Building beneficial bacteria - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-27-2013, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Building beneficial bacteria

So one of my friends decided that she wants to get a fish tank set up and I'm pretty excited to help her with that. However, she isn't as into animals as I am so I think trying to explain to her how to get her tank cycled would be hard. I know she could probably just set up the tank and add fish and have it cycle like that, but I want to help her have a wider range of option. I don't want to have to limit her first few fish to really hardy fish.
So, I was wondering if there is anyway I can build some beneficial bacteria at my house and just put it in her tank once she gets it. We have about a month (she needs to save up enough to buy the tank and all the equipment that goes with it) so time isn't a problem. At the moment I currently have some excess gravel in a container filled with water and I have been adding fish food everyday and replacing small amounts if water every now and then. Is there any other easy ways I could help her out? I do have a couple of already established tanks at my house.

On a side note, I raise guppies and lately most of the babies have been getting eaten. I think that's mostly due to all the cover being down at the bottom and there being very few hiding spaces at the top of the tank. Any suggestions on things I could make/but that could solve this problem?

Thanks for all your help :)
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-27-2013, 10:29 PM
One of the best ways to seed a brand new tank with beneficial bacteria is to have your friend purchase a filter that she plans on using in her tank. Take that same filter and run it in your aquarium in parallel with your aquarium filter until her aquarium is purchased and ready to have fish placed inside. You can then quickly remove her filter from your aquarium and place it in hers. Another way is to have her purchase some gravel that she plans to use. Place it in a stocking tie the end in a knot and place it in your aquarium until her aquarium is ready for fish. Then quickly remove the stocking with the gravel inside and pour it in her aquarium. These methods I have used plenty of times and it helps speed up the cycle of an aquarium rather quickly.
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-27-2013, 10:39 PM
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Both ^ are very good methods.


I'm guessing she doesn't live with you? So when transporting the seeded material to her house just make sure it stays wet.
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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No, she doesn't live with me. It's about a five minute drive. I'm not sure exactly how I would transport the seeded material but I'm not too worried about it ;) that sounds like a good idea. Maybe I'll talk to her about that. (On a side note I actually have a filter for a ten gallon that I'm currently not using because it doesn't fit on my tank with the current lid I have.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 08:10 AM
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You would take the seeded bags of gravel and filter media out of your tank and her filter, and place them into a bucket or big tub of de-chlorinated water or old tank water from your tank.... part of your water change that day since the water level will be lower once you pull that extra gravel out anyway. As long as the media stays wet and does not touch chlorine and is also NOT out of a tank for over 24 hours... she is good to go!! Re-assemble the filter at the new location. (I'm making an assumption here that she may buy a HOB, so she won't be able to put the filter into the bucket/tub because of the motor needing to stay dry.) A bio-wheel should go into the bucket too as it is paper like material. A canister would not even need to be opened, just close the hose shut off valves. In tank sponge filters would just go into the bucket too. And I would add all that gunky water to the new tank too!

Lots of options depending on what she buys. I say tub because there is more room in a tub than bucket and you don't have to fill it so deep and deal with the sloshing of the drive over! Good for you for doing this for her!!

Every kid, regardless of what they are going through, is ONE caring adult away from being a success story. ~ Josh Shipp, Teen Behavior Expert
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post #6 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 08:54 AM
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One of the best ways to seed a brand new tank with beneficial bacteria is to have your friend purchase a filter that she plans on using in her tank. Take that same filter and run it in your aquarium in parallel with your aquarium filter until her aquarium is purchased and ready to have fish placed inside. You can then quickly remove her filter from your aquarium and place it in hers. Another way is to have her purchase some gravel that she plans to use. Place it in a stocking tie the end in a knot and place it in your aquarium until her aquarium is ready for fish. Then quickly remove the stocking with the gravel inside and pour it in her aquarium. These methods I have used plenty of times and it helps speed up the cycle of an aquarium rather quickly.

this will not work.....

it would take a very long time 8 weeks+ for a filter running in parallel to be seeded with bacteria....bacteria will not just "jump" into a new filter, they will stay put, where the biggest colony is, and more bacteria will not be produced/grow in the new filter unless the bio-load of the tank increases (more fish are added)

the best way to do this is for you to give your friend some of your used filter media to place in her filter when the tank is set up....make sure the filter media does not dry out and is placed in the same temp water, or the bacteria will die

Last edited by mikey1; 02-28-2013 at 08:56 AM.
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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I was thinking about that. I guess I could always give her my filter cartridge to place in her tank. However it is a carbon filter and I didn't think there was really much space for the beneficial bacteria to colonize. Plus, my filter is for a 30 gallon tank and her tank would most likely be a 10 or 15 gallon so I doubt my media would fit into her filter.
Would that be a problem? Could we just put the filter into the water or what? I'm thinking I'll colonize some bacteria onto some extra gravel I have just in case. I should probably talk to her about this soon, because if she doesn't want black gravel I'll need to get different gravel to colonize it on for her
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 09:26 AM
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I was thinking about that. I guess I could always give her my filter cartridge to place in her tank. However it is a carbon filter and I didn't think there was really much space for the beneficial bacteria to colonize. Plus, my filter is for a 30 gallon tank and her tank would most likely be a 10 or 15 gallon so I doubt my media would fit into her filter.
Would that be a problem? Could we just put the filter into the water or what? I'm thinking I'll colonize some bacteria onto some extra gravel I have just in case. I should probably talk to her about this soon, because if she doesn't want black gravel I'll need to get different gravel to colonize it on for her
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i dont use carbon in any of my filters....i only use foam

give her some of your foam to put in her filter.....even if you have to cut it to make it fit in there, as long as the water is flowing through it, its fine
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post #9 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if I have any foam... I have an Aqueon 30 filter. Is there a way I could buy foam or something to put into my filter to give to her later?
Sorry for all the questions I just don't know that much about cycling tanks and I want to help her as much as I can without being too intrusive :)
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post #10 of 13 Old 02-28-2013, 10:55 AM
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The important question as one member alluded to is the time it may take for the filter/media/gravel placed in the existing tank to become colonized with sufficient bacteria to be useful in the new tank. I've never bothered with this, so I can't offer any suggestion to answer this question. But I think there are better methods.

Another crucial point is that an aquarist should never transfer anything from another aquarists' tank containing fish. Using media from a store is even worse. And there are many aquarists who will not transfer from one of their own tanks to another. In all of these, the issue are pathogens that will get moved across tanks. I have moved disease from one tank to another without realizing it, though I still move plants, wood, sometimes fish from one tank to another. But I would never do this from anyone else's tank, and never from a store without quarantining. If you believe in using a QT for new fish, you should apply the same principle here; they are two of the same thing.

With the proven bacterial supplements on the market today, there is no reason to be taking such risks. Dr. Tim's One and Only, Tetra's SafeStart, and Seachem's Stability are three I would use. These are 100% live bacteria and they do quicken the establishment of nitrifying bacteria.

Of course, the best method of all is live plants, and floating plants work best. I have set up dozens of new tanks with fish in the tank the first day, relying on plants, and never had issues.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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