Ammonia in Tetra SafeStart Harmful?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Geoffrey, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. GeoffreyWell Known MemberMember

  2. ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    The ammonia in the package is food for the bacteria so it doesn't die before it's purchased. It should not be harmful for your fish. There has to be some ammonia so the bacteria can multiply.

  3. GeoffreyWell Known MemberMember

    I understand that the bacteria in TSS must have a food source since it's active, unlike Seachem's Stability. But it's still ammonia, right? If it's really ammonia in the TSS in the container, wouldn't it still be harmful to fish? Especially if one were to put a bottle rated for a 10 or even 20 gallon tank in a 3 gallon betta tank.
  4. DanB80TTSWell Known MemberMember

    It's probably fine for fish, seachem prime turns ammonia into ammonium, if you tested it would show ammonia even though it's ammonium and is safe for the fish. Tetra safe start probably is housed in ammonium as it can be used for food for bacteria yet still be safe for fish, since so many people use it with great success, I wouldn't worry about it.
  5. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    It's almost certainly in the form of an ammonia compound that is harmless to fish, yet available to feed the bacteria both in the bottle, and perhaps for a while after putting it into the aquarium.

    But many of the water test kits cannot distinguish between these ammonia compounds and free ammonia. So this is why most people advise against even doing any testing during the first two weeks after adding the TSS.

    Many people spoil the outcome by doing a test, thinking they've got high levels of harmful ammonia or nitrite, and then doing water changes, or dosing the tank with water conditioners.

    My advice is this:

    Wait 24 to 48 hours after adding any of these water conditioners. Then add the TSS and the fish. Then, for the first two weeks, observe the fish and only do anything to the tank if the fish appear to be distressed. You can test the water, but just be aware that the TSS may give false and scary readings for the first two weeks.

    The bottle directions say to add the TSS and fish at the same time. It says nothing about doing water changes or testing, or adding conditioners.

    In this case, I really do think that ignorance is bliss.

    And the stuff works. People who just do what it says to do don't lose fish. And there's no evidence I've seen to prove or suggest that the fish are harmed or even stressed.

    I think TSS provides enough free floating bacteria to immediately handle the bioload of the fish appropriate for the size of tank the bottle is meant to treat. And after a couple of weeks, the bacteria hopefully colonize your filter's biomedia and the surfaces of your tank, etc. And now, you're free to do water changes without flushing your bacteria down the drain.

    Also, my thinking is that if you feel you will not be able to accept on faith that the product does what it is supposed to do - (make the tank safe for your fish immediately and also seed and establish the colonies of beneficial bacteria in your tank and filters) - then you should do a fishless cycle so YOU won't be stressed! :)

    I have no doubt that a lot of the readings people get when using the usual test kits are bogus after having used TSS. We know that the API test cannot distinguish between ammonia (toxic) and ammonium (harmless).

    But for how long after using the TSS will we get false positive readings for ammonia? And does this also apply to some nitrite compound they may include to nourish the nitrite-eating strains? I have no idea!

    I've used it a couple of times and never lost any fish or crustaceans, or seen any evidence of stress or anything but just happy, healthy fish. But my few experiences don't constitute a thorough and exhaustive scientific study.

    Still, if people were losing fish, using it as labeled, would fish stores keep selling it? Wouldn't they be annoyed at having upset customers returning dead fish all of the time, after using TSS?

    Sometimes, I think we "enthusiasts" end up with the situation where a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, while less informed people just follow the directions and have fine success. :)
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  6. GeoffreyWell Known MemberMember

    "Probably fine" isn't really good enough for those people that panic when they see a spike in ammonia after using TSS. Then they go ahead and do a water change, killing off the TSS bacteria.

    As for Prime, it's a common misconception/myth that Prime turns ammonia into ammonium. Prime actually binds the ammonia as a non-toxic iminium salt (an imine is a organic molecule that contains a C-N double's very generic).
    Ammonia is also very closely linked to ammonium in that they're both at equilibrium. At lower pH values, at around 6 or lower, most ammonia is converted into ammonium. So this makes it safer for your fish, but a lower pH also "shuts down" your bacteria.

    I actually do have faith in the product based on the experience of people on this forum. However, I participate in another forum and since I often recommend TSS, I thought I should learn more about it. Especially since I haven't had any personal experience with it.

    Don't stores still sell Cycle, Stress Zyme and Quick Start? From what I understand, these products don't contain the bacteria we want in our aquarium. I think stores will continue to sell what makes them profit. This also includes small fish bowls and tiny half-gallon desk "tanks."
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  7. DanB80TTSWell Known MemberMember

    Well thank you for enlightening me, I will have to look into that some more!
  8. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    That's true. Stores and chains of stores, and corporations are (rightly) in the business to make money to feed their families or to earn profits so their stockholders will get a return on their investment.

    And like you say, we see things sold in stores that we "enthusiasts" find ridiculous or even cruel. So that's disturbing and calls into question the ethics of the companies in question.

    But what I'd like to think, is this: If a product (like TSS) didn't work, and ended up costing the company money because it discouraged new aquarists, thus ruining potential lifetime customers, and if it cost the store money directly in refunds on dead fish, then the store or chain of stores would notice this, and they'd stop selling it in their own selfish interest.

    Then again, as you point out, they do sell those tiny bowls, etc. So maybe I'm ascribing more analysis and thought to all of this than actually goes into it! ;)

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