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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

March 29, 2011

Biological Cycle Starters

By David Lass


Old truths are often repeated, sometimes too much. But the reason is, quite simply, because the old truths are true. In my book, the oldest and truest old truth about keeping fish is that it is all about the bacteria--the bacteria of the nitrogen cycle. For some reason, we still have difficulty getting across to hobbyists that the single most important thing to understand about keeping fish is that it is the bacteria of the nitrogen cycle that make a tank healthy.

And now we have a number of similar products that contain the live bacteria of the nitrogen cycle that you can sell to your customers to give them an “instant fish tank.” I have tested most of these products for my “In The Fishroom” column in Aquarium Fish International (AFI), and I am pleased to tell you that they work. Most of these bacteria starters are not as sensitive to time and temperature as they were in the past. In fact, some of them have a one-year shelf life as long as they are not exposed to temperatures like those on the surface of the sun.

Since the goal of every store is to have every new hobbyist succeed at keeping their first tank, I don’t know why stores do not insist that when a customer buys a new tank they also buy some live bacteria starter. Using these products, you can capture the excitement of a first-time hobbyist, who always wants to go home with the new tank and some new fish. I have tested these products with the full complement of fish added from the get-go--and they work. Best for new hobbyists is to have them go home with about a third of the fish that their tanks would hold. Have them use the bacteria starter before adding the fish, and then have them come back with a sample of water when they buy the next batch of fish…and then the next. Each time they add new fish have them add some more of the bacteria starter.

We finally have a method that can make it much easier for first-time hobbyists to succeed with their first tanks. But it doesn’t do them any good just sitting there on your shelf--sell it to them, please.

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