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Bottled Bacteria useful or not


MartyO
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So I have never used bottled bacteria to jump start a cycle. Was wondering since it seems lots of companies now have some type of bottled bacteria if it would actually be a benefit as in the tank would cycle a lot sooner then normal (4-8 weeks) if not longer. I would like to get a quarantine tank going in the next few days and I might be able to get a hold of the fish I want a few days after that. So basically if I got a bottle of one of these bacteria would the tank be ready to hold fish within a week or 2?

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Many people have good results, myself included.  You still need to feed the bacteria so most of the makers recommend adding fish right away but you can add in a bit of ammonia or let fish food rot in there.  They are by no means needed though.  Plants help a lot too so if you plan on having plants add them early too.

 

Just don't put a 90$ fish in there.  I started with guppies 🙂

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17 minutes ago, CT_ said:

Many people have good results, myself included.  You still need to feed the bacteria so most of the makers recommend adding fish right away but you can add in a bit of ammonia or let fish food rot in there.  They are by no means needed though.  Plants help a lot too so if you plan on having plants add them early too.

 

Just don't put a 90$ fish in there.  I started with guppies 🙂

Do you recommend a certain brand? While doing research on the fish I plan to keep, seemed Fritz was a popular one people were using. I get plants are a big help, unfortunately I have no plants at the moment to throw in a quarantine tank.

Edited by MartyO
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15 minutes ago, MartyO said:

Do you recommend a certain brand? While doing research on the fish I plan to keep, seemed Fritz was a popular one people were using. I get plants are a big help, unfortunately I have no plants at the moment to throw in a quarantine tank.

I hear good things about fritz.  Tetra safe start worked for me.  As Joseph is implying you can always move a sponge filter over or something if you have a "seasoned" one.

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16 minutes ago, joseph lambeth said:

do you run sponge filters in your other tanks?

No I just ordered a 4 pack from amazon. That's why I'm asking if the bottles work so I can jump start the sponges either just before getting the fish or even the same day as getting the fish. I'm just starting up a freshwater tank. I have had saltwater for the last 10years or so. I have always just let my tanks cycle for 2-3 months as nothing good happens fast in saltwater. Now with having lots of experience with keep salt I figured it was time to change it up.

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I have never used bottled bacteria, but I strongly suspect they are useful.

Every aquarium whether newly setup or established is teeming with bacteria, and in a newly setup aquarium there is a race to colonize all the available habitats. The beneficial bacteria are autotrophs and double their populations about every 24 - 30 hours. The other bacteria are heterotrophs and double their populations much more quickly, about every 10 - 12 hours.

By giving the beneficial autotrophic bacteria a much needed head start, they are able to hold their own against the inevitable oncoming tsunami of heterotrophic bacteria.

At the very least it can't hurt and much more likely it is a safe bet in more quickly building up the desired beneficial bacteria populations.

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I used the Fritz sold by Aquarium Coop in a brand new tank and it cycled without any spikes at all - never even had a nitrite reading tho ammonia did get to .25 ppm. I poured in the initial amount (can't remember but something like a half cup or so) and then added about a half ounce a day until it was gone. You still have to keep initial stocking low enough for bacteria to catch up. Shake well and keep in a cool dark spot. I was amazed. 

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I tend to come down on the "it can't hurt and might help" side of things. I would avoid some of the insanely expensive options, but any of the name brand stuff should work okay. A few years back there was a lunatic fringe company that sold small glass vials of starter bacteria for well over $100 a dose.  I would avoid those kinds of products. The "normal" stuff should work okay for you though.

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If you do what i did way back when i restarted the hobby, and crashed my bacteria cycle with some chlorine contaminated water, fritz zyme 7 got me rapidly back on track with minimal fish loss ( i lost 2 pygmy hatchet fish). My poor fish rode an ammonia wave followed by a nitrite wave as all i could do was add the bacteria and watch my fish closely. So it was great for an emergency situation. I keep a bottle on hand in conjunction with a nano sponge filter in case i need to rapidly set up my hospital tank i store dry. 

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If/when you don't already have a healthy established tank, bottled bacteria is the way to go. Who wants to wait 4-6 weeks for the traditional cycle process. I have a great article on cycling new tanks on my website/blog.

These BB in a bottle products have gotten a bad rap over the years as when they first came out the bacteria species were not quite spot on, but they have improved considerably. There is also a potential issue with shipping and handling, but overall these products have come of age and are good. I believe that Dr. Tim's One and Only is perhaps the leader of the pack, but there are others like Safe Start and Stability.

However, disregard the marketing hype suggesting you need to keep adding this stuff over time as once beneficial biology colony(ies) are established, they're here to stay unless they are crashed by untreated (chlorine/chloramine) water.

Edited by MJV Aquatics
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7 minutes ago, MJV Aquatics said:

However, disregard the marketing hype suggesting you need to keep adding this stuff over time as once beneficial biology colony(ies) are established, they're here to stay unless they are crashed by untreated (chlorine/chloramine) water.

I agree with @MJV Aquatics on that point. Once established there is no need to keep adding “X amount with each water change”. That is just a marketing gimick to get you to use it all up and buy more. I do however wonder about the shelf life of such products? Do they ever expire, or go bad after sitting on my shelf for a long time?

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Yeah I think it's always a good idea to have a bottle of beneficial bacteria handy just in case. An unexpected fish death that you don't spot for a day or two can pump out a ton of ammonia. Or maybe a mouse falls in the tank or something and you have to do a giant water change. Or maybe you need to set up a quarantine tank, fast, and want to make sure it's cycled. All sorts of reasons why even established tanks can benefit from a little help.

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10 minutes ago, Will Billy said:

I do however wonder about the shelf life of such products? Do they ever expire, or go bad after sitting on my shelf for a long time?

Many have surmised that aerobic bacteria may perish in a bottle without oxygen. However, these bacteria do not have lungs or breathe. Bacteria are very resilient and when bottled go into a form of stasis until released into an environment where they come to life and reproduce. So I would say that they may not store forever, but it's a really long shelf life.

Edited by MJV Aquatics
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1 minute ago, Betsy said:

@Kirsten - I feel like there must be a story behind the mouse falling into the tank!! 🐭

Lol not personally, but a couple months ago someone mentioned a huge ammonia spike in their established tank with no apparent deaths or major changes, and we had a guessing game of what could have caused it. Someone mentioned a mouse possibly drowning and falling behind some decor and I thought, oh snap, that could usually happen in my house if my cat is chasing a mouse everywhere in the dark.

But yeah, for that mystery, my guess was someone used some industrial glass cleaner on the tank or something, not knowing it would be harmful, but that's another way you can have an ammonia spike!

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