Tss Cycling - how long to work?

babiimoore
  • #1
hey guys! I was hoping someone could help me out with this so I can make sure everything goes smoothly. I have a 10 gallon tank with 3 fish, 1 betta and 2 mollies that I got 6 days ago. I also got two ADF in a 5 gallon tank that is also not cycled. but lets focus on the 10 gallon because I can always just put them in there. the things I have at the moment is a filter, heater (keep tank 79), top fin water conditioner (removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals) and top fin beneficial bacteria (which ive been told does nothing but I add some anyways) I just ordered a 3.38 OZ bottle of tatra safe start and API test kit. I have been doing daily 30% water changes and so far everyone in the tank seems fine but I need to speed things up, I don't enjoy water changes everyday and worrying about them. safe start and testing kit should be here in no more then 4 days. from what ive read so far everyone mentions using prime 24 hours before adding safe start, but will API water conditioner work too? I can get prime if need be. is there anything specific I need to do to make sure this works? how long will it take to cycle? since I only have a 10 gallon can I save half the bottle for my 5 gallon? do I keep the carbon in my filter? will I still need to do daily water changes? if anyone could give me some direction itd be greatly appreeciated! thanks!
 
sam mcworthington
  • #2
seeing as you got the tank 6 days ago I am assuming it is probably not cycled yet, in which case you should have waited until the tank had been cycled before adding the fish, anyways if they are doing fine then oh well. - I assume that your current dechlorinator will be fine instead of prime, and I have used the beneficial bacteria and found it to work, if you do not enjoy the water changes maybe try 30% every 2-3 days instead (only do this if the fish show no signs of stress/unhealthy) - if they do show signs of stress perhaps change back to once a day. - there does not seem much point in moving the fish to the bucket if they are both uncycled. - it should take about 2 weeks to cycle however it can be a bit shorter or longer. Carbon in the filter is mainly used to keep water clear, and so I assume it is fine to leave in.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I know its a bit more difficult to cycle with fish in the tank, but ive read that itll work fine as long as you keep an eye on them. youve used top fin benefical bacteria and it worked? I have tetra safe start on the way, that's the main reason I made this thread, I was wondering how to use it efficiently.
 
stella1979
  • #4
The reason you have to wait to use TSS+ after Prime is that Prime not only dechlorinates, but it also binds ammonia. TSS+ has ammonia in it for the bacteria to eat and the product works based on ammonia being available. Your dechlorination is not an ammonia binder, so you don't have to worry about that. I would still avoid using it the same day as TSS though.

Check your parameters before adding TSS to the tank. You may have to do a water change first, as TSS works on low amounts of ammonia in the water. So, test and do a water change if you have to in order to be sure that neither ammonia or nitrite are over one. Ideally, you will have less than 1ppm ammonia and zero nitrite. If you do have nitrites, be sure that ammonia plus nitrite equals one or less. For example - ammonia is 1ppm and nitrites are 1ppm, 1+1 = 2. That's too high. Ammonia is 0.5 and so is nitrites, 0.5+0.5 = 1 and that's fine.

Do not keep carbon in the filter.

TSS makes parameters spike, but doing a water change soon after adding it will delay or stop the cycling process. Lots of people say to not even test for a week after TSS, as there's nothing you can do and it may only cause worry. Watch your fish though... I'd have to say screw the cycle and do a water change if my fish appeared to be suffering.

After the first week, start checking your numbers and do a water change if the sum of ammonia and nitrites are above 1ppm. This is where you want to switch to Prime because of its ability to bind ammonia. There will be ammonia in the water, you can keep it low via water changes, but even low amounts are toxic to fish. Daily doses of Prime and keeping the ammonia and nitrite below 1ppm will make the water safe for your fish.
 
Gone
  • #5
You're being impatient. You want to speed up the process because you don't like doing water changes so often. I think that's why people so often reach for the magic cycle booster products and wonder why they can't get their tanks cycled. I disagree that the cycle boosters do nothing. They do something significant, you can see that by reading all the posts with people tearing their hair out. But whether you use cycle boosters or not, if you're trying to force your tank to cycle before it happens naturally, you're asking for trouble. This isn't a scientific opinion, but I'll bet impatience kills a lot more fish than anything else.

I'll recommend what I know works. Do a 25% water change every other day, on off days do your water testing, and just watch your tanks cycle over a period of about a month. If you get nasty ammonia or nitrite spikes, up your water change percentage, but don't panic because you need those substances for your tank to cycle. If you add cycle boosters all bets are off.
 
jdhef
  • #6
Prime, like TopFin water conditioner, will remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from your tap water. But where Prime goes the extra mile is in it's ability to detox up to 1ppm of ammonia (and presumably) nitrites for 24 hours. So if you have fish in an uncycled tank, it is preferable to use Prime as your water conditioner. So long as you keep your ammonia/nitrite level under 1ppm, Prime will totally detox them making the water safe for your fish.

I'm a big fan of Tetra SafeStart and have at success with it every time I used it. The first misconception I want to clear up is that you cannot use any water conditioner which removes chloramines (and as far as I know, all water conditioners on the market remove chloramines) less than 24 hours before adding SafeStart.

Since your SafeStart is arriving in 4 days, it's kinda up to you if you want to splurge on Prime or if you want to do 4 more days of water changes to keep your ammonia levels low. If you do get the Prime, you will not have wasted money on the TopFin water conditioner, since after the tank has completed cycling you can either use it up and then switch to Prime or use up the Prime and then stay with the TopFin. But I prefer staying with Prime just in case you ever have an ammonia problem in the future, you don't have to run out and buy some.

Okay now for what you really want to know...how to use the SafeStart...
Since you already have fish in the tank, here's what you should do:
1) Perform a large water change, using the water conditioner of your choice (even back to back water changes if needed) to get the ammonia level as close to 0ppm as possible.
2) Wait 24 hours.
3) Add the ENTIRE, well shaken bottle of SafeStart to the tank.
4 Do nothing other than lightly feed your fish for the next 14 days. And I mean nothing, no water changes, no adding chemicals...nothing. Don't even test your water unless the fish look distressed.
5) On day 14 after adding SafeStart test your water, if all worked properly...You're cycled!
6) sometime after day 14, but before your nitrate level gets to 20ppm you can do your first (since adding SafeStart) water change.

One last thing...test your pH level. If it is much under 7.0 you may have a difficult time cycling the tank. If it is below 7.0, post and I'll explain why that's a problem and how to solve it.

Here's a link that you should find very helpful and informative:
Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

Best of luck.
 
Sarah73
  • #7
Prime, like TopFin water conditioner, will remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from your tap water. But where Prime goes the extra mile is in it's ability to detox up to 1ppm of ammonia (and presumably) nitrites for 24 hours. So if you have fish in an uncycled tank, it is preferable to use Prime as your water conditioner. So long as you keep your ammonia/nitrite level under 1ppm, Prime will totally detox them making the water safe for your fish.

I'm a big fan of Tetra SafeStart and have at success with it every time I used it. The first misconception I want to clear up is that you cannot use any water conditioner which removes chloramines (and as far as I know, all water conditioners on the market remove chloramines) less than 24 hours before adding SafeStart.

Since your SafeStart is arriving in 4 days, it's kinda up to you if you want to splurge on Prime or if you want to do 4 more days of water changes to keep your ammonia levels low. If you do get the Prime, you will not have wasted money on the TopFin water conditioner, since after the tank has completed cycling you can either use it up and then switch to Prime or use up the Prime and then stay with the TopFin. But I prefer staying with Prime just in case you ever have an ammonia problem in the future, you don't have to run out and buy some.

Okay now for what you really want to know...how to use the SafeStart...
Since you already have fish in the tank, here's what you should do:
1) Perform a large water change, using the water conditioner of your choice (even back to back water changes if needed) to get the ammonia level as close to 0ppm as possible.
2) Wait 24 hours.
3) Add the ENTIRE, well shaken bottle of SafeStart to the tank.
4 Do nothing other than lightly feed your fish for the next 14 days. And I mean nothing, no water changes, no adding chemicals...nothing. Don't even test your water unless the fish look distressed.
5) On day 14 after adding SafeStart test your water, if all worked properly...You're cycled!
6) sometime after day 14, but before your nitrate level gets to 20ppm you can do your first (since adding SafeStart) water change.

One last thing...test your pH level. If it is much under 7.0 you may have a difficult time cycling the tank. If it is below 7.0, post and I'll explain why that's a problem and how to solve it.

Here's a link that you should find very helpful and informative:
Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

Best of luck.
Also I would remove both mollies as they get up to 5 inches and are big poop machines in the live bearer world.
 
TexasDomer
  • #8
With TSS+, you'll want to not do any testing or water changes for 2 full weeks, not just one week. However, I'd rehome the mollies before you do anything else, as they need a much larger tank and they're likely stressing the betta out. After you do that, you can cycle the tank using TSS+ with just the betta. Use the whole bottle, don't split it between the tanks.

For the 5 gal frog tank, do daily water changes until it's cycled. Yes, they're annoying, but that's what you're signing up for when you put sensitive animals (like ADFs) in an uncycled tank.
 
stella1979
  • #9
Awesome! You've got the experts here OP. You can't ask for better advice than what you get from jdhef and TexasDomer I'd follow their instructions to a T.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I didnt mean to sound impatient, I have fallen in love with my fish and I'm sure it will be a life long hobby. I will do anything I have to to keep them healthy and if that means water changes everyday for both tanks then that's what itll be. I just have to admit, I'm not very strong and hauling the water back and forth is a little difficult. everyone seems very happy in the tank so I'm hoping I can keep the mollies here until I have the money to upgrade to a larger size. I'm a freak and I worry about everything. the other day my mollies were huddled together resting and I just about had a heart attack. so I'm sure the bigger tank will come soon. thanks for all the replies, everyone is so friendly on here. I really appreciate it.
 
Sarah73
  • #11
I didnt mean to sound impatient, I have fallen in love with my fish and I'm sure it will be a life long hobby. I will do anything I have to to keep them healthy and if that means water changes everyday for both tanks then that's what itll be. I just have to admit, I'm not very strong and hauling the water back and forth is a little difficult. everyone seems very happy in the tank so I'm hoping I can keep the mollies here until I have the money to upgrade to a larger size. thanks for all the replies, everyone is so friendly on here. I really appreciate it.
think about getting a python to solve your bucket problems
 
TexasDomer
  • #12
A python can be overkill for a 10 gal tank.

Maybe a larger bucket would be better? Lowe's has cheap 5 gal buckets.

I would strongly consider rehoming the mollies now. They are dirtying up the water and they will grow too large for your tank. If you can't upgrade in the next few weeks, rehome them and get them again once you have the right sized tank already set up and waiting for them.
 
Sarah73
  • #13
A python can be overkill for a 10 gal tank.

Maybe a larger bucket would be better? Lowe's has cheap 5 gal buckets.

I would strongly consider rehoming the mollies now. They are dirtying up the water and they will grow too large for your tank. If you can't upgrade in the next few weeks, rehome them and get them again once you have the right sized tank already set up and waiting for them.
I use the python's perfectly fine for my 10 gallons. but that's just me.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
I wouldnt be able to get rid of my babies.. I already had to do that with a couple I had bought sick. I wasn't educated and I didnt know the white dots on him were ick. I will take good care of them.
 
TexasDomer
  • #15
I'm sure you mean well, but they won't do well long term in a small tank. Sometimes what's best for the fish isn't what we want, but we must consider the healthy and happiness of the fish first.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
the only thing id be able to do is take them back to the store and then their fate is completely unknown.. I do plan on upgrading once I have the money so I still feel like theyre better off with me.
 
TexasDomer
  • #17
When can you upgrade to a 29 gal? Check places like Craigslist (if you're in the US) to find cheaper setups.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
little confused. got my test tubes today. I had already done my 30% water change today, but decided to test anyways. came back around 2ppm. that scared me so I did another 50% water change, I tested it and it came back 2 ppm again?!

does anyone know what the cause of that could be?
 
TexasDomer
  • #19
Are you sure you're testing correctly?

Test your tap water as well.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
this is my water before I put it in the tank and after I did a 50% water change. there's no distress in the tank, everyones swimming around happy as can be.. confused how it could be that dark when I gravel vaccume the floor and changed half their water?.. it always looks the same every time I test no matter how much clean water I put in there. I have white gravel so I'm able to see all their poop and I don't stop vaccuming till I'm sure I did the whole floor. I'm 100% sure I don't overfeed because they gobble it all up when I put it in there and the mollies go around cleaning the gravel and walls all day so if any small peices fall, I'm sure they find it in 2 seconds. I'm just confused why the reading never changes.
 

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jdhef
  • #21
Test your pH level. At a pH below 7.0, ammonia starts turning into ammonium and by the time your pH gets down to 6.0 all ammonia is ammonium.

The good news is ammonium is far less toxic to fish than ammonia (some claim ammonium is not toxic to fish at all). The bad news is that ammonium is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and it can make it impossible to cycle your tank.

You can add some crushed coral to your filter. The crushed coral will raise you KH and GH, which will raise your pH. But you need to be careful because when you raise your pH all that ammonium starts turning into highly toxic ammonia.

Oh yeah, and BTW the API test kit cannot tell the difference between ammonia and ammonium.
 
Mom2some
  • #22
What are the test results on your tap or source water?
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
What are the test results on your tap or source water?
in the picture I posted 3 messages up, the tube to the left is normal tap water, the tube to the right is my tank after a 50% water change. the thing is, it was the same color before I did the water change, that's why I'm confused. shouldnt it at least go down some with every water change?

Test your pH level. At a pH below 7.0, ammonia starts turning into ammonium and by the time your pH gets down to 6.0 all ammonia is ammonium

thank you, that's good information to know. I tested my PH and its at about 7.2. ive grown plants for years inside so I know my tap comes out a little bit above 8. when I bought my tank at a garage sale it came with an unopened API PH kit. so I have access to PH up and PH down if neccasary.
 
Mom2some
  • #24
in the picture I posted 3 messages up, the tube to the left is normal tap water, the tube to the right is my tank after a 50% water change. the thing is, it was the same color before I did the water change, that's why I'm confused. shouldnt it at least go down some with every water change?

Okay - I didn’t understand that, thanks for clarifying. It should go down with a water change. What I would do in this case is at least 2, but probably 3, back to back 50% water changes. Then retest your ammonia. Sometimes the levels are so high that even when diluted with a water change we don’t see a change in the test results. Sounds frustrating, but at least you don’t have ammonia in your tap water & your fish look healthy!
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
okay, I think I messed up. my tank is not yet cycled, so I put a whole bottle of tetra safe start into my filter yesterday after doing three water changes, ammonia reading .25 and nitrites reading 0. I'm trying to make a planted tank so I ordered some eco complete couple weeks ago. in the heat of the moment of finally opening up the box and knowing that my grass will be here in a couple days, I scooped up my white gravel and added the eco complete to the bottom of the tank and put the gravel back ontop of it. thing is, the water is very cloudy now.. and I'm starting to get the impression the new substrate was a bigger deal then I thought. is this going to mess with the TSS?..
 
jdhef
  • #26
Did you wait at least 24 hours between using a water conditioner adding TSS? If not, that can cause the TSS to fail. I don't know anything about eco complete, but so long as it doesn't release ammonia into the water, adding it shouldn't be a problem for the TSS.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Did you wait at least 24 hours between using a water conditioner adding TSS? If not, that can cause the TSS to fail. I don't know anything about eco complete, but so long as it doesn't release ammonia into the water, adding it shouldn't be a problem for the TSS.

I didnt wait a full 24, but my conditioner doesn't lock/remove ammonia from water so I thought itd be fine. I just checked my levels and ammonia is now at 1ppm and nitrite is at .50ppm. fish seem happy.
 
Kristian Acevedo
  • #28
TSS will give you wacky readings for 1-2 weeks, so if you are going to use it, you need to settle in for a ride and just wait it out. If the fish are clearly having issues (breathing at top of water or dying) then you need to assume it didn’t work. I’ve used TSS on all 3 of my tanks and never had an issue
 
jdhef
  • #29
I didnt wait a full 24, but my conditioner doesn't lock/remove ammonia from water so I thought itd be fine. I just checked my levels and ammonia is now at 1ppm and nitrite is at .50ppm. fish seem happy.
It is a common misconception that it is only water conditioners that lock/remove ammonia that will cause TSS to fail. According to Tetra, any water conditioner which removes chloramines can cause TSS to fail. And as far as I know, every water conditioner on the market removes chloramines.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
It is a common misconception that it is only water conditioners that lock/remove ammonia that will cause TSS to fail. According to Tetra, any water conditioner which removes chloramines can cause TSS to fail. And as far as I know, every water conditioner on the market removes chloramines.

id like to think its working because I had a reading of 0 nitrite and now .50, ha. if I have to buy another bottle its no problem.
 
Keeks
  • #31
I used prime with TSS and had no problems. I also have eco-complete, and it made my tank pretty cloudy since I didn't rinse beforehand (even though it says you don't need to).
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
I used prime with TSS and had no problems. I also have eco-complete, and it made my tank pretty cloudy since I didn't rinse beforehand (even though it says you don't need to).

yeah, second that about the eco complete. took like 30 minutes to even see the fish in there. its all settled now though. planted some plants and the betta is lovingggg it. hopefully my top fin water conditioner doesn't mess with the TSS either.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
its been 4 days since I put Tetra safe start in the water. levels were .25 ammonia and 0 nitrite at that time. levels are kinda high now.. I have another bottle of TSS. should I do a water change and then add the second bottle?..

I already have a cycling thread from awhile back, I'm sorry for posting another I'm just an impatient freak and I'm worried about my fish. need advice from someone who knows what theyre doing.

its been 4 days since I put in the water. levels were .25 ammonia and 0 at that time. levels are kinda high now.. I have another bottle of . should I do a water change and then add the second bottle?..

15 gallon
heated to 79 F
planted
PH is around 8
 

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Mom2some
  • #34
How heavily stocked is your tank? When I was starting my tank 2+ years ago we were told not to test during the 14 day cycle because numbers would look very high, but that assumed the tank was super lightly stocked in accordance with the TSS guidelines (1inch of fish per 10 gallons).
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #35
my tank is fully stocked. some might say overstocked because it contains two mollies. male dalmation molly, female creamsicle molly, male fancy guppy, female guppy, betta. on a online stocking calculator it says I'm only 70% stocked tho. when I got my fish I was unaware of A LOT of things, including cycling. I have a 5 gallon that gets daily water changes with two ADFs, I can either move the guppies or betta if that would help the TSS do its thing. I got the second bottle of TSS because I had a feeling it wouldnt work very well.
 
trainandfishguy
  • #36
I would do a water change to bring the levels down. Although you are at 70% stocking for an "established" tank, that is a heavy bioload for a new tank. Best of luck to you!
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
I would do a water change to bring the levels down. Although you are at 70% stocking for an "established" tank, that is a heavy bioload for a new tank. Best of luck to you!

do you think I should move the guppies or betta to another tank?
 
TexasDomer
  • #38
Doing a water change will negate the previous TSS.

Did you use TSS or TSS+?

If you used TSS+, I would stop testing so you're not tempted to do a water change until the 2 weeks is up.
 
babiimoore
  • Thread Starter
  • #39
Doing a water change will negate the previous TSS.

Did you use TSS or TSS+?

If you used TSS+, I would stop testing so you're not tempted to do a water change until the 2 weeks is up.

I have TSS, is there a difference?
 
Mom2some
  • #40
In a perfect world I would say change our your second bottle of TSS for Stability which is bacterial booster designed to be used with water changes. Your tank is too heavily stocked to expect TSS to be successful. Do a large water change... whether you move the fish is up to you. I would do several back to back 50-70% water changes so that ammonia and nitrites are both less than 1.0.
Then moving forward follow this guideline:
If ammonia + Nitrite > or = 1.0, water change until it is less than 1.0, add dechlorinator (ex Prime) and retest in 24 hours.
If ammonia + Nitrite is <1.0 then dose with Prime & retest in 24 hours.
 

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