Nitrate Problem With In-fish Tss+ Cycling Tank

  1. VulcanXIV Initiate Member

    Hi guys, I have a pretty long story when it comes to my 20g Long tank, but I'll stick to the immediate problem I have right now.

    So I stumbled upon the Tetra SafeStart interview post after finding out that TSS is actually an excellent starter option. I thought my tank was cycled but I was reading .50 ammonia and I realized that shouldn't be the case. I left 3 nerite snails, 1 harliquin rasbora and 1 peppered cory to do an in-fish cycle (as TSS recommends) and dumped the entire bottle of TSS into the tank. That was about 3 days ago.

    Yesterday I tested my water (liquid master test) and found that my nitrites were registering. This was a good sign and I couldn't wait to be able to put in the rest of my fish in a week or so. My problem though is kind of unforeseen when it comes to managing a 7-10 day TSS cycle...My fish and I seem to be handling the elevated ammonia and nitrites just fine during this cycling period, and the levels are well in the norm...but my nitrates are insane! They were definitely in the 40-80's, maybe even higher.

    Today is the third day and I've done another test. Ammonia is now under .25 (almost gone) and Nitrites are under .50. Really good signs, but once again my nitrates are definitely at 80 or higher right now. Depending on how i'm looking at it, they might even be approaching 100.

    So here's my issue. It's been roughly half a week and I don't want to change the water if I could help it (like the Tetra interview recommends), but they also say that if you have to do a water change, then do so (although with another dosage of TSS). In that interview it's stated that just about most water conditioners kill the TSS cycle, if not the entire beneficial bacteria in general (I haven't established that difference yet). So I'm at a loss because I clearly have to reduce these nitrate levels, but I can't use Prime during this very delicate phase. TO MY UNDERSTANDING, it was mentioned in the interview that Prime works up to 48 hours with all that binding goodness, so I surmised that I should wait with a bucket of conditioned water for 48 hours before finally doing the water change.

    I had also added some Tetra EasyBalance a few hours ago, which is supposedly a treatment that reduces nitrates while also balancing pH and overall just reducing the need for water changes. However I gave in and did a bucket-full water change just now in panic...The water in that bucket was treated with Prime for maybe only 3-5 hours and it's killing me wondering if I just kicked my TSS cycle in the face. The bucket is about 2-ish gallons of water.

    I kind of feel like i'm answering my own question here with all this rambling, but I was just hoping to get anyone's insight into this about my nitrate problem and if my recent 2 gallon water change will have harmed my cycle. I honestly think it did. I'm so impatient and I couldn't imagine waiting 48 hours for the conditioner in the bucket to finish/dissipate so that I can FINALLY start trying to put a small dent in the insane amount of nitrates in my 20g Long.

    TL;DR -- 20g Long currently in-fish cycling with TSS for 3-4 days. Ammonia, Nitrites and fish are fine, but Nitrates are crazy high at 80+. Afraid of doing water change with Prime treated water in fear of killing my TSS cycle. I panicked and did water change with 2 gallons of water that were treated for only 4 hours. Am at a loss with what to do with my excessive nitrates as well as the options at hand for reducing them without bringing harm to TSS cycle and bacteria.

    Assuming everything works out in another week, it also brings the question if I should wait 48 hours with a pre-conditioned bucket every time I want to do a water change. Is the 48hour Prime period a danger to any cycling or cycled tank bacteria in general?
  2. stella1979 Well Known Member Member

    I can't say what's best regarding your nitrates or cycle. However, from what I've been told, Prime is safe to use several days after TSS+ and I did so in the past with no ill effects. Prime will not harm the bacteria of a cycled tank, and in fact is widely considered to be the best conditioner to use to protect both the fish and the filter from chlorine/chloramines that are usually present in tap water.

  3. VulcanXIV Initiate Member

    I thought so as well about Prime. I changed my mind though when I realized that TSS is apparently vulnerable to anything that binds or removes ammonia and even chloramines. In the sense that it makes ammonia unusable for bacteria to eat. I'm put at ease that you haven't had bad results from the same thing. Luckily all I have to expect in the end is ammonia is at zero in 2-3 weeks time. That'll tell me for sure if this all failed or not. Ammonia readings in any fishtank is indicative of something wrong in the bacteria, that's for sure.