Tetra SafeStart Q&A

Tetra SafeStart questions and answers

  1. Lucy
    Author: @Lucy

    Since we have so many questions about how to use Tetra SafeStart I sent them an e-mail.
    I hope this helps answer the many questions about this product.
    Shawnie will be adding some info she recieved from them.

    TO: TetraCare Customer Care Team

    Hi :)
    I belong to an on-line forum and several questions come up about the use
    of SafeStart.
    The directions on the bottle aren't very clear.
    Many members have had luck with it but some haven't.
    We'd love to be able to answer questions about it's use.
    If you could send step by step instructions so that I may pass them on,
    it would be great.

    Some of the more popular questions are:
    Will conditioners that detox ammonia effect SafeStart?
    If so, how and why?

    Do you add water, conditioner, SafeStart and fish all at once or should
    a) Add fish, wait a day to add Tetra SafeStart?
    b) Add Tetra SafeStart wait a day to add fish?
    c) Do you add your full stock of fish at once or start off with just a

    If you've already added fish and have an ammonia reading, will Tetra
    SafeStart still be effective?

    At what ammonia reading will Tetra SafeStart still be effective.

    Is there too high of a reading that would render Tetra SafeStart
    What would that reading be?

    Can it be refrigerated without harming the bacteria?

    After adding Tetra SafeStart:
    How soon should you test the water and why?
    (I've heard it said you'll get high ammonia readings if you test within
    10 days of adding TSS. Isn't that harmful to the fish? If not, why?)

    How soon should you do a water change after adding the product and why?

    Does TSS effect the pH?

    What is the key to the success or failure of Tetra SafeStart?

    I'm sorry, I know I have a lot of questions but the forums goal is the
    same as yours, happy healthy fish.

    I appreciate your taking the time to address my questions.
    Feel free to add any other information you think would be pertinent to
    the success or failure of SafeStart.

    Thank you!

    Hi there,

    Wow, lots of questions! All are pretty simple, and we get them a lot
    too. I'll suggest marketing address them on our website, next time they
    update it. Out of curiosity, what forum is it?

    So...where to begin? First, ideally you should set up the tank, and let
    it run at least 24 hours, then, shortly before you head off to the store
    for your first fish, add TSS to the tank. Within two hours, you should
    add the fish. I would add the fish then a few hours (up to 12) later add the TSS as the bacteria NEEDS that ammonia source to feed it(NEW SETUPS ONLY)

    Our normal recommendation is to add one small fish per
    ten gallons of water. However, you CAN fully stock the tank, you just
    need to keep a close eye on it, and be sure to not complicate matters by
    overfeeding as well. We recommend this method for African cichlid tanks
    since it is best to fully stock such a tank from the beginning due to
    territorial issues. For a novice fish-keeper, we'd recommend the one
    small fish per ten gallons rule for the first two weeks. Within two
    weeks, TSS should have fully cycled the tank and they can start slowly
    adding more fish, one at a time. I would add your full stock right away, with the correct amount of TSS for your tank size..

    In regards to ammonia products, yes, they kill TSS. Any type, whether a
    chloramines remover or detoxifier, etc, anything that says it locks up
    ammonia or removes ammonia. Do not add TSS for 24 hours after using
    such a product, and do not add such a product for at least 7 days after
    using TSS. The bacteria is housed in a special stabilized solution of
    ammonia, so if you remove/lock up the ammonia, you remove all of the
    food the bacteria require to live.

    If you already have fish, and are having an ammonia issue, it is best to
    get the ammonia levels down to below 4.0. 4.0 and higher is just as
    toxic to TSS as it is to fish. While 2.0 -3.5 ppm ammonia may harm some
    of the TSS bacteria, it should still have some effect. You may want to
    do a second dose several days after adding the first one, if you are not
    seeing the results you want. Keep in mind, these are bacteria, not a
    chemical, so results are slow to see. Give the product at least 5-7
    days.recommended to add the next size up bottle with already exisiting ammonia/fish in a tank...ex. 30-55g tank, use a bottle of TSS for a 75g tank

    Best temperature for TSS is between 40 and 80 degrees. Freezing and
    extreme heat will destroy it. Refrigeration is okay, but not necessary.

    You can test the water any time, but really, you should probably wait at
    least 48 hours. We expect TSS to start slowly seeding the tank, and
    making a difference in about that time. You have to have some ammonia
    occur in the tank to provide the cycle needed, so it will usually create
    levels or reduce levels to around 1.0-1.5 ppm, and they should stay
    there for a week to 14 days, and then come down. Sorry, these levels
    would be for both ammonia and nitrite. These are considered stress, but
    not toxic, levels, and should not cause any long term damage to the

    We recommend waiting two weeks before a water change. Of course, if for
    some reason, the levels go up to a high level again, we would recommend
    a change at that point, and another dose. Usually, the hobbyist has
    done something wrong the first time, in such cases.

    Nope, bacteria should not affect the pH.the bacteria itself wont effect it, but very common for tanks that are cycling, to flectuate ph until the cycle is completed..then the ph settles more on a stable range

    Hmmm....be sure the levels are not already toxic, shake the container
    thoroughly, be sure to add the right dosage, do not use an ammonia
    detoxifying product, and be patient. It won't give you zero readings in
    an hour, like some folks think. By the way, carbon does not affect it
    but uv lights do...we get those questions too. :) And just an
    interesting point...the large aquariums, such as the Georgia Aquarium,
    and the Shedd Aquarium, as well as huge research labs in this country
    and other countries, also use TSS as well as the saltwater version Bio
    Spira. ALWAYS use the entire bottle as its too difficult to split it up and not knowing how much of the bacteria is left behind by using partial bottles

    If I have not addressed all of your questions, please let me know.


    Tetra Care

    great job lucy!!! other than what ive added in blue, from testing the product for months, and phone calls as well as emails, its consistent with all my research also!
    Zai and Kesheik like this.

Recent Reviews

  1. teko116
    Awesome work! @Aquabee So, you could purchase the bacteria, as long as it has been handled properly (kept refrigerated)
  2. Argenis
    Great article! Cycled my tanks in just 9 days!
  3. SaltyPrncss
    I used this article when I was using TSS+ to do a fish-in cycle for my 2.5 gallon betta tank and it gave me the confidence to just trust that the product will work. 11 days later, I have a cycled tank! Thank you!