Nitrogen Cycle

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Nitrogen Cycle refers to the conversion of toxic nitrogenous compounds, ammonia and nitrite to nitrate. Ammonia and Nitrite are more likely to reach toxic levels when first starting an aquarium, or if certain events take place which eliminate or reduce beneficial nitrifying bacteria, such as disease treatments, filter maintenance or prolonged power failures.

Bacteria take time to establish themselves. "Nitrifying bacteria" reproduce every eight hours. The initial nitrifying bacteria to populate tend to be Nitrosomonas, which convert ammonia to nitrite. This takes approximately ten days, if the aquarium is not supplemented with Nutrafin Cycle. The levels of ammonia during this stage are often toxic and fish populations should consist of a few very hardy species. Additional water changes are recommended, always ensuring that pH levels are not increased (to avoid increasing the toxic ammonia component). The use of Nutrafin Cycle is highly recommended to introduce significant quantities of ideal bacterial strains, critical for rapid biological purification and establishment.

The second group of nitrifying bacteria to populate are those of Nitrobacter, which convert nitrite to nitrate. This period takes up to approximately twenty-one days, after which nitrite should be almost gone if the aquarium is not supplemented with Nutrafin Cycle. During this phase, it is highly beneficial to perform additional partial water changes. Nitrite is also a very toxic compound. When present in high enough concentrations, it is lethal and can affect the red blood cells of fish. Should nitrite levels persist for more than twenty-one days, additional partial water changes should be performed, along with supplemental doses of Nutrafin Cycle.

For new aquariums, ensure the following:
  • Avoid overfeeding (2 feedings daily, amount consumed in 2 minutes).
  • Regular testing of Ammonia, Nitrite, & pH.
  • Stock the aquarium slowly (over a 3 to 4 month period).
  • Regular removal of organic debris (dead plant leaves, etc.).
  • Use Nutrafin Aqua Plus with all water changes (eliminates toxic elements and reduces stress).
  • Regular dosage of Nutrafin Cycle (builds and maintains superior biological filtration).
It is important to understand that water chemistry, temperature, pollutants and other factors can affect the performance of nitrifying bacteria. Maintaining stable temperature, pH and water quality is important for all tank inhabitants, even for those that are invisible to the human eye, specifically, bacteria. Although ammonia and nitrite readings may be zero, after approximately one month, the aquarium has not reached full biological stability.

Biological filters functions instead provide a place for the growth of bacteria to through a cycling process, convert a harmful pollutants in water to harmless nitrate. Nitrate is nitrogen, therefore this cycling process is also referred to the nitrogen cycle.