Newly set up aquariums lack established bacterial colonies that neutralize wastes. Often his break-in cycle is harmful, or even lethal, to the fish. To help jump start the process, and shorten the duration, biological aids are often used. Established tanks can sometimes benefit from the use of biological supplements as well. This list includes biological aids currently available for freshwater aquariums. The list is in alphabetical order, and not ranked by product effectiveness.
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Quick Start is composed of nitrifying bacteria that will help minimize the effects of new tank syndrome. Although sometimes marketed as immediately cycling the aquarium, that claim is somewhat misleading. While it will certainly limit ammonia and nitrite spikes, it does not completely eliminate them, nor does it immediately establish a stable bacterial balance. Therefore it is important to monitor both ammonia and nitrites during the start-up period of a new aquairum to ensure levels do not reach dangerous levels. It will also be necessary to continue adding Quick Start until the tank is full stable. It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, and has a lengthy shelf life that does not require refrigeration. Comes in 1 ounce, 4 ounce, 8 ounce and 16 ounce bottles. A 16 ounce bottle will treat up to 470 gallons of aquarium water.
Everything in the ATM product line is produced by the stars of Animal Planet’s reality show “Tanked”. The Outbreak product contains nitrifying bacteria, and is intended to be used on an ongoing basis during aquarium maintenance. Two formulas are offered, one for freshwater and one for saltwater. One 16 ounce bottle treats 320 gallons of water. I haven't used this product myself, nor have I received any reviews from others. It appears to be similar to other nitrifying bacteria products, and should be used with the same limitations, meaning continue to perform water tests to ensure toxins are not rising.
One and Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria is another product that claims to work instantly to remove toxic ammonia and nitrite, thus preventing new tank syndrome. Although it will aid in the process, do not assume it will instantly cycle your aquarium. It is recommended that the entire bottle be used at one time, and package directions should be followed closely. I've found this to be as effective as any product. However, there still will be a period of time before a newly setup aquarium has achieved fully stable biological colonies, no matter what product is used. Comes in 2 ounce, 4 ounce, and 8 ounce bottles. Two ounces will treat up to 30 gallons of water.
EcoBio stone is an interesting approach to an age old problem, cloudy water. Because cloudy water has multiple causes, no single product is going to work in every case. However a number of customers have reported good results in a new aquarium with the the EcoBio, which is geared for cloudy water due to bacterial blossom. The premise is that it comes impregnated with nitrifying bacteria tat rapidly colonize the porous material of the stone once it has been placed in the aquarium water. Additionally, beneficial trace minerals and calcium leech out of the stone into the water. The stone is quite pricey, so if your budget is tight, I'd opt for a less expensive biological supplement. But if your budget allows, it's an interesting item to try out.
Bacter Vital is part of the Marc Weiss "vital" product line. Formulated for both freshwater and saltwater, Bacter Vital contains trace minerals, vitamins, as well as biologicals. It also binds heavy metals and ammonia. I've used other Marc Weiss products, and found them to be good. As with any biological, don't discontinue monitoring the ammonia and nitrite levels in your tank. Even though biological supplements help, then do not instantly cycle the tank.
Composed of a proprietary blend of enzymes and beneficial bacteria, Brightwells Aquatics MicroBacter7 is formulated to reduce organic waste and support biological filtration. It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater tank. Reduces hydrogen sulfide production and increases in dissolved oxygen concentration. Available in 250 ml, 500 ml, and 2 L sizes. Can be kept at room temperature, but will last longer if kept in a cool area.
Composed of natural beneficial bacteria, this liquid bacterial additive helps minimize ammonia spikes, while also removing chlorines and chloramines.Comes in an 8 ounce and 16 ounce bottle. The 16 ounce bottle treats up to 1,900 gallons of aquarium water. One of the lower priced biological supplements available.
Produced by Tropical Science, Nitromax Fresh is a highly concentrated blend of nitrifying bacteria. The product is viable for up to nine months after opened, but should be refrigerated once it has been opened. One teaspoon per 10 gallons is recommended, until ammonia levels have fallen. Comes in a 14.5 ounce bottle that will treat 860 gallons of water.
Produced by Hagen, Nutrafin Cycle is a proprietary bacterial formulation that helps speed up maturation of a new aquarium, and enhances established biological filters. Has a guaranteed shelf life of three years, and is safe for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.Comes in and 8 ounce size that treats 470 gallons and a 16 ounce size that treats 16 fl oz treats 972 gallons.
Seachem Stability is formulated with a blend of aerobic, and anaerobic beneficial bacteria to aid in the rapid stabilization of a newly set up aquarium. It is safe for use in both freshwater and marine systems, as well as with plants and all aquatic organisms. 5 ml will treat 10 gallons of water in new aquariums and 20 gallons of water in established aquariums. Comes in 50 ml 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 L, 2L, and 4L bottles.
Marketed as AquaSafe and SafeStart, this Tetra product accelerates the establishment of the bacterial bed. It also conditions tap water, neutralizing chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals, and contains a component to enhance the slime coat of the fish. Comes in two sizes, the 3.38 ounce sizes treats 30 gallons, while the 8.45 ounce sizes treats 75 gallons.