Nitrogen cycle and zeolite...questioning some things Question 

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AspiringAquarist

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I've been thinking for a while about zeolite and how it affects the nitrogen cycle. People say not to use zeolite while your cycling because it starves the nitrifying bacteria since it removes the ammonia source.

But then, wouldn't it be better to use zeolite since it just absorbs the ammonia? When it absorbs the ammonia, you don't get anymore nitrite/nitrate (unless your water source has some) since there is no ammonia in the tank to prompt the bacteria to start working.
And then your tank would not truly be "cycled" by definition because there is no nitrifying bacteria. But adding the zeolite would stop the ammonia, therefore you get no ammonia, nitrite, nor nitrate (unless your water source was some). No ammonia and nitrites = happy, "cycled" aquarium, right? So why are some people disapproving the use of zeolite in uncycled aquariums?
I think that the zeolite is actually helping an uncycled aquarium by giving it 0 ammonia and nitrites and maybe some nitrate, duplicating the effect (0 ammonia + nitrite) given by a perfectly cycled and biologically balanced aquarium. Therefore you wouldn't really have to cycle your aquarium by building up the nitrifying bacteria; just add some zeolite and replace it every month.

Also, if the tank is overstocked and uncycled, wouldn't it help to add maybe a little bit of zeolite with some carbon to deal with extra ammonia created from overstocking?

Thanks for your help. I'm not saying that I endorse the use of zeolite in an uncycled aquarium. I'm just presenting some of my thoughts and seeing what people think...
 

Furallicah

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Your right, but why waste the money? Though Zeolite does consume ammonia it doesn't last forever. You have to replace it every so often. Plus the bacteria are just more natural for the fish. Living organisms are never ending they can reproduce and keep growing to meet the needs of the tank. Nonorganic things like the Zeolite won't grow and you have to add more/replace it every so often. I think its just people pefer to not use it to keep things natural. I would say using a small amount in a tank near over stocking conditions would be ok. But I wouldnt use the recommended amount in an aquarium. I feel safer just letting the bacteria do their thing. That way you don thave to worry about a cycle collapse if the Zeolite were to go wrong or age with out you realizing it. Chemical reactions need a power supply. The bacteria do it through basically living...so seems simpler in my book. IMO.
 

funkman262

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There are a few problems with using zeolite. First off, it would be extremely expensive to constantly replace the zeolite. Why pay a lot of money to do something that the nitrifying bacteria would gladly do for free? The second problem is that the ammonia levels would need to be closely monitored (possibly on a daily basis) because once it's adsorption capacity has been met then the ammonia levels will rapidly rise. It may last for an entire month at one point but then only 3 weeks the next. The bacteria are adaptive to the tank so they will grow when needed. However, the zeolite will not be so consistent. Typically, it's best not to add things to the tank and keep it as natural as possible. You can't always rely on commercial products to work the way you expect. Hope this helps
 

funkman262

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Furallicah said:
Your right, but why waste the money? Though Zeolite does consume ammonia it doesn't last forever. You have to replace it every so often. Plus the bacteria are just more natural for the fish. Living organisms are never ending they can reproduce and keep growing to meet the needs of the tank. Nonorganic things like the Zeolite won't grow and you have to add more/replace it every so often. I think its just people pefer to not use it to keep things natural. I would say using a small amount in a tank near over stocking conditions would be ok. But I wouldnt use the recommended amount in an aquarium. I feel safer just letting the bacteria do their thing. That way you don thave to worry about a cycle collapse if the Zeolite were to go wrong or age with out you realizing it. Chemical reactions need a power supply. The bacteria do it through basically living...so seems simpler in my book. IMO.
Darn you beat me to the punch. We posted pretty much the same thing lol at least that means somebody agrees with me ;D
 

jsides1979

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How fast does your ammonia level rise over a 24 hr period. If it's slowly rising I would use some prime which detoxifies the toxins and makes it safer for the fish. I wouldn't use the zeolite or take any advice from the big retail LFS. They will always try to sell you chemicals which you don't need.
 
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AspiringAquarist

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jsides1979 said:
How fast does your ammonia level rise over a 24 hr period. If it's slowly rising I would use some prime which detoxifies the toxins and makes it safer for the fish. I wouldn't use the zeolite or take any advice from the big retail LFS. They will always try to sell you chemicals which you don't need.
I never said that I actually use zeolite...I just saw some at Petco and was thinking about it.
 
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