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has anyone used this to cycle a tank? i don't believe bacteria can instantly grow in 4 days like the featured article says...kind of objecting to it's claims as a front page article! --Cat 11:38, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

When I start a new tank I seed the filter with material from and old tank and transfer some plants and I get less then a week-long cycle as long as I keep them (the bacteria) well fed. I don't doubt it can do that, but I suspect a 4day cycle from a bottle is due to the bottle containing more then just bacteria. --Brian 12:01, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

i seed from other tanks too, but for a beginner with no old tank or old filter media, could this be offering false hope? --Cat 12:05, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

IMHO If they actaully are reading about ways to speed up a cycle, then they know of the cycle and it puts them way ahead of the game for newbies. --Brian 12:53, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

I use SafeStart all the time

This product does work.

The bacteria is present in huge numbers in the bottle and gets down to work right away. Other products like golden oldie 'Cycle' didn't really work as they're based on the wrong species of bacteria! Though I should say that the makers of Cycle had to finally change their formula this month as the more advanced products do allow you to put fish in immediately. Cycle can't claim that. In fact Cycle doesn't claim any time scale!

The Scientist, Dr. Tim Hovanec, who invented SafeStart (really Bio-Spira) has moved on and invented 'One and Only' which is slightly better than SafeStart. Stability by SeaChem works too. I've used this as well. I set up all my tanks with these products and have never lost a fish.

If you read the Beginners article I mention a high-tech method which combines one of these modern seeding bottles with Prime or Awquel+. If a beginner over stocks/overfeeds their new tank then not even the bacteria-in-a-bottle will save the animal. But having a Ammonia and Nitrite neutraliser liquid in the water means its very hard for the Owner to mess things up.

If you want to read more about this subject then you've missed the fantastic articles there was on the MarineLand web site before they got bought out by Tetra. But luckily these have been archived by IAWM.

You have read my article? - Bacteria bottles, do they work?.  :-)

--Quatermass 13:14, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

i have read the article, i didn't realise safe start was bio spira, i have heard more positive things towards bio spira. maybe we should have a cycle race (hehe), bottled bacteria vs fish vs pure ammonia vs fish food/shrimp vs seeded, see which cycles first! --Cat 13:36, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

No Contest

It's a no-brainer. Do it the AquariumWiki way and you can set up a tank with all brand new equipment and put fish in it in less than 3 hours and the animals don't suffer at all. The length of time it takes to cycle becomes irrelevent. :-)

--Quatermass 15:18, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

i still wouldn't do it that way, mainly because very few fish thrive in "new" tanks anyway heh. i'm going to stick to my cloning and waiting 3 weeks for it to establish properly, i still find it difficult to believe that all the bacteria needed to successfully eat up the nasties can be instantly added to the media. even when i did use bio spira back in the day when i had new tanks it still took a long while for all the levels in the water to read right. --Cat 15:25, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

How does it work?

Can someone explain how bacteria can survive in a bottle for a whole year without being fed? Do they go into a dormant phase or something? This product just does not pass the logic test. Bulrush 14:17, 30 October 2008 (UTC)


If you go to the One and Only web site, you'll find articles about this.

I quote from Dr. Tim's web site:

"A common misconception about bacteria in general is that they die if they are not fed.
From a human being point of view this sounds perfectly reasonable: if you don’t eat, you die. However, bacteria are not human beings. Bacteria operate much differently than people and have a variety of ways to deal with those times when resources are not available for them to grow and reproduce.

Some bacteria when stressed (from say lack of nutrients) form spores and go into a resting stage waiting for conditions to improve. Nitrifiers do not form spores but have other mechanisms to deal with nutrient deficient periods. For nitrifiers, one way to deal with stressful conditions is to forming a protective ‘shield” called EPS.

EPS stands for extracellular polymeric substances and is, in simplistic terms, an organic protective shield that research shows inhibits various organisms from attacking and breaking open the cell wall of nitrifiers. Nitrifiers belong to a very old line of bacteria (millions of years) and they have developed ways to cope with very long periods of “drought”. Because the nitrifiers in DrTim’s One & Only are grown on a substrate they can form EPS when needed and last 6 to 12 months in a bottle."

This explains why when I switched off my large filter overnight (like I did by accident last week) my nitrifying bacteria didn't all die on me. Just briefly rested I suppose. The next day the water quality of my tank was fine. I was surprised at the time.

I personally don't believe SafeStart uses this EPS method. It seems to be based on Bio-Spira and that used a nitrogen source and low temperatures to keep the bacteria alive. SafeStart just doesn't care to mention this little useful fact to get extra life out of it.

Also let's be clear, after 12 months don't expect to find in the 'One and Only' bottle the same amount of bacteria you'd find in it from day one. Some bacterial losses are inevitable. --Quatermass 16:19, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

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