Nitrifying Bacteria


Our single best competitive advantage is our technology for manufacturing nitrifying bacteria. We must understand as much as possible about nitrifying bacteria in order to communicate properly with customers.

Nitrifying bacteria play an important role in reducing ammonia and nitrite levels in Tanks, aquariums and ponds, and in the control of excessive algae growth.

Remember that nitrifying bacteria consume INORGANIC food. Specifically, nitrifying bacteria consume NH3, NO2, and also consume large amount of Phosphate (PO4). These nutrients are also items that algae consume very rapidly. So, an important first point is that nitrifying bacteria thrive in the same competitive niche in which algae thrive.

Key Point: Algae and nitrifying bacteria prefer the same food types

Because nitrifying bacteria closely resemble algae in their food source requirements, the addition of these nitrifying bacteria into aquariums and ponds is an effective algae reduction program.

Excess algae is not only unsightly, but is also a very unhealthy condition in an aquarium or pond. Excessive algae blooms result in depletion of dissolved oxygen as algae matter decomposes. Algae blooms cause build up of organic sediment, high suspended solids, and odours.


What is Nitrification?


Nitrification is the SEQUENTIAL aerobic, bacterial conversion of ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2) and then to nitrate (NO3). One broad class of nitrifying bacteria converts NH3 into NO2. Another broad class of nitrifiers converts NO2 into NO3. So this is a 2-step, sequential process.

When a given tank or pond is converting all of the NH3 into NO2, and is just as rapidly converting all of the NO2 into NO3, the tank is generally considered to be “fully cycled”.

Of particular importance in Aquaculture tanks, ponds and aquariums is that NH3 is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. Aquarists are trained to carefully note the NH3 levels in their aquariums and ponds. Ammonia spikes (when NH3 concentration rises at all) can be lethal to fish! Aquarists are extremely cautious to not add new fish to an aquarium until the NH3 levels are down to near ZERO (0.2 ppm or less). Meanwhile, NO2 is less toxic, and NO3 is relatively non-toxic.

Two important groups of nitrifiers as they relate to our nitrification technology are:

Nitrosomonas, which converts NH3 to NO2,

Nitrobacter, which converts NO2 to NO3.

The two names, Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter, are commonly used by people who may be generally familiar with aquarium and pond maintenance. There are also arguments that some manufacturers raise regarding the specific species of nitrifying bacteria. We do not need to participate in a strict technical argument. We simply state that we have nitrifying bacteria that complete both steps (ammonia to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate).

Note that we have different species of nitrifying bacteria in our freshwater and saltwater products. Our competitors often try to use the same species in both freshwater and saltwater. This is a mistake by them. After all, you would not place freshwater fish into a saltwater environment. They would not typically live. It is generally the same with bacteria. By offering both freshwater and saltwater nitrifiers, we optimize nitrification in both environments.


Nitrification and Denitrification

The difference between nitrification and denitrification is critical to understanding how we successfully treat ponds and aquariums for algae reduction.

Denitrification is almost the opposite of nitrification. The table below gives a good contrast between the two processes:



  • NH3 to NO2 to NO3
  • Requires nitrifying bacteria
  • Requires oxygen (aeration)
  • Releases Hydrogen ions
  • Consumes alkalinity, lowers ph
  • Requires relatively clean environment
  • NO3 to N2
  • Requires denitrifying bacteria (very common)
  • Requires low dissolved oxygen (less than 0.5 mg/liter
  • Increases alkalinity, increases pH
  • Soluble organic food is required

Algae thrive on the entire N series: ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (NO3). Note that NO3 is the byproduct of nitrification (NH3 to NO2 to NO3). By enhancing nitrification, we accomplish part of the job of algae reduction. However, that is not enough. We need to enhance denitrification as well.

Fortunately, any pond has zones where there is less oxygen, which means that there is low dissolved oxygen in at least part of the pond. The same is true in aquariums. Low dissolved oxygen zones exist in gravel, sand, or other treatment zones of the aquarium.

Note that the presence of soluble organic food is a requirement for denitrification. Since TLC contains solubilising bacteria, there will always be some low level of soluble organic food. This is sufficient to support denitrification.

Through denitrification, NO3 (the end product of nitrification) reacts with soluble organic food and denitrifying bacteria. The end product is nitrogen gas (which makes up 79% of our atmosphere!). Through denitrification, some NO3 is eliminated from the aquarium or pond. This further reduces the food source for algae, which reduces the algae bloom.

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03 544 4365
16 Gladstone Road
Richmond, Nelson 7020

P.O.Box 3581,
Richmond, Nelson. 7050