'Bacterial' Additives

Tigerfishy

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I put this here as I know there's always a lot of chat regarding bacterial additives/cycle starters/should we/shouldn't we etc (as we have all noticed!)...

When I began fishkeeping, I admit I knew very little. My "cycle" was letting the equipment run for a week before buying 5 danios. I believed in "New tank syndrome", which is mostly ammonia poisoning as I have found out, but lost few fish which I now realise I was just lucky with...

During this time (pre FL) I used Nutrafin Cycle in my tank every week with a water change, and at the start as directed on the bottle. This I believe is what gave me some of the luck I had. Coming here taught me that this is the wrong type of bacteria, it will die off once I stopped adding it and a properly cycled and established tank does not need this to keep itself running smoothly as it should.

So I stopped using it. Just flat out stopped. No reduction in dosage to get the tank ready, it went cold turkey if you like! As I expected a crash, I monitored the water, bought Prime (which I was planning anyway) and prepared myself. The days passed, they turned to weeks and the cycle remained, the water stayed as it should be even though there was no additives, it had been added religiously every week since the start of the tank from the beginning of June until about a month after my join date on the left theer (I cannot remember just now lol).

I was surprised, but I guess that some bacteria must have become established enough within that time for nothing to go wrong (yes I know I got lucky...).

I have seen recently there have been a few threads about these types of products, so lets use this one to put experiences, share thoughts, and generally provide as much info as we can to each other on these things in one place.

P.S. Mods, please feel free to move this as necessary. Water Quality was my other choice of forum to put it in...
 

yallyall1

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personally, ive heard many horror stories... yet when I was cycling my tank, it actually cycled quicker than normal! I guess I was lucky too!

However, I don't use it now.
 

Nick G

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I didn't use any additives when I first began. My "cycle" was set the tank up, leave it 24hrs then add Zebra Danios, wait a week and then add more fish. Needless to say my cycling method resulted in the loss of many fish. However many years on, and I still don't use any additives, other than Prime, which I only use for waterchanges. My cycling methods have changed somewhat, (for the better), but now I only use fish food or seeded media to cycle my tanks.
 

SFwriter

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I also prefer a natural cycle with a hearty fish like black tetras, but as long as I have a tank already running, obviously I will seed a new tank instead of starting from scratch.
 

Tana

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I was using Nitromax after I started getting ammonia readings from my fish in attempt at cycling. I added it with eight constant days of 25-30% water changes and stopped cold turkey after I got zero ammonia readings with no cycling crash after I stopped using it. I guess it either helped seed the bacteria or else I got lucky that it was in the process of cycling on it's own anyway. I tend to think using it helped get it going because it does contain nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria which is what you want to help seed your biofilters. I don't understand fully the science behind it, but it came from a good source.

Thankfully I didn't lose any fish, but I don't know if they will have any long term damage to the ammonia exposure. It never got over .50 on the liquid API test so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I will use it again to help cycle my 38 gallon, but will go fishless this time to see how long it takes.
 
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Tigerfishy

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Thanks guys, esp Tana with a similar experience, glad I'm not the only one!

These days I also seed new tanks SFwriter as I keep spare sponges in every tank and filter (well, ya never know, right!?)
 

Aquarist

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Good morning,

I've never used any bacterial additives to cycle any of my tanks.

I think everyone should experience the process of cycling a tank naturally. You never know, there may be a day that these additives are no longer available and then what will one do if they've been relying on them? Start seeding....that's right

Seeding has been my choice for jump starting the cycle.

Ken
 

sirdarksol

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I have had two cycles crash from these additives. Both were products that were dry powders, and both lived long enough to starve out the nitrifying colony before crashing themselves a week or so later.
As varying companies find different ways to do it, there seems to be more and more products that work, but, with the lives of your fish at stake, it is always a good idea to look at such things with skepticism. Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas are both wide genera of bacteria, and not all products that contain them contain the ones you need.
Also, because a cycle developed while you used the product, don't presume that it was because of the product. It may have been in spite of the product.
This is what happened the second time. I was doing an experiment on the Zero Water Change system, and had cycled my aquarium precisely as the manufacturer said, using the powder-based additive every week for a couple of months. When I ran out of the other additive, I stopped adding the powder as well. I watched my numbers like a hawk, and had no issue. I thought there hadn't been any problem.
Then I did the second part of the test. This additive was supposed to have bacteria that turned nitrates into nitrogen gas. A few months later, I added the stuff, figuring it had worked before, so there wasn't a problem. When I stopped adding it, my entire cycle crashed within a week.
I have heard this same story from a number of people, with powder and liquid additives. It's an area that you want to take great care with, except in cases where a product has been verified by a large number of people (and, even better, where the product is very open about what it contains and what it does, rather than making vague claims)
 

Tana

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I have had two cycles crash from these additives.
Also, because a cycle developed while you used the product, don't presume that it was because of the product. It may have been in spite of the product.
And that's what I really don't know for sure on. It could have been just wishful thinking or already in the process of cycling.

I'm definitely not going to trust it with fish in anymore because I don't want them to go through that. I also have a pack of media seeding right now to help when I get the new one set up.
 

sirdarksol

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I think that testing it out fishless is an excellent idea.
If you you really want to test it, here's another thing you can do: Cycle a tank that has no fish in it, then dose the tank with Nitromax to see if the cycle crashes in a week or two.
We want to be careful, but we also want to know what actually works. Every product that does what it says is another tool for us to use.
 

Tana

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If you you really want to test it, here's another thing you can do: Cycle a tank that has no fish in it, then dose the tank with Nitromax to see if the cycle crashes in a week or two.
Sure! When I get to that point I would really appreciate your guidance on the steps I would need to take for the test.

Sorry to veer off your topic Tigerfishy. I just wanted to let you know I had no cycle crash when I stopped using my additive.
 
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Tigerfishy

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That's OK Tana, it's for experiences as well!

Thanks all for your input sp far, it's been great to see such different responses, and once again we have proved that not everyone has the same thing happen. I agree with sirdarksol that my tank must have cycled in spite of the product, and he makes amazing points (as usual) about how to test accurately. It would be an interesting project!
 

KristinAnn

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I did some research on Seachem stability. It contains both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, so the ones found in the normal cycled aquarium plus some extras. They are inactive due to an inhibitor, so that they do not need air or food while on the shelf. When you put it in the aquarium, the inhibitor is diluted, allowing the bacteria to become active.

This is just the basics of what I have found in research, but I have not been using it long enought to give personal experience.
 

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I have read good and bad about TSS. I have only seen (first hand) good reviews on Super Bac. I dont know of any other 'insta-cycle' products for FW.

I am doing a two tank trial with super bac. I will be using a 40 gal tank with fish that is going through a mini cycle or possibly a full cycle, and a 10 gal with NO fish, I am just going to use the product and dose with ammonia.

Here is the link to my trial:
https://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/aquarium-nitrogen-cycle/74231-2-trials-super-bac.html
 
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Tigerfishy

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Ah Kupcake, I saw that, I'm keeping an eye on it tbh lol!!
Good luck
 
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