Basic Question about cycling
Greetings and Happy Holidays,
I've been reading about products that contain bacteria to assist or speed up cycling an aquarium. "Colonize" is one such, Nite-Out II is another. It sounds as if you pour the contents into a brand new raw tank and it is suddenly all set to handle ammonia and the nitrites and nitrates.The product descriptions suggest that you just add your critters and you have a cycled tank.
It just can't be. Please help me put this idea of bottled bacteria in perspective.
I have used both Tetra's "Safe Start" and "colonize" in the past with ZERO luck!
My tanks did an instant cycle but it's hard to know if it was the use of Seachem's Stability, or the fact that the tanks were stuffed with plants at the get go. So, I can say with experience that using Stability and adding plants at the same time to a new tank does make the tank cycle "instantly".
I cycled my tank by using pure ammonia, but I added Tetra Safe Start to speed up the process. It worked wonderfully. My tank had stable ammonia readings in less than a week (but my tank had plants as well). I wouldn't expect it to make it so I could have fish right away. The only safe cycle method that allows you to instantly add fish, is to heavily plant your tank.
Some of the bacteria supplements are good, others are questionable. There is divided opinion among members here (and elsewhere I'm sure) as to their "effectiveness." If you bear with me, I'll explain a bit.
Dr. Timothy Hovanec was (I believe) the first biologist to discover that the second stage nitrification bacteria in freshwater is actually nitrospira, and not (chiefly anyway) nitrobacter. The first of course is niotrosomonas. If you are so inclined, you can read his paper here:
Along the way, somewhere, he also came up with a method to package nitrifying bacteria so it could be distributed and sold. Originally I believe it was the refrigerated sort, BioSpira may have been the name [don't quote me, going from memory] but later (or whenever) he came up with bottled bacteria. I believe it may have a shelf life (unopened) of 6 months. He marketed it himself until he sold the patent to Tetra, and it is now available as Tetra's SafeStart. This is Dr. Hovanec's formula, and it is live bacteria. You can read about this here:
Seachem also produce a true live bacteria supplement called Stability. I assume they developed it on their own (they have an extensive scientific lab and biologists). It does work to "seed" a new tank, I have used it and know of many others who have successfully.
What these bacteria supplements do is add live nitrosomonas and nitrospira (and related bacteria) to the water. It is the same, exactly the same, as seeding a new tank with existing filter media, wood, substrate material, etc. that is colonized with these bacteria. It does not "cycle" a tank--and this may be where the confusion and disagreement comes in--it merely "seeds" the tank. One cannot add more fish than the bacteria can handle, no matter how it gets in the tank. The bacteria feed off the ammonia and subsequent nitrite and multiply by binary division sufficient to handle the supply of ammonia/nitrite. Multiplication takes time, about 9 hours for nitrosomonas and 20 hours for nitrospira, under ideal conditions (pH and temperature affect this division).
Of course, live plants as Kym mentioned is another different story, and with sufficient live plants there is no cycle to speak of, again provided the fish are in balance. In non-planted or sparsely planted tanks, I myself would always use one of the afore-mentioned supplements. If the fish introduced are balanced with the bacteria, they will be spared ammonia and nitrite shock and thus be safer and healthier. Just so long as everyone understands the cycle still has to establish itself.
Last word on other "similar" products. If they contain live bacteria, they may be fine. "Cycle" does not, it is chemical, though they say it works the same. I can't comment; but myself I would feel safer using one of the proven bacteria supplements.
+1 on the Seachem Stability. I've used it with great success on my smaller tanks.
Thumbs down on the Nite-Out II. I didn't see a change at all after a week of adding this to an uncycled tank.
I have never tried Colonize so can't add my humble opinion there.
I want to recognize the moderators on this terrific site. I actually stand amazed at the level of scientific knowledge as well as the responsiveness and generosity of time that the leaders on this site display, day after day. As a recycled newbee returning to the hobby, I am excited and picking things up rapidly in spite of the daunting learning curve. That is due to you impressive moderators. Thanks many times folks. You've made this return journey very special. One helluva good job!!
Paul- Thanks for saying those kind words. When I was new to this site the help I got was amazing, and I attribute all that help for me being successful right out of the starting gate. We truly have a great "family" of members here on our site. Thank you for acknowledging all of us!! :-)
Nutrafin cycle worked amazing for me. I waited a week when it says to wait 3 days and my water params are perfect and I havent had any problems at all! I love it
Kym, you have been so helpful. I am grateful and so impressed.
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