- May 13, 2011
- Reaction score
- Central New York, USA
And the very reason I always recommend using tank water in the forum. You never know who is reading it and what they understand by "planted". Its all about creating a balanced system, get that right and maintenance is easy. Same reason I always recommend cleaning the substrate but never touch mine (and for many thats an )So back to the question of whether or not to clean filter media sponges in tap water, the answer is simply that it depends. As already mentioned, if you have a well managed, established aquarium with plants and a light bio-load, thoroughly cleaning a filter in tap water would likely not cause an ammonia spike. Then again if it's a fairly new setup, no plants, and several fish - it could spell disaster!
My community tank is the only one with a canister (filled with nothing but coarse sponge). That one has the best of both worlds. I have stuck a basic sponge filter (without the airpump) over the inlet. These sponges are cleaned weekly but the canister itself gets cleaned once a year and TBH never looks like it needs it).More recently, (much like not disturbing the sand bed so as not to upset the biological layers), I've decided that the biological colony in the filter matures to it's most effectiveness when undisturbed. So these days, I don't clean filters until I notice a significant reduction in water flow, and then I only clean enough to restore flow.
Our objective is to achieve and maintain crystal clear water through filtration and routine partial water changes.
In the right conditions (i.e. ammonia, oxygen, moving water are present) the nitrosomonas population will double in 2 hours so even if you happen to kill off half of it (which is unlikely) this is not an issue in a mature tank. Note that it will not increase (and some will die) in the absence of ammonia so the idea that you can over filter is a myth. There is no benefit in having a bigger filter than you need. And when you have sufficient plants the nitrosomonas population is likely to be low as the plants consume all their food.Nitrosomonas are non-motile bacteria, meaning they cannot move, they sort of "spread" along.
Not to split hairs, but I believe that nitrosomonas bacteria will double in about 7 hours.In the right conditions (i.e. ammonia, oxygen, moving water are present) the nitrosomonas population will double in 2 hours...
It has been proven by Dr. Tim Hovanec that it is nitrospira that convert nitrites into nitrate. @Byron's article 'Bacteria in the Freshwater Aquarium' documents this. There's a great video interview with Dr. Tim that can be accessed in the article 'Does Bottled Bacteria Really Work'.For the sake of completeness nitrobacter (converts nitrite to nitrate) grows much slower and in ideal conditions can only double in around 24 hours.
I have often wondered where the aquatic nitrifying bacteria come from, and assumed it was not the tap water because of the chlorine. But, I was/am wrong.
I did searches to try and find information on this subject, and the best one believe it or not was back in this forum (TFF) from 2010. The only member in that thread that I recognize as still being active here is @kribensis12 [I was not on TFF in 2010, at least not actively]. He might remember this, but a couple of members had data that answers the question. Unfortunately the links they gave to sources don't work [all say site is gone or something], but the data is interesting.
First, something from my own knowledge. There are at least 10 species of Nitrosomonas bacteria. These are the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, using ammonia/ammonium and producing nitrite. There are distinct species found in, and only in, soil, marine (sea) water, and freshwater. They do not work cross-ecosystem, i.e., the marine and soil species cannot function in freshwater, and vice versa. The bacteria are simply present in these ecosystems, and they do not and cannot travel outside their respective ecosystem. Nitrosomonas are non-motile bacteria, meaning they cannot move, they sort of "spread" along. All of this means that any sort of air transportation (as via spores as someone mentioned in the 2010 thread) is impossible. The bacteria are in and live in freshwater.
So, to the data from the 2010 thread. The bacteria are in the tap water. The chlorine used by municipal water authorities may (note, may) kill some, but certainly not all. This may be why it takes so long to establish the nitrifying bacteria in a new aquarium...there are few getting through. But clearly, some do, or the bacteria would never exist in a new aquarium unless added by seeding. Nitrifying bacteria are light phobic; they only live and function in darkness.
The above is not all that surprising, given that more recent studies have proved that rinsing filter media under the tap does not kill all the nitrifying. There just isn't enough chlorine to do so, and as far as chloramine, apparently that can't either. There are in fact bacteria species that consume part of the chloramine (came across this, now can't find it again!). The only thing that does kill them is drying out, freezing or boiling. They actually establish much faster and can multiply faster at temperatures inn the high 30's which is much too warm for fish.