Shutting down pump to my bio-filter. How will it effect the good bacteria?

Discussion in 'Garden Pond Talk' started by Mucky_Waters, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    I was wondering what the consensus here is if shutting down the pump to my bio-filter would harm the good bacteria in my bio-filter or not, and why?
    I would like to apply any thoughts or ideas on the mater to another thread I have going.
     
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 5, 2014
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  2. Mucky_Waters

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    Good bacteria need oxygen and nutrients to live. If you shut the pump down and they no longer have O2 and nutrients, then they should die. Trick question?
     
    JohnHuff, Jul 5, 2014
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  3. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    Seems like it. ;)

    It sounds logical John. but where I always get tripped up is why they only die from lack of food and oxygen when they are in a bio-filter. Put a few of them in a tiny air tight bottle with no food or oxygen and they seem to do fine. In fact they do so well you can store them on a shelf for months in that air tight bottle with no food or oxygen, then one day dump that tiny bottle in a brand new bio-filter system and they will miraculously come back to life and transform that sterile bio-media into a thriving bio-filter in no time at all.
    That's where things get a little fuzzy for me. o_O
     
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 5, 2014
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  4. Mucky_Waters

    Shdwdrgn

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    Mucky -- that's exactly the reason why so many people believe those bottles of beneficial bacteria do absolutely nothing for a pond. On one hand, as some of the bacteria dies is can provide food for the rest, but that doesn't solve the oxygen problem. On the other hand, there could be some mechanism such as algae has where they can dry out, turn to dust, and the spores survive and grow once they reach another body of water. The most likely situation is that people dump in those bottles of bacteria (like I used to), then a few weeks later see signs that the filters are working and attribute it to their well-spent cash, without realizing that birds and other wildlife are carrying the bacteria between ponds and your filters would have been seeded even without your intervention. After a couple years of doing nothing and seeing exactly the same results in my pond, I stopped wasting my money.

    [Edit] And now I see you have a whole other thread going on this subject and all these points have already been covered... ah well.
     
    Shdwdrgn, Jul 5, 2014
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    dieselplower

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    How long would you leave the pump off for?
     
    dieselplower, Jul 5, 2014
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  6. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    Well, that was kind of the purpose of this thread Shdwdrgn, there seems to be unanimous consensus that if you shut off the oxygen and nutrient supply to your bio-filter (for say 24 hours or more DP) you'll kill the good nitrifying bacteria, (a fact I wholeheartedly agree with by the way, as I've had bio media go septic in a 24 hour period). But the consensus on whether those same bacteria are able to survive in an air tight bottle, on the shelf for months, appears to be much more nebulous.
    From the advertisements jargon it seems that even if you did somehow lose power to your pump for a day and kill your established bio-colony, you could quickly re-establish it by running out and buying a tiny bottle on the very same stuff that has been starved and suffocated in a little bottle for a few months and dumping it in your pond. As though somehow this bottled stuff in the is vastly more vigorous, or (concentrated?), then the billions and billions of active or dormant bacteria already existing in the pond.

    I may be beating a dead horse on this issue, but practically any given day I visit these pond forums and I read of someone buying a bottle of these claimed bacteria in a bottle elixirs and adding it to their ponds and it drives me crazy. Strangely enough, it is sometimes the very same people who warn others against leaving your pumps off for too long fear your bio-colony may die from lack of oxygen and nutrients. o_O
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 5, 2014
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  7. Mucky_Waters

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    As far as I know, bacteria do not form spores. They are single cell organisms with soft cell walls and they die pretty easily. You never hear of archeologists dying from old bacteria when they open tombs, they die from fungi.
     
    JohnHuff, Jul 5, 2014
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  8. Mucky_Waters

    Shdwdrgn

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    @john - the spores was just an example, but there are certainly numerous examples of things that can survive for long periods out of their natural environment... Algae that will not die no matter what, brine shrimp eggs surviving for decades, even fish that can go on land. The possibility is there, even though I think we most agree that the probability is very low for bacteria.

    @Mucky - My best guess is that there is some confusion in the matter. You might be able to have *some* bacteria survive in a bottle, and help establish a new colony, however that number is going to be substantially lower than the amount of bacteria that develops in your filters. Compare that with the total loss from leaving the pumps off for too long... yes your filters will be wiped out, but there will almost definitely be *some* survivors. If you add a new bottle of bacteria, you might double the number in your filter, which makes it feel like the colony rebounds that much faster, but chances are you would never completely destroy your bacteria population without completely draining and drying out the filter (and you would still have some living in the pond).

    One consideration that might lend some credit to this whole matter... and this is just a wild guess... In most species when they interbreed for too long, the population gets weak, but adding in new genes helps re-strengthen the species and allow them to grow stronger. Perhaps bacteria is the same way, and adding a bottle introduces new genes that strengthens the colony and helps them grow faster? Again, just a wild guess.
     
    Shdwdrgn, Jul 5, 2014
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  9. Mucky_Waters

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    What is the reasoning for that?
    I think new bacteria from the outside come in and recolonize the filters.
     
    JohnHuff, Jul 5, 2014
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  10. Mucky_Waters

    Shdwdrgn

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    I'm speaking in the case where you simply shut down the pumps, but the filters are still full of water. There is still a certain amount of oxygen in the water, and there could be air bubbles trapped in the media that provide oxygen longer than usual. When I rebuilt my waterfall in 2012, I had the water diverted from the filters for eleven days. Of course I also have a pea-gravel bed in my stream, so plenty of bacteria could have survived in there. Did the bacteria in my filter completely die off? I don't know, but the pond never had an algae bloom or an ammonia spike, so whatever bacteria survived the ordeal were hardy enough to pick right back up and start handling the fish load right away.
     
    Shdwdrgn, Jul 6, 2014
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  11. Mucky_Waters

    HARO Pondcrastinator

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    You make a very good point, Mucky. Personally, I believe you get better results by simply pi... er, URINATING in the pond! The ammonia will put bacteria reproduction into overdrive, and Bob's yer uncle! AND you save money, since you'd probably have that Molson's anyway! :D I actually sell these bacteria products at the garden centre, even though I make a point of telling prospective buyers that the stuff is probably useless! Folks just feel better thinking they've done something good for their pond. :rolleyes:
    John
     
    HARO, Jul 6, 2014
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  12. Mucky_Waters

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    @HARO, I think we've got a win-win situation here! You buy me the Molson's, I'll provide you with the all organic bacteria starter kit you need (available in Sunshine Lemon color).
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
    JohnHuff, Jul 6, 2014
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  13. Mucky_Waters

    HARO Pondcrastinator

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    I don't quite know how to put this... shall we say...DELICATELY, John, but I'm a bit leery about entering into a business arrangement with a 100-year old leprechaun! I fear that the Molson's will disappear, and at your advanced age, you may just FORGET about the rest of the deal!! :cautious:
    John, 2
     
    HARO, Jul 6, 2014
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  14. Mucky_Waters

    Lisak1

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    Perhaps the opposite is true - bacteria really can stay alive without oxygen in the bottle and turning off your pump doesn't bother the bacteria in your bio filter one bit. They are small, but they are survivors!
     
    Lisak1, Jul 6, 2014
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  15. Mucky_Waters

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    This would run counter to everything said about good bacteria and common sense so it cannot be correct.
     
    JohnHuff, Jul 6, 2014
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  16. Mucky_Waters

    Lisak1

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    Common sense? I thought we were talking science? I was proposing that perhaps the hypothesis was wrong. Sometimes the things we assume are true can send us off in the wrong direction from the get-go. Mucky said "there seems to be a unanimous consensus" - consensus based on what?

    I don't use a bio-filter on my pond so I haven't really paid much attention to how they work. Is there research that shows the good bacteria dies off if the pump stops pumping? And how long it takes for complete die-off to happen? My "common sense" would tell me that environment would stay oxygenated for quite some time without an influx of water (as long as the filtration material stays wet at least) - but that could easily be an incorrect assumption.

    A fast google search gave me answers ranging from instantly to 45 minutes to 5 hours to overnight. Is there no single answer based on actual research? Or is it just because it's what everyone says?
     
    Lisak1, Jul 6, 2014
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  17. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    The reason there is no clear answer is because no situation is exactly the same. The bacteria in question consume oxygen, and the more prolific the colony is in a bio-filter, the faster they will consume the limited amount of oxygen available. How much oxygen is still available to get to the bacteria depends on the bio-filter design itself. This is where a shower type bio-filter with it's media exposed to the open air would have an advantage over bio-filters where the media is completely submerged, providing the shower filter media didn't completely dry up. In any case, any of this bacteria sealed in an airtight container (or bottle) would certainly fair the worst.
    Whether these oxygen dependent bacteria all die or just go dormant is another question that I don't have a clear answer to myself, but it doesn't really mater in regard to the bottled bacteria question, because if they do die, then the bacteria in the bottle will definitely all be dead, but if they just go dormant (which I believe is closer to the truth), then that would mean the need for adding a few dormant bacteria in a bottle would be totally unnecessary since these bacteria are so prolific they are basically everywhere all the time in a dormant state waiting for just the right conditions to re-activate and come back to life and start doing their thing. Thus again exposing the lack of need for a few more dormant bacteria in a bottle.

    An experiment that I already mentioned that you can do at home supports the dormant bacteria hypothesis. Take some of your active mature bio-media and put it in a sealed (air tight) bag or container, smell it and remember what it smells like. It should have a fresh, clean, light fishy smell. This is what a good aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria colony smells like. Now leave it in that sealed bag or container for 24-48 hours at room temp, then open the bag and take another whiff. What do you smell? It should smell awful. It will have that septic smell, H2S, and methane. This is the smell that anaerobic bacteria (the kind of bacteria that thrive and reproduce in the absence of oxygen) produce.
    So the question comes up, where did these anaerobic bacteria come from? Certainly not from a magic bottle!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 6, 2014
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  18. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    dieselplower

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    dieselplower, Jul 6, 2014
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  20. Mucky_Waters

    Mucky_Waters

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    Interesting, but unfortunately exposes a lack of integrity when it ends by plugging another Bacteria in a bottle miracle product who, like Dr. Tim's miracle solution, claims to be the one and only ones to have discovered a process of containing viable nitrifying bacteria in a bottle. I think all these bacteria in a bottle dealers all claim there are the only ones to have perfected a way of containing viable bacteria in a bottle.
    And what's with the root URL http://bioconlabs.com/ where that article is located. Bioconlabs doesn't seem to even be a real web site, it's just a blank template site.
     
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 6, 2014
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