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.