Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Please help me clarify whether it is true that the Biocenosis baskets will not be able to capture nitrates from the water?

Dear Dr. Novak, 

I have inserted six zeolite-laterite baskets in the small pool before the waterfall. I understand that your Attapulgite Laterite Biocenosis Baskets can perform the entire process of recycling ammonia-nitrite-nitrate-Dinitrogen. Meanwhile, my needs are merely taking out nitrates. The problem is nitrate is an anion and therefore will not be attracted to the biocenosis basket, if so then the bacteria within the basket will never get any nitrates for their oxygen needs. Therefore I’m afraid that this effort would be useless, except the possibility of it to function as some sort of fire extinguisher whereas if the current conventional biofilters are unable to dissolve all the ammonia that passes through it, then the biocenosis baskets will finish the job. Please help me clarify whether it is true that the biocenosis baskets will not be able to capture nitrates from the water? Thank you for your kind attention, I look forward to your answer. May God bless you always. 

Sincerely yours,


Photo from my iPhone.

Here is an excerpt from my book that explains about how water goes into and out of the Biocenosis baskets.

Many hobbyists say that: “It is impossible to have oxygen in the baskets because the substrate will compact, and therefore will inhibit any biological process to take place.” However, they forget about the substrate permeability1 qualities, and the large part it plays in the microbial and chemical processes. The permeability of Kitty litter and Laterite allow oxygenated pond water with inorganic compounds to pass through the substrate on a current-carrying magnetic field, which then allows the substrate to stay more aerobic. Such substrate has two characteristics that enable fluids to move through it: (1) porosity and (2) permeability. Porosity is the presence of small openings, or pores. Permeability means that some of the pores are connected by spaces through which fluids can move. Nonetheless, actual tests of the baskets have confirmed the existence of oxygen at low levels for bacterium to exists and exists it does. Yet, in all honesty, how it gets there is still somewhat of an unknown to scientist. Yet, I will try to explain the best I can for the hobbyist.

Oxygen penetration is less and less with depth. It decreases for two reasons: microbial metabolism and subsequent biogeochemical processes. Diffusion is a very effective process over short distances; however, it has its limitations.
Yet, the presence of oxygen in the biocenosis clarification baskets suggests that oxygen does diffuse as far as the center of each basket. Concomitantly, biogeochemical processes may produce or retain some oxygen.

Differential pressure existing across gradients. Ion displacement (differential pressure) exists when there is a relationship with carbon dioxide removal. If there is a substrate producing some carbon dioxide, it then becomes a factor in creating anoxic condition. The addition of anion producer such as microbial or aggregate or both needs to produce enough oxygen to engage or attract the carbon dioxide and that will then move the cations, releasing the oxygen and consequently going more aerobic. The point being made here is that it is that oxygen is present in the substrate of each basket and it is clearly not there only because of diffusion alone.

Okay, if you have been following Brian Woodcock’s Anoxic pond build and if you have read Dr. Franco’s findings too, then you understand that these two men have notice that Phosphates (Dr. Franco’s test in his fish tank) an anion (PO4¯) and Nitrates also an anion (NO3¯) [Brian’s Nitrates went down from 80+ ppm to 30 ppm] have both went down in solution over a given time.

What Yogas is asking is how can that be when anions that are negatively charge ions also being attracted inside the Biocenosis baskets when the baskets only attract positive ions?

 If you read my excerpt carefully the answers is there. The Biocenosis baskets through DIFFUSION are attracting oxygenated water with canton and anions that are in solution together through convection, percolation or electrical charge bringing in all ions form bulk waters. Although the bulk water is mainly positively charged the negatively charge ions are still being carried into each Biocenosis basket too. The only way to get just the right amount and/or correct water movement, oxygen and ions into and through the Biocenosis baskets is with the correct porosity and permeability of the substrate. If water weren’t constantly being exchange inside the Biocenosis basket it would then go anaerobic and not stay anoxic for aerobic organisms.

In aerobic organisms, oxygen is used as a thermal electron acceptor during respiration. This is largely because oxygen has a very low reduction potential allowing aerobic organisms to use their electron transport systems most efficiently. In anaerobic organisms, thermal electron acceptors other than oxygen are used. These inorganic compounds have a higher reduction potential compared to oxygen, meaning that respiration is less efficient in these organisms generally leading to slower growth rates compared to aerobes. Many facultative anaerobes can use either oxygen or alternative thermal electron acceptors (like nitrates) for respiration dependent on the environmental conditions. Most respiring anaerobes are heterotrophs, although some do live autotrophically.

Imagine if you will, that water is going into and out of the baskets like a sponge absorbs water. The sponge not only will absorb the fluids you're trying to pick up, but also what is in that fluid will adhere to the water molecules. For example if you had Red Kool-Aid mixed in the water. Now when the fluids fills the sponge the sponge turns red from the Kool-Aid too, it just doesn’t pickup the H2O only. 

So now you understand when water goes into the Biocenosis baskets it uses all incoming ions as a food sources or its oxygen requirements by stealing the ions oxygen. And you thought all this was going to be complicated! Also, if the Biocenosis baskets did not have negative and positive charge ions in them your plants would suffer and not grow as well. Please read about plants in my blog and how ions negative and positive must be taken in equal amounts in order not to have a fatal pH swing in plants.

You may also like to read about plants in my blog: No plant fertilizer tabs are to ever be used in a Biocenosis Basket ever! This will prove that positive and negative ions are in each Biocenosis basket.

“Quote from blog:
“The adsorption and absorption, or in equal equilibrium between anions and cations is very important. If anions where taken into a plant without cations in equivalence, any plant would suffer from a fatal pH swing. Repeatedly it has been observed that the uptake of nitrates from pond containing both ammonium and nitrates only starts after ammonium has been exhausted or its concentrations greatly reduced.”

Anoxic Filtration System by Syd Mitchell, Tony Ruiz & Dr Kevin Novak

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