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Nitrogen Cycle

All animals produce nitrogen compounds as waste. In nature, these wastes(ammonia) are converted into virtually harmless, plant fertiliser called nitrate, through the nitrogen cycle. For this conversion to take place we need bacteria that are able to consume ammonia and convert it to nitrite, which is also poisonous. Then another type of bacteria converts nitrite into nitrate. These beneficial bacteria come naturally, so there is no need to introduce them into the aquarium. However, in order to thrive they need a surface area on which to live, and it is best if this surface area is well oxygenated. This is because these bacteria are ‘aerobic’ meaning that they consume oxygen. The setting up of the surface area is the basis of biological filtration. As for testing, test kits are available for both ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, and it is usually stated up to what level they are safe.

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