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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to start a discussion about the bacteria in our tank setups. I would like everbodies opinions on where the bacteria lives as in the tank or the filter and at what amounts in each area.
 

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As for where the bacteria lives.....everywhere. Any surface area offers a spot for BB to live. Most of it resides in your filter media as that provides the best surface for them as well as water flow to bring them the nummy nums they love.

This is why many people use things like the bio balls, pot scrubbies, lava rocks, etc. in thier filters. It provides more surface area.

As to how much....no idears on that one.
 

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Queen Platy
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According to me and my tank. I believe the most lies in the tank itself maybe 80%-90% in the tank and the rest in the filter. I never do gravel vacuums and never touch it but I change my filter cartridge every 3 weeks. The plants surface area, tanks surface area, and substrates surface area all added togeter has far more surface area my the media. Also, the waste and dead leaves fall to the floor rather than being sucked up in the water column. The BB all lie within the mulm to break it down. Or otherwise.. my ammonia and nitrite would be off the charts rather than getting nitrate.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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This is a debatable subject that will have many answers depending on each persons tanks. I have run tanks without filters that do just as well as tanks with filters. It all depends on surface areas. Whether it be substrates or filters. But most tanks that depends more on filters usually have less plants and such than tanks without filters, then the tanks are loaded with plants, most being fast growers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is exactly what I was hopeing to here Susan, so does anybody else have any opinions on this.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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This is just something that everyone needs to understand, there is no right answer to this question its just based on opinions. Everything on the web is just is based on several peoples opinions.

So there is no right or wrong answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Once again THANK YOU Susan. I think its funny that people take things as fact because they read it on the internet and several people they talk to do it and say its so. I will not believe that a long tank or a tank with a large foot print will not have as much if not more BB in its substrate alone now add in any rocks, driftwood and even plastic plants along with some in the water column. I agree if you have a tall tank with a small foot print that there wont be as much BB in the substrate and now throw in a bare bottom tank and you will have almost no BB in the tank. I really dislike it when people make statements that almost all the BB is in the filter and will even state percentages because as far as I know there havent been any scientific studies done.
I know everybodies tank and maintenance routine is different and we all should do what is best for our own tanks but we all need to be carefull about stating facts on subjects like this at least IMO.
 

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I really dislike it when people make statements that almost all the BB is in the filter and will even state percentages because as far as I know there havent been any scientific studies done.
Welllllll.....there is an issue with this. I mean..not really an issue...not sure really how you would classify it.

While BB lives anywhere and everywhere in a fish tank, they are more abundent in your filter media than anywhere else in the tank. A couple of factors here. First is water movement. BB thrive best when there is constant water flow (I.e filter) water is contantly being moved and bringing goodies to them. Now...inside the tank itself, it is suseptable to "dead spots". By this there is little to no water movement. While yes there will still be BB in these spots, it just won't be in the same numbers.

The second factor that comes in to play is surface area. Now I know what your thinking. How can one say that a filter offers more surface area than that of what is inside of the tank.

Let's break it down. We'll start with the substrate. Let's say your average bed is 1.5 - 2" deep. Of this...how much is actually "exposed" to water movement? Only the top "x" amount. The rest is stagnant. Yes, BB will be present but not as abundant as top layer. The deeper you go, the less in quantity there will be. Most of the good "goodies" will have already been devoured by the top layer BB leaving only morsels for the rest to fight over.

Now we compare this to that of filter media. What is filter media? floss/fiber. thousands and thousands of strands. Each of these strands are exposed to the circulation of the water. The filter is constantly pulling the "goodies" from the tank and passing it on to the BB. With the water circulation, all of the BB get their fair share of "goodies" and thus thrive and survive and reproduce more rapidly.

On to the percentages. Now if someone can sit there and tell me that "x%" of BB is here and "x%" is there...I say one thing...prove it. I'm not a scientist or biologist but I would like to see facts. It's all a matter of concentration.

Let's pose a couple more scenarios, we take a 10g tank and for practical purposes, we'll say we have 12 neons in this tank. Standard 10g rated HOB. Tank is cycled, well established and has been running for quite some time with just standard water changes. No further maintenance. Time comes to change the media in the filter. What happens? Chances are you will find yourself in a mini cycle. Whether you see the tell-tell signs of it (i.e. cloudiness), it will happen. Why? Because you have just removed a large chunk of BB from environment. Now there is not enough BB to keep up with the bioload.

Same scenario, except this time, we are tired of the gravel and want to switch to sand. We remove all the gravel and replace it with sand. Once again, we have removed a large portion of the BB. Large enough to cause what is in the filter media to be ineffective. What happens? Same as above...a mini cycle. The BB have to grow enough to support the bioload.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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But you can also look at this scenario. Which I am stating from experience.

75 gal ran for 2 years with filter. heavily planted, sand substrate, full of endlers and bristlenose. One day I pulled the filter and left it off, never had a mini cycle or any kind of spike. Water change once in 8 months. ran the tank 2 years this way till I moved houses.

Whether you have a spike or not changing things out depends on surface area of what is staying. Plants, deco, substrate, glass and all will have bb on it, and if there is enough of this, there will be plenty of bb to sustain the tank. Same reasoning with filters. If the filter has lots of area to and not enough areas in the tank you change filters or loose the filter you will go through cycle. But if your filter has plenty of areas in it, you can change out everything in the tank and not see a cycle.

If this looks like rambling it probably is because I have taken my meds. But it gets the point across.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am not trying to argue with you James but lets look at it this way also. The filter you run will be in direct correlation to the size of the tank now look at the top 1 inch of substrate surface area available there now lets also look at the decorations and even plastic plants an see the entire surface area there now I believe that will be rather substanial. The top layer of substrate will have aerobic bacteria and that breaks everything down to nitrates and then the deeper you go you get to the anaerobic zone and I believe this starts at about 2 inches and that converts nitrates to harmless nitrogen, Full Circle. I am not saying that you wont have a larger amount of BB in the filter than in the tank if there are deep vacuming of the substrate at each WC but if the substrate is vacumned lightly then you should have a substainal amount of BB there. I have always used a substrate of about 4+ inches and almost never vacumed it deeply or heavily and have never been able to get a reading of more than 10 on my nitrates and yes I am always stocked quite well and feed heavy. I also would replace my media once a month and was never able to get any readings of ammonia or nitrites. I am just going by my personal expierences and the fish I have kept are Angels, Cardinals, Otos, Zebra Plecos and Shrimp just to name a few and they all have live a very long lives IMO.
 

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No..not at all...no rambling...and I agree...but...I will guarantee that you had a mini cycle. Another misconception about mini cycles are that the water will be cloudy. This as well is not true. The cloudiness will come when there is such a great swing in the lack of BB.

If we were able to do more extensive lab studies, you would be able to see where the water parms will change during this shift. But...the change is so slight, that the regular test kits that we use won't pick it up.

What weighs on this is of course stocking levels. Let's take your same tank and replace the endlers and BNPs with Cichlids. What do you think will happen then?
 

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Archer...I don't take it as an argument. Good banter and all very good points. Given your scenario with plants and decor...absolutely....BB is there. But to what extent is the direction I was trying to head in. Without full water movement throughout the entire tank, the BB just will not be as plentiful as in other spots of the tank. Let's take those cheesy castles (sry if I offended any one by calling them cheesy). While there will be BB all over it, it will be more plentiful on the outside surface where the water moves over it. Inside, there is "dead space". It becomes stagnant. There will be less concentration of BB at this point. Rocks, driftwood...even plants can be placed in such a way that these "dead spots" exists. They are not harmfull in any way mind you. The BB just will not be as numerous as in other spots.

It's the same concept with the substrate. With the increased flow of water over the top "x" part of it as well as fishies that keep it moving, the concentration will be greater at this point than it will be further down.

We can go back to Susan's example above. This would be a very good scenario to play out. It would be a great scientific study if there is/was a way to proove it.

In her tank, she removed the filter. By doing this, she reduced the flow/circulation of the tank. Even if a power head and/or and air stone is being used. The circulation was cut. I'd be willing to bet that once this happend, the BB scaled back a bit. Not enough to cause any ill effects mind you.

Add the filter back and I'm sure the BB would be thriving better with that increased ciculation. This is in the tank itself...I'm not counting the filter.

Surface area is the key to BB. Look at your sumps. How are these designed? The media is in direct flow of the water not sitting in the stagnant areas. We use bio balls, pot srubbies, sponges, etc to increase the surface area. That's what makes this method of filtration ideal.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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No..not at all...no rambling...and I agree...but...I will guarantee that you had a mini cycle. Another misconception about mini cycles are that the water will be cloudy. This as well is not true. The cloudiness will come when there is such a great swing in the lack of BB.

If we were able to do more extensive lab studies, you would be able to see where the water parms will change during this shift. But...the change is so slight, that the regular test kits that we use won't pick it up.

What weighs on this is of course stocking levels. Let's take your same tank and replace the endlers and BNPs with Cichlids. What do you think will happen then?
No there was no spikes or mini cycle, tested with api liquid test kits that were new (since I ran out, had to by new) also tested at lfs.and also a friend of mine who uses all meters. I never said anything about not having cloudy water, either, just said I never had a mini cycle. Over 80% of the tank was planted, almost to the point of no swimming room. Most of the plants were fast growers, like hygros and such.

As for stock, there was 300 endlers and close to 200 bn fry in that tank when I pulled it.

Cichlids do not do well in NPT tanks as they will tear up the plants in nothing flat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have enjoyed this and can agree with all points made here. I have always worked at haveing suficient flow in my tanks for the simple reason of keeping everything suspended as much as possible. I usually run 2 filters and at least 1 PH usually 2 PH's and maybe thats why I have had the success that I have had. I know with the way I am running my tank this time I feal that I have even more BB in my substrate as I am running floor dry and that is not a smooth surface like many gravels used and that allows even more BB to colonize it.

I just wanted to get all of our ideas and opinions out there so people can maybe read this and draw there own conclusions and I think we have.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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We can go back to Susan's example above. This would be a very good scenario to play out. It would be a great scientific study if there is/was a way to proove it.

In her tank, she removed the filter. By doing this, she reduced the flow/circulation of the tank. Even if a power head and/or and air stone is being used. The circulation was cut. I'd be willing to bet that once this happend, the BB scaled back a bit. Not enough to cause any ill effects mind you.


Not actually true in the case of npt tanks as you must use some sort of water movement for the plants, In my case I put in 2 power heads to where there was plenty of water movement. Most NPT's will use a filter with nothing in them just for the water movement.

The tank before pulling filter


After removing filter and doing water change
 

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In my case I put in 2 power heads to where there was water movement. Most NPT's will use a filter with nothing in them just for the water movement.[/COLOR]
That's what I mentioned. You removed the filter and replaced with (2) power heads. You're keeping the circulation going in that scenario. Thus satisfying one of the key elements to good BB growth. Had you not employed the use of PHs, this is where you would have gotten the scaled back BB.
 

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No there was no spikes or mini cycle, tested with api liquid test kits that were new (since I ran out, had to by new) also tested at lfs.and also a friend of mine who uses all meters. I never said anything about not having cloudy water, either, just said I never had a mini cycle. Over 80% of the tank was planted, almost to the point of no swimming room. Most of the plants were fast growers, like hygros and such.

As for stock, there was 300 endlers and close to 200 bn fry in that tank when I pulled it.

Cichlids do not do well in NPT tanks as they will tear up the plants in nothing flat.
I didn't mean that you yourself experienced a cloudy situation. I just meant in general when people say "mini cycle" they automatically assume there will be cloudiness with it. This is not the case. Most mini cycles go unnoticed. That is why I said if you had access to calibrated lab equipment, I'll bet you see it.

It is, of course, possible to have so much BB that changes like that could be fine. This would go back to stocking and how much "goodies" are being produced for the BB. Put (2) fish in your 75...there will be so much BB that any changes would be mute. 500? As little as it may have been...there was a mini.
 

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tank before pulling filter


After removing filter and doing water change
ooooo...side bar....you just removed the filter? Pic 1 is soooo much better. Did you bump the lighting or something else? Pics are compeletly different down to the flora. Major scape as well?
 

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Queen Platy
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I think you have more that 2000 fish in that tank.
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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It just looks like that many. I had added some plants and scaped it before removing the filter. But it soon outgrew so much there was hardly any room.

I sold so many of those endlers that I am now down to a 33 long and a 20 long with endlers in them. I soon hope to have it down to just the 20 long since I have added so many tanks and going in a different direction.

This is what it looked like when I tore it down and sold that tank
 
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