Bacteria Products - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Bacteria Products

Some people believe in them, some people don't. I personally do believe they work, especially since I've recently used them with great results. However, I am wondering has anyone on here actually done any tests to see how long it takes to cycle with, and without these products?

I will have a spare tank coming up soon and might run some tests myself if anyone is interested?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 08:17 PM
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I've used the Tetra SafeStart twice with my 10 gallon. It in no way makes your tank immediately ready for full stocking, but it definitely speeds up the cycle. The first time I used it my cycle was completely finished in 2 weeks. This past time it took around 3 (but that may have been my fault as I did too many water changes). I've noticed both times that my nitrites start breaking down almost immediately after they start showing up on the test kit. I'm going to guess that means there is a larger percentage of Nitrobacter present in the product than Nitrosomonas. Either that or the Nitrobacter survive better.

10G - Low Tech Planted [ Chocolate Neos, MTS, Tracked Nerite / Anubias Nana, Windelov Java Fern, Water Wisteria, Dwarf Sag ]
29G - Non Planted Native Tank [ Creek Chub, Yellowfin Shiners, MTS / Water Wisteria ]
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 08:45 PM
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I remember we sold this stuff at the store I worked at 20 years ago. Hit and miss is about the best thing I can say. Sometimes it's not the right bacteria, sometimes the culture seems to be dead, sometimes you pour it in your tank and it still takes 3 weeks to any case it's almost never necessary to buy bacteria. It's a clever way to suck more money from people who lack patience though.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-27-2013, 02:10 AM
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I recently completed a fishless cycle on my 20g. It was the first time I ever tried fishless cycling, and I actually found the whole process to be very rewarding. It was like doing a real science/biology experiment right in my living room. It took 24 days, and I literally jumped up and down for joy on the day my ammonia and nitrites dropped to zero!! I'll never buy bacteria-in-a-bottle again.

55g: Finnex Planted+ and MonsterRay, Pressurized CO2 w/ Atomic inline diffuser, Eheim 2217, Eco-Complete, EI ferts. Lemon, Glowlight, and Black Neon Tetras; Harlequin Rasboras; Otos. Staurogyne repens, Hygrophila corymbosa, Ludwigia repens, Ludwigia glandulosa, Red Melon Sword, Wisteria, Water Sprite.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-28-2013, 01:12 AM
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Many years ago scientists thought they figured out the species of bacteria in a cycled tank. These bacteria entered a dormant phase, so were easy to bottle, ship, hold in the warehouse or store shelf....
... but were the wrong species of bacteria.
Many people still refer to "Nitrobacter" as one of the bacteria, and Nitrosmonas europa as another. Some of the research had been done in sewage treatment plants where the ammonia level is WAY higher than in a properly managed aquarium, and different species of bacteria deal with it. When these are introduced to an aquarium they live a short while, as long as the ammonia is high, but they remove ammonia and starve, then die.

Attempting to cycle the tank with these products took exactly as long as a fish-cycle, with the same spikes of ammonia and nitrite, and the many, many water changes. The 'bacteria in a bottle' might have been dead, or would live for only a few days until the ammonia level dropped out of their preferred range. Then the right species of bacteria would get going, but they are slow growing. In the mean time the fish keeper was advised to keep on adding the cycle product, and do water changes or not (depends on who was advising them). Either way, they had the wrong bacteria, the kind that died off in a well managed tank.

About 10 years ago the correct species of bacteria were identified. These do not enter a dormant phase, so a harder to ship, and do not store well.
The first patent was for Bio Spira by Marineland. They produced a marine/salt water product that is still on the market, and a fresh water product. The fresh water product is now available under several names. The key is to look at the ingredients. If one of the bacteria is Nitrospira, then it has the right species.

The bacteria identified as the right ones are:
Ammonia - to - nitrite:
a Nitrosomonas marina-like species.
(There is more current research that suggests there is a different organism also playing a part in the reduction of ammonia)
Nitrite - to - nitrate:
a Nitrospira moscoviensis-like species.

These products will work very well, as long as they have been handled correctly. Refrigerated, not frozen.

There will be a brief, low spike in ammonia and nitrite, so low that you probably do not need to do a water change, then the tank is cycled. These products can be used to jump start the fishless cycle.
When in doubt about the handling of the product there are a couple of things you can do:
1) Use more. (not a problem to overdose)
2) Stock fewer fish. If the product is good, keep it in the fridge, and add it each time you add more fish. You could fully stock a tank in a week or two, even being more conservative.

If you get a batch that has been miss-handled return it, and complain. The only way the store will understand how these bacteria must be handled is when they get complaints about dead bacteria. Whether the problem is at the store or at the wholesaler, they need to know that the instructions about temperature control and product dating, and shelf life really mean something.

back to the original question:
I started several aquariums mumble-mumble years ago with Cycle, and some with Bio Zyme ( dry product in a little yellow plastic jar with a flip-top lid), and Pond Zyme (dry product, bacteria supposedly stored in their dormant phase on little flakes of dried stuff, perhaps rice hulls.)
I read the label and read the test results.
a) Test results showed it was not working.
b) My mind kept coming back to: Mother Nature has no bottle of bacteria to keep adding to the rivers and lakes, so this Cycle product must be a hoax. Something for suckers. There is something ELSE that keeps the ammonia etc under control. The RIGHT species of bacteria will not die off and need to be added every week.

Then I got a computer and started researching on the internet.

Then they came out with Bio Spira, and I had my answer to why the 'bacteria in a bottle' products did not work.

Since then I cycle my tanks in either of 2 ways:
1) Share media from healthy, cycled tanks. I will make up a new filter using cycled media from several tanks, each donor tank sharing so little that it does not create an ammonia spike.
2) Fishless Cycle.
I have posted this many times. The version I post was developed by 2 scientists who were looking for a way to fully stock a Rift Lake tank. African Cichlids are over stocked as a method of controlling their aggression. So the tank has more fish-mass than most of us would stock in a planted tank. A Rift Lake tank is almost always not planted. These fish eat plants, dig them up or otherwise destroy them.
The fishless cycle will grow so many nitrifying bacteria that you can fully stock any reasonable fish-mass in a planted or non planted tank.
These scientists also tried a plant cycle. When the plants are thriving, and you plant enough of them you can immediately stock the tank with a reasonable fish mass. The plants are the bio filter.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-28-2013, 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
1) Share media from healthy, cycled tanks.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-28-2013, 03:15 AM
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I used TSS (tetra safe start) to cycle a betta tank. It took about 10 days. I only checked the water one time while waiting for the cycle. I bought the small bottle that is for up to 15g I think and poured the whole thing in.

Backstory: My daughter bought a male betta, I thought I'd try him in the community tank. He stayed there for just about 10 days but had to be moved after we saw evidence of fin nipping on a molly tail.

So I went out and bought a 5g and all the fixings. I already had aged water, and I took a filter packet that had been sitting unused in my nearly cycled tanks and put that into the new betta tank at the same time I added the TSS. Because I didn't want to find a dead fish or one injured to the point of needing euthanized, he was moved immediately. The filter bag had been in a tank that was trying to cycle for about 3 weeks. The tank did not test cycled, but I hoped that there would be at least a bit of beneficial bacteria on the filter bag to help the cycle along. The filter bag came out of a filter that I upgraded from and I left it in that tank to hopefully not end up starting completely from scratch with the beneficial bacteria. The replacement filter had been active for over a week. Then once the water was up to temp, the betta went in. I fed/feed him every other day sparingly so as to not risk a big ammonia spike.

I tried to use the filter that came with the 5g kit, but it created too much current for the betta. So I ended up getting out the old filter (HOB) that had originally housed the transferred filter bag and setting it up to filter the tank. I took the filter bag that had been in the other high current filter and left it in the tank. Now if I need to take some media into another tank, I have a ready to go, easy to transfer bag. These are just your standard charcoal filter bags that go into most HOB style filters. I do realize the charcoal will become inert, but at this point it's not a concern since the bag isn't so much for the charcoal benefits but the bacteria it will house.

The tank also has anachris, wisteria, and a marimo. Today I added bacopa and a green crypt.

I hope this helps and wasn't too confusing to follow.

Last edited by Neptoon'd; 04-28-2013 at 04:44 AM. Reason: added plant
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