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Answer: Where beneficial bacteria comes from. (naturally)

Andrew Geiger

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This is just another topic of discussion and a commonly heard question to people in this hobby. Unfortunately finding an answer with key words that relate to aquariums is nearly impossible. I'm sure there have been youtuber's and such that have mentioned it...but its never the main point of discussion.

Quoted/Sourced from livescience.com:

"The air you breathe is teeming with more than 1,800 kinds of bacteria"

The most logical and best answer I've found is from the air, or an introduction of a species (fish/snail/crustacean or seeded filter) to the water. Please let me know if you have other info on this. Before I researched nutrient cycles I was always curious about this. With fishless cycling and no seeded media its a legitimate question in this hobby.

edit: I know we can buy "bottles of bacteria" to jump start our cycles, meant to specify natural ways it appears.

Edited by Andrew Geiger
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Although I bet there are some beneficial bacteria blowing in the wind at all times, I suspect the ones important in our nitrogen cycle like Nitraspina, Nitrospinacacae, and Nitrospria bacteria come into our aquariums, on the plants, fish, and fish water that we introduce to new aquariums. I bet they are on our hands as all humans are covered with a film of mostly helpful bacteria on the outside.

They live in soil, water and almost any moist surface. They hibernate when dried so could possibly be a part of any dust particle blowing in the wind. And it only takes one and the growth is exponential. It is a bacterial world out there and we are just a minor part of it.

In some ways the question should be, where don't they come from? They are pretty much everywhere all the time.

When I 'cycle' an aquarium, I usually just throw in some hornwort at the time I introduce the fish. Beneficial bacteria prefer the leaves of plants (like hornwort) to any other surface because plants, unlike gravel or plastic, provide the oxygen and organic carbon the beneficial bacteria need to live an reproduce.

I don't doubt that fishless cycling and no seeded media work, it is just a question of long does it take to get going.


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@Daniel Thanks! Very good response and explanation. Yea, I was thinking back on the first aquarium that I established with no added organisms, didn't add plants or anything. It took a good 2 months to get good hold... thinking back I should have reached out for some established media.

It is a bacterial world, our bodies wouldn't function the same. We cant even digest food without them.

@KBOzzie59 I think hands makes sense. But depending on the decor they may have some as well. Most substrate is intert, then we clean the heck out of it, so id imagine that has to reestablish if it had any to begin with. 

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