Can Anyone Explain The Carbon Cycle In An Aquarium? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
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Can Anyone Explain The Carbon Cycle In An Aquarium?

I know the Carbon Cycle is important in aquaria because of the buffer and the CO2 level in the water, but I'm drawing a complete blank. I googled it and really could'nt find anything.

I would love to see chemical equations, if possible. Maybe if you know a page with a good explanaton you could just point me to it.

Thank you.
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 09:48 AM
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I'm assuming you are referring to hardness and pH and how they interact. Have a read of my article here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

If you have any questions on that, ask away in this current thread. Or any other questions, if you're thinking of something different.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Byron. i read your article on water hardness and pH, and am duly enlightened, at least partially. Thank you!

I am looking for the equilibrium between the buffer and the water. It would be clearer if I could see the equation - I took Chem 101, which I liked a great deal. But I suppose an explanation would be fine.

Thanks.
Steve
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo the Clownfish View Post
Hi Byron. i read your article on water hardness and pH, and am duly enlightened, at least partially. Thank you!

I am looking for the equilibrium between the buffer and the water. It would be clearer if I could see the equation - I took Chem 101, which I liked a great deal. But I suppose an explanation would be fine.

Thanks.
Steve
You'll have to explain this a bit more so I can be sure of the question. Presumably you want to buffer the pH in the water, with a suitable KH?

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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My Double Light Fixture With Daylight Bulbs On A 10 Gal.

Btw, I covered one of the big diameter fluorescent bulbs with aluminum foil (can't only have one going, unfortunately). It looks good, still a little bright, but I think usable. I think I will buy a glass top for the evaporation.

Steve
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post #6 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Byron, sorrry if I'm not being clear. I don't want to do anything with the information. I just wanted to know what those carbonates and bicarbonates are doing and how the buffer works chemically. I understand that this is part of the Carbon Cycle, or at least I would think so. I'm interested in these things. Sorry if i'm asking a weird thing or not speaking in a way that is clear to you.

Thanks,
Steve
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemo the Clownfish View Post
Byron, sorrry if I'm not being clear. I don't want to do anything with the information. I just wanted to know what those carbonates and bicarbonates are doing and how the buffer works chemically. I understand that this is part of the Carbon Cycle, or at least I would think so. I'm interested in these things. Sorry if i'm asking a weird thing or not speaking in a way that is clear to you.

Thanks,
Steve
As a chem student you may well know more about this than I do. But I'll try to explain what I understand from my aquarist's perspective.

The carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the water do the buffering. These are related to minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium but a few others can also be present. As carbonic acid is produced through the biological processes in the aquarium they are taken up by the carbonates, thus maintaining a steady and stable pH. The more carbonates (= higher KH) the more they can do this. Without carbonates, as in very soft water, the production of carbonic acid will lower the pH because there are no carbonates/bicarbonates to take it up.

Live plants are a factor in this process due to their impact on the amount of dissolved carbon, CO2, in the water.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Byron. And thanks for your articles.

Steve
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 01:07 PM
You mean this?




Those two above ones should help explain how it works in the aquarium. Though the solid CaCO3 comes from ground water not an actual source in the tank unless you have limestone or crushed coral in the tank. Its one of the reasons you do water changes. As the cycle does slowly consume buffering capacity. In the aquarium though the cycle is very simple for the most part. Planted tanks are a bit more complex. If you compare the carbon cycle in a actual lake its MUCH MUCH more complicated. This is about the best image I could find without getting into biochemistry too much.


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post #10 of 22 Old 05-08-2012, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
As a chem student you may well know more about this than I do. But I'll try to explain what I understand from my aquarist's perspective.

The carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the water do the buffering. These are related to minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium but a few others can also be present. As carbonic acid is produced through the biological processes in the aquarium they are taken up by the carbonates, thus maintaining a steady and stable pH. The more carbonates (= higher KH) the more they can do this. Without carbonates, as in very soft water, the production of carbonic acid will lower the pH because there are no carbonates/bicarbonates to take it up.

Live plants are a factor in this process due to their impact on the amount of dissolved carbon, CO2, in the water.

Byron.
So do Plants create softer water?

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