Beneficial Bacteria and surface area
I am a little confused in regards to the amount of beneficial bacteria you can have in a tank. A lot of people swear by bio balls, ceramic rings, BioChem stars and other such media insisting that by using them you can have more beneficial bacteria in your tank.
This is theoretical:
Here is why I am so confused. Say you have 10 Danios in your tank, adult sized and full grown. They produce 100ppm ammonia per week. The amount of beneficial bacteria that is needed to eat that much ammonia is 10,000. In a cycled tank you have that many in order to have a reading of zero ammonia. Now adding bioballs, ceramic rings or anything else increases the surface area for bacteria to grow but does not increase the amount of ammonia.
Someone please explain to me how you can have more beneficial bacteria that what the ammonia can feed regardless of how much surface area you have for bacteria?
I will try here but I have to explain in my "simplistic words" as the question which you have posed seemed "like Voodoo to me also".
This post comes from my experience with my tank as well as the very, very little domestic waste water treatment plant design which I have accomplished.
Yes! No Way: No Way! can the the ammonia and nitrite digestion bacteria population exceed what the nutrient supply will provide.
these bacteria are "very, very little efficient fellers" and were here way before we were.
Two principle conditions exist should an "impact" (or any other type of increased anomalous) "load" of ammonia and/or nitrites become present in the tank water:
1) The quantity of bacteriological filtration media in the filtration process is only sufficient "to handle the typical quantity" of ammonia and nitrite digestion.
I believe that in this case that significant WC's (and the "drawbacks" associated therewith will be necessary).
Also, and this is just noted and not a problem, that these bacteria will also propagate on wood, plant, gravel, rocks etc. in the tank where adequate circulation is available.
2) The quantity of bacteriological filtration media in the filtration process is (like I believe that I have said before and said in West Texan" is if that 2 is the recommended minimum then 4 is nice and 8 will work just fine").
I believe that within hours (if not minutes) these bacteria begin populating exponentially as they have "plenty of surface area" to propagate on.
I may never observe the ammonia and nitrite spike as it will "have gone away" in a period of hours if not days.
I could be "significantly off base here" but the above is the reason that I have "way, way" more than the recommend quantity of biological filtration media in my filtration process.
Ok here is another question then.
I realize more surface is supposed to be better but does anyone know how much surface area is needed for the needed bacteria for any given bioload? My AC20 HOB filters have 2 sponges, maybe 1/2 of one sponge is enough for all the bacteria so putting more in is just a waste.
I guess what I am really trying to find out here is where is the research and scientific data to back up the need for anything more than the standard 2x2 inch bateria thing that comes in the cheapest filters?
With all the searching I have done there is nothing that gives anything scientific fact about any of it.
I have been there and done that and I came up empty handed also.
The only page which I found that discussed this topic indicated that "kitchen scrubbers" were actually the most efficient wrt cost/gallon but I just "flat cannot find it now".
Anyone else run into this topic?
If so please post a link.
Fish 4 all...you are right in your first post in that you don't really have more bacteria in your tank than needed. Only enough bacteria to handle the bio-load will colonize in the areas with the most nutrients and oxygenation on harder surfaces. Some people (including myself) go overboard on the bio-media to ensure that there is enough space for bacteria to colonize and handle ammonia/nitrite spikes. Your best biomedias will allow good oxygenation, hard surfaces, lots of surface area, and will not collect a lot of debris. THe biowheels on power filters and bioballs ina wet/dry system generally are best. Sponges work just fine but can collect a lot of debris so its important to make sure the prefilters stay extra clean so debris doesnt work its way through and into the bio-media.
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