Reply To: How to maintain bioload?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Machi:

Generally speaking, once you have cycled a new aquarium and built up a thriving population of beneficial nitrifying bacteria to provide biological filtration, it’s not necessary to provide additional ammonia sources, such as decaying frozen Mysis, in order to sustain the biofilter. Seahorses are messy feeders and their natural waste products will provide plenty of ammonia to sustain good populations of Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter in your biofilter.

It is true that the population of bacteria in your biofilter will adjust to the current bioload in the aquarium at any given time, and that you can further increase the population of nitrifying bacteria by adding additional ammonia to feed even more of them. But I don’t understand what your roommate hopes to gain by doing so. As long as you feed your seahorses properly and practice good aquarium maintenance, you should not have to worry about spikes in the ammonia or nitrite levels stressing your ponies.
In any case, I believe that you are correct in removing the leftovers and uneaten frozen Mysis promptly after the seahorses have had their fill. In my opinion, it’s a bad idea to leave excess Mysis laying around for two or three days.

For one thing, the uneaten Mysis will begin decaying overnight and put your water quality at risk. Worse still, the next morning, when they are hungriest, your seahorses may discover the bacteria-laden Mysis and snap them up off the bottom, which is the dirtiest area of the aquarium where all of the wastes accumulate. This is an excellent way to spread disease and make your seahorses sick.

It would be helpful if you can tell me more about your seahorse setup. Maintaining stable water temperatures at 70° F-72° F is an excellent way to protect your ponies against heat stress, and you guys are doing a great job in that regard. And, of course, it’s a very good sign that your ammonia and nitrate levels are staying at zero.

But I would like to know what sort of filtration you are using, what substrate you are using in your seahorse tank and what the depth of the sand bed may be, as well as whether or not your tank includes a sump and employees a protein skimmer and/or an ultraviolet sterilizer.

Do you target feed your seahorses individually or use a feeding station for your ponies? Or are you scatter feeding frozen Mysis?

How big is your seahorse tank? What are the dimensions of the tank (length, width, and height) and on many gallons/liters is the water volume of the aquarium system?

I apologize for all the questions, but the more information I am about your seahorse setup, the better advice I will be able to provide.

Best wishes with all your fishes!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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