Controlling Aquarium Diseases with Ozone
What is Ozone?
Ozone occurs naturally in the atmosphere. When a molecule of Oxygen, O², is bound to a third oxygen atom, it becomes Ozone, or 0³. Ozone is one of the strongest known oxidizers and the most powerful readily available water sanitizer.
How is Ozone Made?
Ozone can be made by applying Ultra Violet energy or electrical discharge energy to either pure oxygen or just plain air. The energy of the UV or arc causes the two atoms of a molecule of oxygen to separate, and some recombine temporarily in an unstable three atom molecule of ozone. The third oxygen atom is quickly donated to anything in the vicinity and oxidizes it in the process. Ozone must be made on demand since it cannot easily be stored.
Benefits of Ozone in the Aquarium
- Reverts back to oxygen quickly
- Is economical and non-polluting when used correctly.
- Used as a sterilizing agent to kill viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
- Improves biological and mechanical filtration by burning off proteins, ammonia and nitrite straight to nitrates and by enriching water with Oxygen.
- Can remove toxic pollutants, such as hydrocarbons and other toxic substances which cannot be achieved by any mechanical or biological filtration.
- Increases water clarity.
- Helps control disease.
- Increases redox potential (the ability of the water to oxidize pathogens).
- Increases protein skimmer efficiency.
- Removes yellowing.
As well as disinfecting the water, Ozone also kills algal cells. The disinfected water is returned to the system saturated with oxygen. This in turn enables the biological filter to work at its full potential. After oxidation, Ozone returns to its original form of oxygen, without leaving any toxic by-products or residues. Ozone is a natural disinfectant and sterilizer and unlike chlorine, it does not produce trihalomethanes or chloroforms in water.
What is Oxidization?
Oxidization is the process that causes iron to rust. Oxidization is caused by oxygen molecules that are missing an electron, making them unstable. Oxygen cannot exist in this unstable form and has to be stabilized. The molecules collide with healthy, stable molecules and then 'steal' an electron in order to stabilize themselves. This damages and de-stabilizes the molecule that they have collided with leaving it now missing an electron itself. The formally healthy molecule is now itself an unstable free radical and will also try to stabilize itself by colliding with another healthy molecule and 'stealing' one of its electrons. This creates a knock-on effect that damages and destroys living cellular structure, and in our aquarium environment this includes parasites, viruses, bacteria, algae or any other living organism with a simple cellular structure. Oxidization permanently disrupts and damages cell structure, thereby killing simple cellular organisms very quickly. Beneficial nitrifying bacteria in Bio filters employ the process of oxidation to remove harmful ammonia and nitrite from aquaculture water by converting ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate.
How does ozone affect Biofilters?
Pathogens are killed instantly as they pass through the Ozone stream in the Ozone reactor or protein skimmer. How does this affect your biofilter? Most of the beneficial bacteria are contained in the filter and will not be in direct contact with the ozone, therefore the beneficial bacteria will not be affected. After the unstable ozone converts back to ordinary oxygen, it creates an oxygen rich environment. It is a well known fact that nitrosammonas and nitrobacter reproduce and perform much better in oxygen rich systems.
Ozone is gaining in popularity and rightfully so with all of the benefits and could be a good alternative to UV sterilization.