Bacteria in a bottle

RDcompton03

Member
There are a number of products on the market, like Tetra's SafeStart Plus as an example, that are sold to help jump start and speed up your cycle by introducing bacteria. How is it possible for a bottled product to contain living bacteria for months? Bacteria need nutrients and oxygen (most that we need in our tanks require oxygen) to live. Even the ammonia converting bacteria in our tanks will die if the ammonia goes away for a period.
 

AvalancheDave

Member
Long, but it covers just about everything you would ever want to know:

Bacteria in a bottle, Myth or Fact

They also do some reasonably good testing of the products to find out which work, which don't, and why.
 

flyinGourami

Member
The bacteria in the bottle are bacteria spores(think thats what it is called). They can survive for a long time since they are dormant(again, I believe thats the correct term but I'm not 100% sure).
 

AvalancheDave

Member
True nitrifying bacteria can't form spores.* The more expensive Fritz product (TurboStart 700) requires refrigeration, supposedly has the highest concentration of true nitrifying bacteria, and outperformed everything in that thread (most didn't work at all).

*As tanks mature their nitrifying population apparently switches over to archaea (which probably also can't form spores).
 
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RDcompton03

Member
I just finished going over the study in the link. It was rather confusing with the side studies, opposing studies and varying data being interjected by other posters but in the end it really didnt answer any questions for me. I know that some of the products seem to work for some people while other products work for other people. But there was no answer to the question of what are you actually dosing your tank with. Im still skeptical that it is bacteria because I dont believe bacteria would have the able to live though processing, packaging and sitting on a shelf for months. So after three hours of reading through the link, Im still clueless about it. The story of my life. lol
 

BluMan1914

Member
Just gotta throw my two cents in.

I have used TSS+ to cycle a 75 gallon, and a 5 gallon. It worked flawlessly. As long as you follow the directions, and dont put in too many fish during the cycle, at the end of the two weeks, you will have a cycled tank.
 

-Mak-

Member
I am late but this may partially answer the question:

This study was comparing archaea and bacteria in filters, but tested two supplements as well, Hagen's Nutrafin Cycle and Big Al's starter.
"Bacterial amoA genes were abundant in both supplements, but thaumarchaeal amoA and 16S rRNA genes could not be detected."

So at least these two do contain nitrifying bacteria, though no nitrifying archaea (which are frequently more numerous in an established filter). I would assume other brands are similar.
 

stephpartin

Member
RDcompton03 said:
There are a number of products on the market, like Tetra's SafeStart Plus as an example, that are sold to help jump start and speed up your cycle by introducing bacteria. How is it possible for a bottled product to contain living bacteria for months? Bacteria need nutrients and oxygen (most that we need in our tanks require oxygen) to live. Even the ammonia converting bacteria in our tanks will die if the ammonia goes away for a period.
I have no idea but it has always cycled my tank in 2-3 weeks.
 

Tallen78

Member
RDcompton03 said:
There are a number of products on the market, like Tetra's SafeStart Plus as an example, that are sold to help jump start and speed up your cycle by introducing bacteria. How is it possible for a bottled product to contain living bacteria for months? Bacteria need nutrients and oxygen (most that we need in our tanks require oxygen) to live. Even the ammonia converting bacteria in our tanks will die if the ammonia goes away for a period.
I’m with u I mean what’s keeping it alive and yes some require refrigeration so I guess there might be some sort of dormant bacteria organisms in there and if u put it in ur filter rather ur water column maybe I’m a fish in cycle person extra work but the end product can’t be denied
 

Fishkeeperswife

Member
The bacteria needs oxygen To create itself, once it’s there then it doesn’t need oxygen!
some work some do, over in saltwater side these bacteria are used and trusted way more!
 

Whitewolf

Member
I use API Stress Zyme once every couple months on all my spoonge filters to keep them healthy
Healthy bacteria looks brown and smells good like dirt kinda. I suggest using these type of products on new tanks and every once and awhile if you have bare bottom tanks with low surface area for minimal bacteria to live
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Thanks for sharing that Mak.
Another thing about a lot of Bacterialstarters is that a lot of people don't know or read what they're getting. A lot of bacterial starters contain a mix of bacteria that aren't the autotrophic bacteria that actual are in the cycle. Marketingsdepartments of aquabrands are great in misleading people so they think they buy a starter (seeding the filter) but they actually bought a buy-me-time product that contains bacteria that temporarily munch on ammonia and nitrites and buying time for the cycle to start in a natural way. "Helping to establish a cycle" doesn't mean it "establishes it itself"

It is a kind of magic : choose the right words and there you go : people think they got the real stuff. Look for the names of the specific bacteria on the bottle / in the manual : nowhere to be found.

TSS and Dr.Tims (same stuff) and some others are a different story.
 

AvalancheDave

Member
If you see something like "...contains a synergistic blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria..." that means they don't have true nitrifying bacteria. Manufacturers of products that do will likely be very vocal and specific about it.

I like the testing done by the one person on reef2reef that clearly shows which products work and which don't.
 

Nobody

Member
I used it when setting up from scratch. It went through the ammonia stage very quickly, in about a day. But it didn't do anything with nitrite and still took about a month to cycle properly. So probably not worth it really.
 

chromedome52

Member
Dr. Tim Hovanec was the one who first figured out how to put a bacterial culture in a bottle and make it last for longer than a day or two. Took a great deal of research to determine which were the correct lifeforms needed. The original product was for Marineland, had to be refrigerated, and had a distinct shelf life, which was not all that long. The purpose was to instantly have a tank with a bacterial culture so that we didn't have to cycle the tanks. Let me repeat that, it was supposed to replace cycling, not just aid it.

Getting a bacterial bed established in an aquarium is more art than science, with a big dose of dumb luck thrown in. If your tank isn't in a sterile, sealed up house, it's going to have a functioning bacterial bed in 2-3 weeks without any aids. Nitrates are almost meaningless in freshwater, that is a problem for our marine friends.

I did not bother to read any of those articles, I read Dr. Hovanec's work way back when he started. I realized I had no need of instant tank cycling. I have developed two ingredients of my own that do the job quite nicely. They are PATIENCE and RESTRAINT. Don't get more than you are prepared to handle, and take your time to prepare properly for what you plan to keep.

Just sayin'.
 

Frank the Fish guy

Member
I imagine someone will soon figure out how to hang a bunch of Aquaclear filters on existing tanks, let them run for a few months, and then sell the 'dirty' sponge filter in a bag to send to people. When the dirty sponge filter arrives, you put into your filter. Boom! Cycled aquarium!


I recently had to rebuild a tank completely. New glass, clean rocks, same gravel. The filter sat without running for a week. Just had the remaining water left in. When I restarted the aquarium, I used the same (uncleaned) filter and the tank restarted the cycle immediately. No spike measured.

I think that sending broken-in aquarium sponges/media will work for instant cycles for new tank setups.

Not sure about the business plan though.
 

Jmanrow

Member
chromedome52 said:
Dr. Tim Hovanec was the one who first figured out how to put a bacterial culture in a bottle and make it last for longer than a day or two. Took a great deal of research to determine which were the correct lifeforms needed. The original product was for Marineland, had to be refrigerated, and had a distinct shelf life, which was not all that long. The purpose was to instantly have a tank with a bacterial culture so that we didn't have to cycle the tanks. Let me repeat that, it was supposed to replace cycling, not just aid it.

Getting a bacterial bed established in an aquarium is more art than science, with a big dose of dumb luck thrown in. If your tank isn't in a sterile, sealed up house, it's going to have a functioning bacterial bed in 2-3 weeks without any aids. Nitrates are almost meaningless in freshwater, that is a problem for our marine friends.

I did not bother to read any of those articles, I read Dr. Hovanec's work way back when he started. I realized I had no need of instant tank cycling. I have developed two ingredients of my own that do the job quite nicely. They are PATIENCE and RESTRAINT. Don't get more than you are prepared to handle, and take your time to prepare properly for what you plan to keep.

Just sayin'.
I have also read a few of Dr Tim's articles many years ago. He is very knowledgeable and I would trust his products just on his reputation. I tend to cycle my tanks gradually without depending on added bacteria, other than some gravel, rocks and plants from my other tanks. But for some reason I needed to re-establish the bacteria because of a tank crash or disease, I would consider using his products. There are many 'kickstarters' on the market, but I would probably go with Dr Tim's nitrifying bacteria. I had used Fritzyme many years ago and had mixed results. The only time I would consider a tank being "instant" is when I transfer the majority of sand, rock, and filter media into a new aquarium.
 

DoubleDutch

Member
Jmanrow said:
I have also read a few of Dr Tim's articles many years ago. He is very knowledgeable and I would trust his products just on his reputation. I tend to cycle my tanks gradually without depending on added bacteria, other than some gravel, rocks and plants from my other tanks. But for some reason I needed to re-establish the bacteria because of a tank crash or disease, I would consider using his products. There are many 'kickstarters' on the market, but I would probably go with Dr Tim's nitrifying bacteria. I had used Fritzyme many years ago and had mixed results. The only time I would consider a tank being "instant" is when I transfer the majority of sand, rock, and filter media into a new aquarium.
Dr.Tim's and TSS (same stuff) are the few that contain the wanted / needed bacteria.
Allmost all other brands lack the knowledge to put those in a bottle and use a mix.of different (heterotrophic) species that only will buy time and don't seed.
 

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