You’ll agree with us when we say that aquarium bacteria supplements are an under-utilized tool that can really speed up the setting up process of your aquarium.
This encouraged us to experiment with many different popular aquarium bacteria supplements in order to find out which one works the best.
In today’s post, we’ll look at how aquarium bacteria supplements work and how you can judge which certain bacteria supplement would be most suited for your particular setup.
We’ve concluded these three to be the best from the crowd after months of testing and research.
Now, let’s delve deeper into the top 7 best aquarium bacteria supplements.
Best Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Top 7 Reviews
1. All-Around Best Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer Review
This product is definitely the one to get if you’re not entirely sure what type of aquarium bacteria supplement would be the best for your aquarium. This is because this product is incredibly versatile and the nitrifying bacteria it provides are able to thrive in a variety of different aquarium conditions.
The bottle itself is very well-designed due to the fact that you can use the cap to measure how much of the bacteria supplement you need. One capful of the supplement is about 5 milliliters which treats about 10 gallons of water.
Features of Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer – Best Aquarium Bacteria Supplement
- Bottle size: 500 milliliter
- Bacteria can grow in many different water conditions
- 5 milliliters treats about 10 gallons of water
- Does not produce hydrogen sulfide
- Combination of aerobic, anaerobic and facultative bacteria
- Does not need to be refrigerated
- Can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Great value for money
- Does not make the tank cloudy
- Acts very quickly
- Fish have a tendency to die if you fail to give the proper dose
If you want a reliable aquarium bacteria supplement that will give you quick results then this is the product you’re looking for. It requires a very little amount to act over a large area and it’s incredibly versatile.
2. Best Aquarium Bacteria Supplement for Water Changes - Instant Ocean BIO-Spira Water Treatment Review
Coming in a secure and easy-to-use bottle, this product is very beginner-friendly and you’ll have no trouble setting your aquarium up with this bacteria supplement and making it fish-safe instantly.
The great thing about this particular bacteria supplement is that the bottle is manufactured in such a way that it’s shelf-safe. This means you don’t have to worry about the bacteria dying off in the bottle while you’re keeping it stored in a safe space somewhere. You can keep it stored and use it whenever you want such as after water changes or after medication, etc.
Features of Instant Ocean BIO-Spira Water Treatment
- Comes in two sizes: 3.38 ounces and 8.45 ounces
- Mix of nitrococcus, nitrosomonas, nitrosospira and nitrospira
- 5 milliliters is enough for 10 gallons of water
- Used to treat saltwater aquariums
- Shake well before use
- Does not require refrigeration
- Treats a large amount of water with a small amount
- Does not cloud the tank
- Makes water fish-safe instantly
- Relatively expensive
- Not recommended for freshwater aquariums
If you’re looking for an aquarium bacteria supplement that you can utilize both initially as well as after water changes then this is the product for you. It acts incredibly quickly and it doesn’t give off any foul smells.
3. Best Saltwater Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria Review
When it comes to products that deal with treating aquarium water such as dechlorinating agents, water-conditioning agents and aquarium bacteria supplements, API is a brand that has really been setting the benchmark for quite a long time and it’s products like these that show you why. This product aims to jump-start your aquarium cycle by reducing the cycling process from taking a few weeks to only taking a few hours.
Not only that, but this product also has an extremely long shelf life so you can use it routinely whenever you perform water changes.
Features of API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria
- Comes in four different sizes: 4 ounces, 8 ounces, 16 ounces and 32 ounces
- Comes in two versions: freshwater and saltwater
- Can be used routinely to remove harmful compounds
- Comes in handy when changing filtration media
- Bacteria can survive in many different temperatures
- Can be used in both saltwater and freshwater environments
- Prolongs water exchange periods
- Does not produce any foul odors
- Does not make the water murky
- Very long shelf life
- May take a few hours before aquarium is completely fish-safe
If you’re looking for an aquarium bacteria supplement for your saltwater aquarium, you’ve just found it. It lasts a long time and is very easy to use.
4. Best Non-Refrigerated Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Tetra SafeStart Plus Review
Tetra is another household name in the fishkeeping community and for many loyal customers, this product is their choice when it comes to aquarium bacteria supplements. It’s incredibly subtle in its approach and unlike most of its competitors, it does not offset any of the water conditions inside your aquarium when it is first introduced.
All you have to do is add this in and instantly, you can now start introducing your fish and aquarium plants to your tank. You don’t need to worry about shifting pH, hardness, temperature or anything else of the sort.
Features of Tetra SafeStart Plus
- Comes in three sizes: 3.38 ounces, 8.45 ounces and 1.69 ounces
- Allows immediate addition of fish
- Suitable for freshwater environments
- Can treat aquariums up to 70 gallons
- Prevent new tank syndrome
- Small amount treats a large area
- Does not need to be refrigerated
- Does not make the water cloudy
- Only suitable for freshwater aquariums
If you don’t want to put your aquarium bacteria supplement in your refrigerator but want something with a long shelf life, then this product is perfect for you. It acts quickly and reliably.
5. Best Budget Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Fluval Hagen Biological Enhancer Review
This product is known for its versatility in that it can be used in all types of aquariums; be it coldwater, tropical, freshwater, saltwater or coral reef aquariums. You’ll find that it’s able to work its magic no matter what type of environment it’s placed into.
Some people seem to think that its cheap price means that it must be a sub-par product but in reality, its performance is just as good, if not better than most of its more expensive competitors.
Features of Fluval Hagen Biological Enhancer
- Comes in three sizes: 1 ounce, 4 ounces and 8.4 ounces
- Requires about 25 milliliters to treat about 10 gallons of water
- Allows fish to be added instantly
- Does not harm plants, humans or fish
- Acts effectively in all types of aquariums
- Does not produce any smell
- Works in a broad range of temperatures
- Works in both freshwater and saltwater environments
- Reduces fish loss
- Tends to settle at the bottom of the tank
If you want an aquarium bacteria supplement but don’t have a lot of cash left after buying all your aquarium equipment then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s very versatile and easy on the pocket.
6. Best Beginner-Friendly Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Dr Tim's Aquatics Live Nitrifying Bacteria Review
This product acts very quickly. We say it’s beginner-friendly because of the fact that it’s impossible to overdose this product unlike most aquarium bacteria supplements. If you add too much of this product into your aquarium by mistake, it’s not going to result in any adverse or unwanted consequences such as fish death.
It contains special bacteria that maintain their microstructure for a very long time. This allows them to work much longer than most other forms of live nitrifying bacteria that come in a bottle.
Features of Dr Tim’s Aquatics Live Nitrifying Bacteria
- Size: 8 ounces
- Instant removal of ammonia and nitrites
- Non-toxic to fish, humans and plants
- Bacteria stay active for a very long period
- Intended for freshwater aquariums
- Requires a very small quantity to be effective
- Easy to use
- Does not have any odor
- Does not dirty the water
- Relatively expensive
- Only comes in one size
If you’re nervous about overdosing your tank with the aquarium bacteria supplement then this product is definitely for you. It’s entirely safe in large doses and it does not muddy the water either.
7. Best Long-Lasting Aquarium Bacteria Supplement - Fritz Aquatics FritzZyme Nitrifying Bacteria Review
This product provides your aquarium with a specific strain of nitrifying bacteria that are not only much more efficient at breaking down ammonia and nitrite particles into nitrates, but they also last a much longer time than typical nitrifying bacteria. You’ll find you can go a very long time without having to add this supplement again to your aquarium though it’s a good idea to microdose your aquarium with it from time to time such as after water changes.
It’s pinkish in color and looks attractive when you first pour it into your aquarium. It soon dissolves and homogenizes with your aquarium water.
Features of Fritz Aquatics FritzZyme Nitrifying Bacteria
- Comes in four sizes: 8 ounces, 16 ounces, 32 ounces and 1 gallon
- No artificial ingredients
- Rapidly eliminates ammonia for instant addition of fish
- Intended for freshwater environments
- Available in packs of 2
- Quite budget-friendly
- Does not cloud the water
- Acts instantly
- Available in many different sizes
- Gives off a foul smell if/when expired
- Not appropriate for saltwater aquariums
If you don’t want to keep adding aquarium bacteria supplement to your aquarium to make up for dead bacteria then this is the product for you. It doesn’t cost too much and lasts a long time.
What is aquarium bacteria supplement and how does it work?
You can think of aquarium bacteria supplements simply as colonies of bacteria in a bottle. These bacteria are beneficial for the inhabitants of your aquarium and it’s necessary for these bacteria to be present inside your aquarium if it is to run successfully. Normally, these bacteria are grown naturally by letting your aquarium run empty for a few weeks; this process is known as cycling. However, if you don’t wish to spend weeks waiting for these bacteria to grow inside your aquarium, you can opt to buy an aquarium bacteria supplement and simply add them instantly to your tank.
You have to be wary of what type of aquarium bacteria supplement you’re getting and how they work. It’s important to read the instructions carefully as some bacteria supplements only help accelerate the rate at which your aquarium cycles while others allow you to skip the cycling process entirely.
Please note that it’s very important that these beneficial nitrifying bacteria be present inside your aquarium before you introduce fish to it. Whether you do it through the normal method or by using an aquarium bacteria supplement, the important thing is that you do it one way or another. If you introduce your fish to your aquarium without the beneficial nitrifying bacteria being present inside it, this will result in “new tank syndrome”. Ammonia will be present inside your tank which is toxic to fish and there will be no bacteria inside your tank that can break it down. Your fish will have trouble breathing, they will refuse to eat anything you give them and they will eventually die.
Do I really need to buy aquarium bacteria supplement for my aquarium?
No. If you don’t wish to invest in an aquarium bacteria supplement, you can simply opt to cycle your aquarium naturally. It’s still the preferred method for many aquarists.
It’s not an absolutely necessary thing to have in your arsenal as an aquarist but we do recommend that you get a bottle just in case as it can come in handy from time to time.
For example, if you feel you’ve removed too much beneficial bacteria in your aquarium after a water change and you notice ammonia levels rising inside it, you can just add more bacteria into it using the handy aquarium bacteria supplement bottle you bought and kept safe in your store.
What is better for my fish: using an aquarium bacteria supplement or cycling my aquarium naturally?
This mostly depends on your particular situation and what you prefer. If you don’t want to wait and want to add fish to your aquarium immediately, you can just an aquarium bacteria supplement and instantly add them to it. It will give you pretty much the same results as you would get if you cycle your aquarium naturally.
While it has been shown several times that using aquarium bacteria supplements does not cause any adverse effects among the fish inside your aquarium, some old-school aquarists are still skeptical and prefer to always cycle their aquariums naturally.
What are some things to consider when buying aquarium bacteria supplement?
Some of these things to consider are:
Type of Aquarium
The most important thing to look at is what type of aquarium you have. Do you have a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium? And also, is your aquarium heated or is it a coldwater tank? All these factors are important to think about so you’re able to invest in an aquarium bacteria supplement that contains bacteria that will be able to withstand your tank’s particular conditions. You don’t want to get an aquarium bacteria supplement that’s meant for freshwater aquariums if you have a saltwater aquarium as the bacteria might not do their jobs properly inside your aquarium and might even just die as soon as you add them to your tank.
Obviously, you need to think about how big your tank is and ensure you get a bottle that’s big enough to accommodate the size of your tank.
You shouldn’t be too worried about buying an excess amount of aquarium bacteria supplement as it’s not going to go to waste. It will come in handy in the future during water changes.
What are the different types of aquarium bacteria supplements?
There are mainly two types of aquarium bacteria supplements:
Aquarium Bacteria in a Bottle
This is the most common type of aquarium bacteria supplements. You can instantly add your fish and other inhabitants to your aquarium after this into your aquarium. It works great at eradicating new tank syndrome and breaking down ammonia and nitrites inside your aquarium.
Dry Format Bacteria
This comes in the form of a powder and needs to be scooped up and added into your aquarium. It contains both Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas strains which help break down ammonia and other toxic compounds inside your aquarium.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some of the most trusted and reliable brands from which I can buy my aquarium bacteria supplements?
Some of the most trusted brands that have been manufacturing aquarium bacteria supplements for many years at this point are:
- DrTim’s Aquatics
- Instant Ocean
Are these aquarium bacteria safe for humans?
Aquarium bacteria do not affect humans in the slightest. You can come into contact with it without worrying about it affecting you negatively. However, we do strongly recommend that you don’t ingest it. If you or someone else accidentally ingests the aquarium bacteria supplement, we recommend that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How fast do these aquarium bacteria grow?
If you’re attempting to grow beneficial nitrifying bacteria inside your aquarium naturally, this process can take from anywhere between 2 – 8 weeks depending on the size of your aquarium and the water conditions inside it.
How long can these aquarium bacteria survive?
Aquarium bacteria multiply quite aggressively so they can survive indefinitely inside an aquarium as long you keep your aquarium filter on. If your aquarium filter is turned off due to a power outage or malfunction, then the aquarium bacteria can start dying off within 30 minutes of your filter being turned off. The amount of time it would take for all the aquarium bacteria to die inside your aquarium can vary depending on how dense your colony is but normally, it would take anywhere between 48 to 72 hours.
Can aquarium salt kill these beneficial bacteria?
No. You can safely add aquarium salt into your aquarium without worrying about it killing off the nitrifying bacteria. Aquarium salt has no effect on the bacteria or the biological filtration that they’re performing inside your aquarium.
Can chlorine kill these beneficial bacteria?
Yes. Residual Chlorine or Chloramines can definitely kill off all beneficial nitrifying bacteria inside your aquarium. You should be very careful not to introduce it in any capacity into your fish tank.
Can tap water kill these beneficial bacteria?
Yes. Tap water often contains chlorine or chloramine (which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia) that instantly kill off beneficial nitrifying bacteria. If you want to use tap water in your aquarium, you have to treat it with a dechlorinating agent and a water-conditioning agent first.
How long can these aquarium bacteria supplements last on my shelf before they start to go bad?
Most aquarium bacteria supplements have their expiry date written somewhere on the bottle that will give you an indication of how long they will last.
Other than that, the important thing to keep in mind is that these bacteria are living beings so you need to keep them in a dry and relatively cool place where the temperature does not fluctuate too much. If you keep them somewhere where the temperature is too high or too low for them to handle, they will die off and the supplement will be useless.
Do I have to use these aquarium bacteria supplements every time I perform a water change?
You don’t have to if you don’t want to but it’s generally a good idea as it can help homogenize the new water you’re introducing into your tank with the water that’s already in it.
When you perform a water change, you do take out a lot of beneficial bacteria along with it so it can be a good idea to make up for that by adding a little aquarium bacteria supplement.
It’s important to note that while adding aquarium bacteria supplement is optional but it’s absolutely compulsory that you treat the water you’re adding to your aquarium with a dechlorinating agent and a water-conditioning agent. This is absolutely necessary otherwise you would be introducing chlorine to your tank which would kill off all the nitrifying bacteria inside it and is also toxic to fish.
Can these bacteria be harmful to my aquarium plants?
No. Nitrifying bacteria simply act on ammonia and nitrites present inside an aquarium and help convert them into nitrates which are much less harmful to your aquarium’s inhabitants. This process has no effect on the aquarium plants present inside your aquarium.
Aquarium bacteria supplements can be a powerful tool if you know how to use them and know which one would be best suited for your particular aquarium setup.
After months of testing under different conditions, we can conclusively say that the Instant Ocean BIO-Spira Water Treatment is the best supplement we had the pleasure of testing. It works instantly, it’s not too expensive and it’s very easy to use.
And with that, we’re at the conclusion of our post for the best aquarium bacteria supplements.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever used an aquarium bacteria supplement and what the results were like.