Beneficial Bacteria Is Vital For New Fish Tanks
One of the first lessons a fishkeeping hobbyist learns is that preparing a good habitat for aquatic pets is all about breeding beneficial bacteria. The famous “New Tank Syndrome” or “Cycling” of a new aquarium setup basically describes the period when bacteria colonies are initially propagated in the aquatic habitat. In effect, the overall health of a fish tank and its inhabitants relies heavily on the steady and sustained growth and proliferation of bacteria.
Two types of beneficial bacteria are required to keep ideal water conditions in a fish tank. The first type is called “nitrosomonas,” which are aerobic bacteria that convert deadly ammonia (generated by fish waste and decaying food) into another toxic substance called nitrites. The second type is called “nitrobacter,” which converts the toxic nitrites into less harmful nitrates. Microbes in gravel in established tanks can process nitrates into nitrogen gas which then dissipates (which in large volumes will also stress the fish); can be absorbed by aquatic plants (and algae) as fertilizer; or can be removed from the tank through regular partial water changes.
In a new fish tank, ammonia must be present to start the nitrosomonas colonies, but the ammonia levels should be just enough to feed the bacteria because excesses will harm the fish. The same is true with the nitrobacter – they proliferate in the presence of nitrites but until there are enough colonies to process the nitrites, excesses will cause distress to the fishes. Therefore, the tank’s ability to sustain more fishes improves as the colonies of beneficial bacteria increase.
Because the speed of aquarium cycling depends on how quickly bacterial colonies grow, fishkeeping experts suggest several ways to rapidly proliferate bacteria. The most common method is to migrate bacterial colonies from disease-free established aquariums by moving gravel, décor, or filter media to the new tank.
If migrating established bacterial colonies from existing tanks is not feasible, there is always the “canned bacteria” option. Preserved nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria can be purchased from reputable fish hobby vendors. Some providers claim that their bottled bacteria colonies can jumpstart the cycling process as well as revitalize a failing or overstocked aquarium.
Another bacteria-proliferation option is the EcoBio-Block Family Products. These porous volcanic stones are mineral-rich and imbedded with a type of beneficial bacteria called “bacillus subtilis natto” from Japan. These bacteria, which multiply every half hour, perform the nitrification process required for a stable fish tank, effectively degrading organic matter and making the tank clear and odor-free. Bacteria-rich EcoBio-Block products are used to speed up cycling and maintain a clear and healthy tank for years.
Undoubtedly, setting up a fish tank involves not just acquiring an aquarium setup but also growing and sustaining large colonies of beneficial bacteria to render the water habitable to aquatic pets. Whether the bacteria colonies are from a friend’s tank, the bottled variety, or the EcoBio-Block strain, as long as they are fed, aerated, and prolific, they will do their job to ensure the health and success of the fish community in their environment.
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March 3, 2009 at 9:13 PM