Why are all systems running out of bacteria?

BRS

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Would you put algae problems related to bacteria den?
Definitely not IMO. I don’t see how bacteria will outcompete photosynthetic organisms. You don’t see that happening, but even with established rocks that were cured in the dark. Once the lights comes on it’s over for the bacteria. Algae will overdominate. If bacteria is strong enough to outcompete algae, then it’s even more worthless you go out to add them. They should definitely come with corals.

And even if bacteria does compete, I don’t believe that going out of your way to introduce them is worthwhile. They will come in your corals regardless of whether you want them to or not.
 
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sixty_reefer

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Definitely not IMO. I don’t see how bacteria will outcompete photosynthetic organisms. You don’t see that happening, but even with established rocks that were cured in the dark. Once the lights comes on it’s over for the bacteria. Algae will overdominate. If bacteria is strong enough to outcompete algae, then it’s even more worthless you go out to add them. They should definitely come with corals.

And even if bacteria does compete, I don’t believe that going out of your way to introduce them is worthwhile. They will come in your corals regardless of whether you want them to or not.
In a way you could theoretically use the existing bacteria in a tank to inhibit the growth of some algaes although that may be a subject for another discussion.
 

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How outrageous I would never add bleach to my system I would never use bleach for anything I believe it is a poison!
Nobody is adding bleach. That was only to lead up to the question: Why are we trying to add bacteria after bacteria? It almost seems like the bacteria in our tanks have a finite lifespan which needs to be replenished?
 
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sixty_reefer

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How outrageous I would never add bleach to my system I would never use bleach for anything I believe it is a poison!
I hope no one else understood the question that way, it was just a rhetorical question
 
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pdxmonkeyboy

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The gentleman that owns aquabiomics is local to me and he gave an excellent presentation on bacteria in aquariums. Bacteria diversity is extremely fascinating to me an extremely important. First things first, that bacteria in a bottle, it certainly works as intended, it will cycle your tank. BUT.. it doesn't last. IF you dumped bottles and bottles of it in, then tested a couple months later there would be none in your tank.

The reality is that like most things in the world, there is competition. It is not as if there is LESS bacteria in your tank after a while, it is just that the diversity goes down over time. Because.. competition. Leave a dandelion in your yard alone. Next year, more of them, next year even more, etc etc until all your left with is mostly dandelions. Why? They are more adept at utilizing moisture and highly successful seeds.

Same with bacteria. Eli is getting loads and loads of data and trends are certainly emerging. One of the most interesting is that the most dominant bacteria in the ocean is waterborne, it does not live on surfaces. But it is completely absent in many aquariums, even highly successful aquariums. So while we mimic the ocean for many things, it appears that it is not entirely necessary for aquariums. As a rule however, more diverse systems are more stable. This is a well known principal of all natural systems.

So, bacteria amounts are likely the same, they are just less diverse.
 

Jedi1199

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Nobody is adding bleach. That was only to lead up to the question: Why are we trying to add bacteria after bacteria? It almost seems like the bacteria in our tanks have a finite lifespan which needs to be replenished?

This brings us back to the bottled bacteria question. Is the bottled stuff designed to die off? I mean, if I was to start a business producing bottled bacteria, I think it would be in my best interest to make sure that customers would need to replace my product regularly. If it lasted forever, I would be broke and starving in short order.

Side topic here: Did you know that in the early 1900s, the federal government stepped in and required all light bulb manufacturers to use a filament that expires after a few months? The first light bulbs used a filament that lasted indefinitely. There is a fire station in Northern California that has a light bulb that has been running 24/7 for over a hundred years.

Why did this happen? Because business owners need customers. If you buy it once, and never need it again, your product, and business will have a very short lifespan.
 

Miami Reef

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This brings us back to the bottled bacteria question. Is the bottled stuff designed to die off? I mean, if I was to start a business producing bottled bacteria, I think it would be in my best interest to make sure that customers would need to replace my product regularly. If it lasted forever, I would be broke and starving in short order.

Side topic here: Did you know that in the early 1900s, the federal government stepped in and required all light bulb manufacturers to use a filament that expires after a few months? The first light bulbs used a filament that lasted indefinitely. There is a fire station in Northern California that has a light bulb that has been running 24/7 for over a hundred years.

Why did this happen? Because business owners need customers. If you buy it once, and never need it again, your product, and business will have a very short lifespan.
Bottled bacterias (which is nitrifying bacteria) do not die off to extinction in the tank. They will constantly be there unless you add bleach or other extreme measures like that.
 

Nano sapiens

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Why are all systems running out of bacteria?​


Due to the large number of mostly beginner questions asking if their systems need additional bottled bacteria on a regular basis, I can see why you may think this is a real thing.

The problem is not that bacteria are being lost from a properly set up system (only the unwise introduction of chemicals hostile to microbial life and catastrophic events can cause this), it's that a system is often not being set up properly in the first place. Dry rock and dry sand by themselves certainly do not make for a diverse and populous community of microorganisms!

Way back in the early days of reef keeping here in the US we followed one rule and that was either use all live rock (preferred) or if not available/too expensive at least a mix of ~50/50 base rock and quality live rock for the top. Base rock was usually from a reef's 'rubble zone' that got tossed around by wave action so much that not much grew on it (or could have been from an aquarist's sump) and the live rock was the premium rock from calmer reef areas that had lots of coralline, macro algae, sponges, etc. Bacteria was never an issue for a properly operating system and no one ever 'ran out of it' ;)

Case in point: My 14 year old reef has higher biodiversity than the average 5 year old system (Aquabiomics test) and most of the live rock (Indo-pacific) and sand is 25 year old. This doesn't speak to loss any possible loss of bacteria, but it's well known that a diverse community of microorganisms will populate every available niche (substrates and free living).
 
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Jedi1199

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Bottled bacterias (which is nitrifying bacteria) do not die off to extinction in the tank. They will constantly be there unless you add bleach or other extreme measures like that.

So what exactly are we discussing here? I have never heard of a cycled tank suddenly "uncycling"? As I said in my very first post, I am unaware that an established bacterial colony "dies off". As stated above, unless something is added that kills it, it will be there. These colonies, like everything in nature except humanity, lives in a harmonious balance. If there is a food source, the population increases, when food is scarce, the population decreases. Humans are the only creatures that have not figured that out. That is a tangent that can spur a 400 page thread that I'd rather not get into lol...
 
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So what exactly are we discussing here? I have never heard of a cycled tank suddenly "uncycling"? As I said in my very first post, I am unaware that an established bacterial colony "dies off". As stated above, unless something is added that kills it, it will be there. These colonies, like everything in nature except humanity, lives in a harmonious balance. If there is a food source, the population increases, when food is scarce, the population decreases. Humans are the only creatures that have not figured that out. That is a tangent that can spur a 400 page thread that I'd rather not get into lol...
It’s not about nitrifying bacteria. People are saying there are many strains of bacteria that reefers need to care about:
 

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@sixty_reefer I think that we have come full circle and now instead of dead pipe organ, blue ridge and stag, we have Marco and Life Rock. In the old days I used Fritz. I was constantly dosing copper to deal with Ich and I wasn't alone in this process. I used a lot of Fritz. It was for me a "miracle". Plus everyone was using it and the undergravel filters needed it. Sadly I killed a lot of creatures then. I wished I would have known. :(

The availability of legitimate from the ocean live rock was a game changer for me. I have not nor will I ever go back to the old way of doing things no matter how "different" the inputs are.

I don't need to use bottled bacteria. The live rock does the heavy lifting for me. I have seen it over and over again.
 

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It’s not about nitrifying bacteria. People are saying there are many strains of bacteria that reefers need to care about:


Ok, so after reading a bit on that thread, How would one accomplish adding these 80+ bacterial strains to a tank? Aside of course from adding natural ocean live rock (which is illegal here in California). What would be the benefits of even making the attempt? My tank looks fabulous as is. Why would someone like me, who has a beautiful tank, WANT to add anything else?

I do understand that we want to mimic the natural ocean environment as closely as possible, but that said, there are limitations on what we can realistically hope to achieve.

Further, how would one go about testing to see how well these 80+ colonies are surviving? Would we need to purchase 80+ test kits to identify each strain and the quantity of each in our systems?

I for one, have enough of an issue testing the main 8, let alone 80+ subsets in my tank.
 

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Ok, so after reading a bit on that thread, How would one accomplish adding these 80+ bacterial strains to a tank? Aside of course from adding natural ocean live rock (which is illegal here in California). What would be the benefits of even making the attempt? My tank looks fabulous as is. Why would someone like me, who has a beautiful tank, WANT to add anything else?

I do understand that we want to mimic the natural ocean environment as closely as possible, but that said, there are limitations on what we can realistically hope to achieve.

Further, how would one go about testing to see how well these 80+ colonies are surviving? Would we need to purchase 80+ test kits to identify each strain and the quantity of each in our systems?

I for one, have enough of an issue testing the main 8, let alone 80+ subsets in my tank.
Personally, I’d just keep doing whatever you’re doing. Not all the stuff you may add is going to be beneficial.
 

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I was participating in a thread earlier about cyanobacteria. It was suggested that beneficial bacteria be added so as to out-compete the cyanobacteria. But I'm not sure if this is proven. I've been using fauna marin bacto balls for a few weeks. The bottle claims the bacteria lowers nitrates, and from what I've observed, this seems to have some merit. (I tested 5 nitrates 3 days ago, then it went down to 3 yesterday.)
 
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Erin1971Texas

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Because fake rock,fake bacteria in a bottle hurry up,try this ,hurry up try that, a true real tank takes its time don't add fake bacteria to tank to hurry up. They add a shrimp and that's all ,all that fake stuff dies, and they rely on poop but fake bacteria don't know poop,the fake bacteria get it off market and send everyone a shrimp and make reefing healthy again and no more hurrying up and that's the bottom line because stone cold said so..lol
That is not how things work! Number 1, the shrimp is a source of ammonia, not a source of nitrifying bacteria. Number 2, the nitrifying bacteria in a bottle is not "fake"! It's simply a large dose of what is already going to make its way into your tank, so that the copious amount of ammonia that rotting shrimp produces can be consumed and the population of nitrifying bacteria will grow more quickly. There's nothing unnatural about it.
 

Erin1971Texas

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Interesting topic. I was unaware that people are suffering from "bacterial loss".

Since I have never used any bottled bacteria at all, I really can't say if they work or not, or if they eventually die off.

I am pretty much "old school" when it comes to my tanks. Maybe I am just old lol. I start new tanks with established rocks and add fish on day 2. No bottled anything. It has worked for me in every single tank I have ever started so I figure "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

My personal opinion is that most bottled bacteria is a waste of money. You are paying for what is essentially 98% water and some bacterial strains that will grow naturally in any tank.
A lot of things are 98% water. That isn't a good argument against bottled bac. And yes, if you already have a bacterial population (from your established rock), you probably don't need to add any more. Most people are starting with dry rock with zero head start on building up nitrifying bacteria; in these cases, it makes sense to add some out of a bottle to help start the cycle
 

Jedi1199

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A lot of things are 98% water. That isn't a good argument against bottled bac. And yes, if you already have a bacterial population (from your established rock), you probably don't need to add any more. Most people are starting with dry rock with zero head start on building up nitrifying bacteria; in these cases, it makes sense to add some out of a bottle to help start the cycle

I agree, and truth be told, more years ago than I wish to admit, I used bottled bacteria to start my first tank.

That said, that tank was a 10g goldfish tank and I had no idea what on earth I was doing. As I learned more about things I soon realized what people like @brandon429 have been trying to teach us. Which is that we really don't need those commercial products to start a tank.

In the late 80s, when I started my first SW tank, I did a fish in cycle. I added a pair of damsels and let the tank cycle naturally. Is this a quality method? IDK. It works. Would I do that today? It depends. For instance, I would never try that with a 20g AIO tank, but I might very well do it with a 55g or larger. Why? Because the larger volume means that the toxic levels will be far away in terms of the fish producing enough waste that the bacterial colonies can't replicate at a rate to consume them.

The nitrifying bacteria is airborne. It will find a way into the tank weather you want it or not.

Not every tank needs bottled bacteria no matter what the general consensus is. Not every tank needs to be seeded at all. This is fact, not supposition. Do tanks benefit from seeding? Absolutely. This is why I start all of my tanks now with rocks from an established tank. Are commercial brand bacteria effective? IDK, I don't use them.

There are many many many paths to success in this hobby. What works for one may not transition to the next person. Like everything else in life, we make the best decision we can at the time and learn from the results.
 

brandon429

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I think that bacteria get skimmed out over time or filtered out depending on what type of mechanical filtration is used.

I know Dr. Tim makes good products. The results can actually be measured. You can easily measure your nutrient levels and then dose Waste Away or Eco-balance in a dirty tank. Wait 24-48 hrs and measure again. Both are concentrated products. The first time I used Waste Away I heard a strange gurgling noise coming from my tank early that morning. When I went to investigate the pipes were making a funny noise which wasn’t the case before I dosed. The pipes became much cleaner allowing better water flow. At that point I realized how effective specific bacteria like (Waste Away) or [Heterotrophic bacteria] could be. Only 1/2 half dose was very effective. I typically don’t even do that much anymore. I just do 1/4 dose currently and it’s been effective at fighting Dino’s (helps outcompete them), but also doesn’t drop my nutrient levels too aggressively.

The question is how much do we need in the system and how to measure when their gone? I don’t really want to pay for an Aquabiomics test every 2 months so I try to watch the algae growth and look at nutrient numbers as a few ways to blindly measure the amount of bacteria in the system. Probably not the best indicators, but pay $100 for a test is too much for me.

Like mentioned above…when I dose Ecobalance or Waste Away it’s consuming nutrients, but there is a decline as time passes. Are they being skimmed out this fast? Should the skimmer be off for a few hours daily and if so can this be measured looking at nutrient levels (specifically phosphate) to understand how well this works and how long it should be off. We know Heterotrophic bacteria can divide in 20 minutes so this will work for them, but what about Nitrifiers? Will they be able to compete for surface area as we know they do not multiply nearly as fast or will they get outcompeted? Should we put competitors in the system that can grow much faster and steal all the available micronutrients that our Nitrifiers need? However, they must still be in the system since we know these bacteria are Ammonia and Nitrite Oxidizer’s. I guess the question I have is how to properly balance them both. A lot of other questions in my mind also.

Also, how big of a role do trace elements play with the bacterial diversity or population? I suspect it’s important as I’ve noticed a much healthier tank keeping the Trace’s in range as opposed to them being depleted or low. Could be coincidence though.? The water is more clear, algae doesn’t seem to be as aggressive, nutrients are much easier to manage, corals are happier with better polyp extension. Maybe this is due to traces alone and not so much the bacteria, but I do feel that the microbiology as a whole need phosphate and a lot of different trace elements to not only grow, but to thrive and populate in the tank.

@Dr Tim’s Aquatics?
 
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