Using bacteria to establish a new aquarium
Many products on the market allow us to speed up our aquarium's start-up time and cycle period. Some fishkeepers rely on these bacteria products for all aquariums, yet some fishkeepers remain steadfast and resist the temptation to rush things. Read on to find out how these products work, when to use them and the benefits of using live bacteria in your aquarium.
What are beneficial bacteria?
Before we go any further, let's establish what we mean by beneficial bacteria. In the aquarium environment, we need nitrifying bacteria and there are two kinds of this bacteria.
Nitrosomonas - This bacteria is great at converting ammonia into nitrite. Within the aquarium, these bacteria will oxidize the ammonia produced by fish waste into nitrite. And, they give that Nitrite to the other beneficial bacteria present in the fish tank to convert it into essential nutrients. Nitrosomonas bacteria play an important role in the nitrogen cycle. They also begin the process of providing nitrogen to the aquarium plants.
Nitrobacter - This bacteria converts the nitrite provided by Nitrosomonas into nitrate. Thanks to the help of the Nitrosomonas bacteria, Nitrobacter has a steady supply of ammonia for food.
These two beneficial bacteria co-exist and work together to control the waste in your aquarium.
What are the benefits of adding bacteria?
When we first set up an aquarium, there is no bacteria present. Traditionally, allowing time to pass and bacteria to develop naturally was the universally accepted method. Over time, and with the help of the nitrate cycle, our aquariums became a working environment with a healthy colony of good bacteria. Adding fish to an aquarium before these vital bacteria cultures have established themselves will result in cloudy water or even worse, dead fish. This is something known as new tank syndrome.
Bacteria does more than breaking down fish waste to keep your water clear. Good bacteria in the aquarium will also help to maintain your pH level safely by breaking down any decomposing plants or excess food. Additionally, high amounts of nitrates and ammonia levels are prevented.
Adding beneficial bacteria starters during the setup process of new fish tanks greatly improves the quality of the aquarium water. The bacteria will quickly establish themselves in thew new filter and across the aquarium and get to work breaking down any pollutants. Manually adding nitrifying bacteria to the tank water or directly onto filter media (ceramic rings inside canister filters or sponges within any aquarium filter) will create good bacteria levels and speed up the setup process allowing the addition of a few fish much sooner than the traditional process.
Does bacteria require any care?
This is a good question. Does beneficial bacteria need looking after? Well, yes they do. When we add bacteria to an aquarium, it is important that we make sure the environment is suitable. First of all, most bacteria require oxygen and CO2. But more importantly, for bacteria to thrive in an established tank, we must provide somewhere for them to colonise. The ideal place for bacteria to form is the filter media. Sponges and ceramic noodles are common filter media and are excellent locations for bacteria. Ofcourse other objects such as wood, gravel and stones.
Setting up an aquarium used to require a lot of patience. Wairting until your aquarium is fully cycled and endless fiddling with your aquarium water test kit and water changes. Now we can quickly establish a healthy aquarium, even adding fish on day one. Adding beneficial bacteria along with fish on day one allows the aquarium to mature quickly and without the worry of your fish tank developing a nasty bacteria bloom.