The colonization of beneficial bacteria is absolutely essential to cycling and maintaining an aquarium. These bacteria colonize on surfaces like filter media and within the substrate of your aquarium. However, beneficial bacteria are maintained via a delicate balance and that can be disrupted by things like replacing filters or filter media or overdoing it on a tank cleaning. Not to mention how long it can take to colonize bacteria in the first place for a new aquarium.
Sometimes, we need a little boost to start the bacteria colonization or bring it back after a cycle crash. That’s where bacteria supplements for aquariums come in handy. These reviews of the 5 best aquarium bacteria supplements are intended to help you navigate this seemingly complex world of aquarium bacteria and help make things make sense. Colonizing and supporting beneficial bacteria in your aquarium isn’t as intimidating as it might seem!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria||
|Best Value||Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer||
|Premium Choice||Aqueon Pure Bacteria Supplement||
|API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria||
|Fluval Biological Enhancer||
The 5 Best Aquarium Bacteria Supplements – Reviews 2021
1. MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria – Best Overall
The MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria is the best overall aquarium bacteria supplement. This product doesn’t just cycle new tanks but also helps clean tanks as well. This is available in an 8.45oz pouch.
This bacteria supplement contains nitrifying bacteria that help consume ammonia and nitrites within your tank. This immediately starts working to neutralize ammonia and nitrites within your tank. Secondary bacteria in this supplement help clean your tank by consuming sludge and other physical waste. You can use this to decrease the chance of new tank syndrome from occurring, but you can also use it monthly to maintain your bacteria colonies and help improve the cleanliness of your tank.
This product will create cloudiness in your water when it’s first poured in, but this does clear up within a few minutes. This product is intended for freshwater only.
2. Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer – Best Value
The best aquarium bacteria supplement for the money is the Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer. This product is available in an 8.5-ounce bottle.
This bacteria supplement can be used in freshwater and saltwater tanks and can help prevent new tank syndrome. This product contains aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria that work to consume waste products like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrate. Since these bacteria all survive in different ways, if something occurs that kills one of them off, like the use of a medication, it shouldn’t eliminate all the bacterial colonies. It cannot be overdosed.
This product needs to be used daily for 7 days during tank cycling to be fully effective, but your tank is not guaranteed to be fully cycled within that 7-day period and this product may need to be used longer.
3. Aqueon Pure Bacteria Supplement – Premium Choice
For a premium aquarium bacteria supplement, Aqueon Pure Bacteria Supplement is the way to go. This product contains bacteria inside of gel balls, making it the easiest product on the list to dose. There are multiple pack sizes available up to 24 balls.
This bacteria supplement requires nothing more than dropping the balls into the water to begin working, no measuring needed. It can be purchased in 10-gallon and 30-gallon sizes, where one ball is enough for a tank of that size. It cannot be overdosed and immediately begins working to reduce ammonia and nitrites. It also will help maintain clear water in your aquarium.
This product is intended only for freshwater tanks. It is recommended to be used on a weekly basis and a double dose is recommended per week while cycling a new tank. These balls break down slowly and may stay in the bottom of your tank, even after the bacteria has been released, and need to be removed.
4. API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria
The API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria supplement is one of the easiest products on this list to acquire since it is sold online and, in most fish and pet stores. It is available in 4-, 8-, 16-, and 32-ounce bottles and has a freshwater and saltwater version.
This bacteria supplement works to reduce toxic waste products, like nitrites and ammonia. It can be used during new tank cycling, water changes, when adding new fish, and after a cycle crash. When used as directed, this product will reduce the risk of fish loss during fish-in tank cycling.
This product does need to continue being used to maintain the bacteria colonies. It’s important to understand that the bacteria in this product require ammonia to feed on, so if there is not an ammonia presence in the tank then they will die.
5. Fluval Biological Enhancer
The Fluval Biological Enhancer is available in five sizes from 1 ounce to 0.5 gallons. It can be used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
This bacteria supplement helps reduce the risk of fish loss when cycling an aquarium by inoculating the aquarium with beneficial bacteria. These bacteria will work to eliminate ammonia and nitrites within your aquarium. This supplement can be used during cycling of new aquariums, filter changes, after a cycle crash, and after water changes. The bacteria in this product will, with continued use, prevent the growth of bad bacteria within your tank.
This product does have to be used routinely for maximum effect and it does need ammonia in the tank for the bacteria to become established. This product instructs daily use for three days for setting up a tank but the tank likely will not be fully cycled within three days, so water parameters need to be closely monitored.
The best overall aquarium bacteria supplement MarineLand Bio-Spira Freshwater Bacteria for its efficacy and affordability, while the best value product is the Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer because of its high-quality at a cost-effective price. The premium choice for aquarium bacteria supplements is the Aqueon Pure Bacteria Supplement because it’s effective but not as cost-effective as most other bacteria supplements.
It’s important to closely monitor your water parameters during tank cycling and routinely with aquarium cleaning and maintenance. These products are excellent additions to a tank, but they cannot fully replace cycling a tank. The bacteria will not survive without a food source and without beneficial bacteria, dangerous waste products will build up in the water, risking the lives of your fish.
These product reviews are intended to help guide you in choosing a product to better the health of your tank, but it is important to keep a close eye on your fish and water parameters whether your tank is established or brand new.
Featured image credit: Moto “Club4AG” Miwa, Flickr