Bacterial Bloom

Article by Cody Schmeer, Director of Operations


Bacterial blooms are extremely common, especially in newly set up lobster tanks, or in those where overstocking has occurred or those that have just undergone a significant water change.. Heterotrophic bacteria feed on organic matter, such as decaying algae, lobster feces, and dead bacteria. These bacteria can rapidly reproduce, causing the tank to cloud up. When exactly this occurs is hard to determine as bacteria are living organisms, and difficult to predict. Most cases we’ve seen experience bacterial blooms within 2-3 days of a water change, and 1-2 weeks after a newly set up tank.


Insuring that all the activated carbon is new, and filter media is clean will help but the most important step is patience. The tank water has not stabilized and cloudy water (bacterial bloom) is all part of the process in growing a healthy bacteria colony to combat the ammonia produced by lobster waste. It is critical to not put more than 10% capacity in the tank upon after doing a water change, and expect to lose some product. 10% more can be added after a few days and every other day thereafter until capacity is reached.


Vigilance in tank maintenance, proper purging procedure, and loading schedule. Don’t forget that lobsters are the ONLY living product for sale in a seafood market. They require specific care to survive. Lack of knowledge, due diligence, and (most times) patience, will not advance the stabilization of the water and only set the process back.


This does not matter. Once all the water, or a significant amount is removed, a good amount of healthy bacteria id removed also. Introducing an excessive amount of freshly made salt water will also kill off most of the bacteria left behind. Think back to biology class in High School. Bacteria are living organisms that are creatures of their environment. There are literally thousands upon thousands of strands and a slight change in its environment will weaken or kill it. New bacteria will grow and reproduce but will take time. This process can’t be rushed. A healthy colony of bacteria can be supported and helped by adding Lobster Life Systems Liquid Nitrifying Bacteria at a rate of 16oz per 50 gallons. It is important to note that this will not clear the tank, but speed the break in period.

The break in period (“new tank syndrome”) is painful. Here is a great chart and outline to further support this blog. It is recommended that you print and distribute this to the seafood dept. staff. Knowledge is power, and experience breeds confidence.

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