Thursday, February 26, 2015

I just wanted to make a comment on something I seen on Google Plus about bacteria.

The link below is from a Dr. Franco in Italy. He did an experiment with adding two small BCB (Biocenosis Clarification Baskets) to a 700-liter aquarium that had a Nitrate (NO3) reading of 60-ppm and a PO4 (phosphates) reading .75-1.0 ppm.

I just wanted to make a comment on something I seen on Google Plus. I’m also going to leave out any name(s) and the specifics of what the person was talking about…meaning pond or aquarium.

Basically they said that periodically you must add a bacteria inoculator to your system to keep it clean and running right. This goes for ponds and/or aquariums. Please be aware that not all bacteria in a bottle are created equal and are not as effective as some may think.  Read about 11 commercial products tested claiming to contain bacteria that will facilitate in the conversion of toxic ammonia to not as toxic Nitrates.

Bacteria depend upon available foodstuff, the volume and compensation of incoming nutrients and the health, condition, and type of substrate used. In other word, bacteria will increase or decrease depending on food availability, carbon, oxygen and the medium used.

Carbon availability for autotrophs, or those bacteria that utilize light and carbon dioxide to carry out their biological processes and can quickly use an abundance of inorganic carbon. Heterotrophs are mostly responsible for breaking down organic matter and thrive in areas where diffusion abounds and where organic carbon is well cycled. It is also a fact that mediating biochemical transformations (protein/enzymes) and genetic controls (DNA/RNA) show a common reliance on specific ratios (called: Redfield Ratio) of carbon (DOC), nitrogen (DON), and phosphorus (DOP). It could then be said organic carbon is a major player in how well inorganic nutrients, example, nitrogen and phosphorus, are utilized.

Evidence suggests that when heterotrophic bacteria exist at below their full degree or extent by both organic carbon and mineral nutrients, they have a negative impact on their trophic neighbors in the microbial food network. In other words, if they suffer, it appears to negatively affect neighboring processes. Nevertheless, nitrogen is generally the primary limiting nutrient in our systems because it controls the rate of primary production. If the system is supplied with high levels of “nitrogen,” then algal blooms will generally occur.

   Whether organic carbon is cycled or stored, it appears to be a matter that relates to how the substrate used supplies heterotrophic and autotrophs their essential foodstuffs. In fact, it has been shown that when only an organic carbon source is added, autotrophs are out competed by heterotrophs for inorganic nutrients, demonstrating a need for the corresponding nitrogen. If inorganic nutrients are only added, autotrophs will increase, such as cyanobacteria. Therefore, the ratio between carbon and nitrogen and that of phosphorus are very important factors when facilitating population densities of either bacterium. The substrate along with where diffusion abounds (Like that of a plenum.) is the most critical player, are very efficient at cycling organic carbon so as to balance the ratio of available constituents.

It is only when microbial communities collapse that any hobbyist would or need to add any kind of bacteria supplement to any freshwater or saltwater system. If for some reason the ecosystem does collapse and need a supplement then the hobbyist must find out why the systems foundation for incorporating important biological pathways closed to chemical mediators and not just add a Band-Aid to the system. Band-Aid’s do not fix problems they only cover them up.

So, before you spend your expendable income on needless bacteria cultures, investigate why you need the cultures in the first place and fix the problem. There is a lot of ‘snake-oil’ out there and anyone can get talked into buying them.

A word of admonition to the hobbyists: Do you remember the first time someone chorused you and stole money from you under the pretense of commerce? For most people being taken from ones wealth is a practice that will happen more than once during their lifetime. Several years ago, I bought a commercially available nitrifying product from a well-known manufacturer that also professionally installs ponds. The bottles labeled stated that it would remove unwanted sludge from the pond and the ponds filter. When I opened the bottle, it was very pungent and smelled like hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs); to my surprise, all the bottles on the shelves smelled exactly the same way. I then bought one of the bottles to do some experimental studies; before any experimentation was to be conducted, I contacted the manufacture to speak to a microbiologist on what exactly were the particular bacteria that is contained in their product. I had introduced myself to the receptionist so she would not think this was some kind of prank call. Despite numerous phone calls, no one ever contacted me, to explain anything about their product.

   Without knowing, the exact bacteria / bacterium content of this particular bottle (I did know one thing; it was not microaerophile in nature), I conducted some studies to determine the efficiency of this commercially available product. The amount of product added to the filter based on the manufacture’s labeled directions and administered accordingly.

The results determined this product to be unsuccessful in its claims at removing any sludge from the pond and/or filter. I can only imagine how many products are on shelves that are being sold to the hobbyists that are inadequate and do absolutely nothing for the betterment of the hobby. These products are nothing more than ephemera placebos designed to make the hobbyists believe that they have done something good, when in reality; they have done nothing at all for the betterment of their pond or aquatic animals.

   Marketing departments have become very clever at dodgery and telling half-truths. Even at making up impressive-sounding but meaningless jargon to sell what is often nothing more than snake oil. A hobbyist pond is a singularly inappropriate Beta-test site for products a manufacturer has not fully R&D’d themselves. Our ponds are not the proving grounds for new products that may have teething problems. It now borders a hobbyist on the behavior nearer to that of a test-consultant than a pond-hobbyist. We succinctly define the responsibilities of a manufacturer of pond products: First, to be able to make a worthy product. Second, to be able to make it consistently and reliably. Each is as important as the other is, and both are relevant to the consumer, not just the first.

   We hobbyists like to believe it is all about the aquatic animals health, safety, and well-being, but when manufactures become inebriated with cupidity and lie their way into our pocketbooks; it is then obvious that it is really all about the Benjamin's. Innovation has been the growth engine of this hobby from the very beginning, on both the aquatic animals and the hardware sides. However, history has taught us that big firms, if left to their own devices, can also stifle innovation. It is like a moment of creation at one end of the line and a perversion of intent at the other. It is really too bad that there is not a “Consumer Reports®” that hobbyist can read and use as a guideline about products that are being made and sold for this particular pastime. Unfortunately, there is not; do to the fact of people having liticaphobia (the fear of lawsuits). I know the indignation and bemusement hobbyist must feel over this whole thing, but learning the truth about that better mousetrap will never become a reality.

   However, in the pond/aquarium hobby there are profits to be made by those who would prey on the ignorant. I think everyone can remember the famous words that the spirit of Christmas present said to Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novel — A Christmas Carol. “Beware of these two children, this boy is ignorance, this girl is want, most of all beware of this boy.” In a hobby like ours, we should never let ourselves befall to that boy of ignorance. However, unfortunately it has almost come down to the point were hobbyists need to have at least a B.S. degree in Microbiology and in Biochemistry to make an astute purchase. These products known more as essentially, Lysenko’s methodology 1: “Avoid verification,” and should be avoided at all cost. Unfortunately, for the hobbyists he or she will never know until they buy the product about its defalcations; then for themselves find out what it does or does not do.
[ Read what David A. hast to says on the subject matter on filters and the misleading information manufactures give on their capabilities.-Ed.]

1:  Trofim D. Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist, active between 1929 and 1965,
Who attempted to annihilate the science of genetics in the Soviet Union using tactics of pseudoscience combined with unrelenting attacks on accepting scientific theory.

Dr. Novak

No comments: