The Shocking Truth About Nitrifying Bacteria Products

Posted By on Sep 29, 2013 | 15 comments


Nitrifying Bacteria.

Two of the most divisive words in the aquarium hobby.  It is quite the phenomenon how these bacteria, which perform the most important function to the health of the overall aquarium, has created such a complete mess of bad information, lack of understanding, and outright disdain.And the sheer amount of different varieties of the aforementioned is troubling.

At ATM Aquarium Products we deal with biological cultures on a daily basis, most visibly our true nitrifying bacteria culture Colony.  These cultures are relied upon by home aquarists, public aquariums, aquaculture, aquaponics, waste water, and a number of other industries where the rapid establishing of bio-filtration comes at a premium.  All told, ATM’s team has 30 years of experience formulating, packaging, and distributing biological cultures including nitrifying bacteria (the real ones).

Because of this unmatched experience with the application of producing and distributing biological cultures, the following is the definitive information and fact sheet you will need on nitrifying bacteria and nitrifying bacteria products.

While reading this article it is important to remember that these are the facts.  All of these facts can be checked and verified very easily with minimal effort.  The kind of microbes we are discussing have long since been classified, isolated, studied, and applied as bio-remediation tools for a long time.

There will be a few laughs, a few tears, and a few uncomfortable moments, but we’ll get through this together!

Ready?  Let’s do it!


Share The Shark


  1. Wow great information guys. I feel like I just complete bio 101 of my aquarium. Thank you for posting this!

    Post a Reply
    • You’re welcome Tony! Thanks for taking the time to Trust The Shark!

  2. Here here. Keep the facts coming, its good to hear these useful truths to put people’s minds at rest.

    Post a Reply
  3. Love the show but will yous ever sell your products international as I live in Ireland

    Post a Reply
  4. My question might be off the subject a bit, I have a 55 gallon cichlid tank and can’t keep my nitrates below 80ppm ,any suggestions

    Post a Reply
    • Hello Todd,

      No worries. To pull you down quickly dial back your feeding 50% for a week. The fish will be fine. They are evolved to go even weeks without eating at all. Begin a 20% water change regimen every two weeks. This will remove the nitrates as well as improve the overall health of the system by resupplying the ecosystem with necessary trace elements.

      Stock up on our product Outbreak! This is a very high powered commercial grade organics consuming bacteria that will go a long way toward preventing additional nitrates from entering the water column. Decomposing organics release nitrate, so consuming them prior to release helps a ton.

      This is the easiest and most sensible way to deal with nitrate. In contrast to what some insinuate, there are no bacteria that convert nitrate into a non-toxic substance the way we see ammonia and nitrite converted.

      Good luck if you have any other questions drop them below

  5. I’m a fan of your show it’s funny and very informative as I sometimes shop on eBay and watch YouTube reviews for products such as colony and outbreak which I’ve never tried I came across this channel on YouTube ( pond guru) he sells stuff on eBay and has a place called Tyne Valley Aquatics in the UK. He claims his gel media balls are the only true nitrifying bacteria product out there. They are supposed to slowly dissolve in your filter where you put your biological filter media which he also claims he has the best out there ( bio ultra media ) so I’m not gonna slam anyone’s product or risk a slander suit but your Outbreak and Colony is supposedly not as good as the gel bio balls he sells on eBay. I wish I could test them both but I’m already into my first few days of cycling a 56 gallon Cichlid tank I wish I could believe all that I read about your products since I’m a fan of your show but I tried 2 products already with no luck ( snake oil ) and am very hesitant about spending another 20 or 25 dollars on a bottle of beneficial bacteria. So in ending since I am a fan can you please give me some advice on how I can get my tank fully cycled without having to wait 6 to 8 weeks ? I’d really like to try your products but I’m very gun shy as I’ve spent quite a lot of money already. Sincerely a true ATM Tanked fan Victor F.

    Post a Reply
    • Hello Victor,

      Nitrifying bacteria (aerobic autotrophs) need to be in liquid to survive. As mentioned in the article, these bacteria do not create spores, therefore when dried the cell walls break down and the bacteria dies. You will not find aerobic autotrophs living dry in dirt, sand, powder or in a sandwich bag. There is s reason that aquarists do not let their bio-filtration media dry.

      If a product recommends adding bacteria in increments they are selling not autotrophs but organics consumers. Nitrifying bacteria live for almost two weeks with no food, which is ample time to feed them. It even allows time to correct issues in the water column that could be preventing oxidization. Any excess will die off but that is the whole idea: to start with way more than you need rather than a precious few. That would defeat the entire objective.

      You are right to utilize caution when choosing a rapid cycle product. This blog is a great help.

      At the end of the day, its a good idea to use what the pros use. Colony has been used in new exhibits for three public aquariums in Australia and in the first public aquarium being built in Sri Lanka just in the last few months alone.

      If you decide to take a different route, the only other productive option would be to import media (wet) from a system with a high bio load and roll the dice with bacteria count. Make sure media is proper housing for bacteria and comes from a high flow area of the system.

      Warning: Importing media could result in transmitting parasites and other pathogens which are dangerous to your fish.

      Good luck and if you have any other questions holler back!

  6. We have a “Trout in the Classroom” project at a local school. Ammonia is lately stubbornly high (2–4 PPM) and we’re getting some mortality. This acquarium is maintained at 55 degrees F. Will Colony bacteria work and persist in this colder water?

    Post a Reply
    • Hello Kirk,

      Yes, Colony will work in low temperatures but barely. You will need lots and lots of bacteria.

      It is a great question. Because nitrifying bacteria convert nitrogen faster and more efficiently in optimum temperatures and conditions, the bacteria colony in such a system will be much, much smaller than one in a system that is much colder.

      Because conversion happens much more inefficiently in colder temperatures, exponentially more bacteria is needed to pick up the slack.

      Are you getting any conversion? Do you have any nitrite or nitrate levels?

  7. Hi first off I gotta say i love the show, I watch it whenever I have to time. I love the fishies hehe. Okay so here’s my question. I don’t really have the time i would like to keep a large aquarium so I got a smaller 10 gallon one. But recently I found out that my aquarium has a leak. I was wondering is there a specific type of aquarium glue I could get to use and fix it or would I just have to buy a new aquarium. I have 2 two year old gold fish and I actually thought that my larger one was splashing water out of the tank. Till I examined it and realized after I cleaned up the mess the water was still coming out from underneath. If there is a type of glue or sealant I could get and if so do you all sell it or where would I get it? Please help save my tank.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>