Preferences of Nitrifying Bacteria

TurboStart® 700 and 900 both contain 15 times the cell count per ounce than that of the FritzZyme® formulas and must be kept refrigerated until used. Use TurboStart® whenever sensitive fish or invertebrates are living in the tank, when stress is seen in the animals or when levels are above 1 ppm. TurboStart® users have cited the elimination of ammonia and nitrite in as little as 36 hours; standard dosages fully cycle systems (with up to 3 ppm ammonia) in less than five days. Experienced hobbyists can begin with beautiful, sensitive fish. New hobbyists should start with starter fish and can successfully add sensitive fish much sooner. As ammonia increases, the Nitrosomonas/Nitrosococcus populations will multiply, decreasing the ammonia level and causing the nitrite to rise. The Nitrobacter/Nitrococcus populations will then increase, eliminating the nitrite.

Medication & Nitrifying Bacteria

Nitrifying bacteria are gram (-) rods up to 2 microns long; most pathogens are also gram (-). Most antibiotics equally affect both nitrifiers and pathogens. Other inhibitory chemicals include formalin, formaldehyde, chlorine, chloramine, malachite green, methylene blue, acriflavine, disinfectants (ex: Windex™), copper (at 0.20 mg/L or higher), potassium permanganate and chloroquine. Always perform a 30% water change and add fresh Fritz Carbon after using any of these chemicals to assure residual by-products have been removed. Then add FritzZyme® Nitrifying Bacteria products to re-introduce nitrifiers.

Chemical Ammonia Removers & Nitrifiers

Ammonia removers must be examined on a case-by-case basis since different formulations pose different risks. Avoid any containing formalin- whether you are cycling or not. Formalin (a form of formaldehyde) is inhibitory to nitrifiers already established in the filter, as well as those contained in both FritzZyme® and TurboStart®. Many ammonia removers drop pH; others are loaded with phosphates. If your tap water contains chloramine (chlorine bonded to ammonia), you should use FritzGuard® and follow with the immediate addition of Fritz A.C.C.R. (Chlorine, Chloramine & Ammonia Remover).

UV Sterilizers, Protein Skimmers & Ozone Generators

Nitrifiers prefer to remain attached to the filter after the initial inoculation, which takes approximately five days depending on temperatures. Until attached, the bacteria are in danger of being removed via mechanical/chemical filtration equipment. Turn off UV sterilizers, ozone generators, protein skimmers and remove sub-micron mechanical filter media (5 microns or less) before adding bacteria. Allow five days before turning them back on.

Temperature & Salinity

It is best practice to cycle all systems within the optimal range of 77-86°F. After cycling, cold water tanks can be safely lowered slowly over several days. If systems cannot be cycled within this range, use double the standard dosage. In colder temperatures, expect cycling to take slightly more time. Nitrobacter/Nitrococcus are more sensitive to low temperatures, thus cold water tanks are more likely to develop nitrite problems. Freshwater nitrifiers are tolerant of salinities (salt levels) of 0 – 20 PPT while saltwater nitrifiers prefer salinities ranging from 20 – 44 PPT.

pH and Alkalinity while cycling

Due to the pH preferences of their nitrifying bacteria, fresh and saltwater systems differ in their tendencies to accumulate ammonia/nitrite. Marine hobbyists should pay particular attention to nitrite levels while cycling, and freshwater hobbyists should watch for ammonia. The stability of the pH is incredibly important to the bacteria. Through nitrification, a decrease in bicarbonates and an increase in carbon dioxide occurs, lowering the pH. If alkalinity is initially low, the pH swing can be large. Initial bicarb levels of 100-200 mg/L are desirable.

Dissolved Oxygen

Below 2-3 mg/L of dissolved oxygen (DO), nitrification won’t occur. Complete oxidation of ammonia requires 4.57 mg. oxygen per 1 mg. ammonia. For best results, D.O. levels should be above 80% saturation (at least 6 mg/L). Nitrobacter/Nitrococcus are very sensitive to low D.O. levels; at low D.O. levels, nitrite problems begin. Bio-filters often accumulate sludge, restricting flow through parts of the filter; this is called channeling. Channeling cultivates anaerobic bacteria, produces toxic compounds and inhibits nitrifiers. Frequently adding beneficial heterotrophic bacteria “tank-cleaners” as found in FritzZyme® 360 Freshwater Aquarium Cleaner and FritzZyme® 460 Saltwater Aquarium Cleaner will eliminate these pockets of sludge and prevent anaerobic areas in both the filter and gravel.

Odor and Appearance

Nitrifiers have a slightly earthy smell and are rosy to dark brown in color. Batches vary slightly in color and odor. Neither color nor odor are indicative of the viability of culture. Each batch is individually tested and must pass quality control before shipping. Always use before expiration date printed on bottle.

Back to Articles