Tetra Safe Start And Adding Fish Mid Way

Stephen Henson
  • #1

So I may have gotten a little ambitious. I've had my 55 gallon tank set up for about 3 weeks now. I had been adding top fin bacteria supplement to it after water changes and thought everything was ok. I realized (after reading this site) that top fin bacteria isn't great. I decided to do a 90% water change and planned to dose it with 3 bottles of Tetra quick start after 24 hours of waiting for the dechlorinator to work.

My predicament is this: Before I realized the top fin wasn't great, I had already ordered 7 bristlenose plecos. My tank currently only has 4 guppies in it as I was using them to help cycle the tank with the top fin. So my plan was to go ahead and dump the 3 bottles of Tetra safe start into the tank tonight or tomorrow morning (which will have been 24 hours after the water change and dechlorinator) and hope for the bacteria from Tetra safe start to be decently on its way to cycling my tank by the time my 7 plecos get here (Thursday or Friday). However, I just thought about the extra load from the plecos. I am afraid if I dose the 55 gallon tank today with the 4 guppies in it, the bacteria will grow around their waste production and then get shocked Thursday/Friday when I add the plecos.

Should I wait until Thurs/FrI when I add the plecos to dose the tank with tetra safe start or just go ahead and do it tonight or Tuesday morning?

So in total, I will have 4 guppies and 7 bristlenose (medium sized juveniles) in a 55 gallon during this process.


  • #2
With many water changes (40% a day) I think it will be ok. Just don’t miss any water changes. Do these water changes everyday for 3 weeks. Next time, maybe cycle the tank without fish!
  • #3
You should not be doing water changes for 14 days after adding TSS. In my experience I had 3 tetras and added TSS then went and got a few more to up their school 2 days later. I added more TSS with the new additions and after 14 days was good to go. It is up to you when you want to add TSS, but personally I would wait for the plecos and then fully dose the tank with TSS. It would be more expensive, but you could dose the tank with the guppies to get it started, and then again once the plecos arrive.

Maybe this isn't necessary and I am wrong, so I would like to hear the input from people who have more experience with TSS. Good luck with the tank!
  • #4
I can say from experience now that the TopFin bacteria stuff does not work. TSS, on the other hand, does. I would dose the tank now and then do it again after the Plecos go in. Full dose now, maybe half as much the second time.
Stephen Henson
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I will wait until the plecos arrive and add it then. Another question, how heavily stocked of a tank can TSS handle? I'm assuming 4 guppies and 7 plecos is lightly stocked enough for a 55 gallon (I will be dumping 3 bottles of TSS) to handle?

Also, if I wait until Thursday or Friday and dose the tank right after adding the plecos, I assume 4 guppies won't have time to pollute the 55 gallon tank enough between now and Thursday to affect the TSS? As I said in my original post, I did a 90% water change last night (Sunday).
  • #6
7 bristlenose plecos might be a bit much in the long run. They get up to 5 invhes and will be a big bioload in your tank..lots poop. I'd read up on them. I think they are territorial. I know a 55 seems like a big tank but each pleco I will only have a pretty small piece to call their own.
  • #7
Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I will wait until the plecos arrive and add it then. Another question, how heavily stocked of a tank can TSS handle? I'm assuming 4 guppies and 7 plecos is lightly stocked enough for a 55 gallon (I will be dumping 3 bottles of TSS) to handle?

The amount of tss you add is more about the size of your tank than the number of fish. If you look on the back it will give you amounts to add based on the size of the tank.

Tss is not a chemical but is live bacteria that will create a colony. The colony will grow as big as it can in the space provided with the amount of food it can eat.

Personally, with the bristlenose plecos, I would add 150% of the amount suggested for the size of your tank on the day you add the plecos so the bacteria won't have to reproduce as fast.

In addition, I would suggest modifying your filter with fluval sponges and fluval biomax. Both will increase the amount of area in your filters where your bacteria can grow which will increase the bioload it can manage.

Live plants will also help you with a bioload.

For me, I added the amount recommended for a 30 gallon to my 20 gallon when I first used tss. I already had 4 adult mollies and a bn pleco when I added it and they had already raised my ammonia to 2.

I started doing small water changes about 6 days after I added the tss. Though, the fact that I had my filter modified to to encourage a larger bacteria colony inside it might have helped. My colony had a dream mansion waiting for it.

My filter is a top 20 silentstream but the open area only has the original blue plastic area for the bacteria colony to grow in. I have 2 strips of fluval sponge where the water flows in to catch major debris. Then I have 2 little bags of the fluval biomax. I wash out one piece of filter media every week in my used aquarium water after a water change. Lastly, I have a filter media bag which I fill with activated carbon and change out every month. My ammonia and nitrites are always at 0 and my plants keep my nitrates under 40 every week.

So, with the plecos, give your bacteria lots of area to grow in your filters and you won't have to do so many water changes.

Similar Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom