Breakthrough. BIG BREAKTHROUGH.
The ammonia that inhibits nitrifying bacteria is FREE AMMONIA ONLY (NH3
But MOST AMMONIA in our system at a time is AMMONIUM
Your Guide to Ammonia Toxicity
(Mebbid provided this link)
Therefore when it is reported and perpetuated that high ammonia inhibits nitrifying bacteria, in actuality only free ammonia (NH3) and not the sum total of ammonia and ammonium do this
(which is what test kits report - they report SUM TOTAL)
Meaning our cycle can tolerate a FAR HIGHER reading of ammonia on our test kits than people have been led
to believe and perpetuate (depending on pH).
Here's a quote
Free ammonia and ammonium:
Ammonia is far more toxic than ammonium the pH and temperature will determine the percentage of ammonia to ammonium found in the aquatic environment.
pH 7 - 0.5% of total ammonia is NH3
pH 8 - 5% of total ammonia is NH3
pH 8.2 - 7.7% of total ammonia is NH3
pH 8.4 - 11.6% of total ammonia is NH3
pH 8.6 - 17.3% of total ammonia is NH3
Free ammonia (NH3
) will inhibit nitrification at the following levels: Nitrosomonas marina/biospira 10 mg
/ and for nitrobacter/nitrospira just 0.1 mg
/l. This has implications if you are trying to cycle a marine tank or a freshwater tank with a high pH for African cichlids for example and using the standard internet recommendation of 4 mg
/l of ammonia.
Because the free ammonia level will be approx 0.4 mg
/l and this substantially inhibit the rate at which nitrite is converted to nitrate. "
Source: Nitrifying bacteria
I will find some additional sources that are more "original" (i.e. the actual paper studies) but I hope that you guys following see what a breakthrough this information is to what we think we "know"
On a side note this explains how/why I can cycle successfully with 18ppm ammonia. Using the above information as an example, at 18ppm NH3
+Nh4 I actually only have .495ppm of ACTUAL FREE AMMONIA which is WELL under the 10ppm that the Nitrosomonas can actually tolerate. Given my pH, I would have to have 100ppm of NH3
+NH4+ to have even 2ppm of free ammonia. And keep in mind, nitrosomonas can actually tolerate up to 10ppm free ammonia (NH3
You may ask, what makes ammonia be ammonium? pH. Just pH. I lost my source but I have a paper/article about this. Ammonia likes to team up with "something"(forget what) to make ammonium. The lower the pH, the more of the "somethings" in the water. When there is an available "something", the ammonia pairs with it and becomes ammonium. Simple as that.
OK so WHY do we perpetuate a particular level of ammonia in the cycle? This is the next question. This one DOES have a theory, which is that the nitrIte eating bacterias cannot tolerate ammonia nearly as well.
More research required.
However, I am going to make the following statement: Your nitrosomonas (ammonia eating bacteria) cannot/will not stall due to excessively high ammonia (within reason).
MYTH #1 BUSTED!
Rebuttals welcome. I realize I still need to post some higher qualified sources.
By the way, the bacteria responsible for ammonia oxidation in aquaria is called Nitrosomonas Marina. In this study
they studied aquaria bacteria and you can also see that they kept the level of NH3
(again, free ammonia) at 5-10ppm while growing the ammonia oxidizing bacteria for study.