Nitrogen Cycle (Part 4): Monitoring Toxins and Restoring Balance
All of the previous situations can cause an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, and make it necessary for us to monitor the level of toxins in the system whenever they occur. If any level of either ammonia or nitrites is detected, it is important to control these toxins either through partial water changes, or with one of the available toxin-absorbing resins.
When performing water changes, it is important to change no more than 25% of the aquarium water at a time. Changing more than 25% of the aquarium water can cause rapid changes in both temperature and pH, which can result in added stress to the aquarium inhabitants. Therefore, if toxins are present, it is best to perform small water changes frequently (even daily) rather than performing large water changes at less frequent intervals. Again, the makeup water that is used to replace the aquarium water should be treated by reverse osmosis, distillation, or at the very least using a liquid dechlorinator. It is ideal that the makeup water is at the same temperature as the aquarium, and has been aerated prior to adding it to the aquarium.
There are many chemical medias available on the market that will help control sudden increases in ammonia. By stopping the ammonia prior to it being broken down by the bacteria, we are reducing the biological load on the system. These products can be useful in the situations that have been described above. Again, it is important when using these products to monitor the water quality, and to perform water changes when any toxin levels are detected.
Know the warning signs