Why are all systems running out of bacteria?

BRS
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sixty_reefer

sixty_reefer

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Not sure -- been getting some GHA pockets on my one pile that was started from dry/white rock some months ago (((added during last tank transfer))).

My PetCo live rock (if I can call it that) structure has ZERO GHA pockets,,, go figure.

Mostly I'm just interested in the topic and if I believed there was strong evidence for reasonable benefits (from adding different bacterial strains), I'd probably just do it, even if not trying to remedy any issues.
Having GHA is a natural thing, it’s like Aipatasia eventually it will come in and we just have to deal with it, as long as you keep calm and a good stable value of residual nutrients (no3 and po4) and some natural predators it will go away. Don’t fall in the temptation of stripping your tank of nutrients (no3 and po4) as that will just make things worst.
 
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sixty_reefer

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Surface bacteria and water column bacteria are two different things. I doubt it has much if any impact on surface dwelling microbes
I’m not sure, I believe all bacteria can become waterborne, I’m not familiar with any that lives only on the water column.
 

Jedi1199

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I’ve been adding bacteria to my systems for 18 years now, and carbon dosing for almost as long. Bacteria, its addition, proliferation and removal via a protein skimmer has been a cornerstone of all of my setups. After witnessing the benefits I would never run a system without it.

I have found no better and easier way to control nutrients, avoiding pesky ailments such as cyano/Algae/Dino’s, while experiencing incredible growth and coloration in corals.

Using this method, I have never had to directly feed my corals and I would wager that my SPS growth has always been in the 90+ percentile of all reef aquariums. Corals receive all that they need directly from the bacteria in the system. It’s a proven scientific fact that corals can receive 100% of their daily carbon and nitrogen needs directly from bacteria. [Link] Yet, you still have people dumping endless amounts of money and nutrients (coral foods) directly into their setup.

Concerning the bacteria and carbon dosing itself, it’s not without fault. It takes an advanced reefer to implement the system correctly. You’re constantly teetering on the brink, running such an ultra low nutrient system. For those willing to invest the time and energy the system can be one that will and can provide incredible results.

A couple people touched on the dry rock vs live rock debate and I whole heartily agree with the live rock camp. I would never setup an aquarium without actual live rock, especially the kind directly from the ocean. The amount of biodiversity that you receive from rock directly from vendors ,like KP Aquatics , is second to none. While the bottled bacteria will help a dry rock system it will never get it to the level of diversity that a live rock system enjoys.

Quite a few here are claiming bacterial additives to be snake oil but I find that hard to believe. The results I and many others have experienced first hand would say otherwise. The kicker here is that this system costs pennies compared to almost every other method out there. How much money are people wasting by purchasing coral food, expensive refugium systems, GFO, etc? A $12 bottle of bacteria and a 4$ bottle of vodka will last you at least three months and help reduce your nutrient while at the same time feeding your corals. In my opinion, no other method out there comes close.

No snake oil here; only proven results. Carbon dosing and bacterial driven systems FTW

-Sonny
Since this is the first such lucid response to the "pro-bottle" side of the debate, I give you due credit. My question to you is why does the bacteria need to be replenished?

I had an idea earlier after giving this topic some thought. What effect do UV sterilizers have on bacterial content in our tanks? I mean if the goal of these devices is to "sterilize" the water that passes through them, would it not make sense that they are eradicating the good as well as bad microorganisms that flow through them?

I am presently in the camp of don't add, don't take away. Meaning that other than my canister filters and protein skimmer, I use nothing but water changes on my system. I do about 20% weekly. New filter sock every few days and clean one of 2 canisters per week on alternating schedule. My tank is thriving! I am unaware of any need, in my own system, of added bacterium.
 

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I’ve been away from the forum for a wile and since I come back more actively, most threads I’ve been reading It seems that someone is adding bottled bacteria to try and get some sort of outcome, that makes me wonder why all the sudden there’s a urge to add so many bacteria to already established systems.
I believe it’s new and almost a trend .
when in doubt add bacteria .
but as we all know bacteria population will grow as long as they have a sufficient food source. The rest die off without is knowing .
To this question I was advised by my lfs to dose nitrifying bacteria to my established system to battle high nitrates and phosphates and surprisingly enough. .it helped .
Is there perhaps a way of setting up a experiment and measure bacteria other than measuring ammonia , nitrites and nitrates ?
 

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I believe it’s new and almost a trend .
when in doubt add bacteria .
but as we all know bacteria population will grow as long as they have a sufficient food source. The rest die off without is knowing .
To this question I was advised by my lfs to dose nitrifying bacteria to my established system to battle high nitrates and phosphates and surprisingly enough. .it helped .
Is there perhaps a way of setting up a experiment and measure bacteria other than measuring ammonia , nitrites and nitrates ?

This is an intriguing comment to me as I know you run your tank similar to my own.

How does addition of nitrifying bacteria reduce nitrates and phosphates? Wouldn't regular water changes do the same thing? Is the amount of nitrifying bacteria removed from the system in a water change enough to actually be detrimental to the system overall?
 
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This is an intriguing comment to me as I know you run your tank similar to my own.

How does addition of nitrifying bacteria reduce nitrates and phosphates? Wouldn't regular water changes do the same thing? Is the amount of nitrifying bacteria removed from the system in a water change enough to actually be detrimental to the system overall?
This baffled my mind when I was advised to dose microbacter 7

But to think of the whole pictire . These same bacteria being dosed is what is supposed to process ammonia in the first place .
the end result being nitrates .
There is a scientific answer somewhere . But who will willingly share how it works ?
 

Jedi1199

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This baffled my mind when I was advised to dose microbacter 7

But to think of the whole pictire . These same bacteria being dosed is what is supposed to process ammonia in the first place .
the end result being nitrates .
There is a scientific answer somewhere . But who will willingly share how it works ?


Kinda my whole point. If this product is supposed to convert ammonia to nitrite and then nitrate, HOW does it reduce Nitrates?? Is this "New Math"? x+y-z= 3x*w/r(3y-s+t*z)
 

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Kinda my whole point. If this product is supposed to convert ammonia to nitrite and then nitrate, HOW does it reduce Nitrates?? Is this "New Math"? x+y-z= 3x*w/r(3y-s+t*z)
If I could get my nitrates above 5 ppm again I’d try experiment a little .

I rarely ever do water changes . Everything is fed heavily .
I actually posted not too long ago believing perhaps there is a maturity milestone where systems change to processing ammonia at a faster pace .
 

JCM

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This baffled my mind when I was advised to dose microbacter 7

But to think of the whole pictire . These same bacteria being dosed is what is supposed to process ammonia in the first place .
the end result being nitrates .
There is a scientific answer somewhere . But who will willingly share how it works ?

I'd assume microbacter7 has some DE-nitrifing bacteria in it.

It's often recommended in conjuction with carbon dosing, the purpose of which is to reduce nitrates. It works by boosting bacteria populations that convert nitrate into nitrogen (at least thats my understanding). The carbon dosing combined with the mb7 seems to increase that specific bacteria.

Or maybe its all marketing hype, I have no idea.
 

Karen00

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As mentioned earlier, the typical reef aquarium microbiome will be at a certain system specific maximum density for the given substrates, water volume and nutrients provided. If any bacteria are removed (water changes, gravel vacuuming, etc.), the remaining bacteria will repopulate in a relatively short period of time. So any stripping is only temporary and replenishment is a given in a properly functioning aquatic system.

Now over time, the composition of the microbiome (microorganism community) can change due to a variety of factors. And at this point all we can say is that if the reef aquarium is functioning properly (animals are healthy, algae is controlled), then the microbiome (whatever microorganism community it happens to be made up out of) are in a proper state of dynamic equilibrium ('a state of balance between continuing processes').
I totally agree. That's why I was wondering where the OP got the info saying it's depleted. Maybe I missed the reply in the comments.
 
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I'd assume microbacter7 has some DE-nitrifing bacteria in it.

It's often recommended in conjuction with carbon dosing, the purpose of which is to reduce nitrates. It works by boosting bacteria populations that convert nitrate into nitrogen (at least thats my understanding). The carbon dosing combined with the mb7 seems to increase that specific bacteria.

Or maybe its all marketing hype, I have no idea.
I was not carbon dosing at the time . But makes sense …. I think .
 

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I'd assume microbacter7 has some DE-nitrifing bacteria in it.

It's often recommended in conjuction with carbon dosing, the purpose of which is to reduce nitrates. It works by boosting bacteria populations that convert nitrate into nitrogen (at least thats my understanding). The carbon dosing combined with the mb7 seems to increase that specific bacteria.

Or maybe its all marketing hype, I have no idea.
This could be the answer to @sixty_reefer
But now has me thinking why all
Of a sudden is there a spike in needing to dose bacteria ?
 

Absolutely Fish

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I could only see that situation happening in a tank that was limited in the availability of nutrients more in particular C or N or both, as the C an N dictated the residual of P, making it more of a nutrient issue imo
Ive noticed low nutrient systems there tends to outbreaks in cyano when po4 and
Started a tank approximately 3.5 mos ago with live rock from KP aquatics. I will literally never do it with dry rock again. I'm feeding enough zooplankton and phytoplankton to create an algae forest the size of the Amazon, and there is literally no algae. The water is absolutely crystal clear. I've found some icky pests, like a leopard polyclad flatworm that ate three of my snails, a mithrax crab that ate a bunch of macros and a photosynthetic sponge, and there's a couple crabs I'm still working on catching, but overall it's a lot more fun and the tank is far more stable than my 2.5 year old tank, which is still struggling - you can tell something is out of whack, but it's none of the normal parameters or anything one can test for. My relationship with the new tank hasn't been "abusive" (heh.) and I have all sorts of cool tunicates, brittlestars, a pistol shrimp, fan-worms, sponges, and other things I haven't yet identified.

I got into the hobby because I love the ocean, and it's much more fun (for me) to create a natural ecosystem using natural filtration methods than have a perfectly neon, sterile, SPS tank. To each their own. Neither one is better or worse, but I do think beginners would be more likely to stick with the hobby if they traded dry rock for live. The struggle is real otherwise.
Too many ppl panic over hitchhikers but most of those hitchhikers are actually beneficial
 

Nano sapiens

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I’m not sure, I believe all bacteria can become waterborne, I’m not familiar with any that lives only on the water column.

True, small quantities of substrate living bacteria can typically be found in the water column.

The ocean, and healthy reef aquariums, are chock full of water column living bacteria, but it has been shown that the sediments are more species diverse than the open water:


For reference, the three most common bacteria genera from the Aquabiomics article 'The Core Microbiome of a Salt Water Aquarium':

FamilyDescriptionMetabolic capabilitiesEcological roles & responses
1FlavobacteriaceaeGram-negative, rod-shaped, non-motile or gliding Bacteria (Bacteroidetes)Generally aerobic & chemoheterotrophicMost diverse family in Bacteroidetes; occurs in essentially all habitats. Specialized for degrading polysaccharides & proteins. Often the most abundant group in aquatic habitats. Frequently associated with surfaces, including animals, macroalgae, or detritus.
2PelagibacteraceaeGram-negative, rod-shaped, free-living Bacteria (Alphaproteobacteria)Aerobic & chemoheterotrophicPreviously called SAR11, this is thought to be the most abundant bacterial group in the ocean worldwide. Well-adapted for life in the low-nutrient waters of the open ocean. Require reduced sulfur compounds, glycine, and dissolved organic carbon for growth.
3RhodobacteraceaeGram-negative Bacteria (Alphaproteobacteria), mostly rod-shaped, some free-livingMostly aerobic & chemoheterotrophic, some photoheterotrophicExtremely diverse, widely distributed and highly abundant in marine habitats including open ocean, sediments, and algal biofilms. Degrade sulfur-containing compounds (e.g. sulfite, DMSP). Many use methylated amines (MA) as primary nitrogen source.

My Aquabiomics test results showed ~ 70% Pelagibacteraceae, so this super abundant ocean water column borne genus is far and away the most common relative to any other in my system. I thought this was very interesting and *may* stem from the lack of any mechanical/chemical filtration or any other chemical products or bacterial supplements that could potentially alter a reef system's microbiome away from what would be considered typical in the natural world (yes, I know, a reef aquarium is NOT the ocean, but still food for thought :) )
 
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Nano sapiens

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I totally agree. That's why I was wondering where the OP got the info saying it's depleted. Maybe I missed the reply in the comments.
From what I can gather, the OP is making the assumption of bacteria/archaea depletion based on the large number of posts/threads asking if supplemental dosing is needed and how often. By inference, the fact that they are asking is suggestive of a perceived bacterial deficit and/or imbalance.
 
BRS

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Since this is the first such lucid response to the "pro-bottle" side of the debate, I give you due credit. My question to you is why does the bacteria need to be replenished?

I had an idea earlier after giving this topic some thought. What effect do UV sterilizers have on bacterial content in our tanks? I mean if the goal of these devices is to "sterilize" the water that passes through them, would it not make sense that they are eradicating the good as well as bad microorganisms that flow through them?

I am presently in the camp of don't add, don't take away. Meaning that other than my canister filters and protein skimmer, I use nothing but water changes on my system. I do about 20% weekly. New filter sock every few days and clean one of 2 canisters per week on alternating schedule. My tank is thriving! I am unaware of any need, in my own system, of added bacterium.

Frankly, I cannot answer the reason why the bacteria would need to be replenished as I am not a scientist. Perhaps it helps to balance bacteria in the system after things such as water changes. I used both Zeovit and MB7 bacteria, dosing minimally daily. The only time I will add the recommended dosage is when I conduct a water change.

Some of the literature claims that the bacteria needs to be added to maintain a healthy population. Bacteria is constantly lost via UV sterilizers, skimmers, and competition with other bacteria. The claim here is that the bacteria in the bottle are strains specifically selected and vetted for success.

Anecdotally, I have had better results dosing bacteria daily then when I have not. My skimmer pulls more muck, corals look more robust, and phosphates/nitrates remain in check.

I can’t verify any of the claims that the manufacturers are making. What I can verify is that my systems look great, I have rarely if ever had issues with cyano/algae, and my corals have and are thriving. I’ve been dosing for so long now that I see no reason to change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; right?

At the end of the day, for the small amount of money spent and success that I’ve had I see no reason to question the method or change.

On a final note, bacteria dosing is not a fad or something new. It really took off around 2006. A few of us were experimenting with carbon dosing and found great success. at the time you also had people like Julien Sprung stating that the addition of bacterial strains to a system may help with old tank syndrome and help outcompete pathogenic strains.

The stuff works. There are quite a few dubious products in our hobby but I don’t believe bacteria to be one of them.
 

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Jedi1199

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Frankly, I cannot answer the reason why the bacteria would need to be replenished as I am not a scientist. Perhaps it helps to balance bacteria in the system after things such as water changes. I used both Zeovit and MB7 bacteria, dosing minimally daily. The only time I will add the recommended dosage is when I conduct a water change.

Some of the literature claims that the bacteria needs to be added to maintain a healthy population. Bacteria is constantly lost via UV sterilizers, skimmers, and competition with other bacteria. The claim here is that the bacteria in the bottle are strains specifically selected and vetted for success.

Anecdotally, I have had better results dosing bacteria daily then when I have not. My skimmer pulls more muck, corals look more robust, and phosphates/nitrates remain in check.

I can’t verify any of the claims that the manufacturers are making. What I can verify is that my systems look great, I have rarely if ever had issues with cyano/algae, and my corals have and are thriving. I’ve been dosing for so long now that I see no reason to change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; right?

At the end of the day, for the small amount of money spent and success that I’ve had I see no reason to question the method or change.

On a final note, bacteria dosing is not a fad or something new. It really took off around 2006. A few of us were experimenting with carbon dosing and found great success. at the time you also had people like Julien Sprung stating that the addition of bacterial strains to a system may help with old tank syndrome and help outcompete pathogenic strains.

The stuff works. There are quite a few dubious products in our hobby but I don’t believe bacteria to be one of them.

I wonder if this is where the debate over skimmer or no skimmer stems? I have seen many threads and even more posts from people stating that they took their skimmers offline, or at the minimum shut them down for a part of the day.

Do skimmers really take out that much bacteria? My tank made a huge leap forward when I added the oversized skimmer.. or is that purely a result of the better lighting? Since I added both at nearly the same time, I guess I can't say for sure what was best.

You did mention UV sterilizers, which I suspect is a major culprit to reduced bacteria. As I stated before, they are designed to "sterilize" the water that passes through them. As such, it follows, that the good is lost along with the bad. Like spraying a general defoliant across your lawn to kill weeds. It kills the grass as well as the weeds. Makes you wonder why people use them?

Back to the skimmer point. As I said, I added an oversized skimmer to my tank at about the same time as I upgraded my lights. My tank exploded in growth as a result. I can't help but think, based on this discussion that perhaps the lights have more to do with that than the skimmer?

I wonder if this theory holds water (pun intended lol)... In the attempt to eliminate water changes, are we sacrificing the balance we need? By adding super skimmers and sterilizers and reactors, are we inadvertently CAUSING the issues we are dosing to replenish? Several people above have stated that water changes are just a "quick fix" that the minimal amount of water and contaminants removed is simply replaced in a couple days.

If bacterial loss is a real thing, are these methods of eliminating water changes part of the issue?

I have never really wrapped my head around the concept of never changing water as being healthy. To me, it seems almost the same as the Middle Ages in Europe where people thought bathing was unhealthy. It just doesn't make sense.

In my experience, and I will grant you that FW is NOT the same as a reef, water changes are a good thing. It replaces not only the elements lost to absorption by the tank inhabitants, but also gives "breath of fresh air" to an otherwise stale system.

Think Space Station.... Yes, you can live there. Yes, it is survivable, but wouldn't you like a refresher of new air over the recycled stuff? Same concept. Just because you CAN maintain a survivable system without water changes and produce a viable result, does that mean the inhabitants are happy? I wonder.
 

Erin1971Texas

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Most folks cycle with chemicals now. The way it's been done for 50 years is now bad. Nitrite is harmless. Use dry rocks and pour in bacteria. That's trendy now. I'll never by it.
Bottled nitrifying bacteria is not "chemicals"
 

Erin1971Texas

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I believe it’s new and almost a trend .
when in doubt add bacteria .
but as we all know bacteria population will grow as long as they have a sufficient food source. The rest die off without is knowing .
To this question I was advised by my lfs to dose nitrifying bacteria to my established system to battle high nitrates and phosphates and surprisingly enough. .it helped .
Is there perhaps a way of setting up a experiment and measure bacteria other than measuring ammonia , nitrites and nitrates ?
Bottled nitrifying bacteria is not DEnitrifying. It simply converts ammonia to nitrite to nitrate, it does not convert nitrate back into nitrogen gas (the definition of denitrification)
 
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