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Bacter AE: Good or Bad

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Hi Everyone,


When I have started back in my aquarium hobby few years ago, I started to read about fish/aquarium care. This year as I get into shrimp keeping hobby, I started reading about post/threads/comments regarding about bacterias. I know that biofilm is probably the main food source of shrimps in the wild besides decaying organic matters. What struck me the most is the product bashing of people against bacteria based food for shrimps such as Bacter AE. Just to let it out there, I am not affiliated to the product Bacter AE. I am just a product user. 


As I read journal papers about the bacterias in Bacter AE (e.i. Bacillus subtitles and lactobacillus), I realized where this consumer issue (e.i. death) is coming from. For this topic, I will focus more on Bacillus subtitles. One instance caused of death that most people talked about is lacked of oxygen. I believe that this is true. Let's talk about some chemistry - Oxygen Solubility in Water (There are other sources for this if you want more accurate and trustworthy info. But I think that this will be sufficient.) Assume that your tank is at constant 70 F. Your tank's oxygen concentration is <10 mg/L according to this graph. According to this Dissolved Oxygen, the required oxygen concentration for bottom feeders (I am assuming shrimps are included here as well) is between 1-6 mg/L. This means that your tank is safe from oxygen starvation. Keep in mind that this oxygen-water solubility is not accounting pH, kH, gH and TDS - which all may affect oxygen-water solubility.


Assuming everything is constant (e.i. temperature nearly does not fluctuate, water parameters do not change, and no over feeding) your shrimps and bacterias in your tank will be in harmony and thrive. Adding Bacter AE or other lived-bacteria containing products may destroy this if misuse. Bacillus subtitles is known as obligate aerobe, which means that they require oxygen to grow. In the case of Bacter AE, Bacillus subtitles will activate using oxygen. I have not found any study on this. But my guess is that the Bacillus subtitles will use up oxygen in the tank so fast than oxygen diffusing in water. This means that you have to initiate a means of enhancing mass transfer of oxygen to water by means of water agitation.


In addition to oxygen absorption, there may be other factors that control the activation of Bacillus subtitles in water. For one is their food. I believe that oxygen absorption is for activation only, which means that you will only get X-times of live Bacillus subtitles because you only added X-times in your tank - who knows how many do activate. Growth and/or propagation is another issue. Bacillus subtitles has the potential to grow exponentially given that you have proper water conditions (e.g. pH and temperature) and source of carbon and nitrogen through decaying leaves, piece of drift wood, cholla, uneaten food, and nitrate. Therefore, a pinch amount of Bacter AE may be detrimental still for your tanks (some people did experienced this). And yes, the other ingredients included in Bacter AE (e.i. amino acids, polysaccharides, xylanase, glucanase, amylase, protease, and hemicellulase) can be food for the bacterias as well.


On the other hand, I have seen people talked about Bacter AE causing death to their shrimps because the bacterias in it infected their shrimps. Assuming that Bacter AE contains Bacillus subtitles and Lactobacillus ONLY, this claim is "nearly" impossible. It is known that both of these species are probiotics and non-pathogenic. However, there is a study that reported Bacillus subtitles causing white spot syndrome to culture tiger shrimp Penaeus monsoon


I used to dose Bacter AE in my tank and never had any problem. In fact, this increased my baby shrimps' survival rate for sure. However, I started getting noticeable amount of rhabdocoela. Therefore, I stopped doing it. Now, I feed my own homemade (my own recipe) probiotic solution to my shrimps. I do not have any means of quantifying anything inside that solution. All I know are the reagents: water from my shrimp tank, table sugar, and Bacter AE. Using some journal papers that I found, I can speculate what by-products I can get in that solution. 







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I have to thank you for writing this long post post, but I honestly really don't know how to respond to this post cause most of whats being talked about here is speculation and to me Bacter Ae is full of speculations in regards to what it actually does. I used it before for a very small amount of time and stepped away from its use for the following reasons.


1. The amount to dose is currently up in the air, so far experience has taught us to ignore the manufacturers instructions (which is already a bad sign) and place a dose that is as small as possible into the tank which already adds a mild degree of difficulty to using it as the instructions are not clear and is up to trial and error for the new user.   


2. I cannot observe any of the claims Bacter Ae has made; including knowing whether the bacteria activates in the water or not, whether it removes toxic substances from the water, or provide the tank with a good microclimate and provide good digestion for the shrimp. As a shrimpkeeper I have no way of confirming how much bacteria activates within the water, how much bacteria is good/bad for the water column, what a good microclimate of bacteria should look like, whether this specific bacteria while good for humans is good for shrimp, whether it can remove toxic substances from the water, whether it removes oxygen or not and if it does how much oxygen does a certain amount of Bacter Ae remove and if it does remove oxygen how long will it take for oxygen to be replenished. Another issue is that if it does removes oxygen from the water and we know that know that removing oxygen is bad, why would we willingly add what is equivalently a poison to our tanks. So to sum it up I have a million questions regarding this product and the cost to benefit of this item only looks like costs to me, especially as you could utilize the 12-20 dollars to just purchase a different food that does not have a myth of killing your shrimp and just avoid the hassle of running multiple experiments for one product; that should be the manufacturers job not ours.


3. I cannot guarantee nor disprove the efficacy of this item as its efficacy is sorta based on the shrimp not dying. If the shrimp die, people back away from the product, if it does not kill the shrimp people keep using it, it has no color enhancement claims and no one has done a solid research regarding Bacter Ae, its all speculation. You can probably just feed your shrimp some food and get the same results which is growth, babies and surviving shrimplets. 


Sorry if it seems like a rant, I'm trying my best to not make it seem like one and just listing my reasons for not using this product without bashing it. Its one of the only topics that keeps recirculating in regards of whether it is good or bad and to me its not worth the degree of time we give it; as the entire conversation itself is speculative. This product either works or doesn't work for the user and when it doesn't work we pull at all these reasons that we don't even know are correct. Until someone decides to run all the necessary experiments on it which in itself would be more of a hassle than it is worth in my opinion we are going to be stuck in the dark. Anyways thanks again for the long post, these are always fun to read on the site and I believe it is deserving of a long thought out reply.  

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Hi Revaria,


Thanks for the response. These are valid points as a consumer. I do not see any hint of bashing. An example of bashing is the following: using half a container of Bacter AE and blaming the product for shrimps' death. That is absurd. This is like blaming Bayer for someone's overdose because they took half of the bottle of ibuprofen. This has no sense what so ever. Let me try to address your concerns (address might not be the right word here).


1.) This is true. I have seen people advised to dose as little as possible to their tank. The dose is up in the air indeed and it is up to the user. But if you are aware, most products are like this nowadays - instructions with minimum info. I think that this has to do with the consumers' demand of low cost. Most consumers do not know the value of a dollar. Most of them want low cost but good quality product, which is really impossible. This is a trade off that everyone must be aware. Adding a piece of paper with instructions per bottle could increase the price of Bacter AE exponentially. But of course, GlasGarten has the option to post information into their website. I would put this case into their fault and not to the consumer.


2 & 3.) Again, this is true unless someone with enough time, money and connection can do this experiment in a well established lab for microbes (e.g. UC Davis). I do not know what toxic substances these bacterias remove in the water. I have done my research on this. So far I found that Bacillus subtitles can thrive in anaerobe environment (e.g. they will use nitrate (known poisonous) as a replacement for oxygen and convert them to nitrite (poisonous in large concentration)). But be aware that they can turn nitrite to ammonia as well. As for doubts if Bacter AE has bacteria in it, I have observed that it does have bacteria in it based on my experiments. Again, I do not have any means to quantify my experiments. But visual results is sufficient for me. As far as activation go, I do not know the rate of activation. I did an experiment using Bacter AE,  table sugar and 8 oz of soda bottles with control (e.i. just RO water), RO water with few drops of SeaChem Flourish, and water from my tank. The only bottle that did activate (e.i. visual mass growth in the bottle and increased pressure) was the later one. That said, there are other products out there for shrimp food. It is indeed a hassle to use a questionable product and risk losing more.


We are not trying to prove which one of us is wrong. We share thoughts and opinions based on our experience. I really like this because we are learning. Everybody has a valid point except if you do something stupid like my example above. As I have mentioned (and you too as well), this product is hit or miss - if it works, you continue using it; if it does not, you go away. I do am curious on this product as well. But running experiments in a product is a very sensitive matter. Well, GlasGarten can sue you for learning and handing out information about their proprietary product. Of course, you can sue them if you prove that all or at least one of their claims is wrong.





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LOL I consider bashing to be marking down every negative thing about a product relentlessly which is basically what I did. I just try to be polite as possible cause it is way too easy to commit social suicide on the internet nowadays and I like this forum. 


Regarding the dosing instructions I just meant that a lot of people have questions about it and they still have not clarified the dosing instructions of the powder on their product which in my opinion would decimate shrimp tanks. I didn't think about them fixing their website, but you do make a good point they haven't fixed anything on that side either. 


I expect the Bacter Ae to activate I just don't know how much of it will activate or how many bacteria is inside the actual powder. For instance OTC lactobacillis from pharmacies estimate the amount of bacteria within each capsule, Bacter Ae doesn't provide that information and the bacteria are listed last on the ingredient list as well. Regarding the anaerobic part of the bacteria, if it was possible to recreate within our aquarium that would be amazing as it would complete the nitrogen cycle in our tanks causing nitrates to gas off from the aquarium saving us the trouble of water changes or at least less frequent water changes, but I believe our current tanks are too oxygenated for them to go through the denitrification process. 


And I think we are on the same page on this one; that would be quite the story if Glasgarten ordered a cease and desist order due to the testing of their product and suing them as an individual, now that would be a really big headache pricey as well lol. 

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  • 4 years later...

Getting into shrimp tanks and wanting to provide the best conditions possible has led me to bacter ae. Where the ingredient measurements for bacter ae are not listed in units of measurement. It is also pricey. However, by buying the human version supplements, 70g can cost 2 for 5. And you get more bang for your buck. This is a supplement for a shrimps diet. IMO, you would add 0.1g for every 20 shrimp. And increass the surface agitation for the water.

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