Question On Beneficial bacteria


Good morning everyone,

So I was just reading a post here where members claimed that BB can live a month without a food source, and I got a tiny idea; what if I sold some BB to others, whenever I clean my canister filter. But I do have a few questions.

1) Is there a certain temperature the BB media needs to be kept at to ensure survival ? Is room temperature ok?

2) Do they need oxygen, or can they be kept in a closed lid jar?

3) How much media would be enough to start a medium aquarium - say a 180L (just an estimate - say a fistful)

4) I only have 1 canister filter in my 180L aquarium. Can I safely replace a fistful of media with new media without upsetting the cycle?

5) My canister actually has some extra media balls in it (since I put more on the sponge compartment). Question is - if for example I replace those, with new ones, how long does it take for the new ones to become inhabited by bacteria?

6) Would adding a pinch of fish food in the jar with the media ensure some supply of ammonia for a while?

I know when I started the aquarium I was so eager to get fish in, I was actually looking for established media. Sadly I didn't find any, so I did it the slow way.ead:

Inactive User

(1) Room temperature is fine.

(2) They require oxygen.

(3) Difficult to say as the nitrifying microorganism density on filter media varies according to so many different factors: ammonia loading, fish excretion rate, chemical filtration, etc. A fistful of filter pellets from one tank might have a much higher nitrifier density than a fistful from another.

(4) It shouldn't be an issue.

(5)This is another difficult question to answer as it depends on several factors, including ammonia loading, and the kinetics of microbial growth are rather complex (beyond my limited understanding).

(6) In a sense yes, but this throws up other issues due to excess organics. Fish food does not autolyse to ammonia; instead it is metabolised by ammonifying heterotrophic bacteria and excreted as ammonia. Excess organics can cause these non-nitrifying microorganisms to outcompete nitrifiers (i.e. our "beneficial bacteria") for space and oxygen, eventually causing the nitrifier biofilm to slough off the filter media surface and be replaced by "non-beneficial bacteria". In addition, nitrifying microorganisms do require other trace elements necessary for metabolism and reproduction, and this is typically achieved with water changes using tap water (where such trace elements are generally present).

In practice, this isn't a new business concept and, from what I've read, others have tried it before. The major issues are in relation to (1) shipping and handling, as temperature extremes (freezing and over 50 degrees Celsius) from uninsulated packaging and parcel storage can kill nitrifiers; (2) risk of cross-contamination of pathogenic microorganisms from non-sterile tanks; (3) the availability of bottled bacteria products (e.g. Dr Tim's One and Only and Tetra SafeStart) that have a great deal of rigorous evidence as to their effectiveness.

From my perspective, point (2) is the major issue of concern for consumers: avoiding the use of non-sterile items (gravel, filter media, decor, etc.) from other tanks (whether another hobbyist or one's LFS) is one best practice for preventing disease.


Thank you for your reply; I am not looking to set up a business, just to get an extra 10-15 euros a month to cover some of the expenses with the aquarium; I've already reached expenses of more than 800 euros for one single freshwater aquarium, and it's not even finished; so if I can make something on the side (selling shrimp babies/ BB bacteria), it would certainly not hurt my budget.

Inactive User

I am not looking to set up a business, just to get an extra 10-15 euros a month to cover some of the expenses with the aquarium

Oops, I didn't mean to imply that you were wanting to start up a fully fledged business: I just meant it in general as a profit-making activity as an aside to fish keeping.

It could make money, but you'd have to guage how much people would be willing to pay for filter media in light of the shipping and handling requirements: packaging with water to avoid dehydration; a rigid container with protective packaging if using filter media susceptible to handling damage (e.g. ceramic pellets); an insulated container to avoid temperature extremes, etc.

Depending on where you are in the world and to where you are shipping the product, local legislation and postal regulations might also throw a spanner in the works as filter media might be classified as "biological material" (e.g. bacteria culture).


All these are true, but I am aiming much much lower. I live in Berlin and there is a big online "market", sort of a craigslist, where you can sell with pick-up only. I'll give that a try next time I clean my filter. See if anyone's interested.


I have been in the hobby for a year and a bit now, and I racked up my first $1,000 in expenses pretty quickly. But it's stabilized well since then. Carrying costs are now minimal. And with all the stuff I have, I always have good trade options on the local buy/sell/trade pages if I need anything new.
Example: I needed a tank. I found a used tank with a stand, light, filter and heater. $100 for all. It was more than just a tank would cost, but I've been able to trade/sell most of the other items, and have actually got almost all of my original $100 back. So the tank was practically free.

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