"Bacteria in a Bottle" Products

Squidward

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I have never understood how these products work

As far as I am aware, bacteria involved in the Nitrogen cycle do not form dormant spores when "times get tough". They die without a constant supply of nutrients, fresh water & oxygen
People are constantly reminded that if your filter stops running for more than a few hours, it will lead to problems.

So now there are these "bacteria in a bottle" products.
A liquid containing all the bacteria you need to kick start the filter. That sits on a shelf at the lfs for days, weeks, maybe months.
There may be a limited amount of nutrients? But certainly no fresh water flow. And no oxygen supply.
What's keeping the bacteria alive??
Further, between production and being introduced to your tank, were the bottles stored at ideal temps?
Perhaps the temp in the truck was above/below optimum tolerance? That could also play a role in speeding up the demise of the bacteria.

Some people swear by these products.
But from a scientific point of view I question how they work
 
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Squidward

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I see there is a discussion a bit further below in aquarium nitrification bacteria
But am struggling to find something on specifics re how these bacteria survive in the containers until ready for use.
 

Byron

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I will respond to your questions in summary with some links to scientific data, without having read through those threads.

First, Dr. Timothy Hovanec was one of the team of scientists that studied nitrifying bacteria and published several papers. They identified the bacteria species responsible for nitrification (Nitrosomonas sp. for ammonia oxidation, and Nitrospira [not Nitrobacter] sp. responsible for nitrite oxidation). Here's a link to the paper:
http://aem.asm.org/content/62/8/2888.full.pdf

Dr. Hovanec also developed a formula for bottling these bacteria. His first formula was sold to Tetra and is now marketed as Tetra's SafeStart. His second formula is under his own label of Dr. Tim's One and Only. SafeStart will speed up the establishment of nitrifying bacteria in a new aquarium. Some other products also do this. Dr. Hovanec experimented with some of them and there is a paper with his results that I can't track down at the moment, but I have read it. Anyway, none of these are instant cycling products, just "bacterial supplements" that seem to speed up the establishment of the nitrifying bacteria.

Dr. Tim's One and Only has been scientifically proven to instantly cycle a new aquarium if the directions are followed.

I cannot explain how these bacteria live in a bottle, nor answer your related questions about time and temperature. Dr. Hovanec did (if memory serves me) go into this in some of his papers. Here is a link to his site, and I believe there are links to some of his papers.
http://www.drtimsaquatics.com/one-only-arrived-warm-is-it-still-good

As far as I am aware, bacteria involved in the Nitrogen cycle do not form dormant spores when "times get tough". They die without a constant supply of nutrients, fresh water & oxygen
People are constantly reminded that if your filter stops running for more than a few hours, it will lead to problems.
This is inaccurate. Scientific studies by other scientists than Dr. Hovanec and his team have proven that the bacteria responsible for nitrification are not as delicate as we used to assume. You may find this summary helpful:
http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co....you-know-filter-bacteria-dream-on?rq=bacteria

As the article mentions, lack of food (ammonia) or oxygen do not mean death for these bacterium, nor does tap water chlorine.
Byron.
 

Ch4rlie

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I have to say, I have discussions like this with other knowledgable members in the past.

By and by large most of the so called "Bottled Bacteria Starters" are not worth purchasing or using, though most likely won't do any harm.

There are two bottles of note, incidently researched and started by the same scientist , Dr Timothy Hovanec, he first made nitrifying bacterias with other relevant AOB, namely Nitrosospira and Nitrosomonas bacterias.

Scientific Papers by Dr Tim

So with that in mind, Dr Tim started at Tetra Fish Company, this is where he first produced bottled bacteria of Tetra Safe Start, this is known to work for starting a fishless cycle, namely due to the right types of bacterias being present, and both ammonia AND nitrite bacterias can then start to form quickly using this product.

He then left Tetra and formed his own brand, "Dr Tim's", this has been an ongoing success for various products and must be noted that Dr Tim's One and Only Nitrfying Bacteria is known to work well for cycling progressing succesfully quickly.

As for your queries about how these bacterias survive in these bottle, its very true there is a limited shelf life for these viable bacterias. A lot of this bacteria survival rate is down to how these bottles are kept, transported and how long has been bottled.

The heat or cold temperature has a bearing on survival rate of bacterias, imagine transporting these bottle in a large conatiner truck and going through either extreme or cold conditions over a number of days or even weeks.

Then upon arrival at LFS, how they are shelved can have a bearing, in direct sunlight for example will have an affect.

Survival rates is all down to a number of factors, as already mentioned, temperature and handling, but also the lack of ammonia/food will have some effect. From what I have learned, these bacterias are pretty resilient and are stronger than folks realise. Most bacterias WILL go dormant when the source of food ceases, how long they stay dormant depends on a number of facters, as long as they are kept in cool, moist conditions they can survive for as long s 6 month, perhaps even longer, of course there will be some die off during this period but if kept correctly then a 3 - 6 month old bottle could still easily be perfectly viable.

Personally I have never used either Dr Tims or Tetra Safe Start, I have done most of my cycling from scratch using just ammonia doses and lots of testing or using established emdia from another tank I have running. But I have heard many success stories using these bottled bacterias in varying conditions.

EDIT - I see Byron has answered while I was writing this response :lol:
 

StevenF

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I am aware, bacteria involved in the Nitrogen cycle do not form dormant spores
If you set up a tank and put ammonia in it how dot he bacteria get into the tank to start? Simple they drift in through the air and they may have been drifting in the air hours to weeks. All bacteria can create dormant spores to some extent. Especially if they don't have any food or air for some time.

How they are stored will play a role to some extent on how many survive in the bottle. However All it takes is one survivor to get your tank started. However once you have the bacteria in your tank and ammonia your tank may still not cycle due to lack of nutrients bacteria need. A plant fertilizer has many of the nutrients bacteria need, but not all of them. Also there is no way of knowing if your tape water has everything the bacteria need to grow. So when someone claims the bottle of bacteria was bad or didn't work, the real problem may have been lack of nutrients in the water, contaminated ammonia, or fail to follow instructions.
 

eaglesaquarium

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I have never understood how these products work

As far as I am aware, bacteria involved in the Nitrogen cycle do not form dormant spores when "times get tough". They die without a constant supply of nutrients, fresh water & oxygen
People are constantly reminded that if your filter stops running for more than a few hours, it will lead to problems.
This is one of the problems with the hobby at times... as our understanding changes, it takes a while for that information to percolate its way through to the vast majority of hobbyists.

The bolded is inaccurate. That was the prevailing wisdom in the past, but it has been disproven. The bacteria do in fact go dormant... and they will bounce back when conditions are right for them. It is also true that the longer they are dormant the longer it takes before they bounce back. Conversely, if the bacteria are forced to be dormant for only a day or so, they bounce back almost immediately when ammonia is present once again.


It is for this reason that our cycling article references giving ammonia bacteria only 'snack doses' of ammonia during phase 2 of the cycle every 3 days or so. They don't need a constant supply of ammonia to survive.


Here's a patent on the subject...
Unlike many bacterial species,
Nitrosomonas do not have the ability to produce spores. Many bacterial species are capable of producing dormant spores which are resistant to adverse environmental conditions.

When starved of ammonia, under certain conditions, the vegetative Nitrosomonas cell is capable of becoming dormant and surviving in this state without ammonia, its only food and source of energy, for years. While dormant, however, the cell is not resistant to adverse environmental conditions. While dormant the Nitrosomonas cell is much more sensitive to adverse conditions such as chemical insults and exposure to light.

Please note the bolded region above and the secondary highlight (in italics) of how these bacteria work...

As explained the primary difference between these bacteria and those that produce spores... the 'dormant' bacteria are sensitive to their environment, whereas to the spores of other species are far more resistant. And that's the key.

Also, please take note of the phrase "under certain conditions"... which is explained later in the link. It took a long time to learn what conditions were necessary for these bacteria to be able to go dormant and stay dormant for extended periods of time.
 
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Squidward

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Thanks for all the replies.
I have some reading to do.

It seems we may have to re-evaluate the we see the filter bacteria.
 
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