Dr Timothy Hovanec's comments about Bacterial supplements

Geoffrey Rea

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dw1305

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Hi all,
Can we get this put on a plaque Darrel?
It would be useful, but I'm not sure where it could go, or how many people would read it.

We just need to keep on replying to posts, compiling scientific references, web posts etc. and hopefully eventually people will start to take more notice. What we aren't going to have, on the forum, is many people who use ammonia based cycling without subsequently planting their tank, but database of successes, and failures, using the different approaches would be really helpful, particularly with a photo of <"the good">, the bad and <"the ugly">.

cheers Darrel
 
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Oldguy

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Some thoughts:

It is very difficult to run tests on living systems which only change one variable at a time, see the thread on dosing with ammonia and urea.

We live in a world that wants instant results and there are plenty of businesses based on supplying such aspirations. Stuff in a bottle can make money if promoted. Just try to remember that the bottle is often the most expensive part of the product.

Instant results have moved the aquatic trade into selling 'total kits' - tank, stand, heater, filter, lights etc. all bundled at a total price which is less than the sum of trying to purchase the items individually. Fish & plants on a credit note and the total price available via a finance plan.

Yes there is a market desire for fast cycling, the kids are jumping up and down for a bag of fish. I assume microbes in a bottle work, but I have short arms and deep pockets. A bit of garden soil is free and plants are both nice and work and I can only spend my money once.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
It is very difficult to run tests on living systems which only change one variable at a time
Yes, point taken, it is never going to be <"definitive proof">, but it might give us a bit more idea.
We live in a world that wants instant results and there are plenty of businesses based on supplying such aspirations. Stuff in a bottle can make money if promoted. Just try to remember that the bottle is often the most expensive part of the product.
Very much <"my point of view">, it is back to the worlds <"most expensive water contest">.
I assume microbes in a bottle work
I think we can take Dr Hovanec's reply at face value, so <"Freshwater -One and Only"> and probably <"Tetra Safestart"> will work, other supplements might not.

cheers Darrel
 

jaypeecee

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Hi Folks,

It was out of sheer necessity that I had to dig into the science behind cycling tanks quickly and successfully. I once found myself with a potential spawning of German Blue Rams. It had happened before and I'd lost all the fry. I was determined not to let it happen again. So, I set up a new tank and successfully cycled it in just six days. In that tank, I raised 41 beautiful GBR fry through to juveniles. I used Tetra SafeStart, without which chances of success were negligible.

I agree with everything that's been said about planted tanks and the microbe assemblage that builds up over time. But, there are times in the aquatics hobby when we need a safety net. Think of the times when newcomers to planted tanks run into serious problems with algae and cyano growth, for example. Sometimes, it means a restart. Now, if there are fish and other inhabitants in that tank, it may be necessary to set up a quarantine as an emergency. That's one scenario in which people may be thankful for bottled critters.

Finally, I would like to add that I feel like a one-man band against an army of opponents. I don't appear to have many supporters. Or, am I just being over-sensitive?

JPC
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @dw1305
I think we can take Dr Hovanec's reply at face value, so <"Freshwater -One and Only"> and probably <"Tetra Safestart"> will work, other supplements might not.
It's a shame when we cannot put some trust in what others have been saying all along. It's disheartening. I've suggested Tetra SafeStart many times and it's invariably been swept aside. Obviously, I have little credibility.

JPC
 
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Zeus.

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It's a shame when we cannot put some trust in what others have been saying all along. It's disheartening.
But sometimes/mostly no body knows the truth and its all based upon opinions/theories and unless there is a absolute definitive answers we should be questioning (with respect) the opinions/theories of others/experts alike
 

lilirose

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Finally, I would like to add that I feel like a one-man band against an army of opponents. I don't appear to have many supporters. Or, am I just being over-sensitive?
Well, not entirely. I don't feel that Tetra SafeStart actually makes a tank safe for fish immediately, but it can definitely jump-start a "cycle", and having a "cycled" filter does appear to prevent "new tank syndrome" in my experience- if I have a "cycled" filter, I can put it into a brand new tank and stock it immediately without losing fish to ammonia poisoning.

I use sponge filtration exclusively in all of my tanks (one has a hybrid HMF, but that's just a fancy name for "gigantic sponge filter"). My procedure when I get a new sponge filter is to fishless cycle it in a 20l bucket with Tetra SafeStart and ammonia. When the cycle completes- determined via the test kit method that is disliked here- I then add it to a tank, and have never had a problem with stocking the tank straightaway. I used to do fishless cycling with ammonia in planted tanks, but after suffering a massive melt of about €100 of anubias, I realised that cycling with ammonia is pretty rough on plants.

When I got into planted tanks, I was first enamoured of the idea of going filterless, but it seemed safer to have the insurance that a sponge filter provides. I have never lost a fish to ammonia poisoning when using this method.

I get what Darrel says about the filter being a single point of failure, but I don't feel that it applies here, as the filters all go into planted tanks. They are part of a system that includes the plants and the substrate, and that system works beautifully for me.

Also, when I used Tetra SafeStart, the process took about three weeks. I just finished one in which I used Seachem Stability, and it took more than six weeks (but it cycled eventually). Now I have a much better understanding of why this recent one took so long to finish!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
It's a shame when we cannot put some trust in what others have been saying all along. It's disheartening. I've suggested Tetra SafeStart many times and it's invariably been swept aside. Obviously, I have little credibility.
No, I honestly don't think so. In fact without your input we wouldn't have had this thread, or Dr Hovanec's comments, which I hope have proved really illuminating.

Tetra "Safestart" and "One and only" are the supplements <"we've positively mentioned in the past">. If you don't have plants you are reliant on cycling the filter and, following this thread,my advice would really be your advice, once of those two supplements and an ammonia addition of less than 5 ppm ammonia. I don't want people to keep fish in tanks without plants (although the plants don't have to be physically in the tank with the fish, they just need to be in the same system). If we are in the realms of non-planted tanks then you really don't have much choice.
I used to do fishless cycling with ammonia in planted tanks, but after suffering a massive melt of about €100 of anubias, I realised that cycling with ammonia is pretty rough on plants.
It might be an Anubias issue, have a look at <"My unfortunate...."> you have to read forward seven years to find who dun it.
I get what Darrel says about the filter being a single point of failure, but I don't feel that it applies here, as the filters all go into planted tanks. They are part of a system that includes the plants and the substrate, and that system works beautifully for me.
Point taken, it isn't, as soon as you have plants and a substrate you have plant/microbe biofiltration, and a much more robust and resilient system.
When I got into planted tanks, I was first enamoured of the idea of going filterless, but it seemed safer to have the insurance that a sponge filter provides.
I <"always have a filter"> and I'm a great fan of sponge filters.

I've never seen plants as an <"alternative to water changes and filters">, they definitely have a synergistic effect, where the sum is greater than the parts.

cheers Darrel
 
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lilirose

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I've never seen plants as an <"alternative to water changes and filters">, they definitely have a synergistic effect, where the sum is greater than the parts.
My original plans for a filterless planted tank were inspired by a wildly popular YouTuber, Foo the Flowerhorn, who has a couple of 5 gallon filterless planted Walstad tanks, of which he posts regular updates- the original one has been running for 30 months now. He does regular water changes, however.

I'm glad I didn't decide to copy him fully and skip the filter. A few months ago he posted a video consisting of snapshots he was sent of filterless tanks his subscribers have set up. There are some that look as good as a high-tech tank, and others with very low plant mass in which the inhabitants (both plant and animal) looked very sad indeed.
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @lilirose
Also, when I used Tetra SafeStart, the process took about three weeks. I just finished one in which I used Seachem Stability, and it took more than six weeks (but it cycled eventually). Now I have a much better understanding of why this recent one took so long to finish!
Good to get your feedback and good to know that I'm not on my own!

In order for the bacteria to multiply, attention must be paid to:

pH, KH, minerals in the water (particularly phosphorus), temperature and aeration

All of the above are critically important. You may already know that.

JPC
 

lilirose

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Hi @lilirose


Good to get your feedback and good to know that I'm not on my own!

In order for the bacteria to multiply, attention must be paid to:

pH, KH, minerals in the water (particularly phosphorus), temperature and aeration

All of the above are critically important. You may already know that.
Could you be more specific as to what effect you feel the above has on the process of cycling a filter?

I use remineralised RO water, and when doing a "bucket cycle", I have mixed the water to various hardness, though nothing over the 200ppm I use in Neocaridina breeding tanks. I've also done a bucket cycle with water mixed to 6 degrees GH but zero KH- this one intended for Caridina (I eventually got Crystal Black shrimp).

I suppose that my RO water is unlikely to contain any phosphorus, as I haven't added any. I have no idea how its presence or absence might affect things.

I don't feel that the pH is all that important, though as I mix my water, I never see a pH above 7.4, and I've seen drops as low as 6.2, so if your concern is a high pH, I have no experience there.

When the last "filtered bucket" was cycling much more slowly than the previous ones, I added four Indian almond leaves. I never actually tested the pH on that because, in my mind, it was not relevant- but in the very closed system consisting of a bucket and a filter with no water changes, I'd assume that the pH must have dropped when I added the IAL. That's also when I saw the first evidence of a traditional fishless cycle beginning- so in my experience, the Indian Almond leaves were a more effective "cycling product" than the one from SeaChem!
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @Zeus
But sometimes/mostly no body knows the truth and its all based upon opinions/theories and unless there is a absolute definitive answers we should be questioning (with respect) the opinions/theories of others/experts alike
But if someone produces factual evidence that something happens when something is done, opinions and theories don't come into it, do they? If I take a cup of water and stick it in a freezer, the liquid will change to a solid. Opinions and theories as to why we are seeing rock-solid (literally) empirical evidence can follow on later. In the same way, it is easy to demonstrate that bottled bacteria isn't snake oil. Take a tank of water and add some* ammonium chloride. Now, add some bacteria. Measure ammonia, nitrite and nitrate every 24 hours and the evidence is there for all to see.

* but not too much!

JPC
 

jaypeecee

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Hi @lilirose
pH, KH, minerals in the water (particularly phosphorus), temperature and aeration
Could you be more specific as to what effect you feel the above has on the process of cycling a filter?

I use remineralised RO water, and when doing a "bucket cycle", I have mixed the water to various hardness, though nothing over the 200ppm I use in Neocaridina breeding tanks. I've also done a bucket cycle with water mixed to 6 degrees GH but zero KH- this one intended for Caridina (I eventually got Crystal Black shrimp).

I suppose that my RO water is unlikely to contain any phosphorus, as I haven't added any. I have no idea how its presence or absence might affect things.

I don't feel that the pH is all that important, though as I mix my water, I never see a pH above 7.4, and I've seen drops as low as 6.2, so if your concern is a high pH, I have no experience there.
Glad you asked.

I also use remineralized RO water in my tanks.

Taking each of the parameters, in turn:

* pH is important as most nitrifying bacteria prefer alkaline conditions in which to grow

* KH/dissolved inorganic carbon (including CO2) is important as it supplies the all-important carbon

* minerals/phosphorus is required as it's a component of something known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a building block of all living matter (as I understand it)

* temperature is important as it accelerates the bacteria growth rate. I maintain 28C - 30C.

* aeration is required as the processing of ammonia is a series of oxidation reactions, thus requiring a plentiful supply of oxygen

Hope that helps.

JPC
 

lilirose

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* pH is important as most nitrifying bacteria prefer alkaline conditions in which to grow
As my filters are mostly destined for soft water/low pH tanks, I have never provided alkaline conditions when prepping them (the Neocardina tank I mentioned had an active pH lowering substrate so it stayed around 6.6 despite mixing the water to 200ppm).

* KH/dissolved inorganic carbon (including CO2) is important as it supplies the all-important carbon
All-important for what? The plants, or the nitrifying bacteria? You asserted in another thread that the pre-made remineralisers that I use (Salty Shrimp and Aquadur) are missing important elements but that I might be okay because I add ferts to my tanks. However, when cycling a filter in a bucket, I don't add any ferts. The filters cycle just fine without them..

* minerals/phosphorus is required as it's a component of something known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a building block of all living matter (as I understand it)
If phosphorus is a requirement, it must be in the remineralising salts I use- Salty Shrimp in particular is a proprietary blend so does not list ingredients.

* temperature is important as it accelerates the bacteria growth rate. I maintain 28C - 30C.
I agree. I actually crank the temperature up to 32C when bucket-cycling a filter.

* aeration is required as the processing of ammonia is a series of oxidation reactions, thus requiring a plentiful supply of oxygen
Of course- a sponge filter has to be hooked up to an air pump or it is just a sponge, and not a filter.
 
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