I know this is last chapter (ecosystems/cycles), but I think it illustrates how important knowledge of the nitrogen cycle is for managing an aquarium.
It was a rough weekend for my trout. When I went in to check on them Saturday, I found this…
One of many dead this weekend...
…and about 19 more like him! I immediately checked the tank equipment. Seems the artificial filter system had air in the line, and had quit removing wastes and decreased flow in the tank. I quickly primed the pump on the filter, and water started moving again. I sucked the dead trout out of the tank, so their decomposing bodies would not add to the nitrogen spike surely going on in the tank. I immediately changed 5% of the water with fresh water I had on hand. I decided to avoid adding much food for the day also.
When I came in today (Sunday), I found 25 more dead trout! So, if we had an estimated 150 fry at the start of the month then we have lost about 50 total–about 30%! Is that a high mortality rate? I’m not sure since this is my first time managing trout in a 55 gallon aquarium. In the wild, trout (and many fish) have evolved in fast moving streams with little food and numerous predators so they lay hundreds to thousands of eggs–many which do not survive. So, trout experience high mortality rates in the wild.
We’re trying to maintain a simple artificial habitat for these trout, and my students are trying to maintain more complex ones called ecocolumns. These columns have two terrariums and one aquarium built using 2 liter bottles:
We’ve all experienced a similar phenomenon now–a nitrogen spike. As the living things in the tank feed and produce waste ammonia, the bacteria in the water (and soil in their terrestrial chambers) convert it to nitrites and nitrates. While plants thrive on nitrates, animals find these nitrogen-rich compounds toxic. The range of tolerance for living things is often not very wide, and trout are especially fragile fish. So, I verified the spike was ammonia (instead of nitrates) and quickly did a 15-20% water change to get the stuff out of the water. I also cut back on food again, as decomposing uneaten food can also “feed” the nitrogen cycle.
Perhaps all will be ok. I’m not sure just how many trout we can sustain in a 55 gallon tank long term.
I know this is last chapter info, but I thought this was a particularly creative biogeochemical cycle story. Kudos to Alex A! Maybe it will help someone before the 1st semester exam?
Once upon a time there was a little molecule named Nick Nitrogen. He lived in a big open sky and went to school with all his nitrogen gassy friends. Nick was known as N2 at school, because he was twice the trouble. He was the leader of a tuff crowd called 78% Club, and proclaimed that he was chemically unreactive; “Just try me,” he would say. “You won’t get a reaction.” But then one day Big Blue Really High, High, High in the Sky High School got a new student and everything began to change. His name was Larry Lightning, and he shocked Nick Nitrogen right out of his leadership spot in his gang and made him useful in life. With Larry as their new leader the 78% Club would continue on, but as for Nick Nitrogen he had begun a wild journey. A changed man Nick Nitrogen left his old identity as N2 and began calling himself Nick Ammonia. In addition to his new name and look he began running with a new crowd on what some called the DL or Down Low. The DL was a support group of bacteria that helped NH3 compounds like Nick make something useful of themselves. After attending the support group for a week it didn’t seem like Nick would ever become useful. In fact, Nick actually became worse (some would say toxic). But after relentless self work Nick began to realize that Nitrite was actually not right, and that he would need to once again change and become something new—Nitrate. Finally feeling like he was ready to share himself and his new found confidence with the world Nick Nitrate found his roots after grounding out his issues. Nick, like many young people in the 1960’s had decided to go green, but Nick went a step further in that he went to work for a plant. One day he and his molecule buddies that worked at the plant received news that their plant was being taken over. A new sports team called the bears had decided to swallow the plant whole. Now nick was in the world of sports, but having never played any sports in his life and being really out of shape as he was, he became all pooped out. Nick just wasn’t cut out for sports and got dumped. Depressed after being fired from his job Nick converted back to his old ways and became Ammonia again. Nick Ammonia, down with the brown, and out on his luck rejoined his bacteria support group, the DL, and they were able to help him realize that he belonged with his N2 Crew the whole time. Upon this new epiphany, Nick resolved that he was no longer afraid of Larry Lightning and went back to Big Blue Really High, High, High, in the Sky High School and once again became the leader of the 78% Club. The End.
I wrote mining as one of the anthropogenic effects on phosphorus? I undersand the damage caused by fertilizer run-off leading to an algae bloom, etc., but if there is no atmospheric phase then how does mining phosphorus damage the environment? Does more phoshorus enter the biosphere taken from the geosphere? This just does not seem as severe as when nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur levels increase in the atmosphere. Could anyone please explain what is so bad about mining phosphorus?
First of all, I apologize this post is so late! I totally understand if no one responds! Okay…I understand the different “forms” solar energy reaches the earth (electromagnetic waves–UV radiation, visible light, and heat or infrared radiation). I also understand that 95% of the harmful radiation from the sun is absorbed by the ozone layer. I am confused when our book states, “Of the total solar radiation intercepted by the earth, about 1% reaches the earth’s surface.” It seems like there is a 4% missing; I know it hasn’t gone “missing,” but where has this 4% of solar energy gone!? Does this 4% simply exist as light/heat in our atmosphere and never specifically reaches the earth’s surface by directly touching/making contact with land? I’m probably way over thinking all of the %, but if someone could correct me that would be awesome! Thanks, guys! Good luck with your studying tonight! =)
Alright, so if we were asked to give an organism’s niche, how should we define what the niche is? Is it the organism’s trophic level? Whether it’s a producer, primary, secondary etc. consumer? Or should I include both in the niche?
I just have a quick question kind of like the one I asked in class today. I’ll use our feat practice response as an example, the one about moths population and how it’s affected acorn production.
Would I have been able to just OBSERVE the moth production once during the acorn autumnal season where there are a lot of acorns and then observe it again during the acorn season?
Im not specifically changing something my self, and I’m not sure if the two obaerations could be considered a controlled experiment.
Okay, so this is not really a question. But I am wondering if anyone has any helpful hints to remember which nitrogen formula goes with each name and each function. Essentially, I know the formulas, but I am still getting mixed up when it comes to trying to match them with their names and what each one does. So, any memory tips?
Within biodiversity, the only one that isn’t clicking for me is functional diversity. I know the definition and i know it looks easy and simply, but how is there a diversity for these processes. Is it the diversity in the amount they do the process or is it the different types of processes? Because we all need energy flow and recycling in our communities so how would that be diverse? Or is it about the rate at which these processes go? I understand the energy flow and all the cycles i just dont get how that could be diverse. Sorry if this seems easy!
Okay- I’m having a little troubling understanding the key differences between detritivores and decomposers. I know then definitions of these two terms (but I still do not know exactly how these two types of organisms differ in an ecosystem): a detritivore is a consumer organism that feeds on detritus and the wastes of living organisms; a decomposer is an organism that digests parts of dead organisms and wastes of living organisms by breaking down complex organic molecules in those materials to simpler inorganic compounds, and then it absorbs soluble nutrients (producers can then go on to return most of these chemcials to the soil and water for reuse). Right now my understanding (put in very simple terms) is that a decomposer is like a “recycler” and a detritivore is more like a “garbage-eater.” If someone could please clarify or correct me before the test, that would be great! Thanks!