I've looked into ATM Colony for freshwater before. It contains Nitrosomonas, which is the correct ammonia-oxidizer. But it has Nitrobacter, which they use primarily as the nitrite-oxidizer.
It was previously believed that Nitrobacter was the predominant nitrite-oxidizer in freshwater, but some more recent studies were conducted by Dr. Timothy A. Hovanec (he created the formula for BioSpira, SafeStart and now made his own Dr. Tim's One and Only) and his studies showed that Nitrospira were the dominant nitrite-oxidizers in freshwater.
I believe in some tests where Nitrobacter was used, the bacteria did survive in freshwater and did oxidize nitrites, but were much less efficient at nitrifying and reproducing in freshwater in comparison to Nitrospira. In the studies, Nitrospira colonized a lot more area than Nitrobacter species.
Here are some of the scientific studies
Nitrospira-Like Bacteria Associated with Nitrite Oxidation in Freshwater Aquaria
Nitrobacter and Nitrospira genera as representatives of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria: detection, quantification and growth along the lower Seine Rive... - PubMed - NCBI
Some info on Dr. Tim if you want to know his background
About | DrTim's Aquatics
Here is a page on ATM Colony
The Shocking Truth: Nitrifying Bacteria Products
If you scroll down to a comment made on July 31st 2014 on that page, ATM briefly touches on them using Nitrobacter and not Nitrospira.
I am not a scientist, so I do not have the means of verifying how 'true'/unmanipulative any of the studies were conducted, so all I present is some info I have found researching the matter.
For what it's worth, I believe Fritz Zyme 7, another nitrifying bacteria product, also has a few independent studies (bottom of page) done on their product that claims it works, and they too use Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. Just as pointed out by ATM, scientific reports from any study can still be tricky to believe were done "truthfully"/unmanipulative. I would have liked ATM have presented a scientific study on how superior Nitrobacter is over Nitrospira as they mention.
Fritz Zyme :: Fritz Industries, Inc.
A lot of other companies have used soil/land-based nitrifying bacteria that just plainly aren't well suited to live in aquatic environments. Some use bacteria that are better off used in saltwater, not freshwater. Some even contain heterotrophic bacteria (non-nitrifiers).
I have not come across as many Colony reviews/reports of success, but if it works, it works. Nitrobacter were shown to convert some nitrites, so that pretty much explains how it can "work", but in the reports I've seen, they are not nearly as efficient as Nitrospira in freshwater.
I have no ties with any company. Just simply another hobbyist that likes to research around. I am a fan of ATM as well, I've watched nearly every episode of "Tanked". Funny show if you haven't seen it or heard of ATM. You can see them on Youtube if you don't get their show in Canada.
Anyways, I'm done haha
If Colony works or not, please let it be known!
: forgot to answer so of your questions
I've heard any medicine ingredient ending in "in
", such as the Formalin
in Hikari Ich-X, will harm nitrifying bacteria. So it wouldn't be wise to use that. Especially when the tank is new with no biofilm protecting/coating the nitrifying bacteria.
For treating Ich, I highly recommend Kordon Ich Attack (or Kordon Rid Fungus which has the same herbal ingredients, not
Kordon Rid Ich). It is works, is very gentle on fish, and is safe for plants and inverts.
Others like to use high heat only (86*F+), salt only, or heat and salt combination to treat ich. Those are options, but I personally haven't had really satisfactory results with those methods.
Seachem Paraguard is a safer alternative to Formalin and Malachite green meds such as Ich-X, QuICK Cure and Rid Ich.
Kordon Ich Attack is my top choice hands down.
Regarding using bottled bacteria, you want to be easy on the amount of ammonia you use. High ammonia levels can actually hurt nitrifying bacteria. And I'd imagine, when the tank is new and/or the bacteria are newly dosed and not yet protected by a biofilm coating, they are even more susceptible to harm from higher ammonia levels. 5ppm and higher ammonia levels negatively impact nitrifying bacteria, but that is when they are coated by biofilm. Without biofilm protection, I imagine 4ppm or even 3ppm may harm some of it.
My personal recommendation would be to dose the bacteria product at the site of the biomedia, and let the filter run for a bit for the bacteria to attach to the biomedia. Then
(not before adding bacteria), add the ammonia, maybe only 1ppm or 2ppm for the first couple days or so (give biofilm at least a couple days to form a nice coat). It may be helpful to add some organic material (fish food would do) for heterotrophic bacteria and other microogranisms to form and feed, which would help develop some biofilm. After a couple days or so, then the nitrifying bacteria may be able to handle a higher ammonia concentration.
I personally would redose the bacteria just incase they died from the higher ammonia levels. Of course, first do water changes to reduce ammonia levels, then add the bacteria again. If you don't have enough bottled bacteria left, you can just leave it as it is and see if nitrogen levels indicate the bacteria has indeed survived and is nitrifying.
Just my personal recommendations with my understanding how everything works.
Do be sure to not
use any ammonia remover, activated carbon/charcoal or UV's while the tank is cycling.