Need more ammonia oxidizing bacteria? Maybe not

Image of archaea by Steve Gschmeissner from

We all know that the nitrogen cycle consists of breaking down ammonia or ammonium into nitrite and then into nitrate. For years, the microorganisms credited with performing these tasks in aquaria were bacteria, specifically from the genera Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. That is still true, however the notion that bacteria are exclusively responsible has recently been challenged by the scientific community. In fact, it may not be bacteria at all that perform the majority of the work, at least in freshwater aquariums.

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