Bio Spira is bunk!

This past weekend, I was able to jumpstart a filter in two days with Turbo Start. You may have to add phosphate based buffers to get a KH above 80. The Doc has composed a method of getting Turbo Start to work, which can be found on the fritzpet website. The product is about $100 after the icepacks and overnight shipping, but it’s enough to treat 700 USG, and, I think you can get smaller bottles.

I tried my hand with Biospira from Marineland, and had no luck at all. My amonia was less than 1ppm, and more than two weeks after adding four times the suggested amount of biospira, the only thing that had changed is that the amonia had gome up to 2ppm. Marineland writes that there will be a short stint of amonia less than 1ppm for a couple of days, so I do not believe that the Biospira was simply running behind, and could not catch up with my amonia. More likely the bacteria had just expired, plain and simple. Marineland does not indicate an expiration date, but they make the claim that Bio Spira is viable for 1 year if kept cold, and 6 months if kept at room temp… Turbo Start only claims 3 months if kept cold. Both are simply bacteria and water, and both need carbonates and some phosphates to get properly established. Most old tanks have enough existing phosphates to support the bacteria, but virgin water may need to have some added in the form of a Ph buffer.

No doubt, the best way to seed any filter is with media from an established filter, but this could result in pathogens entering a clean system. I’ve looked far and wide, and the ONLY bacteria product I have found that works is Turbo Start. In my oppinion, the rest are snake oil. I’m sure fresh Bio Spria will work if you can get enough of it, but keeping bacteria alive in a bottle for 1 year… It seems Marineland is claiming their products can do things they simply can’t do. I admit I have not tried all of them out there, but I would run away from any bacteria in a bottle that A) does not need to be kept cold, and B) does not indicate an expiration date.

The stuff comes overnight packed in a cooler with cold packs, and it cycles WICKED FAST!!!! Make sure to read Erik Jhonson’s article on getting the stuff working. I was able to learn things about biofiltration from this article that I’d found no place else!

My test with was not done using the scientific method. I needed a tank cycled, and this stuff did it where others had failed. Is there a chance that Turbo Start is bunk, and it just so happened that the BioSpira I added more than two weeks earlier started working a couple of hours after I added the Turbo Start? Sure, but I’m not buying it! Still, that is the type of thing only scientific controls can rule out. I have a lot of TS left over, and I will be repeating the test with measures of control in place when I get my new koi home in a couple of weeks. I will publish the results. Who knows… I may be wrong… I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.


Nitrifying bacteria division in cold water >

37 thoughts on “Bio Spira is bunk!

  1. What tester did you use? If you used a Nessler reagent, you will test false positive. Marineland products specifically state you need to use a salicylate reagent. Also, if you use AmQuel, you will skew the results for Bio-Spira, you need to use Bio-Coat or Bio-Coat.

    I have used it frequently successfully to setup new tanks and have had no problems at all.

  2. First, let’s face facts. Nitrosonomas oxidize (reduce) ammonia. Nitrobacter oxidizes (reduces) NitrItes. Period. Marineland can say what they will, but countless studies have proven this. The only person saying otherwise is paid by Marineland.

    I am also wondering exactly how the type of test, or the use of Amquel have anything whatever to do with the bacteria’s ability to oxidize nitrogen? Granted, you must use a salicylate reagent test for “bound” (Amquiled) ammonia, but bound ammonia is still usable by Nitrosonomas, and thus not able to skew the results of the BioSpira test. Salt, or a low temps would slow down the division of Nirtobacter, but that’s another matter.

    Note: I used nothing other than dechlor and BioSpira. The tank temp was kept at 76*F.
    BioSpira totally failed to reduce nitrogen level. I do, however, understand that is has worked for others. Thus, I attribute its failure to one of two things:

    1) The BioSpira I used had expired. Difficult to say, since Marineland stubbornly refuses to put an expiration date on the product.
    2) I did not have enough phosphate buffer (KH) in my water for the bacteria to divide properly.

    Either way, in order for its customers to have a positive experience, Marineland needs to do two things:

    1) They need to start putting reasonable expiration dates on the packaging. I simply do not buy that their bacteria will live for 1 year in a package.

    2) They need to include some instructions for how to actually use the product. The bacteria are alive. They have feelings, and you can kill them. Your water needs to have enough KH to support bacteria division before you pour it in.

  3. Um, I’m confused. You Bio-Spira IS Notrosonomas and Notrobacter. You seem to indicate Marineland says something else. Also you say Bio-Spira failed to reduce nitrogen levels. I would hope they don’t REDUCE nitrogen levels, only ammonia. Phospate levels to allow bacteria to divide? Where the f*** is THAT from?

  4. First:

    Marineland thinks Nitrospira is the Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria in Aquaria.

    They Also think Nirtrospira oxidizes NitrIte.

    These links should clear up the confusion on this one. Marineland is inventing biology so that they can patent it.

    Ammonia and NitrIte are both types of Nitrogen. By saying “BioSpira totally failed to reduce nitrogen level”, it was simply a shorter way of stating BioSpira totally failed to reduce Ammonia and NitrIte levels. This is why our filter bacteria is called nitrifying bactera.

    Finally, as for phosphate levels (or KH levels) helping nitrifying bacteria divide, Here is an article that will help explain things.

  5. The key words left out of the prior discussions are: “nitrifying bacteria in freshwater aquariums”!!
    It is clearly pointed out in the Marineland studies that the previously-thought nitrifying bacteria are NOT the ones actually present in a freshwater aquarium!! They are nitrospira and nitrosospira strains when actually working in a aquarium environment as opposed to performing in a lab test.
    Bio-spira, which is the patented use of nitrospira and nitrosospira strains in a freshwater aquarium, has been shown to perform as stated by many independent tests.
    P.S. There is also a different bacteria strain(s) available for nitrifying in a saltwater (marine) environment.

  6. Bio Spira works.

    Added with 15 fish to 60 gallon on Wednesday Evening, it’s now Monday Morning, just 4 1/2 days and Ammonia is on the decline and both Nitites and Nitrates are on the rise. It’s not 100% cycled though, i didn’t expect a 5 day turn around, but it’s looking realistic that a 7-10 day fishy cycle could be a reality, and without any dangerous spikes! I only used “Prime” to as a dechlorinator when adding the water from the tap.

    I also have a 12 gallon Eclipse that i’ve been trying to cycle for 3 weeks with no nitrite readings. Ammonia was through the roof, no nitrites or nitrates. Added about about 1/4 ounce of Bio Spira the same Wednesday evening, and it now looks to be a day or two ahead of the 60 gallon(more ammonia to work with?). I had tried gravel from an established tank after 10 days…. but it didn’t jump start until Bio Spira was added(after 20 days). Parallel this with the sucess in the 60 gallon(with Tetras, Rainbowfish and Rosbaras).. and I’m confident that Bio Spira has met and exceeded my expectations.. to this point anyway. I’ll let you know when it’s 100% cycled!

  7. Bernie,

    The only source of information you seem to be hearing is Marineland! I read the article about Nitrosonomas / Nitrobacter in saltwater too, and it seems to me that this is simply an attempt to quiet the voices of decent.

    Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Marineland has a vested interest in owning the rights to nirtifying bacteria. It is for this reason, and this reason alone that they have HIRED scientists to “confirm” that they have magically found the elusive bacteria that allows our biological filtration to work. They have not! There is a wide body of INDEPENDANT scientific reasearch that shows Nitrobacter and Nitrosonomas to be the true nitrifying bacteria in aquaria. The only person saying otherwise is a man that his HIRED by marineland. Am I the only one who sees a conflict of interest here?

  8. Cliff…
    and any others….

    Bio-spira has been on the market now and has been widely accepted by many for over 3 years now. If the product was “bunk”; I doubt that it would have attained the popularity it has over the years with many, many satisfied customers.
    There are always those who use it improperly or expect it to do things it is not designed to do;
    or simply just don’t understand the product.

    You can go to and see that the research done… it has, in fact, been endorsed and verified by a list of reputable independent scientists as well.
    The patent which Marineland (actually AquariaGroup,Inc) owns is for the use of these nitrifying bacteria (nitrospira and nitrosospira) in a closed-system aquarium environment.
    You can read more at:
    BTW, Dr. Hovanec works for a number of organizations not just AquariaGroup.
    As another footnote, starting Aug. 1 …TetraAqua (which is the new label for Tetra…having recently been purchased by AquariaGroup) will be handling the production and distribution of Bio-spira.


  9. I hear some one saying the only people who say bio-spira works are working for the company? Well I dont work for them, to tell you the truth I never heard of them or bio-spira till a few days ago when I had trubble with a tank, I was taking it down and gave the fish to a friend of mine when I found out my guppy had some more fry I didnt know about, Well I was puting up a larger tank and its not done with the cyl….about a week into it. I talked to my friends about taking the fry but they dont want them…so I kill the fry or let them burn to death….what to do? my firend told me he has used this bio stuff a few times, but I never heard of it so I asked the only fish breeder I trust and he said in all his 15 years of fish keeping he has seen nothing work as good as this bio-S. IDK guess I’ll try it, but they dont work for a big company, if they did maybe they would have the money to have more fish. I thinks its great if ZBiospira works, there are people out there who have things come up like me or just dont have the patience to let a tank do its thing…not that they should ever even try haveing fish but if this stuff saves some fish…good

  10. People seem to hold the mistaken belief that I feel Biospira does not work. This is incorrect. You will find this if you read the original article that I wrote. It did not work for me because the product I tried was (most likely) old and had expired. I say \”most likely\” because I obtained the product when Marineland was having trouble keeping up with demand, and Bio Spira was hard to find. Of course, I have no way of knowing how old it was because Marineland refuses to show the date of production and expiration.

    In all reality, Bio Spira does work if it is fresh, although Marineland\’s claim that their bacteria is somehow different, special and worthy of patent is laughable. They\’re using the same bacteria as everyone else, and they need to come to terms with that. If they want to sell it, fine, but don\’t lie to us about what is living in the little silver bag!

    Fritz Turbo Start openly states that they are using the long-known and established Nitrosonomas and Nitrobacter, and their product works great! I\’ve used it on many occasions, and it has cycled (NitrIte = 0.0) every time in two days. Even tanks as large as 1,000 USG are easily cycled with Turbo Start. That being said, it is not consumer grade. They work more with large public aquariums than normal consumers, so their packaging is geared more towards larger tanks.

    My problems with Marineland and Bio Spira are as follows:

    1) No expiration date. Marineland claims that Bio Spira can last 2 years in cold storage, and 1 year at room temp.

    1a) These numbers CRAZY long! Anyone who knows anything about biology will tell you that bacteria simply can not live that long with nothing to consume.

    1b) The packaging doesn\’t even give us a date to tell if their stupidly long expiration date has been exceded.

    2) Marineland is paying Dr. Hovanec to invent science for them. Say what you will, but we have been able to sequence DNA for some time now, and I don\’t buy that recent discoveries have proven that some new bacteria has been working for us in aquaria all these years.

    3) I take issue with the idea that nitrifying bacteria in a bottle is something new. Fritz Turbo Start has been around for a long time. It has only gone unnoticed by the consumer because it has not been sold in box stores. Serious koi keepers have long known about it and used it with great success.

  11. Cliff…

    There are no SET expiration dates for Bio-spira.
    Expiration dates are not given since it is obvious that “how the product is handled” will substantially determine its viability.
    When bacteria is kept cool (dormant) it can last much longer without requiring food, than it would at warmer temps which make it become more active, hence requiring food sooner.
    Go to the pages I referenced and all your claims will be answered including testimonials from large institutions who use it.
    BTW Fritz has refused to reveal what bacteria strains they use….claiming that it is “proprietary” info (in actuality, it is the same as most of the other companies trying to “mimic” nitrifying bacteria). The family genera which you pointed to is a large group of bacteria strains to which (Bio-spira) nitrospira and nitrosospira belong.
    If you will read the research that I referenced ….it will explain that and much more to you. I’m sorry that “you” can’t buy what others with much more scientific background have stated and explained in the references….they are endorsed by INDEPENDENT authorities in the field…if you will look.


  12. I have visited the research you point to Bernie. I’ve even run it by the biotech faculty at the University where I work. I’m not a celular biologist, and the first to agree that Hovanec has a stronger scientific background than I do. I have, however, gotten input from a number of different respected sources, and the one thing that seems to always come through is that there is a conflict of interest, and thus Hovanec’s research is suspect.

    You say “they are endorsed by INDEPENDENT authorities in the field”, but I have yet to find an independent research team that has replicated his work. Saying that the research is endorsed is just another way of saying that someone else with letters after their name has read the paper and thought it sounded plausable. I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to go to a .edu domain to verify the research rather than a .com. Maybe that’s just because I work at a University 🙂

    I do, however, think that you may have hit on something though when you say “The family genera which you pointed to is a large group of bacteria strains to which (Bio-spira) nitrospira and nitrosospira belong”. This is largely correct, although it is not so much a “family” as it is a genus of rod-shaped soil bacteria, and it is not, in reality all that “large”.

    Splitting hairs aside, it is most likely that several of the bacteria in this genus have the ability to oxidize nitrogen in aquaria. It is also likely that Fritz does not truly know exactly which substrain they are working with. The only difference is that they are not trying to patent natural bacteria.

    To each their own though… I’m a skeptic, and I would like to see the research validated before I drink too much of Marineland’s purple Koolaid.

  13. After hearing of several people having issues with Bio-Spira and all of them using Amquel, I contacted Marineland. According to them, Amquel kills the bacteria in their product and renders it useless.

    I forwarded this information on to several people who had this issue. Each one tried again…this time using Prime as their dechlorinator and had completely successful results.

    Due to this experience, I am inclined to believe that Amquel will cause unfavorable results when used with Bio-Spira.

  14. Bio-spira is definitely “bunk”. Anyone that has had success with this pretty much did a good job with their set-up DESPITE bio-spira. It’s based on bad science and is only an attempt to patent nitrification. That’s it, that’s all. You can’t reinvent the wheel here.

    Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter complete the process in freshwater and Nitrosococcus and Nitrococcus do it in salt. Luckily there is a new product that has a formulation for each called Superbac Aquarium “Nitrifying Bacteria”. I get it right down the street here in Orange County. It’s so simple and awesome it’s hillarious. It has a shelf life on the bottle (about 6 months) and doesn’t need to be refridgerated.

    I used three of their gallons on a 500 gallon project and was up and running in 4 days… the life is flourishing.

    They can keep that bio-spira in their fridge for all I care. The Superbac stuff kicks it around the yard pretty good.

  15. I’m so glad to read someone else bring up SuperBac; it seems to be the best kept secret on the market.

    Julian is right. We’ve been cycling tanks with SuperBac Aquarium Nitrifying Bacteria for about a year now. It’s simple, and it performs. Period.

    Bio-spira and Turbo Start can’t hold a candle to this stuff. Not even close.

  16. Amen to SuperBac! Bio-Spira is nothing more than a gimmick put forth by a big company looking for a patended revenue stream. That’s all well and good … but it should work, which Bio-Spira does not and never has. Julian said it best as far as mentioning that anyone who had success using Bio-Spira to cycle a tank just got a good roll of the dice.

    SuperBac is right every time as the science behind their product is fullproof. Put Bio-Spira up against an ammonia spike … and say goodbye to your fish! Same goes for Hagen’s Cycle …

  17. It’s nice to see that there are now a number of choices that will work when cycling a new tank. Gone are the days when our fish suffer through the first month of life in their new home.

    I do, however, think it’s important to note that all of these products will work under the right conditions. I prefer Turbo Start, but to be fair, we have to recognize that a lot of people have had good luck with BioSpira. I personally take issue with the fact that they don’t put an expiration date on a product that clearly should have one, but it does seem that the bacteria will do the job if it is fresh. I also disagree with their contention that they have found and patented some new kind of special bacteria, but that has been well covered in the comments above.

    I do not have any experience with SuperBac, but I will give it a shot and write a review should I ever find myself needing to cycle another tank and having no filter bacteria to seed it with. I will say, however, that if it is trying to compete against Turbo Start, it has some pretty big shoes to fill. Turbo Start has worked for me perfectly every single time I have used it. That includes cycling in fairly cool water.

  18. Cliff:
    Just admit it. We could show you, and others like you (bandwagon haters), etched-in-stone proof that bio-spira is the bacteria in a closed-aquatic system and you still won’t believe it. You said one thing that tells me you really aren’t researching it like you say. You said that Marineland says nitrobacter does not oxidise, and to the contrary, they say that it DOES. Get it? Your only seeing what you want to. By the way, show me where to find this research that proves nitrobacter is dominant and responsible for nitrite-oxidising in the closed aquatic system. You can’t. Know why? CAUSE IT IS NOT THERE!! All others were biased assuming nitrobacter because it works in soil, so they put it in a testtube, and said Wallah! We’ve got something to market! THEY ALL HAD MOTIVE. What makes Timothy Hovanek or whatver his name is different is that he was the FIRST to go to the table not assumning anything (actually, the first among 3 others-who were independent of him and none knew of the others-who were finding the SAME SPIRAL shaped bact. Most truths, like calculus? I think it was, are actually not discovered by one individual, but by at least two who are unbeknowenst of the others. If you would have researched like you said you did you’d know that also instead of saying that he was the “ONLY” one in the scientific field) and to actually research what was actually in the aquarium itself! Why would any others do that? It wouldn’t surprise me if some of them didn’t cause they didn’t really want to know! Why mess with what’s already established when it’s making the aquarium industry SO MUCH MONEY! You see, there are folks out there who don’t like to mess with the establishment, “let’s just keep things like they are,” and if someone does stir things up, then “let’s hate on him/her and do everything we can to debunk their work.”

  19. Dennis,

    You write “By the way, show me where to find this research that proves nitrobacter is dominant and responsible for nitrite-oxidising in the closed aquatic system. You can’t. Know why? CAUSE IT IS NOT THERE!!”

    Well, what can I say, you’re right. Although I should remind you that I never contended that it did. If you go back and carefully read my original story, along with my subsequent comments you will see that nitrobacter is responsible for oxidizing Ammonia, not NitrIte.

    You write: “What makes Timothy Hovanek or whatver his name is different is that he was the FIRST to go to the table not assumning anything ”

    His name is Dr. Timothy Hovanec. You almost got it right.I find it strange though that you presume to be an authority on his research, but don’t know how to spell his name.

    You write: “actually, the first among 3 others-who were independent of him and none knew of the others-who were finding the SAME SPIRAL shaped bact”

    I would be very interested indeed to read the research from these “independent” sources. Please point me to it rather than simply alleging that it exists. This comments field does allow links if you would like to use them, or you could simply point me, and other readers to the appropriate scientific journals. I have access to most of them.

    Finally, I should say that I don’t hate Marineland, Bio Spira or Dr. Timothy Hovanec. I don’t even claim that Bio Spira does not work (assuming it is fresh, something which the customer has no way of confirming). What I am saying, and I encourage you to go back and more throughly read this discussion, is that there is most likely several sub strains of bacteria which can remove nitrogenous waste from closed systems. Furthermore, I am saying it is wrong to attempt to patent a bacteria that is endemic. If Marineland wants to grow it and package it, they are free to sell it at a price of their choice, but please put an expiration date on it, and don’t attempt to sell it under the auspice of a “scientific breakthrough”.

  20. Well, I’ll claim that Bio Spira is extremely unstable with no problem. Tried it twice and nothin’. Then after the re-call I tried it again and nothin’. I’ve been using Superbac Nitrifying Bacteria for seven months now and it’s record is 100% for me at cycling tanks under five days. That’s all the proof I need that nitrocbacter works great. Nitrospira? That’s funny. Why would I care if what I’m using never fails?

  21. so can i use superbac on a saltwater tank? it’s not really saltwater yet anyways it’s only at 1.0000 on the hydrometer right now. my little gs puffer fish needs something to cycle his tank fast, i’m in brevard so if you can get it on your shelf than i should too….. do i need a bio wheel?

  22. Cliff,

    I just happened upon this debate — very amusing. Very. You say you work at a university, but you cannot spell to save your soul, and you think (somewhat ironically) that correcting a replier’s spelling of ‘Hovanec’ somehow undermines the replier’s substantive claims. Shallow and juvenile, really. I mean, I could go off about, e.g., how you claim that “Ammonia and Nitrite are both types of Nitrogen” (since there is only one “type” of nitrogen, vis., ‘N’, although it can be a constituent part of other molecules), but it is pretty clear from what has transpired above that you are not credible enough to underpin even the slightest concern in my mind that things regarding bacteria are not exactly as I and almost all others thought they were. Get a lot of hits on your blog? Most of them are laughing.

  23. I opened up a packet of this stuff, gave it a whiff and it smells pretty organic to me (definitly not a dead type smell). I got the fridge type. I threw it in and hopefully I will have some results soon. I also put some under a microscope and saw what appeared to be rod bacteria but im not a biologist. My tanks already partways cycled and I want to try and speed it up. Hopefully i dont run into problems.

  24. Interesting thread here! I will post my recent and first experience with Bio-spira:

    The tank has been cycling for a little under 3 weeks. Cycling was initiated with several gold fish during week one, the gold fish were then traded for 6 young cichlids to complete the cycling. Not the most conservative approach I know!

    Bio spira was introduced at day 18 due to the increasing ammonia/nitrite. Both were near 2ppm.

    Bio spira worked very well at reducing the ammonia levels from ~2ppm to .5 within 24hrs. Ammonia is now at 0ppm.

    Nitrites are still elevated, at ~2ppm however fish have not shown signs of stress and I am hoping the biofiltration will kick in very soon to complete the cycling process.

    In summary, bio spira really impressed me with it’s ability to reduce ammonia levels overnight. I am less impressed with it’s ability to reduce nitrites at this time.

    I used stress zyme initially, and level of ammonia and nitrites were pretty constant at ~2ppm during the first two weeks. I have not used any other agents in the water other than dechlorinates.

    ~95 gallon tank
    Magnum 350
    REna xp1
    Along with other goodies

    Here is a link to the video I made:
    Edit/Delete Message

  25. Hey all, I started cycling wirh Bio-Spira 13 days ago. The tank is a 28 gallonw bowfront. I added 10 tetras along with the 1oz packet of (properly refrigerated) Bio Spira. Without going into exact details, my cycle finished today. 13 days is the average with Bio-Spira. Marineland says 16 days so I feel this is about average, with some people having success with anywhere from 5 to 16 days. Having enough fish to properly excrete ammonia is the kicker. I started seeing ammonia at 6 days and Nitrite at 8 days. Nitrate has been at 5 ppms for 1 week. Bio Spira works if you have a properly refrigerated product and enough ammonia source to start out with. The spikes on Ammonia and Nitrite were always between .15 and .20. Do not expect it to work on a tank with elevated ammonia levels to start with and to cure existing tank problems, but used properly it is an excellent tool .

  26. Cliff got pinned to the wall on this one huh? lol.. I have used it on Salt/Freshwater tanks with success 4 out of 5 times. I believe the MAIN variable is how the stuff is kept while at the store. If the store lets it sit in the sun for 2 days the stuff probably wont work. But I added it to a struggling tank with great results.

  27. I cycle two tanks a year for the last 6 years and sometimes use TurboStart and sometimes use BioSpira (since the new refrigerated kind). I think that they are both the same in effectiveness. We go to our vacation home for the summer and bring the fish with us in a big rubbermaid container, so that’s why I cycle 2x a year. Anyways, I found that the municipal water source at our vacation home will not let Turbostart or BioSpira work. Ever. Too much chlorine maybe, even though I overdose the declor. I can’t figure it out. Phosphates, alkalinity are all OK. So, now, when I initially fill the tank, (42 gal hex tank) I use bottled water (Crystal Springs)instead of the municipal water and TurboStart and Biospira work every time.

    At the end of the summer, we go back to our permanent home which has well water, not municipal, and I always have success using these two products. Never failed.

  28. One more thing. I’m going to check out this Superbac product. My LFS says that they have great success with it, as good as BioSpira, (which they also sell). They told me today that BioSpira is being discontinued in a few weeks.

  29. Bio-Spira’s still on the market, but in fewer stores. It’s still shipping from somewhere, because the Soldan’s near me recently got a fresh stock. I’ve used it three times – success to the point of divine intervention twice, complete failure once (Bought it on a hot day and didn’t bring an icepack, probably cooked in the car). That’s the problem with the stuff – very sensitive. Research dealing with Nitrosommonas and Nitrobacter in water treatment plants has shown that neither one will go fully dormant and revive like some bacteria will. As far as I know, no similar research has been done with Nitrospira.

    I got bored and bought a bunch of random bacteria products last year and started mixing them with hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide will kill all the bacteria, but it’ll fizz if there’s anything there. Bio-Spira fizzed very strongly, even with a small sample (Didn’t want to waste the whole package – too expensive). Superbac had a weak response, so at least something was still alive or at least recently dead in there. SafeStart, Turbostart, Cycle, and Stability had no reaction. From bottle dates, all were less than a month old out of their supposed 4 year shelf lives, and none had any living bacteria in them.

    A less expensive test: Nitrifying bacteria cultures will make their water brown and give it a slightly foul smell. Bio-Spira has this, Superbac has the brownness, but not as much smell. Bactinettes, another refrigerated product containing Nitrospira, supposedly has both, but isn’t sold in the US that I’m aware of.

    One last thing: What cliff said above about the wide body of research is wrong. Hovanec’s research was the first published research in an aquarium setting. Previous research was in soil columns, runoff areas, and water treatment/desalination facilities dealing with often toxic water. There has been supporting research following up on Hovanec’s work in both aquariums and other lower toxicity environments. Lebedeva and Regan both independently found Nitrospira to be dominant in plumbing in water systems containing ammonia or chloramine, Cebron found it to be more common than Nitrobacter in uncontaminated estuaries.

    In fact, all of the (fourteen) independent research papers that reference Hovanec’s research (see found that Nitrospira was more common than Nitrobacter in situations where there wasn’t an excess of nitrite.

  30. “SuperBac is right every time as the science behind their product is fullproof”

    The science behind their product is thirty years old, and is the same behind Fritz-Zyme, which is the original useless snake oil. SuperBac’s manufacturer also admits the limitations, as Nitrobacter cannot reproduce satisfactorily in a low-nitrite environment, meaning their product is only a stopgap until Nitrospira growth displaces it.

  31. I used the newst version that does not need to be refrigerated. Garbage. A total wast of money. It did absolutly nothing.
    One of these days I will learn to pay attention to product reviews. Bio-spira reviews are poor, for a reason.

    I am learning that there are no short cuts with aquariums. Patience, is the only way.

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