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Question: Bacteria bed comlpletely dies after a power failure for more than a day?
Yes
No

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Author Topic: Bacteria bed comlpletely dies after a power failure for more than a day?  (Read 20943 times)
Ashraf
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« on: February 11, 2011, 05:04:42 AM »

Its basic knowledge that the bacteria in our filter require two things to live, oxygen and food(which begins with ammonia) and its accepted that if the power goes out longer than X hours all your bacteria has died, and you have to start over. Do you agree?

Please say why? and vote, of course. C'mon, people, participation is 60% of the solution.
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 08:08:34 AM »

Answering this question depends on what the hobbyist does when the power goes out. If the hobbyist places the bacterial filter in the tank, I feel you're looking more at 2 or 3 days. You may have a mini-cycle as some of the bacteria will die off, but not all. This looks like a good experiment for somebody, with household ammonia and empty tanks.
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Ashraf
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 08:18:22 AM »

Lets assume you are doing a fishless cycle then, and finally reached the end, having read testable nitrates. In the morning you head out on a two day vacation at some fancy overpriced spa where they you pay people to hit you with sticks and burn your back with hot stones. Then you come home to find the powers been out, and find out from your nosey neighbours that its been that way for a little over a day. Will you have to re-cycle?

The hobbyist in question was not able to do anything the moment thier power went off, and by the general consensus, there is no point in anything but starting over, right?
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 08:30:44 AM »

It would depend on the climate of your area - did the filter dry out all the way or not - and how large of a colony you have. What you're really trying to ask is how long can the bacteria go without eating - sounds like a question for Karen, since she'll know where to direct you to find the answer. You'll just have to wait for her to log on, since she doesn't respond to pm's anymore - ah, the price of fame. Smiley
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Tom.E
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 08:58:57 AM »

Well, I hate polls...but my answer is no.   happy

Bacteria don't just roll over and die when deprived of extracellular nutrition, they enter a reduced state of metabolism referred as endogenous respiration. Cell lysis usually occurs gradually over time and as a percentage of the population.

In all honesty I'm not sure how long this takes with the bacteria we use for nitrification. Aerobic heterotrophic nitrifiers can survive quite some time as long as o2 is available. One issue is that it does take time for the bacteria to recover from this metabolic state when nutrients are reintroduced. Tim Hovenec occasionally posts on another board and it's something I've been meaning to ask him. Some of nitrogen readings we get with media that's been deprived of ammonia may be just a lag phase.

You can google "endogenous metabolism + bacteria" and "viable but nonculturable"



Tom
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Ashraf
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 09:21:41 AM »

Luckily, filter does not dry out. Its an external canister filter.


One of the members on another forum said that no matter how long the power is out, as long as the media is surrounded with water a small percentage of bacteria will always survive. The supporting argument is that as some bacteria die and rot, they release ammonia which will then feed the rest of the colony. This colony will then die down to whateve numbers can survive based on the oxygen supply. So you can still assume your tank is cycled, only the concentration of ammonia your bacteria can consume will understandably be reduced.

So Tom, based on his argument which I posted above and your own which I understood maybe half of Wink do you think the member is question may be right?
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Tom.E
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 05:55:05 PM »

In substance, yes...but I wouldn't assume a tank is fully cycled or state "no matter how long the power is out".   

Putting aside the power outage example...look at the some of the survival times of commercially sold nitrifiers. Bottled cultures sit on shelfs for months. The site angelsplus.com sells cycled sponge filters by mail order and these cultures survive the trip. Those are much harsher conditions than a 24-48 hour power outage.

Non-spore forming bacteria can go into a sort of hibernation state. Under stress they shut down all metabolic functions but the the most basic for survival, and that includes scavenging internal material.

There does come a point of deterioration where living cells can't be resuscitated. How long does that takes with tank nitrifiers? That I don't know. The other question I have is how long the growth lag phase is after ammonia is reintroduced to a starved colony. In other cultures it can take from hours to days to get the cells dividing again. The bacteria in the media may just be in a recovery period rather than dead.

Sounds to me  like you took the other side of an argument.   happy


Tom
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 06:04:37 PM by Tom.E » Logged
Muffuletta
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 06:12:10 PM »

I know bacteria does not die in hours. 
I had to evaluate for a hurricane.  Did nothing special when I left over then feed the fish and did a water change. 
Well most of Southeast Louisiana did not have electricity for a week.  When I got home filter was running again, all critters were alive and ammonia was zero, nitrites were I think zero and I don't remember about the nitrates.
So there was several days, at least, where the tank was sitting with no power with 80 Degree F. temps outside and everything turned out fine. I think not having the tank fully stocked or over stocked helped things greatly. 
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Ashraf
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2011, 02:46:54 AM »

In substance, yes...but I wouldn't assume a tank is fully cycled or state "no matter how long the power is out".   

Putting aside the power outage example...look at the some of the survival times of commercially sold nitrifiers. Bottled cultures sit on shelfs for months. The site angelsplus.com sells cycled sponge filters by mail order and these cultures survive the trip. Those are much harsher conditions than a 24-48 hour power outage.

Non-spore forming bacteria can go into a sort of hibernation state. Under stress they shut down all metabolic functions but the the most basic for survival, and that includes scavenging internal material.

There does come a point of deterioration where living cells can't be resuscitated. How long does that takes with tank nitrifiers? That I don't know. The other question I have is how long the growth lag phase is after ammonia is reintroduced to a starved colony. In other cultures it can take from hours to days to get the cells dividing again. The bacteria in the media may just be in a recovery period rather than dead.

Sounds to me  like you took the other side of an argument.   happy


Tom


If I get you correct, essentially it would be like starting over again, only the time taken for the bacteria to start consuming ammonia/nitrite again is considerably shorter (though is unknown to what extent specifically) as they are still there, just in a dormant state?

I know bacteria does not die in hours. 
I had to evaluate for a hurricane.  Did nothing special when I left over then feed the fish and did a water change. 
Well most of Southeast Louisiana did not have electricity for a week.  When I got home filter was running again, all critters were alive and ammonia was zero, nitrites were I think zero and I don't remember about the nitrates.
So there was several days, at least, where the tank was sitting with no power with 80 Degree F. temps outside and everything turned out fine. I think not having the tank fully stocked or over stocked helped things greatly. 

Thanks very much for that Muff. First hand experience is invalueble. How was your tank stocked and filtered (I forgot  Wink ) ???
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popsbjd
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2011, 03:05:41 PM »

This sounds like a calculus problem to me.

I would guess that the bacteria die off could be expressed in an exponental equation.  However, the decay isn't asymptotic, approaches but never reaches zero.  The decay would be rapid at first as there would be enough ammonia to supply the entire colony but as more and more bacteria die off, it can feed a greater percentage of the remaining bacteria.  Eventually you would be left with no living bacteria.  If we were given the rate of decay, and average amount of bacteria per sq. in. of media, it would be

y= bacteria colony t= time (dy/dt)= change of colony with respect to time

(dy/dt)=-ky, y(sub0)=full colony at t=0 (time of power failure), for constant k= rate of decay (k>0).

So,
(1/y)(dy/dt)=-k
∫(1/y)(dy/dt)=∫-kdt (integrate with respect to t)
ln|y|=-kt+C (for arbitrary constant C)
|y|=e^(-kt+C)
y=+/-e^(-kt+C)
y=+/-e^(C)e^(-kt)
y=Ae^(-kt)  (shorthand +/-e^(C) is a constant expressed by A in this formula)
So,
y(sub0)=Ae^(-k*0)=A
So, y(sub0)=A
Therefore, the decay formula is
y=y(sub0)e^(-kt)

So, if we are given our initial conditions (bacteria colonly [y(sub0)] and rate of decay (-k), we can find out just what value is needed for t for the bacteria colony to reach zero.

Let me sum all this up by saying that most of this is pulled straight out of my . . . head.  This is the formula for exponential decay; however, I am only guessing that bacterial decay would be exponential. 

HTH.

Pops
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Tom.E
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2011, 11:27:52 PM »

Now your getting the gist of it Ashraf.

Survival rates of starved nitrifying bacteria always come up from time to time on forums. Tim Hovenec ( Dr Tims One and Only ) chimed in on one thread here, post #51. It might be a little easier to digest.  http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231896&page=6



Tom
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Ashraf
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 07:00:56 AM »

Pops. I've only just started calculus this year so excuse my ignorance as I don't understand squat about what you're trying to say. English perhaps?  Wink

Tom, the thing is, you are saying the bacteria do not die beasue they go into a dormant state and live off their reserves, which can to my understanding last quite a while. However, according to said member, the bacteria don't HAVE to go into a dormant stage becasue they will get food from their comrades in arms (other bacteria) when they die and thus relesae ammonia as a byproduct of decay.

Unless of course, every bacteria is the same, and the moment the entire colony does not get any more ammonia, the entire colony as a whole begins to go into dormancy with each individual bacteria doing so at an equal speed to the rest of the colony.

Thus, no bacteria actually dies and feeds the rest of the colony and when the reserves are finally exhausted, the entire colony will die simultaneously creating ammonia as they all decay but with no more to consume it and turn it into nitrites...am I making sense?
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 09:18:06 AM »

You'e making sense - most of us (me included) just don't know the answer. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 09:54:47 AM »

Quote
Unless of course, every bacteria is the same, and the moment the entire colony does not get any more ammonia, the entire colony as a whole begins to go into dormancy with each individual bacteria doing so at an equal speed to the rest of the colony.

I really doubt this scenario. As with most things in nature, I would think you would have stronger and weaker members. Thus, the weaker members would die off allowing the stronger to survive a while longer. Just my  11574.
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 09:57:51 AM »

It's probably a merger of the two theories, to be honest - but we'd need a cellular biologist with experience in nictrobator bacteria (or whatever it's called) to answer for certain. I know one, but she's not online right now and I don't think this is her area of expertise - that, and she's still a student in California. She was doing something with malaria vaccines last I heard.
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Ashraf
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2011, 11:32:04 AM »

Quote
Unless of course, every bacteria is the same, and the moment the entire colony does not get any more ammonia, the entire colony as a whole begins to go into dormancy with each individual bacteria doing so at an equal speed to the rest of the colony.

I really doubt this scenario. As with most things in nature, I would think you would have stronger and weaker members. Thus, the weaker members would die off allowing the stronger to survive a while longer. Just my  11574.

I dunno. Bacteria after all reproduce by creating an exact copy of itself. It may be understandable for different strains to exist in different tanks, but in any particular tank, I would think only one strain of particular bacteria would be in charge of any particular job, in this case ammonia and nitrite consumption respectively.

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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2011, 11:43:20 AM »

I sent a message to RTR. I think he should be able to add a point or two. Here is the message he sent back:


The nitrification bacteria do not all die in any relatively short time frame (12 or even 24 hours for example). and it is not just the lack of food. The biggest single issue is lack of oxygen to support normal cellular respiration - the bacteria suffocate long before they can starve.

Even with that, they do not and need not all die. Some percentage will remain alive from margin effects - the colonies on the edges will survive longest. But if the survival percentage is less than ~50% (which may be common with longer periods without power or water flow), then the tank will no longer have a fully functional biofilter. You do not have to have a totally dead biofilter to wipe out a tank from ammonia or nitrite - the tank becomes an uncycled o incompletely cycled tank and can kill some to all of the fish. But the biofilter can recover just the same way it develops initially, by division of the surviving cells. It is up to the hobbyist to handle the water to avoid fish kills while the bacteria recover to full colony size.

The nitrification bacteria which establish in hobby tanks have no resting phase. That person who says that they do is incorrect.
HTH

If he is correct, then our bacteria have no dormant stage, which means either my member is correct, or the age old saying is. That the bacteria either continue to live, though at a diminished percentage compared to the original population or the entire colony just dies.

I then wondered about how, if RTR was right, Dr. Tims product (at least the one that didn't require refrigeration) was said to be as repliable as bio-spira. Sent a PM in reply asking this, but like all foogies he is taking his time, so it may be a while till he responds, though it will probably answer my question once and for all Smiley


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« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2011, 12:09:38 PM »

Good job, Ashraf.  Smiley  I think RTR is the ultimate expert in things such as this.
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« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2011, 12:21:33 PM »

Thanks, Pat Mary. I thought he would know a thing or two about it. Thanks to Muff for teling me where to find him, though.
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2011, 12:49:58 PM »

I like the time stamp on his quote.  I guess everything old is new again.
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« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2011, 12:59:10 PM »

rofl Jus wanted  a little emphasis that it was his.
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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2011, 09:40:16 PM »

<< If he is correct, then our bacteria have no dormant stage...>>

Ashraf, just to clarify, "dormant" and "dormant-like" are not the same thing. There's a difference.

Dormant or resting stages in bacteria involves going inactive and forming an endospore or exospore resistant to environmental stress.

In non-spore forming cells, dormant-like usually refers to bacteria that simply wind down to a lower maintenance metabolism to extend their lifespan when stressed. Sometimes the term hibernation-like is used.

It's in this state that the commercially sold nitrifying bacteria are delivered in a bottle. Refrigeration also further slows down the metabilism and decay.

BTW...just for you  happy ...I did a search on the forum where RTR is still active. He uses the term "near-dormant"

http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=20786&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=HELP+emergency+anyone+ever+experienced+hole+the+head&start=90

I think the terminology causes a lot of confusion.



Tom
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2011, 01:21:10 AM »

Interestingly enough, thats where I found him as well, he also sent in a reply to my question on dormancy of bacteria in Tim's bottles, which I carelessly forgot to post. Here it is:

Tim Hovanec is a professional, with many years experience in working with aerobic bacteria,and is directly responsible for developing several (proprietary) formulae for highly specialized solutions engineered to do exactly what the bugs cannot do on their own - to be held ina semi-passive state without dying or starving. In addition to identifying the specic species of bacteria which establish self-sustaining colonies in FW and SW tanks (different bugs for each), the development of those solutions are exactly what enable his bugs to survive without refrigeration or special frozen storage. Tailoring the solution(s) to the exact bugs. Those bugs and those solutions together are why his stuff work and others do not.

The chance of our proper bacteria surviving intact (which even Dr. Tim's do not do 100%) in a tank filter are approximately equal to zero. He did his thesis on the newest techniques for identifying the bugs, then spent most of his commercial career to date in developing the solutions. That is not chance. In uncontoled and constantly changing situations of little or no flow and decreasing oxygenation and increasing levels of toxins, chance survival is all but impossible. What you can do in a lab with control and massive knowledge and what happens in an unpowered filter in a hobby tank are not in any way comparable. Folks thinking that they might be lucky are wishful thinking.

It is possible to save the bacteria if the outage is caught in time. But that too involves somewhat specialized techniques which most folks do not bother arranging for, but could with forethought. The simplest is to use bac-up generators - but that is available mainly to folks in private homes and enough investment in their tanks to justify the investment in the equipment.

So Tom, you are right. The bacteria do go dormant, though only when placed in Tim's super secret 100 ingredient recipe. I think I already have a conclusion, that the bacteria in our filters don't specifically go into a dormant state, but into a state of reduced activity to conserve energy and available resources. And that while how long they can remain in this state is as of yet unknown, it is a considerably long time and certainly outlives a day.

P.S. TOuched you did it just for me. 
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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2011, 09:04:03 AM »

Can we have this thread posted as a sticky. It's quite informative, almost a theory of a day in the life of Nitryfying bacteria!
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« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2011, 10:42:37 PM »

lolol where is Karen when ya need her/--j/k Karen.........I say both yes and no to the poll--that way either way--I am correct....and i wi don't know what i'm taliing about anywho lolol .
  Very interesting though and I agree with Redfish --it should be a sticky.
  I have had power go out for a few hrs at a time though --and have yet to have a problem -----but not for days and days.---That has been my experiance though.
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