Adding More Bacteria

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by TKK9, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. TKK9New MemberMember

    Hi, so I did my weekly water change and filter change on Sunday. However, the last 4 days ive seen my Nitrates/Nitrite levels spike. I think I inadvertently killed off some of the good bacteria in my tank when I also changed out my filter medium. I am going to do a 25% water change tonight. My question was, can I add MORE friendly bacteria to my tank? Will it harm my fish? Thanks
  2. HeronValued MemberMember

    You can't really overdose bacteria so you can add more to get things back to normal. You say you did a filter change, did you change all the media or just half of it? If you get nitrites in a cycled tank then a lack of bacteria is the obvious reason. What size is your tank?, What type of filter are you using? How heavily stocked is it?.
  3. liliroseValued MemberMember

    You can add Tetra SafeStart or Seachem Stability to a tank that already has fish in it. Neither product will harm your fish in any way.

    Rising nitrAtes are normal. Rising nitrItes will harm your fish. However, you'd expect to also see an ammonia spike if there's a problem with the bacteria.

    Was there a reason to completely change the filter media? Usually it's best to rinse it well in old tank water and put it back- you can safely ignore the manufacturer's recommended replacement schedule, as it's more based on "we want you to buy media more often" than what is best for your fish. I've been known to use the same cartridge in a HOB filter for a year! If it's really clogged and rinsing doesn't help, I like to put the old media directly into the tank after rinsing, and in a mesh bag if it's not a cartridge that will hold itself together. This will help to seed the new media.
  4. TKK9New MemberMember

    Hey Heron. Yeah I did a full filter change. I had to add some medicine for a week to my water, and I was advised to take out all of my media (I am using activated carbon chips). I have a 25L tank with a Aquaflow 50 filter. I am gutted though because my tank water was so healthy and my readings were great. I needed to treat my betta for some minor fin rot so I was advised to use this natural medicine, but I needed to take the filter out for a week for it to work. In regards to stock, I have a betta, 2 mini panda cory, 1 normal sized panda cory and a Otocinclus. Tank has scattered natural almond leaves and 3 moss balls. The water before all this was perfect. Just in a bit of a panic now as this is my first ever "spike" and I want to make sure I deal with it correctly. When adding the new bacteria do I need to remove the first? In regards to water changes, is there anything else I can do?

    Hi lilirose. I feel so gutted. The reason I changed the filter media completely was due to the packaging on this  

    It advised that I take out the media when treating my fish. In hindsight I should've safely stored the media in a pot with the tank water, then added it back once the week had finished? Just a bit annoyed with myself as I have been so extra careful to make sure everything is ok. Luckily the fish seem ok and still energetic and look healthy, I just want to sort it before the spike gets troublesome
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2019
  5. HeronValued MemberMember

    Fin rot / fungus medications often kill of some filter bacteria. You must remove carbon when using meds because the carbon removes the meds. Before using fr/ f medications in the main tank I remove half the media and store it in a pot of aquarium water. Then after treatment and a couple of water changes I put it back. 99 percent of good bacteria live on the filter media so you should never replace it all. If you feel the need to replace media do it half at a time. If you have only 1 fish that has fungus or fin rot I would treat it outside your main aquarium
  6. liliroseValued MemberMember

    Why are you using Melafix? To be honest, I find that any product with "-fix" at the end isn't going to do a whole lot. And it's very likely that whatever problem you were medicating for was caused by poor water quality in the first place- water changes will do far more to heal problems.

    Sorry, just read that your Betta had fin rot. Water changes are definitely the best cure for that and will do far more than Melafix. I personally use sponge filters in my Betta tanks as they are low flow and don't have anything in them that will remove tannins from the water. There is really no reason to regularly use activated charcoal in a Betta tank unless you have issues with bad smelling water.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2019
  7. CichlidudeWell Known MemberMember

    Well you never said what your nitrates rose too. What is your normal number and what did they rise too?
  8. e_watson09Well Known MemberMember

    At this point try not to beat yourself up. It won't change anything! Many of us have made this same mistake at some point, sometimes more recent than we want to admit.

    I would just start doing 50% water changes daily (water only, don't gravel vac or anything). This will help reduce the levels temporarily so the fish aren't as stressed. You can add some of the beneficial bacteria in a bottle, I honestly am not sure how well it works, like I'm not convinced it works but it won't hurt anything so it is worth a try. Keep up with the water only changes until the levels reduce quite a bit. This will give your bacteria colony time to regrow but still keep your fish happy.
  9. TKK9New MemberMember

    Thank you e_watson :) will do with the 50% water changes.

    Noted! Thank you for the advice. I read on this forum or maybe somewhere else online that melafix is the go to thing. I was worrying a lot about my betta fish's fin rot getting worse so in my panic turned to that product. In fairness it helped fix the fin, however, has messed up the water. I wish I just left it alone for now and just treated the fin rot over time with water changes instead of looking for a "quick fix". naivety I guess... but live and learn!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2019
  10. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I am sorry to hear that you got some bad advice but the good new is that now you know when they say remove the media they really mean just remove the carbon. If one is using cartridges as their filter media they can just cut a slit in the fiber and dump/rinse the carbon out and put the empty cartridge back in.

    I wanted to answer a question you posed though that didn't seem to get answered. I am not sure what you mean by removing the first. If you are asking if you need to try to remove any bacteria from the tank then the answer is a resounding, no. The bacteria in a bottle should be the same bacteria we have growing in our tanks so just go ahead and add it.
  11. TKK9New MemberMember

    thanks mattgirl. I did indeed remove the carbon out of the filter sponge and put that back into the cartridge. It was only the carbon i removed. Gonna do a 50% water change tonight followed by addition of friendly bacteria (same I have in my tank currently) thank you !!! :)
  12. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I am happy to hear that the filter sponge stayed in and it was just the carbon that was removed. It is possible that the medication is what caused you to see nitrites when you should no longer be seeing them. It sounds like a mini-cycle and hopefully it won't take long for the bacteria to catch back up.

    Just keep a close eye on the perimeters and do water changes as necessary. How high have the nitrites gone? And how high are your nitrates? It is a good idea to keep the nitrates down to 20 or so but even a little higher shouldn't be cause for concern.
  13. TKK9New MemberMember

    From what I remember this morning my reading of the nitrate was close to 40/50. I used a water testing strip and I have heard these can be every inaccurate? It was the one recommended to me by the aquarium store
  14. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Test strips do have their place but in the long run they have proven to not be real reliable. Once the package is opened they start to degrade and it is then that you will start getting some unexpected readings.

    I both use and recommend an API Master Freshwater Test Kit. It contains tests for both high and low PH along with tests for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The test kit is very cost effective too. I paid about $25.00 for mine well over 3 years ago and am still using it. I did have to buy more nitrate solution since it takes so much of it to run each test but I feel I get very reliable results using this instead of test strips.

    All this to say, it is possible that you've not actually had a nitrite spike. It is possible that the degraded test strips are giving you false readings. To be on the safe side though I would continue the water changes until you can be sure your cycle is back on track.

    If you don't have nitrates in your source water you should be able to lower that nitrate level with water changes.
  15. TKK9New MemberMember

    Amazing! Thank you for all your advice! Really helpful for someone like me who is still very new to the hobby. Really appreciate it. I will look into some better test kits!
  16. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    You are so very welcome :)