Tank not cycled after two weeks of Tetra Safestart

coderedjulia

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Hi all, I was recommended to use Tetra Safestart plus to do in a fish in cycle in my 10 gallon tank. I bought 3 glofish tetras and they died that day. I was about to give up but decided to try a hardier fish. Got a 4 inch goldfish from a bait shop. I was planning on putting him in my parents pond when I’m done cycling. Then putting some glofish danios in there. Goldfish is doing just fine. Only trouble is that the 2 weeks is up and my tank is still not cycled. The water is getting very low and needs a water change. Should I just do a water change like I planned? How much of a water change? And can I use my seachem stability to add more bacteria in the tank or will it not mix well with the Safestart?
 

FishGirl38

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Could you post where your parameters are reading? So we can tell what, if anything, is happening in the cycle?

Even if you ARE using a beneficial bacteria supplement, cycling CAN take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. If you've got ammonia in the tank, and are using a supplement, than I'm certain SOMETHING is happening.

Even if you're still cycling, doing a small water change should be okay so long as you're not removing too much bacteria that you've spent the past 2 weeks trying to build (so don't change the filter, and lightly [if at all] syphon the gravel). The worse thing that could happen by doing a water change right now would be depleting the bacteria enough to where it 'stalls' your cycle. This just means it might take a little longer for the cycle to complete, If your ammonia is higher than .5ppm than you should do a water change, and if that water change stalls your cycle, it would be better than letting the ammonia continue to rise to toxic levels anyway. If your ammonia (and nitrite) is NOT testing higher than .5ppm, than technically you don't HAVE to do a water change just yet, since the tank is STILL cycling. If it wasn't cycling, I'd say to go ahead and do the routine change even if your tank is reading 'safe' (this is to replenish calcium and minerals 'eaten up' by acids in the tank - if left alone for awhile [e.g. months], the PH will (probably) drop).

You could add the seachem stability with no adverse affects. Although, Tetra safestart is supposed to be a more direct supplement. If you compare the ingredients/descriptions on both bottles. The stability promotes a type of bacteria that HELPS the nitrosomonas bacteria grow, whereas safestart actually includes the various bacteria that you'll naturally develop in the tank long term (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter).

You won't have anything negative happen, but I'm not sure adding the stability would help much if at all.
 

SinisterCichlids

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Definitely do water changes during the cycle. I would change about 25% of the water every 3 days if you're constantly getting a decent finding of ammonia in your tank. If you don't slow down the spike in ammonia levels, your beneficial bacteria levels cannot grow.

I also believe products like Tetra SafeStart are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. SeaChem stability is one of my favorite products, but it will not speed up your cycle, just prevent your tank from crashing and getting "new tank syndrome". If you are using any other de-chlorinator that isn't SeaChem Prime I would also suggest switching over to it. Prime will detoxify 1ppm ammonia for 24 hours to help your beneficial bacteria grow and convert ammonia into a non-toxic form.

As a side note, with the water evaporating, your ammonia levels are just becoming more toxic. Ammonia doesn't just evaporate with the water, but it actually becomes more dangerous as water evaporates. If your ammonia is anything over 3ppm, I would do a 50% water change today, like right now. And then follow a 25% change every three days. Dont scrub the tank down to the bones or mess around with the substrate too heavily. Don't clean the filters out as well. I would expect a complete cycle in about a month.
 

FishGirl38

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Matthew7812 said:
Definitely do water changes during the cycle. I would change about 25% of the water every 3 days. If you don't slow down the spike in ammonia levels, your beneficial bacteria levels cannot grow.

I also believe products like Tetra SafeStart are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. SeaChem stability is one of my favorite products, but it will not speed up your cycle, just prevent your tank from crashing and getting "new tank syndrome". If you are using any other de-chlorinator that isn't SeaChem Prime I would also suggest switching over to it. Prime will detoxify 1ppm ammonia for 24 hours to help your beneficial bacteria grow and convert ammonia into a non-toxic form.

As a side note, with the water evaporating, your ammonia levels are just becoming more toxic. Ammonia doesn't just evaporate with the water, but it actually becomes more dangerous as water evaporates. With that being said I would do a 50% water change today, like right now. And then follow a 25% change every three days.
EDIT: oh, I hadn't realized you qualified the statement with 'if you're having a continual reading of ammonia'. and in that case, I do agree with the statement.

Well, we don't necessarily know where his ammonia levels are...With a 4in goldfish in a 10G, I would guess they are higher than they should be, and a 50% water change (if done lightly - only to remove the over concentrated water and not to clean particulates) shouldn't stall the cycle I don't think...But....I personally wouldn't do a LARGE water change without testing the water first just to make sure...A 25% is absolutely recommended, but I wouldn't do a panic change without first testing...

.5ppm is your threshold. ANYTHING over that, and you need a water change. Doing w/c's is mathematically relevant with percentages too. So, if you're tank is reading at .5 ppm, than a 50% water change will mathematically take it down to .25 ppm and so on. -This is how I determine 'how much is too much' water to remove.

Matthew is 100% right, I actually had a customer today tell me she lost all of her fish over time in her 75G, she told me she did not do water changes and only topped off the aquarium. I explained what was said above. Only the H20 is leaving the aquarium. Your NH4, NO2-, and NO3- stay put. So the more the water evaporates and is just refilled opposed to diluted, the toxicity of NO3-, PO4-, and the acids from NH4- can build up and cause some real 'unexplainable' issues. I watched an entire 75G fully stocked community tank completely die off in the matter of an hour after 8 months of being 'maintained' in this way. This is called 'old tank syndrome'.

To the OP: Fish can handle a bit of ammonia in the water, but it will still stress them out if it's reading on the test kit. Anything over .5ppm is considered toxic, not only stress inducing but also poisoning. Its at this point when a water change becomes unavoidable. Since you're still cycling, you might observe ammonia in the tank that isn't *too* high. This is ~okay~ because you're waiting for your bacteria to 'eat it' (prime is amazing for this because you can have an increased concentration of ammonia in the tank, but prime will bind to it before the NH4 can bind to gill receptors, so it's 'safe' inside the tank), BUT it's still risky if the bacteria DOES NOT kick in to decrease it naturally within 48 hrs (when using prime anyway - that 'works' for 48 hrs).
 
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coderedjulia

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FishGirl38 said:
Could you post where your parameters are reading? So we can tell what, if anything, is happening in the cycle?

Even if you ARE using a beneficial bacteria supplement, cycling CAN take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. If you've got ammonia in the tank, and are using a supplement, than I'm certain SOMETHING is happening.

Even if you're still cycling, doing a small water change should be okay so long as you're not removing too much bacteria that you've spent the past 2 weeks trying to build (so don't change the filter, and lightly [if at all] syphon the gravel). The worse thing that could happen by doing a water change right now would be depleting the bacteria enough to where it 'stalls' your cycle. This just means it might take a little longer for the cycle to complete, If your ammonia is higher than .5ppm than you should do a water change, and if that water change stalls your cycle, it would be better than letting the ammonia continue to rise to toxic levels anyway. If your ammonia (and nitrite) is NOT testing higher than .5ppm, than technically you don't HAVE to do a water change just yet, since the tank is STILL cycling. If it wasn't cycling, I'd say to go ahead and do the routine change even if your tank is reading 'safe' (this is to replenish calcium and minerals 'eaten up' by acids in the tank - if left alone for awhile [e.g. months], the PH will (probably) drop).

You could add the seachem stability with no adverse affects. Although, Tetra safestart is supposed to be a more direct supplement. If you compare the ingredients/descriptions on both bottles. The stability promotes a type of bacteria that HELPS the nitrosomonas bacteria grow, whereas safestart actually includes the various bacteria that you'll naturally develop in the tank long term (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter).

You won't have anything negative happen, but I'm not sure adding the stability would help much if at all.
ammonia: 0ppm
nitrate: 40ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
 

SinisterCichlids

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FishGirl38 said:
Well, we don't necessarily know where his ammonia levels are...With a 4in goldfish in a 10G, I would guess they are higher than they should be, and a 50% water change (if done lightly - only to remove the over concentrated water and not to clean particulates) shouldn't stall the cycle I don't think...But....I personally wouldn't do a LARGE water change without testing the water first just to make sure...A 25% is absolutely recommended, but I wouldn't do a panic change without first testing...

.5ppm is your threshold. ANYTHING over that, and you need a water change. Doing w/c's is mathematically relevant with percentages too. So, if you're tank is reading at .5 ppm, than a 50% water change will mathematically take it down to .25 ppm and so on. -This is how I determine 'how much is too much' water to remove.

Matthew is 100% right, I actually had a customer today tell me she lost all of her fish over time in her 75G, she told me she did not do water changes and only topped off the aquarium. I explained what was said above. Only the H20 is leaving the aquarium. Your NH4, NO2-, and NO3- stay put. So the more the water evaporates and is just refilled opposed to diluted, the toxicity of NO3-, PO4-, and the acids from NH4- can build up and cause some real 'unexplainable' issues. I watched an entire 75G fully stocked community tank completely die off in the matter of an hour after 8 months of being 'maintained' in this way. This is called 'old tank syndrome'.
hey FishGirl38 Yeah I agree with everything you said. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! We don't know the ammonia levels, but I have a pretty good feeling they are very very up there with a messy goldfish in a 10 gallon. On top of that, I doubt the water changes would stall the cycle too. Whatever little bacteria is disrupted in a 10 gallon doesn't outweigh the benefits of doing consistent water changes and having little to zero ammonia haha.

coderedjulia said:
ammonia: 0ppm
nitrate: 40ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
Are you using test strips or an API test kit?
 

SinisterCichlids

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coderedjulia said:
API test kit for the ammonia. And test strips for the rest. I do need to go and buy some.
Ok, so I trust the ammonia reading of zero, which is great news!! Unfortunately with the test strips your nitrate and nitrite readings arent as reliable :( I think just follow the above advice from FishGirl38 and I and you will be all set!
 

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coderedjulia said:
ammonia: 0ppm
nitrate: 40ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
oop, They're easy to mix up. You've labeled two nitrates there. So, nitrite is actually MORE toxic than ammonia is...and I'm hoping you just left out some decimal points there.

.1 nitrite isn't toxic at all.
but 10 nitrite is x20 toxicity.

As Matthew was saying, a water change is (usually) ALWAYS helpful. Considering your results, I would say this idea is true in your case too. (honestly) I do regular 40-50% water changes on my tanks, that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for your tank too. It's all relevant to how much waste your fish create, but it appears that your nitrites may be a little high...not 100% sure if thats .1, 1.0, or actually 10ppm in nitrite. (really hoping the lesser one is nitrite). If the 40ppm reading is your nitrite, than you definitely want to do a water change, and 50% would do more good than bad given the readings. (even if that's reading at .4ppm...it's getting up there for nitrite, a 50% water change would take it down to .2, 2.0, or 20ppm).

Nitrate is pretty safe unless it's reading off the charts for long periods of time (180+ppm for months). and even in these cases, the fish might appear more listless and not as lively, but it shouldn't cause any issues worse than lots of algae.

I 100% recommend just biting the bullet and buying a master test kit. Its quite an investment (depending on where you get it....last I checked amazon has them for 25$ with tax) BUT...you won't need to replace it for another 3-4 years, AND you'll be able to test your tank as much and as frequently as you want for a total of about 5k tests. Its worth it's initial investment x10 when you add up how often you'll need to replace the test strips at 12$ a 25pk...

Additionally, the test strips aren't nearly as accurate as the liquid solutions. the nitrate solution can be finicky at times (I've had to test it twice in the past just to double check my results - if you don't shake the second bottle well enough, it'll give you false results). But otherwise, I push people towards the master kit every time, it's well worth its initial weight. :).

EDIT: I also want to comment on the lifespan of your cycle, if your nitrite is the 10 reading, and the nitrate is the 40ppm reading, than I'd say you're ALMOST through your cycle, less than a week away. If it's the other way around, than I'd say you're about mid way through it, and have about another week and a half (potentially longer) to go before you're seeing completely balanced nitrite.).

Now, a note about stocking the tank. Once you've established that initial blanket of bacteria, you'll still need to build onto it one block at a time. If, for example, you were to remove the goldfish, and add the complete 'end game' stock to the tank, you'll likely have a rapidly increasing ammonia spike. You'll need to stock the tank gradually in order to slowly build up your biological colony large enough to maintain your end game stocking. You don't even need to THINK about this if you stick to the 1-3 fish at a time rule (for 10G tanks)....things might start to get hairy if you add anymore than 5 fish at a time to your 10G.

If, in the future, you think you may have added too many fish at once, just keep an eye on the ammonia level (test 2-3 times a day) and if it starts to spike higher than .3ppm (because at this point, your fish are used to zero, controlled ammonia) than you'll want to do a water change to dilute it (a light one, because you're trying to grow and keep bacteria (again)).

AHHH ANOTHER EDIT: There IS a 'Maximum bacteria threshold'. This isn't all that important if you Don't plan on overstocking the tank...but if you do happen to overstock...

You WILL hit a point where you will always have an increasing amount of ammonia and nitrite because there simply isnt enough physical room in the filter and the gravel bed for the amount of bacteria you would need to maintain the amount of fish you're keeping at a balanced rate. It CAN be totally overwhelmed even while its completely cycled. In these cases, you would want to add a second filter to the tank, or add MORE bacterial filter media (ceramic stones). I'm going on at this point. I hope I helped some.
 

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As the directions say on Safestart website do a water change after 14 days. While using it you will get inaccurate readings because of what is in it. I would do a 75% water change and be sure to condition the new water then take readings in a couple days
 
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coderedjulia

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FishGirl38 said:
oop, They're easy to mix up. You've labeled two nitrates there. So, nitrite is actually MORE toxic than ammonia is...and I'm hoping you just left out some decimal points there.

.1 nitrite isn't toxic at all.
but 10 nitrite is x20 toxicity.

As Matthew was saying, a water change is (usually) ALWAYS helpful. Considering your results, I would say this idea is true in your case too. (honestly) I do regular 40-50% water changes on my tanks, that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for your tank too. It's all relevant to how much waste your fish create, but it appears that your nitrites may be a little high...not 100% sure if thats .1, 1.0, or actually 10ppm in nitrite. (really hoping the lesser one is nitrite). If the 40ppm reading is your nitrite, than you definitely want to do a water change, and 50% would do more good than bad given the readings. (even if that's reading at .4ppm...it's getting up there for nitrite, a 50% water change would take it down to .2, 2.0, or 20ppm).

Nitrate is pretty safe unless it's reading off the charts for long periods of time (180+ppm for months). and even in these cases, the fish might appear more listless and not as lively, but it shouldn't cause any issues worse than lots of algae.

I 100% recommend just biting the bullet and buying a master test kit. Its quite an investment (depending on where you get it....last I checked amazon has them for 25$ with tax) BUT...you won't need to replace it for another 3-4 years, AND you'll be able to test your tank as much and as frequently as you want for a total of about 5k tests. Its worth it's initial investment x10 when you add up how often you'll need to replace the test strips at 12$ a 25pk...

Additionally, the test strips aren't nearly as accurate as the liquid solutions. the nitrate solution can be finicky at times (I've had to test it twice in the past just to double check my results - if you don't shake the second bottle well enough, it'll give you false results). But otherwise, I push people towards the master kit every time, it's well worth its initial weight. :).

EDIT: I also want to comment on the lifespan of your cycle, if your nitrite is the 10 reading, and the nitrate is the 40ppm reading, than I'd say you're ALMOST through your cycle, less than a week away. If it's the other way around, than I'd say you're about mid way through it, and have about another week and a half (potentially longer) to go before you're seeing completely balanced nitrite.).

Now, a note about stocking the tank. Once you've established that initial blanket of bacteria, you'll still need to build onto it one block at a time. If, for example, you were to remove the goldfish, and add the complete 'end game' stock to the tank, you'll likely have a rapidly increasing ammonia spike. You'll need to stock the tank gradually in order to slowly build up your biological colony large enough to maintain your end game stocking. You don't even need to THINK about this if you stick to the 1-3 fish at a time rule (for 10G tanks)....things might start to get hairy if you add anymore than 5 fish at a time to your 10G.

If, in the future, you think you may have added too many fish at once, just keep an eye on the ammonia level (test 2-3 times a day) and if it starts to spike higher than .3ppm (because at this point, your fish are used to zero, controlled ammonia) than you'll want to do a water change to dilute it (a light one, because you're trying to grow and keep bacteria (again)).
Ah, sorry yeah the nitrite is 10ppm. The nitrate is 40ppm. So should I wait another week and don’t touch like I’ve been doing or do a 25% water change tomorrow? Don’t touch filter and light vacuum on the gravel. Maybe just the surface? This goldfish poops a lot but I have been feeding him every two days and making sure to catch any flakes he doesn’t eat. So you said there would be an ammonia spike when I remove the goldfish and put in my Glofish danios. I don’t know how many Glofish danios I can fit in my tank. But I know I don’t put more than 3 glofish tetras in my 10 gallon and it’s worked out fine in the past. This was of course when the tank was fully cycled. They’re too sensitive for a fish in cycle with the Safestart. Learned that the hard way. Don’t know how hardy danios are but what would you recommend on the number of danios I should put in my tank to start it off? Maybe 2? I would prefer 3 since I live far but I don’t want to take my chances of them dying. Then I can gradually add more? I live an hour away from Petsmart so it’s not the easiest for me to buy fish but I don’t want them to all die cause I put too many in at once.
 

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