Tank Starter Bacteria
- unanswered questions
by Wilson Angerson <gqva06-at-udcf.gla.ac.uk> (Thu, 12 Jan 1995)
- Sv: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #1047
by "Ole Larsen" <olet/larsen.dk> (Mon, 24 May 1999)
- Keeping Quarantine Tank Filter Media in a Planted Tank
by "Ole Larsen" <oletan/worldonline.dk> (Tue, 15 Aug 2000)
by Wilson Angerson <gqva06-at-udcf.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995
More about bacterial starter cultures:
Article by Dr David Ford (Aquarian Advisory Service), PFK March 1994:
"It is cultures of heterotrophics that manufacturers sell as starter
cultures to speed up the maturity of a new tank. You cannot package
and sell the Nitrosomonas or Nitrobacter, as these bacteria are much
too sensitive to isolate and keep on a shelf".
Martin Moe, Marine Aquarium Reference: "Several preparations of nitrifying
bacteria are available that claim to aid the establishment of nitrifying
bacteria in marine systems.....These...come in a sealed powdered or liquid
form". There's a similar statement in the Marine Aquarium Handbook. He
doesn't express any scepticism and seems to think they sometimes work.
Now a trawl through the ads.
Biozyme: "living nitrifying bacteria and enzymes" and "Converting lethal
ammonia and nitrite to nitrate" but also "Can this be used with ammonium
chloride to cycle an aquarium? No! This works only on organic substances
- fats, proteins and carbohydrates".
Nitrifying bacteria that work on organics and not ammonium chloride?
Sounds like a contradiction in terms. Nitrifying bacteria are supposed
to be chemautotrophes (separate phylum) that "live only on air, salts,
water and the energy stored in inorganic compounds" (Moe again).
I guess Biozyme comes into the same category as Hagen Cycle, which
I used during my chemical cycling marathon. Cycle did absolutely
zilch for nitrite production, and I was testing daily.
"Fritz-Zyme is a blend of live...nitrifying bacteria"
"Sure-Start is now recognized as the only product that contains living
Nitrosomonas bacteria", and from the same manufacturers: "Nitrobacter
Culture is now recognized as the only product that contains live
Nitrobacter". It's the Nitrobacter that are said to have a 2 week shelf
life and for the Nitrosomonas it's unspecified - sorry about earlier
This is a real can of worms. I think a question to the net would be a
From: ELAINE THOMPSON <eethomp-at-welchlink.welch.jhu.edu>
Out of curiosity, we plated out some bio-zyme on nutrient agar at work.
It does definately form lots of colonies of something. (We controlled with
a plate with a clean swab -- no colonies) I didn't do any further testing
to see what the colonies were, but they all had identical morphology,
sugggesting that there was only one species. The simplest hypothesis is
that they were Nitrosomonas.
Also, personally, I have found that adding Fritzyme to a tank will drop
high nitrites to zero within two days. Without the Fritzyme, it takes a
week. Cycle, on the other hand, did nothing in a different tank.
Elaine Thompson "Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
eethomp-at-welchlink.welch.jhu.edu I took the one less travelled by,
Johns Hopkins Univ. And it has made all the difference."
From: Wilson Angerson <gqva06-at-udcf.gla.ac.uk>
> Out of curiosity, we plated out some bio-zyme on nutrient agar at work.
> It does definately form lots of colonies of something. (We controlled with
> a plate with a clean swab -- no colonies) I didn't do any further testing
> to see what the colonies were, but they all had identical morphology,
> sugggesting that there was only one species. The simplest hypothesis is
> that they were Nitrosomonas.
Well... that wouldn't be consistent with their working on organics but not
NH4Cl according to the manufacturer's own ad.
I found out a little bit more by tracking down a guy at Aberdeen Univ.
who supplies marine bacterial cultures. He said that it was difficult
but not impossible to preserve nitrifying bacteria by freeze drying.
Unfortunately I didn't have the presence of mind to ask if they could be
stored dormant in a liquid medium. He couldn't comment on any commercial
products, but this definitely contradicts the article I cited that
said it was impossible.
> Also, personally, I have found that adding Fritzyme to a tank will drop
> high nitrites to zero within two days. Without the Fritzyme, it takes a
> week. Cycle, on the other hand, did nothing in a different tank.
Very nice to see some control data. That's what's missing from most of
the anecdotal evidence. There seems to be quite a lot of discussion on
this topic in *.aquaria at the moment with other good reports for
I hope I'm not boring everyone by going on about this!
by "Ole Larsen" <olet/larsen.dk>
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999
>Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 11:25:41 -0700
>From: lovell <lovell/drizzle.com>
>Subject: Bacterial cultures -- Anyone actually tested?
> Has anyone ever run a test of these bacterial start-up products (e.g.
>Ultra Clear)? It seems like it would be pretty easy to set up 2 tanks
>or buckets with identical temps, gravel, and filtration, but one with
>culture and one without, then dose each of them with X ppm of ammonia
>every day (two words! ;) and monitor the results. Has anyone ever tried
A few years ago DATZ made a test of bacterial starters for FW. I forgot the brands tested, but I do remember the results:
No significant gain.
by "Ole Larsen" <oletan/worldonline.dk>
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000
>Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 08:34:38 -0600 (MDT)
>From: George Booth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Keeping Quarantine Tank Filter Media in a Planted Tank
>Thanks to all for the "rapid cycling" hints but that won't work in our case. If
>we buy new fish, it's usually on the spur of the moment and 4 days or two weeks
>cycling time won't help. Also we only have three large tanks set up and all use
>trickle filters; we have no cycled sponges available and don't plan on adding
>sponge filters to these tanks.
>George Booth in Ft. Collins, Colorado (email@example.com)
Maybe 2 years ago was an article in the German DATZ by a research biologist (Beate R Sellner?) on
nitrification. Some of the conclutions were that the bacteria ( she mentioned some 30-40 species )
are all very sensitive to lightamount/hardness/pH/oxygen-/ammonium-/ammonia/nitrite-/nitrateconcentrations/temperature.
So, when trying to seed from one tank to another, many of the bacteria probably dies and have to be replaced by new growth.
Thanks to Jörg Haider and Austria for exposing EU fascism.