Biological Water Purification In The Aquarium

BIOLOGICAL WATER FILTRATION.

PRINCIPLE OF WORK OF BIO FILTERS.

Useful bacteria "work" in two zones of the aquarium:
1. In aquarium soil. These bacteria process waste feed, fish and convert them to water-soluble substances (mainly ammonium).
2. In the external Fish Tank Filter. Most of the bacteria are located here. In the name of the filter, the additional prefix "bio" means that on a special substrate, with a moderate flow of water, colonies of bacteria (in the form of mucus) are formed. Bacteria process primary organics and ammonium first into nitrites, and then into nitrates. Such bacteria need oxygen, so they are called aerobic. A uniform and uninterrupted flow of water is required, which delivers dissolved nutrient primary organics (and oxygen) to these bacteria. In order to have enough bacteria, a special highly porous filler is placed in the biofilter, on which they settle. In a good, “correct” biofilter, the most optimal water velocity through the substrate is provided, so that the bacteria are not “washed off” by excessive flow.

1st type Filters are classic, reliable type (for example Eheim Classic). Usually have a round cross section. Water passes upward through the filtering substrate.

2nd type. Later, advanced models (of the good ones are Eheim Professional, JBL). They have a "labyrinth" course of water. First, the water through the substrate should be from top to bottom. Rough mechanical cleaning occurs at the top, and below – medium mechanical, biological and fine mechanical. In such models in the filter trays you will see round nozzles-holes, which, when collecting the filter, form a tube through which water after cleaning follows upwards, into the filter head, and from there it is fed by the motor back to the aquarium.

In general, the standard filtering procedure is as follows:
– at first, it is customary to pass aquarium water through a layer of smooth ceramic tubes, so that the flow of water is dissected and becomes uniform in size. At the same time large waste is delayed.
– followed by a rough cleaning. Often this is a large pore foam. Medium dirt particles are massively collected here. This compartment requires the most frequent cleaning.
– then more finely porous material is placed for medium mechanical cleaning. Usually it is medium and fine porous foam.
– followed by medium cleaning in good filters, followed by a compartment with a biomaterial (for example, Eheim balls, Sera Siporax tubes) and a compartment with a chemically active component (for example, zeolite or activated carbon). Chemical cleaning is used infrequently, since it is required to regularly change fillers, for example, coal – monthly or more often.
– Finally, it is desirable to perform a fine cleaning – let the almost purified water through a layer of specially synthetic cotton wool.

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The mechanism of biological treatment:

1. At the very beginning, the primary bacteria in the water begin to process organic matter (fish waste and feed residues) into ammonia and ammonia (NH4 / NH3). Ammonium is also secreted by fish through the gills. Ammonia is formed little and rarely (in alkaline water).
2. Already directly in the biofilter (namely, in its porous filler) ammonium NH4 is processed into nitrite NO2 by bacteria Nitrosomonas.
3. Nitrobacter bacteria convert nitrite to NO3 nitrate.
4. Nitrate is absorbed by plants, or reduced by water changes, if there are no living plants or they are few.

Norm nitrate in natural waters – 10-15 mg / l. In our Minsk tap water, depending on seasonality – 0 … 2 mg / l. In aquariums, nitrate levels of more than 100 mg / l are often observed. Therefore, rare water changes, even with a powerful filter, lead to accumulation of nitrate. Regulatory water changes in aquariums should preferably be at least 50% per month (in the overwhelming number of cases, it is not necessary to defend water). More precisely, nitrate, as the main chemical indicator of aquarium water, you can check with the help of tests (for example, the company Sera, the package will be enough for 40-50 measurements).

Often, especially in new aquariums and during major cleanings, a standard problem is manifested – water turbidity. This happens with too thorough cleaning biofilters. This is a consequence of an insufficient number of "correct" ("stationary") bacteria in the aquarium soil and on the filter substrate. The hosts generously feed the fish, waste products enter the aquarium water, and there are still few “stationary” bacteria, and the primary bacteria that are “unnecessary” to us in the water column, which we can see in the form of cloudiness, are massively developing. Ammonium and nitrite concentrations may increase dramatically. In this case, you should immediately stop feeding the fish, it is advisable to make a water change (20-40%), if the water is very muddy and the fish are not good. Let the fish starve a few days to limit the flow of organic matter. It is highly recommended to add a concentrate of beneficial bacteria (for example, SeraBiostarter / Bionitrivec or TetraBactozim / Biocorin), although it is possible to just wait until the beneficial bacteria accumulate the desired population. Then the turbidity will disappear, the water will become transparent

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"Biological" substrates fillers filter:

Of course, the bacteria themselves are not originally in porous substrates, substrates are the future “home” for beneficial microorganisms. The most famous and popular fillers are Eheim Substrat Pro (in the form of balls) and Sera Siporax (in the form of pasta). Both types of substrates are good and provide a huge area for the settlement of bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria cannot live in the water column, they need a place to settle. The special ceramic porous structure of aquarium biosubstrates is ideal for bacteria in size, so colonies can grow freely on the walls of the pores, while not clogging the pores themselves.
A constant stream of water provides nutrients to bacteria and simultaneously removes their waste products. Without the flow of bacteria can not live. Therefore, you should not turn off the biofilter for a long time (2-3 hours) during maintenance of the aquarium. Professionals, if they have to perform long work in an aquarium, external filters do not turn off at all (or turn off periodically). The ideal option recommended by professionals is to clean the biofilter not during maintenance of the aquarium, but between cleanings. This avoids a dramatic reduction in bacteria, and full biological balance will recover faster.

Proper "biological start" of the aquarium:

All three areas of biological filtration can be properly supported from the very beginning.
In the soil, if there are live plants in your aquarium, it is desirable to place a nutrient substrate, which will allow the plants to become active more quickly and begin to absorb nutrients from the water before the first lower algae grow.
A day after you poured water into the aquarium and added a water purifier conditioner, you can populate the first fish. They should be a little bit better than a few small copies. This will give food to the initial population of bacteria. Simultaneously with the launch of the fish, add a culture of bacteria (see above). Bacteria can develop in an aquarium and without special additives, but bacon concentrate this process will significantly accelerate. It is usually added, according to the instructions, several times.
If you have such an opportunity, check water for ammonium, nitrite and nitrate levels for the first time. Initially, there is an increased level of ammonium, then nitrite. These substances are toxic, especially nitrite. A little later, their level decreases and the level of nitrate begins to grow, which indicates the correct biological development of the aquarium and filter. Ie the aquarium is biologically "ripe". To obtain such an end result will take at least a month.
During the initial stage of "maturation" of the aquarium, feed the fish very economically and, preferably, with high-quality food. The first 2 days after launch do not feed the fish at all.
After 1-2 weeks, you can run the rest of the selected fish into your aquarium.

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We have just talked about the correct, “ideal” launch. In practice, this rule of gradualness is not always applied for various reasons, for example: – there is no place to put a large number of fish from an old aquarium; – urgently required to equip the aquarium to the opening of the institution; – absolutely no patience to wait … …
In such cases, the aquarium should be given special attention, the fish that are once again placed in the aquarium should not be fed for at least several days, and then started to be fed in very small portions. A “biostarter” is necessarily added to the biofilter. Also in the biofilter it is necessary to lay activated carbon, which will restrain the activity of ciliates. If turbidity appears, it will be necessary to stop feeding for several days and make a partial replacement of water, and you may have to remove some of the fish from the aquarium.

An aquarium whose biological balance has been established will be stable for a long time and will bring joy to you and your loved ones. At the same time, it will be easy to care for – changing 50% of the water once a month or 30% once a week.

We wish you success! Wolf Vyacheslav, 2015 Minsk

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Biological Water Purification In The Aquarium