Experiment: Does nitrifying bacteria survive a month without ammonia or other supplementation

MnFish1

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Hypothesis: Though potentially delayed, a tank that was able to process 2 ppm ammonia within a day - will continue to be able to do so after not being 'fed' for 4 weeks.

Rationale: There has been, for some time, been a debate as to whether nitrifying bacteria can 'surivive', go dormant, or die off without feeding. This will test whether a known experimental system will allow 2 ppm total ammonia to be processed after a month

Method:

1. 2 tanks 1 containing live rock from a dark sump, the second containing rock from a display tank (see pictures). Identical power head, heater, rock weight/density, and water volume. Identical HOB filter with no media. Lights off.
2. Ammonia will be added on day 1 to 2 ppm - to each tank, and a control vessel.
3. Ammonia will be measured daily to determine the time required to process 2 ppm total ammonia

Experiment Day 1:
Screen Shot 2022-02-04 at 9.06.50 AM.png
Exp 13 Day 1. - 1 (1).jpeg
Exp 13 Day 1. - 3.jpeg
Exp 13 Day 1. - 2.jpeg
Exp 13 Day 1. - 1.jpeg
 
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MnFish1

MnFish1

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So here are the results - after 24 hours the Ammonia alerts are both in the 'safe' zone. I did not do an API comparison - just because - the key point is safety - and both are clearly yellow - despite the lightning.

So I t appears that even after a month of no 'feeding' - this rock can still process 2 ppm ammonia in 24 hours.
Screen Shot 2022-02-04 at 2.25.56 PM.png
Final.jpg
 
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MnFish1

MnFish1

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Bacteria in a bottle lasts a year.
Bacteria in a bottle does not necessarily 'last a year'. Some bacteria last a year - nitrifying bacteria not necessarily so. This experiment was designed to answer the multiple questions - if I have nothing in my tank for x weeks - will it re-cycle. Of course - the experimental results are specific to these aquaria - and these rocks. But - there is certainly a suggestion that ROCK ALONE (because there is no filter/sump/skimmer/etc - will maintain its ammonia processing capability
 
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GARRIGA

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Bacteria in a bottle does not necessarily 'last a year'. Some bacteria last a year - nitrifying bacteria not necessarily so. This experiment was designed to answer the multiple questions - if I have nothing in my tank for x weeks - will it re-cycle. Of course - the experimental results are specific to these aquaria - and these rocks. But - there is certainly a suggestion that ROCK ALONE (because there is no filter/sump/skimmer/etc - will maintain its ammonia processing capability
My bad. Recalled a year but that was refrigerated. One and Only advertised as six months so are we doubting that? I believe heterotrophic can go beyond a year and recall some strains up to seven. Interested to see your results bow that you've pushed it further. Although each time you introduce ammonia does that not need to start the clock again?

Simpler might just be to grab a bottle and examine samples under a microscope to see if still viable at different points in time. I've thought about doing that for craps and giggles or to ensure the bottle I'm introducing is still viable considering I don't know what shipping stress it underwent.
 
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MnFish1

MnFish1

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My bad. Recalled a year but that was refrigerated. One and Only advertised as six months so are we doubting that? I believe heterotrophic can go beyond a year and recall some strains up to seven. Interested to see your results bow that you've pushed it further. Although each time you introduce ammonia does that not need to start the clock again?

Simpler might just be to grab a bottle and examine samples under a microscope to see if still viable at different points in time. I've thought about doing that for craps and giggles or to ensure the bottle I'm introducing is still viable considering I don't know what shipping stress it underwent.
Yes. So for example - the next time - unless someone has a better experiment - I would wait 2 months from today.

There is some commentary here - that bacteria in a bottle doesnt do anything - so there is that. Agree heterotrophs can sporulate - and last longer - with out refrigeration. One of the negatives in this study is that I have no clue whether the bacteria in the rock are obligate autotrophs - or heterotrophs. But - they are also getting no other food (the heterotrophs.
 
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MnFish1

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I love it. I remember telling a LFS that they should dump some food in their live rock bin occasionally as the bacteria needs food to survive. Obviously I was very wrong.....
You might have been right - this only covers a months time. And these tanks also had great flow - and oxygenation. most 'bins' I've seen - have nothing - except periodic water changes
 
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GARRIGA

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Yes. So for example - the next time - unless someone has a better experiment - I would wait 2 months from today.

There is some commentary here - that bacteria in a bottle doesnt do anything - so there is that. Agree heterotrophs can sporulate - and last longer - with out refrigeration. One of the negatives in this study is that I have no clue whether the bacteria in the rock are obligate autotrophs - or heterotrophs. But - they are also getting no other food (the heterotrophs.
Have used bacteria in a bottle to cycle a few tanks and those have resolved ammonia in about four days. Nitrites in 9 days. Using fish and no additive it used to take me six weeks. Don’t recall it going sooner.

Along with NoPox I added MB7 and got nitrates down from 160 ppm plus post cycle down to 5 ppm rather quickly. Did require the addition of phosphates to facilitate that process. I’m now a believer in Redfield.

Anecdotal but is my experience. Bottle is used for seeding nitrification was Bio-Spira. Understand same creator or One and Only but not sure if strictly nitrifiers as with the latter. All bottles used were a month plus old.

Curious to see the results.
 
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Brian_68

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There are studies out there that look at the effect of starvation of nitrosomonas. This one says with this particular strain it went 342 days without an effect. My expectation is you will find similar results over a few months as other studies are similar in their ability to survive starvation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9756628/
 
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MnFish1

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There are studies out there that look at the effect of starvation of nitrosomonas. This one says with this particular strain it went 342 days without an effect. My expectation is you will find similar results over a few months as other studies are similar in their ability to survive starvation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9756628/
agree - the question though comes down to - not just will 'some' survive' - and I didnt read the whole study - but whether enough survive to keep a tank alive.
 

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Wouldn't the only real way to test this would be to isolate the certain bacterial strain in a lab clean setting and leave it in an inert solution? Then transfer back to a growth solution with ammonia. The algae and other bacteria growing would impact things ( wouldn't denitrification also occur?)
 
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MnFish1

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Wouldn't the only real way to test this would be to isolate the certain bacterial strain in a lab clean setting and leave it in an inert solution? Then transfer back to a growth solution with ammonia. The algae and other bacteria growing would impact things ( wouldn't denitrification also occur?)
Yes - to a degree. BUT - as we've discussed in other experiment threads - a lab/bench type study in test tubes does not always clearly match what is actually happening in the tank. This experiment - which will be repeated in a couple months - shows that at least in these 2 tanks in the dark with continued flow continue to process ammonia as before. What the experiment doesn't show (for sure) - is which bacteria are responsible. But - its unclear to me if thats important.
 

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