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Old 01-14-2005, 02:18 PM   #1
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Bio-Spira - Tell me your experiences!

I am hearing more and more stories of incomplete cycles when using Bio-Spira. This is a Marineland product that is basically the bacteria you need contained in a pouch, and if you put it in the tank at the same time as adding fish, even in a brand new setup, you are cycled overnight.

I have used this product for several years (except for part of last year when it was unavailable) and it worked perfectly almost every time, with a few times when I had to repeat the dose. I would say I used it a total of 15-20 times for my own tanks and the tanks of others I was setting up. I have always promoted its use, as I have had such great luck with it, and was so happy when it came back on the market.

I decided to put it to the test again this week when I set up my new 37gal. I did not fully stock the tank, but put two of my Aulonocara sp. (peacock cichlids) in there as they were being bullied by a third peacock in another tank, and they were going to have to go. I plan on Melafix-ing their very slightly torn fins in the 37gal and returning them to the LFS.

I used Bio-Spira, just the 1 ounce package since I know there is not exactly 37 gallons of water in the tank due to rocks and substrate. After 2 days I am showing zero ammonia but 0.25 ppm nitrite. I am repeating the dose and will see what happens tomorrow.

After Moxiegrrl's dismal experience with Bio-Spira, and other comments I am reading on the board, I am wondering if now it is more likely not to work than to work, the opposite of how it used to be. Can there really be this many instances of poor handling at the LFS? I could have easily seeded this new tank with biomedia I have in other tanks, not to mention two sponge filters and bio-wheels, but I wanted to see how it worked and decide if I want to continue recommending this product. My tank is not even fully stocked, so there should have been plenty of bacteria for these two fish.

Anyone who has used it since it came back on the market let us know how it worked for you.
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Old 01-15-2005, 01:22 AM   #2
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It didn't seem to work for me.

I split a 1 oz packet which should work for 30 gallons between a 10 gallon and 12 gallon. Now, the levels of ammonia were already quite high when I added it (as there was some nitrite and slight nitrates already). I must have gotten a partial early cycle or something. But adding the Bio-spira did nothing. In fact, the levels kept going up. I never even got a bacteria bloom out if it.

It seems like the product should work, as adding live bacteria into the system, but I would say it just plain didn't. THe tanks didn't cycle until about 2-3 weeks after that.

I've heard lots of success stories, but they all seem to be before the reintroduction of the product. It seems like the posts I've read on this board lately seem to show it hasn't been working that well. Maybe people should try the Frtizyme 700 (not the exact name), which works on a similar concept and was never taken off of the market for "regrowth". I haven't tried it.

Or, in line with my new line of thinking. Just add some plants. Frankly, you could probbaly just buy a few bunches of anacharis and hornwort and now worry much about the cycle until it catches up and then you could remove the plants if you wanted (still need to add fish slowly, I guessing).
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Old 01-15-2005, 02:17 AM   #3
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Interesting that you bring this up now, TankGirl...I am currently using Bio-Spira; this is the 4th tank I've used it in (the other 3 times were before it "disappeared" for awhile). I've posted before that I cycled each time pretty much like this: Day 1, add Bio-Spira, all levels 0; Day 2, ammonia .25, Ites 0, Ates 0. Day 3, ammonia 0, Ites .25, Ates 0; Day 4, ammonia 0, Ites 0, Ates 20. Cycled on Day 4!

These were all 5.5 gallon tanks with only a betta in them. This time, I have a betta and a pitbull pleco in the 5.5 gallon. I don't know if it's the addition of the pleco, but I've been stalled at an ammonia level of .25 for almost a week now. It's driving me crazy. I've removed the betta to a bowl for now, and the pleco is still in the tank. I know the pleco would increase the bio-load, but I really didn't think a 2 inch pleco (even though they are big waste producers) and a betta would be overstocked. So now I'm changing a gallon of water a day (sometimes 2) and the cycle hasn't "kicked in" yet. The ammonia is stuck at .25, and I've seen no nitrites or nitrates yet. I've added about 4 half-teaspoons of Bio-Spira. I'm still undecided about if the betta and pleco will go back together or not. We'll see how long the cycling takes.

I used Bio-Spira this time because I've had such good luck with it in the past, but now 2 fish are in "limbo" because of it. I think the next tank will get fishless cycling the old fashioned way.
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Old 01-15-2005, 11:17 AM   #4
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4 days is not bad, but not what I am used to. Now that I have so many tanks it is no problem to use seed material, and SO much cheaper ( 8O ) but it used to be worth the $$ because I knew the stuff would work. Now I am not so sure.

TeutonJon - I know that it does take longer to work when there is already ammonia present, and I have done that before with results in about 3-4 days, but again, it still worked.

Day three for me, after repeating the dose with another full 1 ounce package, and I am still showing trace nitrite, maybe 0.1 or 0.15.

If I am still showing it this evening I'll go ahead and pack the filter with some floss from another tank and abandon the experiment - I don't feel like putting the fish through this after being stressed out by their former tankmate.
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Old 01-15-2005, 11:28 AM   #5
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I have some bio spira in the fridge I had intended to use. Now I'm wondering if I should. I have plenty of media from other tanks I can use instead. Maybe I'll try what you are suggesting TankGirl. Since I already have some, I'll try the BS first and then add media if that doesn't work.
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Old 01-15-2005, 11:51 AM   #6
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Hello all, I am currently trying to cycle with Bio Spira. My first tank and first experience with the product. I am only using it because the aquarium (10 gal) has been set up for 10 weeks and has not cycled. Mostly it was my fault because I was keeping it too clean.
I have 4 lemon tetras who have been hanging in there for 9 wks and 2 ottos for the past week. There is plenty of amonia for the Bio Spira to feed on so I'm hoping something will happen in the next week and I don't lose any fish.
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:03 PM   #7
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Welcome to AA, Bev!

Thanks for your input and keep us posted -
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:34 PM   #8
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I recently picked up a packet of Bio Spira for my 10 gallon tank. I couldn't find my test kits for the first few days (they still hadn't been unpacked from my move). The tank has been up and running for a week now. I did some tests last night and my ammonia was 0, and my nitrAtes were at 10. I don't have a nitrIte kit, so I can't give you those numbers.

So, I guess I'm one of the lucky ones that it worked on! I have no ammonia present and I have nitrAtes being produced.
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Old 01-15-2005, 01:35 PM   #9
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Admittedly I must apologize for not staying "tuned in" over here as much as I would like (just getting spread too thin these days I guess); however
I had been alerted to this thread and after reading it...

thought I would inject a thought or two.

First and foremost, I would point out that Bio-spira should always be used
in the manner it was intended.....and not to correct someone's "screw-up's" in starting a tank in a manner not recommended. I have always
had to point out time and again, that this product is NOT meant as a cure-all. There are simply too many variables involved to accurately measure the results.
I have also noted many un-necessary uses of Bio-Spira......as an example; extremely lite bio-loads can not support much nitrifying bacteria....and so, the tank eventually remains with a very lite bacteria colony.... which in turn, can easily be upset or lost by improper tank procedures and/or other meds, additives, etc.

Since Bio-Spira was re-introduced this past fall......its demand has quadrupled easily. Which, unfortunately, when any product is put into
that many more hands.....it can easily meet with "rumors" of all kinds;
as well as increasingly wide ranges of attempts to "correct" tank mistakes.

First and foremost, the product is ALWAYS subject to "PROPER HANDLING"
.....by the LFS, retailer and/or the customer.
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Old 01-15-2005, 02:06 PM   #10
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TankGirl, the low nitrites you are seeing may be due to bacterial dieoff. Since you put in way more bacteria than the fishload could support I'd imagine that bacteria is slowly dieing until you come to an equilibrium. Anyways >.25 nitrites is not anything to be alarmed about. A little salt in the water should help the fish cope just fine.
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Old 01-15-2005, 02:30 PM   #11
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I too have been a little worried about the BioSpira tales. It would seem that you will be very happy, or get dismal results. The Happy ones don't get posted. The disasters do. All of this stems from our desire to get instant gratification. Having started aquariums in the pre-Biospira days, I have learned to go slow and be patient and have had great results. I realize that an instant biofilter would do wonders for new aquarium keepers, but shouldn't we still be promoting patience and good husbandry? Isn't a lot of the fun in planning and slowly stocking the tank, getting to know the new inhabitants as they are slowly introduced? Doesn't slow stocking keep that "new tank feeling" going a lot longer? For me this is an indispensible part of the hobby.

Not to bash Biospira, years ago I wondered why someone didn't come up with a biofilter in a bottle, and now there is one. I certainly would have used it in the past, but now I like a slow, patient, but certain method. I would think we could do the hobby a great service by figuring out proven methods for starting a tank without biospira, such as answering:

when seeding from an established filter, how much material do you put in and how many fish of what type can you then add without getting problems?

When using ammonia (fishless) cycling, what level of ammonia introduced will produce the best results (ie: 2.5ppm, 5ppm, or 10ppm?)

When using fish to establish a biofilter, how many and of what type can you add without getting high toxin levels? And how long will it take? I have kind of done this with my "low bioload project" on another thread. Of course, one tank does not establish a rule, but if others repeated the set up a pattern might emerge.

EDIT:
BTW - don't be surprised if you get 5 or ten negative posts for each positive one on this thread. In research terms, the "response bias?" of the posts will be skewed way towards the negative simply because people who have had bad experiences are much more motivated and likely to respond than satisfied users. Without doing a carefuly controlled sampling, response bias can lead to wrong conclusions.
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Old 01-15-2005, 04:46 PM   #12
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I'm just looking for a comparison between the "old" Bio-Spira and the newly released batch.

I am not concerned a bit about my tank and I know what to do to correct it - no worries there - and though the fish are about 3.5" and pretty fleshy this tank is NOT fully stocked and so it was overdosed.

I am just seeing people take a brand new tank, dechlorinate and heat the water, leave it running for a few days to be sure all the equipment is working, and then add their full fish load wtih Bio-Spira, and still not having an overnight cycle like I used to see time and again.

Maybe because the product was so new and revolutionary people were posting their successes, and now that it has been available and more people know about it we are only hearing about the failures - that is an excellent point to keep in mind, TomK2, and I hoped to hear more of the success stories in this thread to reassure me.

Bernie - thanks for your input, and since I first found out about this stuff many moons ago from you folks over at Fishgeeks, not to mention your experience as a retailer, I trust and appreciate your opinion. May I take it that you have not been hearing about more failures than successes recently?
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Old 01-15-2005, 05:40 PM   #13
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TG....

I'll be perfectly honest.....No I haven't heard any complaints about Bio-spira.

My sales including REPEAT sales are up five-fold since Oct.!! Actually I had more
problem cases during the first 6 months when the product came out in 2002.

I would still suggest that any problem cases are up simply due to the huge increase
in people using it...... or should I say, "mis-using" it.
Like TomK2 suggests......you tend to hear about the "horror stories" but not much
on the day-to-day sucesses.

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Old 01-15-2005, 06:07 PM   #14
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I recently used it for my 55 gal tank.. doesn't really seem like it worked, used the 90 gal (3oz) package and then I used one 1oz package on a 10 gal and a 5 gal I saw results... tank was cycled within a day.

I dunno... i'm thinking that maybe you have to really overdose in order for it to work.. one 1oz package between two tanks worked, but then one 3oz package for a 50gal tank didn't work. I mean maybe its just that one was a little bit into the cycle ammonia was slowly rising and all that.

I'm a little skeptical with buying more bio-spira because it seems it'd just be easier to seed or use a cycled filter or whatnot.... maybe ill give it a try on my new tank and see whats happening.
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Old 01-15-2005, 07:10 PM   #15
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mine isn't a horror story. My tanks were lightly loaded and all fish survived the normal cycling. The product just didn't instant cycle me. And yes, I did use it a situation as a "rescue" because I thought some of the cheap "fake" stuff would work and then my levels went all crazy on me.
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Old 01-15-2005, 07:55 PM   #16
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just thought i would throw this out there at my lfs today i saw for the first time salt-water bio-spira
they said it was just released
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Old 01-15-2005, 10:42 PM   #17
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Salt-water biospira was not JUST released it came out the same time as normal bio-spira.

Your LFS just lies because they do not want their customers to know that they are slackers about obtaining it
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Old 01-15-2005, 10:50 PM   #18
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no kidding that stinks i love my lfs lady she is usually so good (right on the money)
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Old 01-16-2005, 08:14 AM   #19
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Actually the Saltwater Bio-spira came out approx 6 months after the Freshwater version.....in early 2003.

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Old 01-16-2005, 03:24 PM   #20
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Here's my experience with Bio-Spira...It has been one week to the day. I have a 46 gal bowfront currently with 2 mollies and a 3" common pleco.

I set up my tank on the 7th, allowed 2 days for tank to settle and whatnot. On the 9th, last sunday, I added 3 oz. of the bio spira (I know, I know, its overkill, but as the package states, you cannot overuse it). I purchased 4 albino tiger barbs, and an itty bitty 1.5" rubber-lipped pleco from petsmart. Readings were as follows:
ammonia 1.0 ppm
nitrite 0 ppm
nitrate 0 ppm
7.8 pH, 7 GH, 4 KH, 80 deg F

What is odd is the ammonia readings are before any fish, my guess is it is from the dechlorinator I added to the water days prior, and was either messing with the reading, or released ammonia into the tank.

On another note, all 4 barbs died a few days later, one looked sickly that I pulled from the tank (I didn't have a QT, so I make shifted one with tupperware and added a few drops of malafix and set the container back in the tank), other 3 looked fine, all were dead the next morning. My guess is the pH was to high to what they were used to at petsmart, despite acclimating them properly. (I didn't actually get numbers for the pH from the water at petsmart, but it was much lighter in color than my own, my guess is softer water too.

I later purchased 2 mollies (at the request of my wife), and another pleco. Now, I will say, the rubber-lipped pleco was doing fine. I say was, because a few days ago, I found him dead, with his tail-fin nipped down to a nub, my guess is the mollies (I noticed one was male, the other female).

Anyway, my nitrite has slowly been rising since tuesday (probably well less than .25ppm to a now slightly less than .5ppm). And my nitrates have now raised to a detectable level, about 5 ppm.

I have been doing 25% water changes every other day since monday, because of this nitrite detection. Along with a detection of ich on one of the mollies I have increased the temp to a now 86 deg F. Also I have added about 2 Tbsp of aquarium salt with each water change with the recommended amount of dechlorinator. I think the salinity is up to a level that is comfortable for the mollies (even though I do believe they were kept in low if any salt levels at the local wal-mart that i purchased them at). Other than the ich outbreak, the two mollies are fine, as is the pleco.

I have been using two test kits, the AP master kit, and the tetra laborette kit. If you want any more details let me know. I am not calling the bio-spria a success or failure, because I am still not quite sure what I should have expected with it.

Anyway, with the advice I had been using from this site for about a month and a half now, I decided to make this my first post.
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