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Old 08-01-2011, 10:58 AM   #1
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What do you mean by unstable bio filter w/ bacteria in a bottle?

Good morning all.

Hopefully this is an easy question.

I often see posts about how bacteria in a bottle products create "unstable" bio filters. What is exactly meant by "unstable?" Do the bacteria sometimes die off and cause a mini-cycle? Or...?
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobersteve323 View Post
Good morning all.

Hopefully this is an easy question.

I often see posts about how bacteria in a bottle products create "unstable" bio filters. What is exactly meant by "unstable?" Do the bacteria sometimes die off and cause a mini-cycle? Or...?
Basically yes ... from what I've read the BB/Bottle can outcompete BB .. so they multiply at first only to then crash on you. The BB never got a chance to establish so your stuck with dead bacteria in a tank with fish. It's happened and that's just got to be the worst.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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That's basically correct.

A "stable" bio-filter is one that contains exactly the concentration of bacteria to handle exactly the amount of waste coming out of your aquarium.

The problem with "bacteria in a bottle" is that many times it is completely the wrong type of bacteria. It will eat the waste that normally goes to the right bacteria (thus starving the good bacteria) - but then the bottle bacteria all die because they don't live in aquariums - leaving you with no cycle.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:06 AM   #4
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This is the main reason why - if you read the bottles closely - the instructions tell you that you have to keep dosing the bacteria every week or 2 weeks, because they just die off and you never actually have a "real" cycle. You're just manufacturing a cycle by constantly pouring in more bacteria.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:23 AM   #5
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This is the main reason why - if you read the bottles closely - the instructions tell you that you have to keep dosing the bacteria every week or 2 weeks, because they just die off and you never actually have a "real" cycle. You're just manufacturing a cycle by constantly pouring in more bacteria.
That's pretty much what I was thinking, thanks.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:29 AM   #6
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Another question:

I'm currently fishless cycling a 50 gallon tank. It came with some free samples of stress zyme. I am NOT trying to speed up the cycle, but it feels like a waste to just throw it away.

Would it hurt at all to throw it in a cycling tank? Or would I just be breeding a load of unstable bacteria that would probably keep the beneficial ones from growing?
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:39 AM   #7
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I'd say don't bother, a good de-chlorinator/conditioner like Seachem Prime should help with that. Plus who knows how long those stress zyme bottles have been laying around.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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I think everyone is exactly right. They don't contain true nitrifying bacteria, but instead have heterotrophs which can (occasionally) be efficient at converting ammonia and nitrIte, but can outcompete the true nitrifying. As stated, the "substitute" bacteria is short lived, and unless it is constantly replaced there is the risk for a bio-filter crash when they die off because the true bacteria never had an opportunity to fully develop.

In fairness, I have not heard of this happening with all brands. There are some which actually contained actual autotrophs, but the issue was that they had ridiculously short shelf lives and had to be maintained in specific temperature conditions, etc... I believe Tetra bought the rights to Bio-Spira and supposedly has developed a way to maintain a longer shelf life without need for refrigeration. I've never heard of crashes from this product...but I'd describe it's results as inconsistent at best. Personally I wouldn't use it, but I'm not as afraid of it as others.

What potentially makes them dangerous is that they can give the appearance of a cycled tank and people will think all is well when its actually not. There's a number of members who can give first hand accounts of crashes. One of my good friends on the site did everything exactly by the book with a fishless cycle with the exception of using Stress Zyme and I believe either Stability or Cycle. It looked like everything was perfect...ammonia was dropping from 4ppm down to zero...but about a month after adding fish there was a near total crash. He woke up to dead fish, and when he tested the ammonia and no2 was through the roof like the tank had never been cycled at all.

Moral of the story being that just like every other aspect of the hobby...patience and commitment are key, answers and solutions are rarely if ever found in a bottle (unless it's Prime ).
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:58 PM   #9
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Moral of the story being that just like every other aspect of the hobby...patience and commitment are key, answers and solutions are rarely if ever found in a bottle (unless it's Prime ).
Yeah, I'm not in any rush to get it cycled. I keep telling the wife that an empty fish tank is the new modern thing to do.

And I've been following the fishless cycling guide by some guy named Eric. Maybe you know him???
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobersteve323 View Post
Yeah, I'm not in any rush to get it cycled. I keep telling the wife that an empty fish tank is the new modern thing to do.
Perhaps tell her you just put in invisible ghost fish ..... It's just they're hiding ... but they'll come out late in the night!
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:11 PM   #11
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Perhaps tell her you just put in invisible ghost fish ..... It's just they're hiding ... but they'll come out late in the night!
Good idea! Or maybe I should have said there WERE fish in there and I could see them...
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:18 PM   #12
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And then the friendly men in white jackets show up with a nice coat with your name on it.

...but the sleeves are backwards.


At the end of the day - the best bacteria supplement that money can buy is free, but the pet stores don't want you to know about it so they hide it in their filters.

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Old 08-01-2011, 01:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobersteve323

Yeah, I'm not in any rush to get it cycled. I keep telling the wife that an empty fish tank is the new modern thing to do.

And I've been following the fishless cycling guide by some guy named Eric. Maybe you know him???
Yeah, the name sounds familiar, haha!
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