What is the nitrogen cycle?

When it comes to aquaponics, it is crucial to understand the role of the bacteria in the nitrogen cycle. Usually, a bacteria is harmful, but for aquaponics is an important factor that helps in providing the necessary nutrients.

Fish are responsible for the levels of ammonia present in a lake or ocean.

This is not harmful in wildlife where the vast amount of water counteracts its effects. But the problem appears when you are setting up an aquaponic system at home. Here you will have to carefully and properly manage its levels, because in higher quantities it can harm the fish species you are growing. Keep in mind that feeding your fish too much food will lead to remains that will also transform into ammonia.

Here are the most important negative effects of higher levels of ammonia:

– it provokes internal damage to the fish

– it determines dysfunctional growth or even the diminution of your stock due to fish deaths

– it weakens the immunity system of your population

– and in the end it leads to increased death rate

You can fight ammonia by using other bacteria called nitrosomonas. This is responsible for transforming ammonia into nitrite. Nitrite is not that harmful for your fish population, but it is still not benefic for them. It is scientifically proved that increased levels of nitrite can lead to the incapacity of fish of absorbing oxygen. You can counteract its effects by using the nitrobacter, the bacteria responsible for transforming nitrite into nitrate.

Aquatic plants feed on nitrate which is a good thing for your aquaponic system. Furthermore, this bacteria is more friendly to the fish and it does not cause harmful effects on them. This being said, by achieving nitrate, you system has completed a cycle. This is known as the nitrogen cycle.

So, for each owner of an aquaponic system, the goal is to reach and complete the nitrogen cycle. This will provide you with a proper balance between your flora and your fauna and it will prevent bacteria to harm your fish population. Keep in mind that in a new tank the levels of ammonia will automatically be higher than in an already existing system. This is due to the fact that with the new population the bacteria tend to reproduce at higher rates. But if you keep an eye on it and counteract it with the already mentioned bacterias, you will end up having a healthy aquaponic system.

aquaponics, bacteria, nitrogen cycle