There are other important biochemical processes that occur in the aquarium and must be taken into account by the aquarist. One of these involves bacteria and the absence of oxygen. This process is called denitrification. Denitrification is a reduction process. Denitrifying bacteria reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas, which escapes to the atmosphere. In the simplest terms, we can think of nitrification — the detoxification of deadly ammonia — taking place in aerobic conditions on the extensive surface area of live rock and live sand in the aquarium. Denitrification, the breakdown of nitrate to elemental nitrogen, occurs within the porous rock or deep in the sand bed. While artificial media can offer some of the benefits of these live materials, for most of us attempting to create a natural reef aquarium, live rock and live sand are attractive, interesting in their own right, and provide many benefits to system health and well-being.
What is "live rock"? For the keeper of a tropical marine aquarium, it is fragments of stony reef material, often coral rubble, broken off in storms and scattered in piles in the lagoon, shoreward of the reef. Taken from the ocean with various species of encrusting organisms attached, live rock reaches the retailer in much the same way that vegetables reach the grocers shelves. Sometimes, the product arrives freshly harvested, glistening with clean water; perhaps with an interesting arthropod or mollusk tagging along, still ambling about as if basking under a warm sky. At other times, the journey has been arduous, and the rock,
M Natural Reef Aquariums
NITRATE AMMONIA NITRATE
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