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Author Topic: Finally got a Bio-farm back up.  (Read 1863 times)
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United States United States

Tanks: 20- from 5.5 to 150 gals.
Posts: 352

« on: September 15, 2016, 11:27:53 AM »

I normally have a small bio-farm running related to cycling. It can hold hang-on filters and air driven foams/sponges. I use it for cycling new filters and for keeping filters removed from established tanks cycled until they are needed again. One reason for getting it going again is I sell my fish at a couple of weekend events every year. I use the filters from the bio-farm in the tanks I use at those events.

I thought folks might be interested in the process so here is a brief description of what I did:

1. In the summer bought 4 oz.bottles of Dr. Tims One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria for FW (on sale). Stored in fridge until needed. Purchased a bunch if his Ammonium Chloride.
2. About 2 weeks ago set up 40 gal tank not fully filled. Estimate it feld about 30 to 32 gals.
3. Set up 8 assorted Poret foam cube filters from 20 ppi= two 5x5 inch, four 4x4 inch. 30 ppi= one each 4x4 and 3x3 inch. 2 ATI sponges a medium. and small.
4. Used 2 Air pumps to power them.
5. Added a 200w heater set to 80F.
6. Ran it over night to insure sponges sank and water warmed.
7. Added 2.5 bottles of the bacteria (sufficient for 150s gals). The bacteria was added in 2 dose 15 hours apart. 1.5 bottles in the first and 1 in the second.
8. Added 120 drops of the ammonium chloride in two equal doses, one after each addition of the bacteria.
9. Added a bag of crushed coral to add carbonates and hold the pH up.
10. Covered the tank with a towel to keep it dark.

11. Total Ammonia added was sufficient to produce about 7.5 ppm ammonia-n (about 9 ppm on an API kit.). And then the wait began. I did not test ammonia the first day after setting things up. But there after I tested daily. It took about a week for ammonia to hit 0 at which point I tested for nitrite which also tested at 0.
12. Did a 75% water change. and filled the tank so it held about 37 gals, its realistic capacity
13. Followed the wc with the addition of 150 drops of ammonium chloride. This would be about 8 ppm ammonia-n or 10.2 ppm on an API kit. Removed the towel cover.
14. Tested every day- after 24 hours read about 1 ppm, after 48 read .5  ppm and then 0 ppm.
15. Redosed 150 drops last night.

The plan from here is a large water change Friday and then the ammonia dosing will be reduced by 1/3 and be done about every two or three days. The reduction will keep the filters cycled fine for use in tanks. The initial high dosing is to get the bacteria to establish and multiply quickly and then keep them healthy and at a good capacity. The one thing is it is important to change water regularly to prevent the build up of nitrate. This can cause a pH crash if allowed to build up unchecked. And that can crash the filters.

Basically, the result is each of the filters can handle a fully (not over) stocked tank as follows:

30 ppi: 3x3 a 10 gal fry or shrimp tank. 4x4 a 20 gal shrimp or fry tank.
20 ppi: 5x5 a 20-25 gal. tank. 4x4 a 10-15 gal tank.
ATI:  Med. a 15 gal. and Small a 10 gal.

Of course they can be combined to suit almost any needed tanks size/stocking.

My tap water parameters are pH 7.0-7.1, GH 5dg, KH 4dg, TDS 83 ppm. I have my own well and bases on  raindfall levels the TDS can drop into to low 50s when there is lots of rain and rise some during times of drought.

If folks have any questions about this all, please ask.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it." Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Full Member

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United States United States

Tanks: 20- from 5.5 to 150 gals.
Posts: 352

« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 01:15:11 PM »

Just a quick followup.

One Sept 14 in the evening (about 8 pm) I added a second dose- 8 ppm of ammonia-n as noted in #15 above. It is now just before 2 pm on Sept 16 (42 hours later). I just tested ammonia at 0.50 ppm with my API kit. The level at which ammonia is toxic to the bacteria we want and encourages colonization by strains able to convert higher ammonia levels is about 6.4 ppm on an API type kit (that is 5 ppm as nitrogen aka -n). My dose at 8 ppm, measured as nitrogen, should read about 10.2 ppm on the average hobby Kit. So why am I not loosing bacteria rather than reproducing it?

The answer is twofold. First, the existing bacteria I added and encouraged with the smaller first dose immediately sensed the surplus of ammonia in the water even as they began to use it. This means they were lowering the level from the outset and at a steadily increasing rate. Next they should be able to double their number under their present conditions in about 10-12 hours. The nitrite ones will be several hours slower. As they start to reproduce, there are more of them to consume the ammonia. Within the first 42 hours they have consumed close to 10 ppm. If it were all linear one would say they we using .24 ppm and hour. that means to get to a safe level of 6.4 or less would have been just under 16 hours. But they actually took a bit longer maybe something more like 20 hours.

The second factor here is one not generally known by hobbyists. The ability of a given size colony of the bacteria to process ammonia is somewhat variable. There is a difference between the level needed to survive and the level at which they will begin to reproduce. What this means is if they are not yet at the level which spurs reproduction, they will process a larger amount of ammonia until they reach there. They can ramp up the amount the use and they can survive by ramping that down. The result is a colony can remain a certain size in terms of how much ammonia it can process as long as it is at least x but less than y.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it." Neil DeGrasse Tyson
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