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Start-up Procedure and Maintenance

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A start up period and procedure is required to establish the bacteria in the biological filtering system; this period can take anywhere from four weeks to six weeks. The time required will depend on the type of water and the temperature the water is kept at, the colder the water the longer it will take to establish the bacteria. Bacteria will become dormant at temperatures below 46 degrees.


For most system installations, the recommended temperature for the water is 50 degrees. During this time the bacteria will have a chance to acclimate to the cold water and will then colonize in the biological filters. The established bacteria will respond to the ammonia produced by a larger quantity of minnows in the tanks. REMEMBER to NEVER let your bait dealer add their water to your system!


Day One:

When the BaitMaster+ live bait system has been installed and is running, put in a small quantity of minnows. They will produce the ammonia needed to establish the bacteria. Larger quantities can be used, but will take more care and attention.


Recommended start up quantities are as follows:

Single Tank Systems - ½ gallon or approximately 4 pounds of minnows (or less).

Double Tank Systems - 1 gallon or approximately 8 pounds of minnows (or less).

Triple Tank Systems - 1.5 gallons or approximately 12 pounds of minnows (or less).

Quad Tub Systems - 2 gallons or approximately 16 pounds of minnows (or less).


Day Two:

On the Second Day of having minnows in the live bait system (or as soon as there is ammonia present), add 2 ounces of the BaitMaster+ Bacteria supplied with your system. Each day following, check the ammonia and add 1 ounce of the BaitMaster+ Bacteria until the container is empty. A 32-ounce bottle of BaitMaster+Bacteria is supplied with each Live Bait System. Once opened the bacteria is only good for 60 days. When exchanging the water is necessary, add the bacteria only after draining-to-exchange-the-water has been completed. You may order more BaitMaster+ bacteria on this website.


Day Three: 

On the Third Day of operation with minnows in the system, check the ammonia level. The ammonia level will probably be in the 4.0 - 8.0 range (darkest green) on the chart in your ammonia test kit. If so, drain to exchange the water in the system. With the incoming water still turned on, drain water from the system, this drain-to-exchange-the-water will flush the system to dilute the ammonia in the water and filter media. Ammonia will concentrate in the biological filters and must be diluted to allow the bacteria to colonize more quickly and properly.  Draining-to-exchange-the-water this way, will flush ammonia from the tanks as well as from the filters. You can adjust the flow by partially opening the drain valve, so as not to remove all the water from the tanks during the flushing. The water should drop about 2-3 inches below normal. Drain and flush for 1 hour per tub. Diluting the ammonia in this manner will give the bacteria, establishing in the filters, a better chance to multiply and overtake the ammonia.


Day Four and on:

After the BaitMaster+ bacteria supplied has been used up, every day or two for about the next two weeks check the ammonia levels and if necessary, repeat the drain and flushing procedure. You may need an additional bottle of bacteria. The ammonia level desired is Oto 1.0 on the test kit chart. Do not drain and flush when there is little or no ammonia present.


Each day, remove all the dead minnows from the tanks. Be sure to check for dead minnows under the air stones and around tub drains. Clean the tanks as necessary.


Minnows can be sold during the start up period.

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