Plants and Ammonium - Filtration - Aquatic Plant Central

Go Back   Aquatic Plant Central > Special Interest Forums > Filtration

Like Tree2Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-17-2020, 01:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Plants and Ammonium

Hi Everyone,

In her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium (Chapter 7), Diana Walstad talks about the use of aquarium plants to take up ammonium from the water. Section 4 within this chapter is entitled "Plants and Nitrifying Bacteria Compete". The essence of this is that plants prefer to uptake ammonium instead of nitrate. So, I did a very basic experiment in order to probe deeper into this...

In an illuminated tank containing Java and Congo Fern, I was able to show that NH4 dropped from 2 mg/litre to 0.4 mg/litre over a period of just four hours! Late yesterday evening, I then added ammonium chloride to raise the NH4 to just under 3 mg/litre and left the tank overnight in darkness. At 12:40 pm today, I measured NH4 and it was still around 3 mg/litre. What could be the explanation for this? Is it because my plants only absorb NH4 in the presence of light, i.e. when the plants are photosynthesizing?

I chose to post here in the Filtration section as I am interested in exploring the use of aquarium plants to possibly replace biological filtration employing nitrifying bacteria.

Any suggestions welcome!

Yorkie
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote

Advertisement [Remove Advertisement]
Old 10-17-2020, 02:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
mistergreen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,815
iTrader Ratings: 0
mistergreen is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

yes, photosynthesis. Plant do take in other things at night like O2 and I think Phosphate.
davemonkey likes this.
mistergreen is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2020, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
yes, photosynthesis. Plant do take in other things at night like O2 and I think Phosphate.
Hi mistergreen,

Thanks for your reply.

I am continuing with this experiment. At 1845 this evening, I measured NH4 and it was 1.5 mg/litre. In other words, a 50% reduction from yesterday. I should qualify my use of 'NH4'. It is a JBL NH4 test kit that I'm using but it actually measures total ammonia (NH3 + NH4).

I would like to have Diana Walstad's input on this if she can spare me the time. Is there a way in which I can draw her attention to this thread?

Thanks in advance.

Yorkie
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 10-18-2020, 12:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Hi Everyone,

What happens if I try @dwalstad?

Yorkie


P.S. I've just PM'd Ms Walstad.

Last edited by Yorkie; 10-18-2020 at 12:51 PM.. Reason: Added the 'P.S.'
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2020, 02:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
Moderator
 
hoppycalif's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Brentwood, CA, USA
Posts: 7,264
iTrader Ratings: 22
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
hoppycalif is a valuable member of the community hoppycalif is a valuable member of the community hoppycalif is a valuable member of the community
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorkie View Post
Hi mistergreen,

Thanks for your reply.

I am continuing with this experiment. At 1845 this evening, I measured NH4 and it was 1.5 mg/litre. In other words, a 50% reduction from yesterday. I should qualify my use of 'NH4'. It is a JBL NH4 test kit that I'm using but it actually measures total ammonia (NH3 + NH4).

I would like to have Diana Walstad's input on this if she can spare me the time. Is there a way in which I can draw her attention to this thread?

Thanks in advance.

Yorkie
Try posting your question on https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...pc/el-natural/
Yorkie likes this.
hoppycalif is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2020, 03:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,416
iTrader Ratings: 0
dwalstad is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorkie View Post
Hi Everyone,

In her book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium (Chapter 7), Diana Walstad talks about the use of aquarium plants to take up ammonium from the water. Section 4 within this chapter is entitled "Plants and Nitrifying Bacteria Compete". The essence of this is that plants prefer to uptake ammonium instead of nitrate. So, I did a very basic experiment in order to probe deeper into this...

In an illuminated tank containing Java and Congo Fern, I was able to show that NH4 dropped from 2 mg/litre to 0.4 mg/litre over a period of just four hours! Late yesterday evening, I then added ammonium chloride to raise the NH4 to just under 3 mg/litre and left the tank overnight in darkness. At 12:40 pm today, I measured NH4 and it was still around 3 mg/litre. What could be the explanation for this? Is it because my plants only absorb NH4 in the presence of light, i.e. when the plants are photosynthesizing?

Yorkie
I usually don't check other forums on APC, so I would post your questions there.

Plants take up ammonia as their source of nitrogen for growth both day and night. (Nitrate is only taken up in the presence of light.)

Your plants reduced NH4 from 2 mg/l to 0.4 mg/l in 4 hours. This addition may have saturated their need for nitrogen. Then you added 3 mg/l. Was that immediately after the first reduction?

Plants take up N for growth along with some excess. But there's a limit. There has to be some plant growth involved. Ferns aren't fast growers. You'll notice that most of the scientific testing is done on Elodea, duckweed, Hornwort, etc, not ferns. Usually, scientists doing these studies show that the uptake is accompanied by plant growth.

In an NPT (natural planted tank), growing plants take up ammonia as it is generated in small amounts by natural processes. This means small amounts as they grow.

High concentrations of ammonia are toxic to plants (my book, p. 20), so there's some limit on how much they can take up and how fast.

Currently, I use plants as sole water purifiers in all of my 8 guppy tanks. No filters.

Attached article goes into plant uptake of nitrogen in more detail.
dwalstad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2020, 11:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
Your plants reduced NH4 from 2 mg/l to 0.4 mg/l in 4 hours. This addition may have saturated their need for nitrogen. Then you added 3 mg/l. Was that immediately after the first reduction?
I am very grateful for your comprehensive reply - thank you!

With specific reference to the above - yes, the 3 mg/l total ammonia addition was immediately after the first reduction. I was guessing somewhat and, in hindsight, it was too great an increase.

I measured total ammonia at 1900 this evening and it had dropped to 0.2 mg/l. Tomorrow, I'll test total ammonia again and also include NO2 and NO3.

Yorkie
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2020, 02:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,416
iTrader Ratings: 0
dwalstad is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Sounds like you have a scientific mind-set. Excellent.

The scientists looking for plant uptake of ammonia always check nitrates and nitrites to make sure that the N removal from the ecosystem is not due to nitrification.

Even then, it is hard to sort out. Nitrogen is recycled via many different pathways by many different organisms, bacteria species, etc. Everybody wants nitrogen!
dwalstad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2020, 05:19 AM   #9 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
Sounds like you have a scientific mind-set. Excellent.

The scientists looking for plant uptake of ammonia always check nitrates and nitrites to make sure that the N removal from the ecosystem is not due to nitrification.

Even then, it is hard to sort out. Nitrogen is recycled via many different pathways by many different organisms, bacteria species, etc. Everybody wants nitrogen!
Hello again!

Yes, I have a science degree in electronics but I'm really enjoying my foray into the Life Sciences.

I decided to make a fresh start with the plants and ammonium experiment whilst continuing to use the same tank and plants. So, I did a 100% water change filling the tank with rainwater (as before) with added minerals to raise the conductivity to 200 microSiemens/cm. This is equivalent to 128 ppm TDS. I have also added doses of Flourish Iron, Flourish Phosphorus plus Flourish Trace to cater for the needs of the plants. The remineralizing salts contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride and sulphate; I use Tropic Marin Re-Mineralize Tropic.

Immediately after setting up this tank, I measured Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN), nitrite and nitrate, which were <0.05 ppm, 0.1 ppm and <0.5 ppm, respectively. I have made up a stock solution of NH4Cl and this will enable me to add tiny doses of ammonium to the tank. If necessary, I can reduce the likelihood of any interference from nitrification as there is a small UV-C sterilizer in the tank, which should kill off any waterborne bacteria. This can be switched ON or OFF, as necessary.

Later today, I will re-measure nitrite and, perhaps, TAN plus nitrate.

I will keep you updated.

Yorkie
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2020, 10:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 45
iTrader Ratings: 0
Yorkie is a regular member
Default Re: Plants and Ammonium

Hi Everyone,

I measured nitrite less than an hour ago and it has dropped a little. The JBL NO2 test kit has good resolution and I was able to read the new nitrite figure as 0.05 to 0.1 ppm. The colour match was nearer 0.05 ppm. No other measurements were done other than to check ORP/Redox, which was +230mV, thus indicating good oxygen level in the water.

Yorkie
Yorkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Aquatic Plant Central > Special Interest Forums > Filtration > Plants and Ammonium

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:38 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1