The Use of Probiotics in Aquaculture

Ulu

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Reading over my post here it might seem that I am a little gung ho on this business. Well it’s true, so I have to be careful that I don’t give you the wrong impression.

Because this product has helped my tanks does not mean that it has made them maintenance free. My tanks are packed full of fake plants and real rocks and lots of gravel. I spend a lot of time siphoning the gravel and keeping things clean.

So there’s no magic bullet here folks. This stuff is a definite assistance in keeping the tank fresh. It doesn’t replace maintenance or water changes.

I noticed a lot of monster fishkeepers have very austere tanks. Part of it is just the style, which is popular. Otherwise, it saves a lot of labor.
 
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RD.

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Agreed, it's just another tool in the tool box, but one that I am certainly glad that I pursued years ago.
 

jjohnwm

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I've been working my way through this thread for awhile now, and look forward to trying this idea out myself. In my case, I don't really have visible "sludge" in my tanks, and I vacuum the bottom of my sumps periodically to remove what settles there, but I have a couple of wet/dry filters of the type we used to call "trickle" filters, strictly DIY. My design didn't really take into consideration ease of access to the "tower" portion of the filter, and the media isn't visible except when I remove/rinse/replace the mechanical media at the top and look down inside there.

i'm not having problems, the filter seems to work as planned. But that media (a tightly packed mass of shotgun shell plastic wads) is now uniformly brown and coated with brown sludge which I have always assumed is mostly bacterial film. The OCD in me...never far from the top!...wonders if the use of these probiotics would remove that brown schmutz from the media? Right now, the water trickling through the vertical column periodically breaks off or dislodges pieces of this crap and carries it down to the sump, where it tends to settle on the bottom and is easily removed. This has also prompted me to utilize a final mechanical stage of filtration just ahead of the pump returning water to the tank itself.

The system works for me, I've been using it for years with good success...so it's not that I need to use the probiotics as much as that I want to add this refinement as a performance "tweak". And, honestly, the actual implementation of something like this makes me uneasy; adding almost anything to my water makes me a bit uneasy. I'll be retiring in the new year, so believe it or not I am delaying this experiment until I am home full-time to monitor it for the first few months at least.

I'm looking forward to it...I think...:)
 

RD.

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I initially began experimenting with septic bacteria (SeptoBac) to assist in kick starting cycles, probably 20 or so odd years ago. As long as you ensure that the products are 100% organic, biodegradable, and non-toxic, and don't contain any types of surfactants, perfumes, etc, and one doesn't go crazy adding overly excessive amounts initially, there won't be any problems. The key is to start with a product that has already been deemed organic & safe, and then start small & build your way up to whatever level of bacteria that you feel is required to meet your goal. Some people strictly use products like this to keep pathogenic bacteria in check, some to assist in feed conversion, others like myself use it to help reduce organic build up (less filter media cleaning), and I assume some use it for all of the above. Initially I was hoping it would help reduce my water changes, and stretch my filter cleaning schedule out another month or two. It has definitely helped with the latter, not so much with water changes. I just can't bring myself to reducing fresh water, even if it has helped improve overall water quality. Nothing beats clean fresh water, for a fresh water fish.

I think that results are going to vary across the masses, depending on what the persons goal is, how much product they use, and how consistent they are in adding a continuous dose of these bacteria to their system. In commercial aquaculture the results speak for themselves.
 
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RD.

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The following link was sent to me by my pal Wharf Wharf , and I wanted to share some of the info supplied in that discussion, by Dr. Tim Hovanec.
Thanks again, Matt, greatly appreciated!

Waste Away: Is it really bacterial? Or chemical? What does it do? | REEF2REEF Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum

But before we get into that, first let's look at Dr. Tim's bio.
About Dr. Tim | DrTim's Aquatics (drtimsaquatics.com)

Clearly this is a man of science, who knows his way around aquatic-based bacteria, and how they function both in nature, and in our glass boxes.
Ok, so he came into that discussion a bit hot, personally I appreciate his straight up no holds barred factual response, and I have a difficult time judging someone that is passionate, and well versed on a subject. I also have little patience for junk science, and those who promote same as facts. I doubt that was the OP's intentions, but that's pretty much what transpired. Good on Dr. Tim for taking the time to respond.

For those that don't want to read 10 pages of back & forth, some of it quite amusing, I'll do my best at posting a condensed version. Some of this info has already been posted in this topic by myself, but it was good to see Dr. Tim stating same.

Dr. Tim's Waste Away consists of several heterotrophic bacteria that he isolated from aquariums, that are good at consuming nitrate, phosphate, and degrading organics. They consist of bacteria from the Bacillus genus, and he does not consider sludge degrading bacteria such as these to be "probiotic". In the strict sense of the term, he is probably correct, even though they can have a probiotic effect on a system. If that makes any sense. Either way, I am not about to argue the point. lol

He mentions how one can get ammonia spikes under certain circumstances due to ammonia being a byproduct of organic digestion by the bacteria, as well as potential pH drops, due to hydrogen ions produced during the nitrification process.

Due to these bacteria requiring 02, one should not add them at night, when 02 levels are typically at their lowest levels, in an aquarium. In some circumstances this could result in oxygen depletion, and dead fish. It is best to add small amounts, more frequently, as heterotrophic bacteria die off relatively quickly once their food sources are consumed. He also states that just like in natural bodies of water, 100% of organics cannot be consumed by bacteria, and there will be some build up over time.

This is why one still has to export some sludge & various by-products that are left behind in our aquariums via filter cleanings, substrate vacuuming, and regular water changes. Simple enough to remove the leftovers manually in freshwater systems.

If you live in an area where the tap water is void of mineral content, you may want to consider adding some synthetic sea salt (a VERY small amount) as according to Tim sludge degrading bacteria require trace amounts of zinc, copper, manganese, cobalt, etc. My tap water contains all that & then some, so not an issue for me.

So, while IMHO his products are still way too overpriced for my use, especially compared to products such as Bio-Clean, his info certainly falls in line with what I have been stating for years, and may help put some members minds at ease that have been following this discussion, but have yet to take the leap of faith. 🙂





On a more personal note, for the past 30 days or so, I have been increasing the frequency of Bio-Clean additions in my tanks, to 2-3 times each week, instead of just once weekly, which amounts to 2-3 times total volume increase, compared to previous months/years, when I was adding 1/4 teaspoon weekly. It will be interesting to note any changes this volume & frequency of dosage makes over the months ahead.
 
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Ulu

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RD. RD. What size tanks are you treating?

Earlier I misstated that the scoop which comes with bio clean is 2 tablespoons when in fact it is only 1 tablespoon. I have thus been using 1 tablespoon per week in each 90 gallon system. I have been using two per week in the 200 gallon system.

Often I will vacuum or just stir up the gravel before I put it in, and it will look like heck, but in one day the water is crystal clear.

I have nothing bad to say about Dr. Tim’s Waste Away except that it is too expensive. It’s very easy to use and because it’s in liquid form is very easy to add it to any kind of filter. I only bought one bottle so I didn’t do any long-term testing but the immediate effects were quite evident.
 
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RD.

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Earlier I misstated that the scoop which comes with bio clean is 2 tablespoons when in fact it is only 1 tablespoon. I have thus been using 1 tablespoon per week in each 90 gallon system. I have been using two per week in the 200 gallon system.
Ok thanks. I have been treating two 125 gallon tanks, and a 90. The 90 is currently shut down, so just the two 125's. Those tanks will now be getting 1/4 teaspoon, 3 times a week, for the next several months. Less than your dosage, but I can always increase further at a later date if required. I've already posted pics of my filters from my midas tank in this thread, so I will update with new pics down the road.
 
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Ulu

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My tanks are surely more heavily stocked than yours. I’m running on the edge there.

Still I might be using more than necessary. It might be better to use many small doses , or large infrequent “shocking” doses may be better. I haven’t paid enough attention to the water chemistry to figure that out.

But this stuff is $25/lb so not free by any means, yet cheap enough to experiment with.

The one thing that I have wanted to try is to see how the stuff would work with mystery snails. I was raising quite a lot of them at one time but then I lost mine due to a shocking change in our water quality.
 

RD.

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Still I might be using more than necessary. It might be better to use many small doses , or large infrequent “shocking” doses may be better. I haven’t paid enough attention to the water chemistry to figure that out.
It is best to add small amounts, more frequently, as heterotrophic bacteria die off relatively quickly once their food sources are consumed.
I agree with Dr. Tim, I feel it is better to keep a steady level, than adding large amounts, once a week, or bi-weekly, as some manufacturers suggest for maintenance purposes. There really isn't any "shock" value that will be achieved, either the bacteria are actively breaking down sludge, or they are consuming each other until their numbers no longer exist. I'm trying to keep a stable quantity in my tanks, always working in the background. The rest of the by-products are removed weekly via a large water change. Almost a decade in now, so far so good.



My tanks are surely more heavily stocked than yours. I’m running on the edge there.

Yes, most likely. My one tank has 4 adult clown loaches, ranging in approx. size from 5-8", and 2 cichlids in the 8-9" range.
The other 125 has a single large cichlid, a 13-14" male midas.
 
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