosage" of bacteria.

  1. When the bacteria digest most of the organic food source in the water, then the population of the beneficial bacteria will drop off.

  2. It is a good idea to add bacteria, even to clear water, to maintain the levels of bacteria in case an influx of food occurs.  It takes the bacteria time to reduce a sudden rise in organics.

  3. If your pond has a UV light, that will also kill some of the bacteria.  A UV lamp should always be turned off for at least 24 hours when treating with bacteria.   A UV lamp, while helping with clarity, will not improve the water quality for your fish nor reduce bottom sludge.  Organic Digester will do that!

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