Using bacteria in your aquarium is a lot more beneficial for your plants and fish than it sounds. Murky water from fish waste and plant debris is an inevitable part of maintaining an aquarium, something that the best filtering systems simply can not prevent.
Sure, you can clean your tank out more frequently and perform partial and full water changes more often than necessary, but what if there was a ‘cheat’ way of keeping the water clean available?
That is where bacteria supplements come in. These are beneficial bacteria that do a lot of the work in your tank’s favor by breaking down dirt and debris from both fish and plants, keeping the water clearer and free of toxins not only for your enjoyment but for your fish benefits, too.
Before we jump into the product review, let’s talk about how to be certain you are choosing the right aquarium bacteria for your tank. This sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong!
There are so many factors involved in choosing the right bacteria for your tank but don’t worry, that is where we come in. We are going to look at some of the things you will need to consider before committing to a particular aquarium bacteria. So let’s get started.
Is This a New Tank?
Have you decided what kind of aquarium you are going to be set up? If not, you will need to consider your options between saltwater, freshwater, or coldwater aquarium. Fish in these three categories can not be mixed together in a tank as they all have different water requirements. Do a bit of background research first, if you are unsure.
One of the biggest deciding factors when picking an aquarium is how the fish look. For example, Betta is a freshwater tropical fish and comes in a variety of colors. Most strikingly is that they have a long and flowy tail that swishes around in the water. If that sounds like the kind of fish you are seeking then go for a freshwater tank.
How Big Is Your Tank?
This is not necessarily important when it comes to what brand of aquarium bacteria you buy, but it is important when it comes to how much you use. If you are new to using bacteria in your aquarium, you may assume the dosage suggestions on the packet are appropriate for all aquarium sizes.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you inadvertently overdose the tank with bacteria you may find that your fish will become ill. Similarly, using too little bacteria will take longer to achieve the results you are after.
Where Are You Putting the Tank?
Location, location, location…place the aquarium in a brightly lit room, or in direct sunlight will stress the fish. If you have an aquarium that is full of plants and is actually fish-free, the plants may not grow as fast as you would like with too much sunlight.
It is also important that the room they are kept in is quiet and not full of distractions. Fish don’t like loud noises or having their tank poked or tapped. Being subjected to these conditions will cause them to get depressed, may even die regardless of how well you maintain the tank.
Knowing When to Add Bacteria Supplements
You will find that your tank will need bacteria added to it quite frequently and regularly. Remember the four main occasions to add the bacteria and why it is important and you will be well on the way to maintaining a happy, healthy aquarium. Here are the key times to add bacteria supplements and the main reasons why.
Cycling a New Aquarium
When you first set up your aquarium, it will be a few days, maybe even weeks before you can add your fish to a new tank. This is because the tank needs to cycle first. Cycling your tank basically means that you are creating an environment as close to what the fish will find in their natural habitats.
Fish create a lot of toxins that are harmful to them if these toxins stay in the water for long periods of time. Your tank will be fully cycled when there are bacteria present in your filter that naturally convert ammonia into nitrite, then from nitrite into nitrate. Only once this process has happened the tank will be livable for your fish and you won’t run the risk of “new tank syndrome.” Using aquarium bacteria supplements will speed up this process and introduce the right kind of neutralizing bacteria into the tank.
New Tank Syndrome: When fish get sick or die due to the build-up of harmful toxins in the tank. This usually happens when an aquarium is new and the fish are placed in the tank before there is enough build-up of ammonia fighting bacteria that create a fish-friendly environment.
Adding New Fish
If you are looking to introduce new fish into your established tank, you should add a few drops of bacteria supplements to make the process less stressful for the fish. Because the more fish in the tank, the more gases they release into the water and the more waste in the water that needs to be decomposed. Failure to add additional supplements may result in ammonia peaking, waste settling, and rotting in the tank.
When you are doing partial water changes, you are removing 20% or 30% of very stable water in your tank. The new water you are adding won’t be at the right PH level for your fish. The water may be too hard or full of chlorine if it came from the tap. Therefore you will need the tank to cycle once again and bacteria supplements will help this process along.
Medicating Your Fish
If your fish are sick, there is no other option than to give them antibiotics. You can do this via the fish food or antibiotic drops in the water. The medication causes a little bit of havoc with the good bacteria present in the water. The antibiotics not only kill off any diseases present, but they also kill the healthy bacteria that you have worked so hard to build up in the tank.
Now that you know when to use your aquarium bacteria and why it is important, we can start looking at the best bacteria supplements available. Here are the top 10 supplements out there with a breakdown of their features, what we think is great about them, and what we don’t like about them.