MicroBacter Start XLM is a new live nitrifying bioculture from Brightwell Aquatics for starting a saltwater or reef aquarium in record time. Cycling a saltwater aquarium has never been easier and there’s numerous live bacterial cultures available in the aquarium hobby, but these are not all created equal.
The typical crop of live nitrifiers and bacterial cultures are usually found in a refrigerator and have short shelf life. The usability window of most cycling products is measured in weeks even when they are kept at cold temperatures, and their efficacy reduces over time.
Brighwell Aquatics’ MicroBacter Start XLM is a new formulation of bacteria and enzymes that breaks free from both the time and temperature constraints. The usual method of adding some ‘seeded’ biological media to a new aquarium in conjunction with introducing a few hardy fish and or a source of nutrient source is still a great way to start the biological cycle of an aquarium.
You might shave off a few weeks off the typical four to six week cycling period if you start with a blank slate, but in our experience, this method tends to introduce a ‘long tail’ to the removal and transformation of Nitrite to Nitrate. MicroBacter Start XLM not only starts the biological cycle immediately after being added to the aquarium, but it also finishes the nitrogen cycle quickly, and completely with no residual ammonia or nitrite.
These are some bold claims from any manufacturer so in an effort to let the data speak for itself, we decided to introduce an impartial ‘observer’ to document the process of cycling our newest fish only tank. This nitrogen cycle observer came in the form of electronic ammonia monitoring courtesy of the Seneye, an innovative chemo-sensitive device which measures pH, temperature and ammonia with great accuracy.
As you can see, after several days of coasting with a stable ammonia level, immediately after adding MicroBacter Start XLM the concentration exhibited a near perfectly linear decrease until bottoming out just one week later. As we described before, many cycling products can start the biological cycle of aquariums quite quickly, but we were especially impressed with the completion of the nitrogen cycle using Brightwell’s MBSXLM additive.