Non-Organic Nitri-Nitra-fier Media #01

It was a 11/2007 SugPro post by James Yawn that first sparked my interest to try this project:
" there a more pleasant and perhaps more productive alternative? Flour and a bit of ammonia?
I wonder if aquarium equipment could be used to make a small scale organic nitrate-processing facility: heaters, filters, aerators... With ideal temperatures, positive aeration, a five-star menu and a good waiter, seems like it could be more efficient than the old processes.
So I'd love to know if one could make a soup they would like from grocery-store ingredients. Any ideas?"

Along with that spark of innovation I was also reading other posts on kno3 with details on growing these bacteria. What intriqued me further is that these bacteria do not need organic waste to do their job.
They mainly need ammonium salts for energy and Carbon dioxide for their carbon source.
So my curiosity stirred I took the media info found at and looked for ways to make a rough estimate of that media by using ingredients available at local stores.
What I made was actually an attempt to combine two media: the media for the nitrifiers and media for nitrafiers incorporated into one media.
The resulting bacterial culture will not be pure in the microbiological sense, but more of a nutrient restricted micro-environment.

So here goes my first attempt: *

Following amounts are per liter.
Text info in red for each ingredient is where one might find it locally, or synthesis it from local products.

Ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 at 3 grams/liter:
(NH4)2SO4 is probably available as a fertilizer but I chose to make mine from household ammonia NH3 , from the grocery store, and battery acid H2SO4 from the auto parts store.
200 ml of clear household ammonia was neutralized with a few mls of battery acid.
PH was tested as the solutions were titrated.
PH 7 is best but if in doubt leave the mix a little on the basic side. This way when heat drying the crystals the residual ammonia will evaporate.
If dried on the acidic side then unwanted sulfuric acid will remain in the product.
The solution was heat dried at 200F in a small toaster oven pan.
Yield was 6 grams.

Magnesium sulfate MgSO4 at 0.2 grams/liter:
Epsom salts from the grocery store or pharmacy.

Calcium chloride CaCl2 at 0.07 grams/liter:
I had this one, but if needed one could make it by reacting chalk (or clam shells) with muriatic acid (HCl) from the hardware store.
My Ohaus scale is not this accurate so to measure this small amount I used my powder scale and weighed out one grain. One grain is about 1/15th of a gram.

Phosphate salts approximately 0.5 gram per liter:
Probably the easiest way to get soluble phosphate salts is to buy trisodium phosphate which is sold as a cleaner. Another good choice would be Miracle Gro plant food. This would supply the phosphates along with the trace elements mentioned below. I avoided Miracle Gro as it also contains urea and I wanted to add no carbon source other than carbon dioxide. (For a more normal/classic bioreactor urea would be a great thing to add)
In this media I chose to use 3 grams of phosphate buffered saline I had around from a previous experiment.

Trace Elements:
Take a look at the trace elements in the media link. I wasn't going to figure out how to do each of those so I chose to use 3 grams/liter of sea salt (Pet store/aquarium supply). Sea salt contains many trace elements and the links I could find suggested the elements Mn, Cu, Mo, Co, Fe, and Zn would be available this way.
I wanted to keep this as a "fresh water" system hence the use of only 3 grams per liter.
Another way to get these trace elements would be to use Miracle Gro general plant food. This would avoid the salt and also supply phosphates (and urea if desired.)

Carbon dioxide CO2
CO2 is supplied by the aeration of the system but I did find a link to Nitrosomonas media at ATCC that added Sodium carbonate. I have some potassium carbonate from the pottery supply store so I added 1 gram per liter.

I did not add any nitrite. The nitrifying bacteria should produce this

Now the media and bacterial source are added, the bubbler started and then chemical products followed for several days to see if this works: See: reactor testing page.

reactor vessel page.

reactor testing page.

reactor results page.

reactor harvesting page.

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