Monday, June 10, 2013

Many hobbyists think that the reduction of ammonia can only take place with autotrophic bacteria known as autotrophs and only in “aerobic” conditions.


   However, this statement is only half the story of how and why bacteria do the job they’re design to do. 

 The Anoxic Filtration System utilizes a specialized bacterium that is dimorphic in nature and can do exactly the same thing as its autotrophic neighbors, but under anoxic conditions. If for some reason Nitrates are not readily available to facultative anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria, they will actually utilizes in a reduction process the incoming ammonia/ammonium nitrogen ion and then turn it into nitrites and in turn, turns it into Nitrates and then into a gas element, Dinitrogen, N2. Which is the most common form of the element nitrogen, which is then released into the atmosphere, which is called; Dissimulative Denitrification. In natural systems, this happens billions of times per day, but seldom is it part of our backyard ponds agenda.  

 Facultative anaerobes utilize nitrates as a thermal electron acceptor. They use denitrification because nitrates, like oxygen, have a low reduction potential. Also denitrifying bacteria will use ferric iron (Fe3+) - a trace element found in Laterite, and some organic electron acceptors. Their oxygen requirements are extremely low (2-ppm-.5-ppm) and therefore they live in what is called; Anoxic conditions. Unlike oxygen loving heterotrophic bacteria, that consumes hydrocarbons an in turn produces a waste produced like ammonia.  

  Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas, share many of the same characteristics, both are chemoautrophic. That is, they do not require an organic source of food. These organisms obtain carbon from either carbon dioxide or carbonates, and they can obtain energy from nitrite or ammonia, respectively. While Nitrobacter can derive all of the energy they require from the oxidation of nitrite into nitrate, they can (and will) utilize other sources if available. They can oxidize complex hydrocarbons just like the more common Heterotrophic bacteria; Nitrosomonas cannot, and are dependent on ammonia only. They can become dormant when starved of ammonia under otherwise ideal environmental conditions. Remember, this is under ideal conditions and not where chemical and biological pathways are block by polymers or otherwise biological deterring insults. 

 Nitrobacter do not have the ability to enter a dormant state when starved of their energy sources (e.g., nitrite) they die, period! This inability to become dormant, coupled with the inability to produce spores and survive oxygen deprivation, explains why every spring they must be reinoculated - that’s if the biological filtration is shutdown because of inclement (e.g. freezing) weather-, unlike facultative anaerobic bacteria that have the ability to go dormant. Both have very slow reproductive rates compared to most Heterotrophic bacteria, generally 24 to 36 hours under ideal conditions. While these chemoautrophic bacteria do not require large amounts of oxygen, even a short interruption of water flow can prove deadly. Any serious oxygen deprivation can quickly allow for the growth of obligated / obligatory anaerobic bacteria. They also will not survive in anoxic conditions. This is of special importance to the hobbyist, because a power outage could prove to be devastating if not corrected in due time. Whereas for the Anoxic System, if electric power failed, it is not a limiting factor in the survival of the bacterium that we depend on; remember they have an ability to live in oxygen free zones as well as anoxic zones, that’s what makes them dimorphic. They are more forgiving to our mistakes and misfortunes.

   Hobbyists are scare of the word “anaerobic”! I have read on the Internet hobbyists saying: “They want nothing to do with anything that has anything to do with the word “anaerobic” in their Koi ponds”. You would think by now hobbyist would get over this lack of the understanding of this word and would embrace it as they do other words like Cholesterol. We all know that there is good cholesterol (HDL) and there is bad cholesterol (LDL). Just like, there are good anaerobic bacteria like facultative anaerobic bacteria: This is like good cholesterol that is correlated with reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and keeps us healthy. Do you notice the similarity between the two? In addition too bad cholesterol that is like obligated anaerobic bacteria that turns Nitrates into Ammonia, it also creates under specialized conditions Hydrogen Sulfide, Methane gas, and the most deadly of all Hydrogen Cyanide, which can leach back into solution. Not a gas like element (N2 ) most hobbyist think, this is called; Assimilatory Denitrification.  

 The fact of it is, you have anaerobic bacteria in your mouth right now and you don’t even know it. So why anyone would be so scared of something that’s part of our lives and all other animals on earth lives. Do you really think our Koi are and exception to the rule? They are not; because in a natural system the Anoxic zone may be a few millimeters thick to a meter or more and carp, Cyprinidae has, live in such waters now for millions of years with very little intervention from man. The Anoxic system is a controlled environment that even a child could make, and it is no more dangerous to your fish than it is to the animals in natural systems or a system that only uses chemoautrophic bacteria.

Anoxic Filtration System:

 I would like to elaborate on this so no confusion is to be added over making and taking care of the biocenosis clarification baskets. First, the baskets being use are non-clogging; meaning that chemical and biological pathways remain open far many years without maintenance- and are the open-cell type. These baskets have small holes perforated on all sides of them. Do not use pots that only have holes on the bottom of then, these will not work; all biological and chemical pathways will be block by such baskets and ions will not move as freely as one thinks. 

 Next, is the Laterite and Kitty/cat Litter or Fuller’s Earth to you in the UK. Make sure that the Fuller’s Earth has no additive of any kind in it. It must be the natural unscented type with no chemicals; this is imperative. We use these because: They both have a crystalline structure, which is negatively charged which attracts positive ions like ammonium and removes it out of the bulk water. The Laterite and Fuller’s Earth has many negatively charged sites; ammonia in the form of ammonium ions is positively charged.

 The Fuller’s Earth in Figure 1: Illustration showing baskets and the pond water positive ion charge. Most hobbyists do not even realize their pond water is electrically charge at all.

Fuller’s Earth UK and/or cat litter USA and Laterite attracts and holds the ammonium ions like a giant magnet until a plant root hair exchanges another positively charge ion for the ammonium ion (this is called adsorption) and takes it into be metabolize into amino acids and ultimately, protein. No Fuller’s Earth or Laterite, no negatively charged sites, no easy ammonium ion uptake. Studies have shown that the clay itself produces some important carbon dioxide; it then becomes a factor in creating Anoxic conditions. 

 For those Biocenosis-baskets that do not have any plants in them the facultative anaerobes will behave as respiratory heterotrophs when nitrates are exhausted and therefore use the ammonium ion for their carbon needs. You also do not have to use any plants at all. Some people have their filtration systems in their garages because this is all the room they have in their smallish Chicago back yards. The anoxic filter will run just fine without plants in it, but cosmetically in the yard, the WEF (Wife Expectance Factor) is higher if you make the filter blend in with your landscaping.

Eco-friendly System:

 Another big plus with this filtration system is its “Ecologically Friendly” or green as we call it in the USA. For instance: One such hobbyist that uses the Anoxic system now, would expend about 1500-gal (5678.11-liters) of water to clean out his old filtration system every week. When he switch over to the Anoxic System he cut that down to only about 400-gals (1514.16-liters) a week to clean his prefilter with water changes in his 6700-gal (22712.47- liters) pond. Now that is a 73% saving of water every week. On top of that, his fish were heather, and grew better than previous years, with less water changes. These kinds of results are seen all over the world, not just in the USA. Because his discarded water had no Nitrates in it, it did not add to the already problematic overabundance of ground waters being saturated or polluted with an accumulation of nitrates. Too many of the USA waterways are being polluted by and overabundance of Nitrogen fertilizers that are being use on our lawns. We do not need to add to this problem with Nitrogen rich pond water, think about it! 

 In addition, the people that used this way of planting in the biocenosis clarification baskets find out that just by changing their rudiment of planting habits turn their ponds clearer and cleaner than it already was. This is because they no longer used the nitrogen tablets as they did with their old way of planting water lilies other aquatic plants. Many pond plants are not amenable to nitrate as a nitrogen source since they have not “learned” to use this highest oxidized form of nitrogen because they are spoiled in their indigenous environment by ammonium, which is a great deal healthier for plants and easier uptake. In general, plants need nitrogen as ammonium. You will also find out that not only will the plants be a darker more vibrant green, have brighter colored flowers, but the leaves will also last longer than the conventional way (the use of nitrogen tablets) of planting. You can’t get any greener than that! Why add more of what’s already in abundance to our ponds water if you don’t have to?

None of the plants in the photo above in this Anoxic Filter use plant taps or any other fertilizer.

 Is all that Nitrogen bad for our Koi?

   Nitrates are a relatively “non-toxic” byproduct of the nitrogen cycle to Koi, but are they really that harmless?  The Japanese seem to think they are bad; they say it affects the coloring and skin of all Koi: So why don’t the rest of us think that way? All throughout the world hobbyist are seeing the results of no, to almost non existing Nitrates in their Koi ponds due to the Anoxic Filtration System, and all come up with the same conclusions: Koi definitely do better without it, than with it presents. Their colors are more vibrant, appetite is remarkably better than before, and growth rate exceeds their expiations. They just look and act a lot more heather than when Nitrates were a problem in their ponds. I can see that if only one or two hobbyist said this, we would be cynical of the results, but when the numbers go up into the hundreds; then we can conclude that there must be some compelling evidence into the fact that Nitrogen is bad or has a negative effect on our pond animals. After all, they are never subject to the eutrophic conditions we subject them to in such a sort time. It may take hundreds or thousands of years before they would feel the impact of Nitrates going as high as they do in our ponds. In this case, less is more! 

The Anoxic Filter is an inexpensive alterative for hobbyist to keep water clean and clear for their aquatic animals. After all they did not ask to be our pets; we just made them that way out of greed and covetousness. Don’t you think we should as hobbyist, do all we can to safeguard their existence, and not break the bank in doing so- I do!

Anoxic Filtration Book... Still free on Apple's iBook store

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