Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Koi Market Aquatic, Gardens 475 West Main Street Huntington, NY 11743

Hello Shawn,

Well it’s nice to see that a shopowner is actually taking pride in what they sell and not letting commerce dictate that for them. It’s a hard judgment call on doing what is right over doing what will bring in the most revenue for your business.  It sounds to me that you’re looking out for the betterment of your customers.

In the article: Testing 11 commercial products claiming to contain nitrifying bacteria that will facilitate in the conversion of toxic ammonia to nontoxic nitrate within the pond.  None of the cultures used did I give names to in that article because of liability lawsuits and unfortunately some of these companies that make these products have lawyers on retainer that will destroy a biologist or chemist’s career if they were given the chance to.  I have a chemist I work with that almost lost everything by the big tobacco companies because he had a product that would stop cigarettes from causing cancer. Yes, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases would be a thing of the past. The tobacco companies sued him because his product would be ‘an admission of guilt’ if they were to use it in their products.

 All testing on the bacteria cultures in the article were tested at an optimum temperature of 27°C (77°F), temperatures that our ponds never reach until late summer or if you live further south than the Mason-Dixon Line then maybe sooner. Remember, the testing was at ‘optimum conditions for cell growth’, something that our ponds never replicate like in a lab.

The two products you’re referring to: AWT-1 and Koi Care Kennel Jump Start are blends of Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter, and Nitrospira bacteria and if I remember correctly… one or both of them have to be refrigerated to give it a longer shelf life. Most storeowners do not carry those products here in Chicago because of the refrigeration they require. The refrigeration process is to slowdown the cells inside the bottles down @ 2.22°C (36°F) but not killing them altogether. You may want to read Nitrobacter and cold weather:

My endorsement is on both of these products from lab testing that I have personally done. You can rest assure you’re doing your part in selling the hobbyist a good product for inoculating their ponds in early spring as being honest to your clientele, a lot better than the freeze-dried cultures because of faster reaction times. 

Question: Also, do you have a recommendation for a qualified bacterium that aide in the removal of sludge? This is also a product we sell a lot of and I do not want to sell something that does not work.

Now this is something I really question when a hobbyist ask me this. Why do you have so much sludge (smuts) in your pond in the first place? Why aren’t your bacteria taking care of the nitrogen processes and the oxidation of these organics in ridding your pond or water garden of this sludge? Is the hobbyist confusing sludge with mulm? Is the mulm inert and has it been broken down into its simplest form already? Mulm only becomes a problem when it begins to clog biological and chemical pathways; otherwise it becomes another biological media for the bacteria to live on. At least in natural systems that’s how it works.

Okay, sorry for the rambling but too much sludge in anyone’s pond from Autumn foliage or yearly buildup is not a good sign of astute pond husbandry. When it comes to sludge, look for a bacterium product that mainly takes care of organic materials using heterotrophic bacteria. Most products out there use exclusively heterotrophic bacteria in their sludge additives that use organics as a foodsource. Once again stick with those that come in liquid form over freeze-dried because of reaction time is shortened.  

There is a way of improving these sludge remover products that hobbyist buy.
1)  Increase aeration from bottom to top of pond heavily with air stones and a strong air pump.
2)  Increase water movement along the bottom of the pond to bring more oxygen and oxygenated water turnover to the organics that you’re trying to oxidizes.  Heterotrophic bacteria need lots of oxygen to multiply and can become very competitive with the animals in our ponds for oxygen and will cause a pond die-off if the consumption of oxygen outcompetes that of the higher life forms.
3)  Never let hobbyists think that an overabundance of heterotrophic bacteria from sludge removers in solution ends all problems, because they will outcompete autotrophs’ for space, food and oxygen and they will end up with a pH swing or an inefficient nitrogen cycle. They will then have to inoculate their ponds once again with more autotrophic bacteria for their nitrogen cycle and may end up with an ammonia swing because that is the byproduct of heterotrophs. 

What I’m saying if you sell a hobbyist a sludge remove make sure they have a backup product on hand. Such sludge remover will also consume large amounts carbon. These reduced carbon compounds can be used as an energy source by the autotrophs and provide the energy in food consumed by heterotrophic bacteria too. Ninety-five percent or more of all types of living organisms that live in our ponds are heterotrophic and I bet most of your customers don’t even know that.

So the sludge remover you’re selling is a good one and there are several other brands that would service too but they are all about the same.



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