Testing for bacterioplankton?

dingodan87

New member
Im interested in documenting bacteria levels within my water column as i am trying to keep alot of "impossible" corals and inverts that are believed to be bacteriovores. From research ive noticed that the areas these creatures thrive in the wild have bacterioplankton levels 4 times the amount of typical reef zone areas so id like to give it an honest attempt to replicate that and see results. Popular methods for counting bacteria populations require microscopes in the 1000 to 50000 dollar range...so...any other methods??

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Joey_bananas420

New member
Not sure how to test for the bacteria but I also have thought about this similar idea. I was thinking of a good way to increase bacterial plankton would be to use a bio pellet reactor but instead of having the output from the reactor plumbed into a skimmer have it return to your display tank. I know you want to pull that mulm out to reduce nitrates but if you have already low nitrates through other means of filtration I believe this would provide lots of coral food while removing the dosing aspect of adding coral food to your system. I'm just not sure how much bacterial plankton corals actually eat or which species or how much. Just an idea. I currently have two outputs on my BP reactor one plumes to skimmer other just dumps into my return pump section of my sump. So far nitrates at steady .02 - undetectable hasn't caused any problems in the 3 months I have been running it this way. So I would also like to hear any other easy testing methods to see if I am increasing bacteria population or not.
 

Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
It's much more complicated than corals just eating bacteria. Feldmann et al, discusses bacteria counts in aquaria here (you'll have to ditch your skimmer):

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2011/3/aafeature

Forest Rohwer's book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" is an excellent introduction to the the coral holobiont, the roles DOC has depending on it's source and relationships between corals, algae and microbes.
 

dingodan87

New member
It's much more complicated than corals just eating bacteria. Feldmann et al, discusses bacteria counts in aquaria here (you'll have to ditch your skimmer):

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2011/3/aafeature

Forest Rohwer's book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" is an excellent introduction to the the coral holobiont, the roles DOC has depending on it's source and relationships between corals, algae and microbes.
Read that. Seemed that skimming doesnt remove as much as we thought. Im only reluctant to remove skimming because i feed so much food for the nps i get a full skimmer cup daily.

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Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
How do you know the stuff in the cup isn't an important part of the nutrient cycle in reef systems? Besides Rohwer's book, Feldman has some good research on carbon in reef tanks and de Goeij has shown cryptic sponges are using DOC and converting it into HCO3 for corals. Here's the links for de Goeij and Feldman, et al, research.

de Goeij's initial research on cryptic sponges:
http://www.rug.nl/research/portal/files/14555035/13completethesis.pdf

Granular Activated Carbon Pt 1
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/1/aafeature1

Granular Activated Carbon Pt 2
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/2/aafeature1

Total Organic Carbon Pt 1
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/8/aafeature3

Total Organic Carbon Pt 2
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/9/aafeature2

Protein Skimmer Performance, Pt 1
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2009/1/aafeature2

Protein Skimmer Performance, Pt 2
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/1/aafeature

Skimmate Analysis
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/2/aafeature
 

dingodan87

New member
I know skimming removes alot of food but it also removes alot of waste which may or may not be utilized as a food source as fast as it is being produced. My original intent was to go skimmerless with algae turf scrubbing as my main source of filtration. It worked suprisingly well but still wasnt good enough in my opinion. I decided to change my outlook and have my drain plumbed directly to the skimmer and inscrease feedings and carbon dosing to compensate. I have a slow display to sump turnover rate so food stays in the display for a bit longer and gets removed once it leaves...out with the old in with the new.. also before adding the skimmer my detritus buildup in the display was insane

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dingodan87

New member
Part of what fueled my decision to change is that all successful nps reefs i came across either used heavy skimming or large water dilution. I wanted to start feeding more and didnt think my system would handle it

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dingodan87

New member
I did find a test kit for water born bacteria but i dont know it's merit and it's expensive..$175 for 6 tests. Currently i dose vit c and vinegar and have tons of white sponge growth but very little growth on the colorful sponges. With so many methods of carbon dosing itsso hard to know which is best for the purpose of a bacterial food source. I do strongly believe that a key element missing in unsuccessful nps reefs may be bacterioplankton, but how to get the right type and amount is unknown as far as i have read

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Breadman03

New Old School
Premium Member
I believe that the Dymico filter is something you should look into. There's also a thread on a DIY version here.
 

dingodan87

New member
Amazing. Wish i found this when i was planning my system this is exactly what i wanted to do with my 30g overhead refugium but couldnt find any methods for "super charging" it like they do here. I think with my apex i could easily convert my refugium in to one of these. Thanks!!

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dingodan87

New member
With one of these i could give the skimmerless attempt another shot i suppose. Will still be handy to have it ready to go for emergency. Better late than never

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huig

New member
You can use yeast as à substitute for bacterioplankton. Some public aquariums do this.
 

SantaMonica

Active member
I know skimming removes alot of food but it also removes alot of waste which may or may not be utilized as a food source as fast as it is being produced

Keep in mind that corals on real reefs do not have their food supply separated out for them; they already know what to eat and what not to, within the mix of reef snow that falls on them.
 

Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
. . . Dymico filter is something you should look into . . .

Sorry, I looked at this and am not impressed. It's only looking a a small part of the nitrogen cycle on reefs and in our aquaria. It may work fine for systems that don't have corals but in a reef system it's pretty much irrelevant as corals are already dealing with both organic and inorganic parts of the nitrogen cycle. Part of the coral holobiont is also fixing nitrogen into nitrates for corals. Just to reiterate, Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the microbial seas" is an excellent place to start to get a better understanding of how corals are interacting with microbes to utilize all forms of nitrogen, phosphate and the roles of DOC.
 

dingodan87

New member
Sorry, I looked at this and am not impressed. It's only looking a a small part of the nitrogen cycle on reefs and in our aquaria. It may work fine for systems that don't have corals but in a reef system it's pretty much irrelevant as corals are already dealing with both organic and inorganic parts of the nitrogen cycle. Part of the coral holobiont is also fixing nitrogen into nitrates for corals. Just to reiterate, Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the microbial seas" is an excellent place to start to get a better understanding of how corals are interacting with microbes to utilize all forms of nitrogen, phosphate and the roles of DOC.
Can you elaborate? What exactly is it you dont like about it? What would you propose is a better alternative? You cant argue that it would be non beneficial to create more micro plankton if these thing do as they say they do. As far as "no water changes" etc id say thats a bit far fetched especially for nps systems. Also attractive but hard to believe some of the species they claim to keep with these filters. Regardless anything i can do to increase microbial life im all for. On that topic looking at my refugium yesterday its thick with plankton life to the naked eye...nervous to replace it with something that may or may not be better.

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Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
Can you elaborate? What exactly is it you dont like about it? What would you propose is a better alternative? You cant argue that it would be non beneficial to create more micro plankton if these thing do as they say they do. As far as "no water changes" etc id say thats a bit far fetched especially for nps systems. Also attractive but hard to believe some of the species they claim to keep with these filters. Regardless anything i can do to increase microbial life im all for. On that topic looking at my refugium yesterday its thick with plankton life to the naked eye...nervous to replace it with something that may or may not be better.

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To reiterate I would suggest you get a copy of Dr. Rohwer's book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" as it introduces in a very readable manner how DOCs and not the inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphate affects the microbial populations either promoting beneficial or pathogenic types and pushes a reef ecosystem to become more or less eutrophic (nutrient enriched). As I understand the DiMyCo website their filter is looking at only the inorganic portion of the nitrogen cycle in the most simplistic circle or form that's been touted for freshwater tanks for decades. It totally ignores what's happening with organic forms of nitrogen like amino acids and urea that are being produced and/or added in food and supplements. It also does not take into account that corals, and algae, are actively scavenging ammonia excreted by fish from their gills for food before it can be broken down into nitrates. Additionally as part of the coral holobiont are cyanobacteria fixing nitrogen gas into nitrates the additional anerobic section doesn't make sense to me. A much better diagram of the nitrogen cycle showing the multiple paths of assimilation and dissimilation, excretion and mineralization can be found on pg 255 of Delbeek and Sprung's "The Reef Aquarium" Vol III.
 

dingodan87

New member
To reiterate I would suggest you get a copy of Dr. Rohwer's book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" as it introduces in a very readable manner how DOCs and not the inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphate affects the microbial populations either promoting beneficial or pathogenic types and pushes a reef ecosystem to become more or less eutrophic (nutrient enriched). As I understand the DiMyCo website their filter is looking at only the inorganic portion of the nitrogen cycle in the most simplistic circle or form that's been touted for freshwater tanks for decades. It totally ignores what's happening with organic forms of nitrogen like amino acids and urea that are being produced and/or added in food and supplements. It also does not take into account that corals, and algae, are actively scavenging ammonia excreted by fish from their gills for food before it can be broken down into nitrates. Additionally as part of the coral holobiont are cyanobacteria fixing nitrogen gas into nitrates the additional anerobic section doesn't make sense to me. A much better diagram of the nitrogen cycle showing the multiple paths of assimilation and dissimilation, excretion and mineralization can be found on pg 255 of Delbeek and Sprung's "The Reef Aquarium" Vol III.
Ok maybe ill have to order it to understand better. Given your knowledge how would you plan to achieve a bacteria and plankton enriched environment in a closed system? Keeping in mind that the feedings of phytoplankton and other supplimental food are far beyond a typical reef aquarium

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Timfish

Timfish
Premium Member
Not having anyway to test the microbial populations in my systems I'll have to take Feldman's research on faith that my systems without skimmers are closer to wild populations than systems with skimmers. From experience I know having nuisance algae problems is not caused by PO4 and nitrate and can be corrected without changing thier levels. The research on DOC and the coral holobiont by many researchers, Rohwer's book is a very good introduction, is the only science I've found that offers an explanation why this is so. And I know from experience my systems without skimmers are more resilient and should outlive me.
 

dingodan87

New member
When i added my skimmer it solved my detritus issue which is what i wanted it to do.. but i also lost my flame scallop ive had for over a year..not sure if coincidence or not since the death was followed so shortly but its a theory. I turned my skimmer off and set it to kick on if orp falls drastically while continuing to increase carbon dosing (indicating bacteria bloom). Im still considering converting my refugium into a diy dymico, but what im unclear about is exactly what benefits it provides beyond already having a vibrant refugium and carbon dosing. Something to do with dynamically controlling the reactors bacteria efficiency/population at peak levels but more information would be nice

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