Originally Posted by Eshnon
Alright, I just wanted to let everyone know.. Eco-Complete does live up to what it says it does.. The bacteria that comes with the substrate is amazing! They clearly state on the package that the bacteria included breakdown the fish waste and change it into food.. which I would assume they are talking about breaking down Nitrites and Ammonia into Nitrates. Not only is this substrate filled with many minerals but is also great for setting up a new tank, and getting it established! I had high levels of Ammonia in my tank, and when I put this in.. my ammonia levels went down to ZERO in about two weeks.. if not less. HOWEVER, the one thing that concerns me is the possibility of very high levels of Nitrates, leading to a Algae Bloom... This can be avoided with water changes or introducing a fast growing plant that will absorb Nitrates, like Duckweed.
Am I right?
Just to clarify for you, the bacteria that break down organics (food, waste, plant material, etc) are different bacteria from the nitrifying bacteria that use ammonia to produce nitrite and then nitrite to nitrate. The manufacturer's info reads:
Eco-complete contains live heterotrophic bacteria to rapidly convert fish waste into natural food for your aquatic plants. It establishes a natural biological balance, which makes cycling a new aquarium faster and safer.
The heterotrophic bacteria are those living in the substrate that break down organics into nutrients in conjunction with plant roots and water flow through the substrate. The "cycling" bit would suggest nitrifying bacteria.
To the issue of ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. With live plants, ammonia (whatever the source) will be mainly taken up by the plants and changed to ammonium to be assimilated as their source of nitrogen. Some nitrifying bacteria will also be present to use some of the ammonia and change that to nitrite, then nitrate. But live plants usually mean this latter bacteria process will be minimal, unless the tank is very lightly planted or the fish load is beyond what the plants can handle. So your ammonia level decreasing is likely due to the plants. The nitrite should be zero throughout if things are balanced. And nitrate will be very low again depending upon the balance. So there should be no reason to worry over nitrates or ways to handle them, that is what the live plants are there to do.
Fast-growing plants do benefit especially in new tanks because they assimilate more nutrients, including ammonia/ammonium. Stem plants are good, floating plants even better for this. Floating plants have the added benefit of assimilating CO2 from the air rather than the water, and this is faster because the assimilation of CO2 in water is 4 times slower than in air for plants, and there is obviously more CO2 in the air to start with. Plus the closeness to the light means no shortage of sufficient light for all this. Floating plants also release considerably more oxygen into the aquarium than substrate plants, since aquatic plants release oxygen through their roots, and floating plant roots are obviously in the water, not the substrate.
Water changes are still advisable for other reasons, and weekly changes should be the norm. The volume depends upon the biological balance in the individual aquarium. I would say usually 30% to start with.