Q and A with ATM about Colony

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by flynruff, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. flynruff

    flynruffValued MemberMember

    Looking at all options on tank cycling and had the idea to steal Shawnie's TSS questions (Sorry and Thank You all at once) and throw them at ATM.
    They responded within an hour on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so that impressed me. However they also plugged their own water conditioners too.
    Anyhow, here's their response.

    Thanks for your inquiry. You're asking all the right questions here and I think you shouldn't have any problems. Let me go over your questions in an itemized manner:

    1)Will water conditioners that detox ammonia effect Colony? I currently am using SeaChem prime. If so, how and why?

    A: Yes, they can. It depends on the dosage. Prime will not hurt the nitrifying bacteria directly, but large doses of it most certainly can indirectly (along with the fish). Conditioners such as Prime, Amquel +, and others that detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate along with chlorine and chloramine, utilize Sodium Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate (SFS), or variation of, as an active ingredient. This ingredient, when dosed heavily, will deplete oxygen from the system as formaldehyde does, a bad thing for an aerobic bacteria (Colony)and the fish too. Now, typically this isn't a problem except for people who are trying to detoxify all of their excess nitrogen and overdose the product. At ATM we always recommend sodium thiosulfate (Barrier) or citrus (Paradigm). No oxygen problems and no test kit problems ever.

    2)Do you add water, conditioner,Colony and fish all at once or should you:
    a) Add fish, wait a day to add Colony?
    b) Add Colony, wait a day to add fish?
    c) Do you add your full stock of fish at once or start off with just a few?

    Add however many fish you want up to adequate bio-load for the size of the aquarium along with the Colony. Either way you want to feed sparingly and bring the nitrifying bacteria along slowly (this leads to your next question below). One light feeding on the first day will keep you busy for a few days checking nitrogen levels and watching their progress. When you start to see nitrate on your kit (which will be a while after it actually exists in the system due to high minimum charting value) its all downhill from there.

    3)If you've already added fish and have an ammonia reading, will Colony still be effective?
    Is there too high of a reading that would render Colony ineffective?
    What would that reading be?

    More great questions. Yes, Colony will be effective as it is a great tool for handling ammonia and nitrite spikes and Colony eats ammonia! Present ammonia will make Colony happy. In the case of nitrite, that value can get too high for the nitrite oxidizer in Colony to work as quickly as it should. Values above 2.0 should be avoided. If nitrite gets above 2.0 a good water change will bring that down. Always perform your water change before Colony is added or you'll scoop out a lot of still free-floating bacteria (4 days).

    4)After adding Colony:
    a)How soon should you test the water?
    With a brand new system, the first light feeding should start showing you ammonia very soon. Test at the end of the day. Often nitrite is seen at the end of 36 hours, sometimes sooner. Because many nitrate kits only start reading at 5.0 it may take a few more days to start seeing that. Some kits test much smaller numbers of nitrate, these are handy when cycling. The presence of live plants could be absorbing nitrate, thus prolonging your reading. You will be testing soon and often. This happens quickly and it is a good experience to see the process unfold!

    b)How soon should you do a water change after adding the product?
    No sooner than four days. Prior to four days there could still be some free-floating bacteria still. We mark four days to be safe.

    c)Does Colony effect the pH?
    Colony does not effect pH in any way.

    5)What are the keys to the success or failure with Colony?
    With Colony, it is vital to follow the water parameters given on the bottle first and to shake the bottle well. The secrets are very simple. Keep pH stable, make sure you have a KH of 90 or above. Great aeration is essential. An air stone in the bio-filtration area is like steroids for the aerobic bacteria in Colony.

    But the main secret that too many people just overlook is to barely feed in the beginning. The rules are still the same. Really light feeding makes really low nitrogen levels and this is important for the week Colony works and completes its job. Fish can live weeks without any food at all. They are far from any danger of starving after a few days to get their home cycled.

    I hope I've cleared a few things up for you. If I missed anything or if there's anything still you are unclear about holler back. Also, I would like to use this case in the formulation of the Colony guide we are putting together. We're letting are customers drive it with their questions. If you have any objections to this please let me know.

    Regards and good luck,
  2. Eienna

    EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Lovely! :)
  3. jetajockey

    jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    What I'd like to know is what is in it, that's the million dollar question. See if they'll give you some specifics on bacteria species they use, or at least generalize. Also storage instructions of the product can give an inkling about what kind of bacteria they use.

    I'm dubious towards the line primarily because it just seems like a convenient marketing approach. Do they manufacture this stuff in house, or is it contracted through one of the other big companies like hagen or tetra?
  4. Eienna

    EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Dunno, but it works.
  5. jetajockey

    jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Lots of things work, it's important to know why/how though. If they utilize heterotrophic sludge remover type bacteria, like many 'bacteria booster' brands do, then it's good to know because they are not generally recommended or reliable to maintain a cycle. If it utilizes the same nitrifying bacteria colonies we typically find in our tanks, then it's much more plausible and easier to recommend with some degree of trust in the product.
  6. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

  7. jetajockey

    jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Thanks for the link Ken.
    Seems like it's right in line with many of the other shelf products out there.

    Here's a good one for anyone that feels like digging deeper into this rabbit hole.

    There seems to be some disagreement in the field about Nitrobacter. Hovanec has papers that claim that Nitrospira is the actual nitrite > nitrate bacteria instead of Nitrobacter. Considering that he was on the team that produced Biospira (and now TSS) I would say he has a good bit of credibility in that regard.
  8. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Agreed, there are some questions.

    Kudos to flynruff for taking the initiative to ask the manufacturer some questions.

    I think their answers are quite open considering the competitive environment.

    Thanks flynruff!
  9. OP

    flynruffValued MemberMember

    I went the colony route for a 15 gallon, followed their directions and it cycled in 5 days.
    Never saw any nitrite, and 0.25 ammonia for 2 days
    On day 5 I had 0 amm, 0 nit, 5 nat.
    On day 7 0,0,10 and that's where it has stayed.

    I'm sure it's like TSS though and can fail for any number of reasons.
  10. JDcichlidlover

    JDcichlidloverWell Known MemberMember

    Thats great :) for some crazy reason our store doesn't carry Safestart. we carry other tetra brands though :confused:
    so this is great news :) I can definatly save some fishes from dying. I already recommend coming here to read about what they're getting into when they buy fish and seem to care.
    but I never can say anything about a product, i just tell them lots and lots of wc for the first month, and hand them a bottle of prime lol :) Its all I have to work with so this is awesome :)

    I usually get them to buy an api water kit lol. And try to sum up the nitrogen cycle for them.