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Where exactly does it come from? I mean.. my understanding is that I can set a saltwater tank up in nebraska with nothing more than water, salt mix, and some ammonia and voila.... bacteria. It's like spontaneous generation all over again.

I've brought this question up with freshwater, and there the explanation, flimsy as it was, was that it could be supposed that they would hitch a ride in the municipal water... but my understanding of the saltwater variety of Nitrosomas and Nitrobacter is that they are indeed a separate organism and not the same as what populates freshwater tanks.

So anyone know what's up? Assuming new tank, no substrate, no LR, no fish, no decorations. Just Municipal based RO freshwater, synthetic marine salt, and a bottle of appropriate ammonia.

Or would such a setup not cycle?
 

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The bacteria is actually very plentiful in the air we breath and settles on the tank water where it colonizes and starts to multiply. It is not in levels high enough to do the job of taking care of a tank but they quickly multiply in clean water and soon do the job we need the to do. I doubt it exists in your public water supply especially if it has been treated with chlorine. If it hasn't been treated it might but the bacteria needs to have a place to "call home" such as the surfaces of the aquarium, gravel, fixtures, filters and anything else.
 
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