Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by kiwis, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. kiwis

    kiwis New Member

    So I've got about 7-8 years freshwater experience under my belt and are about to dive into marine aquariums now.

    Just writing a document for my use of the chemistry of marine so I understand it all. Firstly I'm looking at Ammonia, like any tank I understand Ammonia comes from fish waste and uneaten food etc. Does anything else in Marine tank cause Ammonia? (Coral?).

    Other than water changes, removing excess for etc how else can you remove Ammonia from your tank and ensure it's converted into Nitrites?
  2. beth

    beth Administrator Staff Member

    Ammonia can come from anything that is organic in your tank. Fish, inverts, live rock.

    You seem like you may need to do a bit of research prior to actually setting up your tank. I'd strongly recommend getting a very good marine aquarium "how to" book. I'd recommend, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". It will take you from A to Z in the learning process, and it does have a good many pictures, diagrams, learning aids, etc. It's not technical. Well worth your time and you will come away knowing how to start and maintain your tank.

    As you said, ammonia is the byproduct of the waste of living organisms, or decay due to death or uneaten foods. The process of getting rid of it is actually referred to as the nitrogen cycle. In a marine aquarium the conversion of ammonia into nitrite, then nitrate results when nitrifying bacteria begins to breakdown the ammonia. At the point that your aquarium water tests only for the nitrates, then that cycle is complete. However, you will not want to call it quits. Best to also have a means to export the nitrates either through water changes, or, best way, making natural filters a part of your system--live rock, live sand, refugium, etc.
  3. silverado61

    silverado61 Well-Known Member

    Another way to try and avoid adding to the nitrogen cycle is to limit feeding. Only feed what your fish livestock can consume in about 2 minutes. Overstocking your display can also add to the nitrogen cycle. Depending on the size of your tank, sump and the filtration you employ your system can only convert so much waste into a usable bioload. When you exceed this limit, Ammonia is produced followed by Nitrites and Nitrates. Keeping an open top with proper aeration will aid in gas exchange and therefore help with the nitrogen cycle.
    But thats just my opinion.
  4. kiwis

    kiwis New Member

    Thanks for your replies, I've had fresh water for a long time and this it's basically the same process. I've never had trouble keeping a very clean planted aquarium. I'm just trying to make sure I don't take an assumptive approach to marine so am assuming nothing.

    Appreciate the replies.
    silverado61 likes this.
  5. jay0705

    jay0705 Administrator Staff Member

    Sw tanks seem to balance themselves more easily then few. Largely imo due to live rock. If you don't want to worry about ammonia in a tank make sure there is enough bacteria colonized in your tank to eat it up and convert it. With sw live rock is bacteria central
  6. kiwis

    kiwis New Member

    I'll only have dry rock at start with though
  7. one-fish

    one-fish Active Member

    after doing some reading you will discover the need to purchase some live rock to seed the dry rock which will speed up the process I have tried the only dry rock method and after months had no success in completing the cycle only after adding small pieces of rubble rock did I complete the cycle just my 2 cents worth and remember patience is a must just let nature do her thing
  8. beaslbob

    beaslbob Well-Known Member

    The main source of ammonia is the bioload.

    People correctly mention the aerobic bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrItes and then nitrates.

    however, plant life like macro algae (and even algae in rocks) prefer to consume the ammonia directly, which can prevent the ammonia spike. Plus the algae also consume carbon dioxide and return fish food and oxygen. Then, as the aerobic bacteria builds, up the algae reluctantly starts consuming nitrates. Later, should something go bump in the night, the algae will "switch" from using nitrates and consume ammonia. Thus preventing cycles and possible tank crashes. So all you get in a nitrate spike. That goes down once the system recovers.

    So my advice is always to start your system (FW or marine) with plant life (fw plants, Marine macro algae) then do the rest. With a marine system it's best to use a refugium to protect the algae from livestock which eats the algae. But that could be just a simple tank partition.

    my .02

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