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For those of you who enjoy reading scientific papers, you might find this paper of interest

EFFECT OF ALKALINITY TYPE AND CONCENTRATION ON NITRIFYING BIOFILM ACTIVITY

 

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I'd enjoy reading it... if you'd actually put the link there...
RupertofOz, thanks for letting me know. I amended to initial post.

so the moral of the story is that we should have some, but not too much, calcium carbonate (oyster shell) in our system.  too much though and pH will be too high for the plants, causing micro nutrient lockout.

so while the nitrifying bacteria would prefer high pHs, plants need lower pHs for nutrient uptake and the compromise is to have some CaCO3 in there to help the bacteria perform well at a lower pH.

Nitrifying bacteria use inorganic carbon as an energy source. Carbonate, bi-carbonate, and CO2 are the primary sources. For every gram of ammonia converted to nitrate, 7+ grams of alkalinity is consumed.

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