Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Test some of the other parameters and adjust as needed. Here are some of the things these bacteria prefer so they will grow at the maximum rate:
Make sure the KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. These bacteria use the carbon from carbonates. Higher is just fine.
Make sure the GH is at least 3 degrees. I am not sure if they need these minerals, but maybe. For sure the plants and fish will.
If the pH is too low they grow slowly. I am not sure if this is because the carbonates are too low, or if there is a real link to the pH. Optimum pH is over 7, and closer to 8 seems to work well. On the other hand I have cycled a tank when the pH was closer to 7 and it did fine. I see too many posts about nitrogen problems when the pH is 6.5 or less. When I was cycling a tank where the pH dropped the bacteria seemed to slow down. pH was dropping because the carbonates were getting soaked up by the substrate.
High oxygen. Lots of water movement, good flow through the filter media.
Warm. These bacteria will grow fast when the temps are in the upper 70s, and higher, as long as there is enough water movement for the oxygen to stay up there. Warmer water holds less oxygen.
No toxins. That you have some growth started suggests this is OK, still...
Watch out for things that might be in the air (air freshener, spray-on cleaner like glass cleaner) in the water (When you do water changes use the right dose of dechlor) and on your hands (Soap, cosmetics, perfume)
5 ppm ammonia is a good starting amount, but allow it to drop to 3 ppm when the nitrites show up. These bacteria do not grow so well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.