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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Probiotics—For Life

By Patrick Donston

Store Owner, Absolutely Fish

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We, as owners and managers, must always focus on our customers’ wants and needs. We should be striving to keep them up to date on new products, ideas and technology that arise. By doing so, we earn their confidence and respect, thus their loyalty over time.

I wanted to share with you a recent trend in new products that seem to be entering the aquatics and aquaculture industries: It is probiotics. For those who are not familiar with probiotics, I would like to explain.

Similar to eating yogurt to boost your own immune system, probiotics are used to boost fishes’ immune systems in the same way. These products increase beneficial bacteria in your aquarium so that the bad bacteria—i.e., pathogens--are out-competed for space; a process called competitive exclusion. Another type of probiotics encourages fish to produce antibodies for specific pathogens before they are infected.

This is anamnestic immune response; also called secondary immune response wherein the presence of memory cells will be in place to attack a disease-causing microbe more intensely than the primary immune response.

The key to using probiotics is to remember that fish or aquariums must be exposed for a minimum of four to six weeks to be effective. A sick fish or unhealthy system cannot respond to initial probiotics inducement. Probiotics are natural bacteria cultures that assist immune system functions and help prevent disease. They don't necessarily heal disease. I can tell you from first-hand experience that we've been using them for over a year now on our goldfish and other assorted freshwater tropicals with nice results.

There are dozens of product SKUs by numerous manufacturers that have some sort of probiotics in the formula. Most are liquid conditioners or additives, although I'm seeing more feed-based products coming out as well. There is a lot of experimental work occurring with great results. I predict we'll be seeing more of these types of products in the near future. You and your staff should familiarize yourselves with probiotics and how they work. The aquarium and aquaculture industries are catching on and you should be, too.

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