[Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria

Tom Williams ctwiliams at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 1 12:48:16 EST 2006

To List
I have been interested in the ammonia/nitrate issue

- I don't understand how the ammonia can persist in a
>2mg/L dissolved oxygen environment;
- I don't understand how an equivalent nitrate can
persist in a "nutrient" deficient environment
typically ascribed to reefs;
- How any coral can directly use/survive a high
dissolved ammonia/nitrate environment;
- what mechanisms/sources the coral can use for
gathering nitrogen for reproduction from the media vs
from ingested food;
-from a habitat/foodchain - I would assume that the
algae could be far more stimulated by such levels opf
ammonia or nitrate and would generate a habitat which
would Kill the coral;
- when in Kota Kinabalu Borneo (E.Mal.)the rive runoff
appear to have high levels of nitrate fertilizers and
although the reef water was clear - no blooms - a
brownish slime layer had formed over many coral heads
near the river discharge;
- in sewage works we are required to keep the ammonia
less than 1mg/L but with a DO of 2mg/L it is virtually
impossible to get an ammonia of 0.5-1.0mg/L

The reef fish observation may also be of conservation
interests as the entire reef formation balance depends
on the nitrogen assimilation of the coral/good algae
vs the "bad algae".

I am interested in the direct runoff and indirect
leaching discharges of "treated sewage effluent" for
irrigation on golf courses and hi-end residential
units on recently reclaimed areas of Dubai, Sharjah,
Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah UAE. 

I am glad to participate in these discussions, as
these are the sorts of issues which the LIST I believe
was created to discussed (sorry about resumes  /
employment as I am semi-retired). 

Dr. Tom Williams

--- Julian Sprung <julian at twolittlefishies.com> wrote:

> Dear Coral List,
> I have been reading the responses to Angus with
> interest. I have a slightly different angle to add-

> I'm not sure but I believe that Angus was asking
> about maintaining an elevated ammonia level to
> promote higher than normal growth rate in a coral
> farm system.
> In any aquarium system with a sand or gravel bed of
> any significant size, living rock, strong
> illumination, various algae, and corals, the
> maintenance of high levels of ammonia would be quite
> difficult without daily addition of ammonia or lots
> of food. I don't think that Angus was asking about
> how to lower the ammonia level in a system-- that
> happens automatically. On the contrary I think he
was exploring raising the level artificially to boost
coral growth. The concept has merit because to a
limited extent it works. 
Corals in the natural setting benefit from resident
schools of fish that release elevated levels of
ammonia directly among the coral polyps. This
increases available nitrogen to a "level" in excess of
the background nutrient poor seawater. One of the
 downsides of overfishing is that it potentially
LOWERS the amount of nutrients a coral may recieve,
and thus lowers growth potential. If the overfishing
affects herbivores, then coral growth is slowed at
> the same time that algae are given an advantage.
> In any case I agree with all the responders who
> pointed out that the proposed level from Angus seems
> quite high. I have not tested such high levels with
> corals, however. In an established aquarium with
> sandbed the dosing of ammonia to achieve this level
> would produce a spike for a limited time, followed
> by both nitrification and assimilation. The expected
> outcome would be excess algae, but with strong
> herbivory it MIGHT produce strong coral growth in
> certain species. Someone on the list probably knows
> of a saturation level for zooxanthellae assimilation
> of ammonia. That appears to be the main question--
> beyond a saturation level it would seem that any
> additional amount of ammonia added would have no
> benefit.
> Happy New Year!
> Julian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on
> behalf of D'Elia, Christopher F.
> Sent: Thu 12/29/2005 10:05 AM
> To: Stephen Lowes; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: RE: [Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria
> Steve, Angus, and others-
> I agree - these are very high levels of ammonia
> (~1.4 mM), and it suggests that denitrification
> needs to be enhanced in the aquarium.  Note that in
> his book Aquarium Corals, Eric Borneman recommends
> that "ammonia levels should remain effectively
> undetectable or near zero parts per million (ppm)." 
> In case you are not aware of it, his book is a
> scientifically based treatise on maintaining corals
> in aquaria, but is written with a lay audience in
> mind.  It has superb pictures and illustrations.  I
> recommend it highly.
> Chris D'Elia
> ________________________________
> From: Stephen Lowes [mailto:slowes at twcny.rr.com]
> Sent: Wed 12/28/2005 8:11 AM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] NH4 Levels in Aquaria
>  Angus:
> I'm not sure where you are getting your published
> NH4 levels for coral
> propagation. 20ppm NH4 would be very detrimental to
> any aquaria, fish or
> invertebrate culture. I run a small coral farm and
> strive for undetectable
> ammonia (ammonium), and nitrite levels. There is
> reasonable rationale for
> maintaining 1-5 ppm nitrate levels for efficient
> coral growth but there is
> little work published species by species.
> Steve Lowes, Ph.D.
> Angus, others.
> Sorry about the following but I am not familar with
> the aquarium worlds.
> Could you provide some of the "lot" references for
> ammonia NH4 being 20ppm
> for coral propagation as these levels far exceed the
> levels accepted for
> discharge of treated sewage effluent to marine
> waters. 
> Are these levels acceptable for aquaria only ?? - I
> believe they would
> stimulate alot of alga in the tank or real water.
> Dr. Tom Williams
> --- Angus Macdonald <angus at ori.org.za> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > 
> >
> > A lot has been published about optimal NH4
> concentration in aquaria in
> > which coral is propagated. 20 ppm seems to be
> about right.
> > Is this in the right
> > ballpark and does it become toxic to hard or soft
> corals at higher
> > concentrations?
> >
> > 
> >
> > Thanks
> >
> > 
> >
> > 
> >
> > Angus Macdonald
> >
> > 
> >
> > Oceanographic Research Institute
> >
> > uShaka Marine World
> >
> > Point Road
> >
> > Durban
> >
> > (031) 328 8168
> >
> > 
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
> > Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >
> >
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