The Marine Nitrogen cycle simply explained.

Discussion in 'Idol Marine' started by Idol Marine, 12 Feb 2015.

  1. Idol Marine

    Idol Marine

    Posts: 118
    17 Apr 2012
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    What is The Marine Nitrogen Cycle?

    The element Nitrogen is essential for all living things on Earth. However, in the atmosphere, Nitrogen is found in a triple bonded state, which is extremely hard to break and cannot actually be used for crucial life processes in Earth's living organisms. The marine nitrogen cycle is the process that breaks down these “triple bonded” nitrogen into compounds that marine animals can actually use in their bodies.

    Step One - Ammonia

    Ammonia (NH4) is introduced into the water mostly through the food fish eat (as well as by uneaten food, plant fragments, or decomposing bacteria).
    The food does not start out as ammonia, it turns into ammonia as it breaks down inside the fish. The ammonia is finally released into the water when the fish excretes it as waste.
    Ammonia is actually toxic to fish, and fish can die if it is left in an ammonia solution for too long.

    Step Two - Nitrites

    To rid ones tank toxic ammonia in the water, certain bacteria called nitrosomonas convert the ammonia into nitrite (NO2). Once this starts to happen, toxic ammonia levels start to decrease, but nitrite levels begin to increase and these nitrites, in high levels, also can be toxic to fish.

    Step Three - Nitrates

    To prevent the levels of eventually toxic nitrites from getting too high, there are nitrobacter bacteria that convert nitrites into nitrates (NO3). So, once these nitrobacter bacteria start to work, the nitrite levels decrease, and the nitrate levels begin to increase. Like all the others, however, nitrates at a high level are also toxic to fish.

    Step Four - Denitrification

    Since nitrate levels are also toxic to fish at high levels, they must be removed from the water. Coincidentally, plants utilize nitrates as natural fertilizers. Because of this, plants in the water absorb the nitrates, and convert them back into the original proteins for the fish to eat. Also, nitrites can be turned back into N2 (nitrogen gas) by bacteria such as Pseudomonas in the open ocean setting. This sub-process is called denitrification. This concludes the Marine Nitrogen Cycle, only leaving it to repeat in a never ending routine.

    Other Facts

    Nitrogen is an element that exists in more forms than almost any other element.
    The Marine Nitrogen Cycle is also called the biological cycle, nitrification process, or the start-up cycle.

    One must always remember that a very small percentage of your Biological filter/bacteria are found within the water column.

    Many make the mistake in thinking that when doing an animal transfer from an older tank to a new tank, a reefer must keep his “old” water, this is simply not the case.

    N cycle.jpg
    KeeganP likes this.
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  3. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

    Posts: 22,987
    11 Aug 2008
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    And us calling it "cycling the water" does not help newbies either. The bacteria should mostly be on the surface area of anything in the water. The more surface areas you have the better.
  4. KeeganP


    Posts: 1,873
    23 Jan 2008
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