Natural way of dealing with ammonia

chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)June 3, 2005

Since ammonia is the most toxic to a tank, what natural ways have you used to reduce ammonia levels? I have read in several places that duckweed will absorb ammonia, and it grows fast, but it needs lots of bright light.

Are there any other things I could do? Besides a bio filter I mean.

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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

Do water changes and find easy-to-care-for aquatic plants like anachris, Java fern, and Java moss. Those are pretty much any-light plants. Really the best way to control ammonia is to cycle, then do water changes.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 8:34AM
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Sally_D(z6b PA)

Actually, I have found that once your tank has become established, ammonia is not a problem anymore. I have to keep an eye on the nitrites if anything.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 9:04AM
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The only ways to deal with ammonia is trough oxydation by the bilogical filter ( cycling the aquarium ), by skimming or by the use of zeolite.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 12:29PM
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Aren't the plants really using up the nitrates from the cycle anyway ? i don't know of any plants that really want ammonia as a nutrient source. The best thing to do is get the tank cycled and don't have it over stocked. Bio filters aren't that expensive anymore either.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 6:51PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Chuck the bio-filter is a natural filter.Puddlemaker I think you are confuseing filter media (bio-balls, ceramic tubes, crushed lava,etc.. or even the bio-wheel by marineland) they are just different options for your mechanical filter that can be purchased. They collect a growth of beneficial bacteria that removes ammonia and nitrite and turns it into nitrate. Plants use nitrate as food.Nitrate can build to an ussafe level if you dont do the PWC's. Aset up with out live plants should test

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:04PM
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Scruffly(Vic Aust)

Woeisme why do you find it necessary to use chemical filtration? I used it when I first started because the store told me too. But haven't used anything for over 10 years. So I'm curious why do you believe its needed?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 12:24AM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

I guess I worded it wrong. I put chemical last for that reason. In a planted tank no carbon is needed. Carbon is not necessary but it does help remove "bad" bacteria. Also, "some" tap water contains phosphates and silicates or is acidic or base. You can use different media to control these situations. I only use this type of chemical filtration if a situation occurs. I have a densly plantted set up with high wattage lighting and CO2 injection. Occasionally my well water gets spikes of phosphate and wham, algae bloom. A little Phosban and a polish filter and gone. Also, I only rinse my catridge filter with my PWC water until it is completely wasted.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 10:22PM
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isis_nebthet(8b/11suns SoCA)

I've never heard of carbon removing harmful bacteria please explain?


    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 12:06AM
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chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)

Forgot to ask, how do I use zeolite in my aquarium? Is it sold by most pet stores?

Also, what is skimming for ammonia?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Ammonia has a precursor, this means that ammonia really doesn´t exist by itself, ammonia is the product of protein degradation. Waste proteins are produced constantly as a byproduct of the living processes of plants and animals either when they are alive or dead ( decomposition ) also, you add waste proteins when you feed the animals, any uneaten food follows that path. Skimming is the removal of proteins by the use of a protein skimmer, it sounds rather complicated but the process itself is very simple, all you need is water, air and current.

Proteins have two electrical charges, each charge is located at one end of the protein molecule, so a protein is like a magnet, it has one positive end and one negative end; the positive end is called "hydrophillyc" end ( it menas that it´s attracted to water ), the negative end is called "hydrophobic" end ( it means that it´s repelled by water ), when a protein is suspended the hydrophobic end of the protein is attracted to the water-air interphase ( where water and air meet ) while the hydrophyllic end continues in the water. Taking advantage of this situation is the bone and marrow of protein skimming. A protien skimmer is nothing but a chamber where water and air are put together by force through the use of a strong current, the constant "rubbing" of the air and water mixture creates a foam, this foam is formed by water, air and most important, by proteins binded to the water-air interphase formed by the bubbles. You have seen this process in nature many times in rivers and windblown banks at lakes, that "hard" foam you see is the product of that "rubbing".

In freshwater tanks it´s rather difficult to obtain a good skimming, just because in freshwater air bubbles can´t form in the correct size, in saltwater tanks it can be very easily achieved because in saltwater bubbles form at a much smaller size simplifying the process.

The idea behind protein skimming is: no proteins = no ammonia, no ammonia = no nitrites, no nitrites = no nitrates. In saltwater tanks the most important piece of equipment is the protein skimmer opposed to freshwater tanks where biological filtration is the way to deal with proteins.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 12:16PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Chuckr - You can purchase the zeolite from most fish stores. It is usually kept next to the activated carbon and othr medias/filter cartridges. It is white in color and similar to carbon in texture. Often you can buy a carbon / zeolite mix. It is used in your existing filter if you have a cartride type filter that doesn't allow to add your own media then you have 2 options. 1- a media bag that fits between your cartride and water flow of filter.2- The easiest make a slit in your cartridge and add the zeolite in the pocket you created. Also, some times you can buy cartridges that have zeolite in it. Adrea- Bacteria would be an advanced stage of the organic substances that carbon can remove. Some water has a smell or is discolored from these substances. In that case carbon may remove that substance. Or in a case where a medications are used to treat the whole tank and need to be removed after treatment. I guess "toxic" substances could be a better choice of words. At any rate the use of activated carbon in a new first tank is not a bad idea until it has been established. If I am incorrect please clarify it for me as I might have used a poor choice in wording.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 1:03PM
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