Using Tetra Safe Start + On A New Aquarium

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by apndi, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. apndiValued MemberMember

    Hi all, I just now registered and I'm still having trouble navigating the site so please forgive me if I posted in the wrong place!

    I have some questions about my use of TSS+. I keep seeing conflicting information all over the place. I originally joined on another site but people stopped responding to me there, so I'm still hopelessly lost.

    I have a male betta, alone, in a heated, filtered 3 gallon tank. No live plants, just some fake ones, and him. Unfortunately I am not sure of the water temp as I don't have a thermometer yet. On 6/18, I got a bottle of TSS+ and added in about three capfuls. I know the directions said to dump in the entire bottle, but it was $22 and I didn't want to use it all in one go. The filter was running and dechlorinator was added 24 hrs beforehand. After I put the bacteria in, I went to the store, brought the fish, and put him in. I know you're not supposed to test the water for a while, but I was suspicious and curious and was doing it for the health of my little buddy. I tested the water later that night (6/18), and my results were:

    Ammonia: 0 ppm
    Nitrites: ~.25 ppm
    Nitrates: ~20 ppm

    It seemed to me like the tank was cycling. I went to the other website because my tank was smelling weird and I wanted to know if the bacteria was causing it, but that's not my main concern right now.

    After I posted those water parameters, people on that site told me to go ahead and do a 25% water change because of the high nitrite level and because of the small tank size. I resisted, because I had read that you're not supposed to change the water for around 2 weeks. A day or two after that, I tested for ammonia, and got readings that seemed to be around .25 ppm (it was hard to tell the difference between the 0 ppm color and the .25 ppm color). I ran out of the test strips I was using for the nitrites and nitrates so I wasn't able to test for those until later on that day. When I did, nitrites measured 0 ppm and nitrates measured about 20 ppm. So my readings for 6/21 (3 days after adding TSS+) were:

    Ammonia: ~.25 ppm
    Nitrite: 0 ppm
    Nitrate: ~20 ppm

    After that, I was startled by the sudden ammonia readings. My fish was acting perfectly fine, but at the urging of the other forum, I did a 25% water change. I measured
    again later that day (still 6/21) and the water parameters seemed to stay exactly the same.

    My questions are:

    -Are the ammonia readings I'm getting, ammonium? I've read in several places that the ammonia readings I'm getting are a non-toxic form of ammonia, and nothing to panic about.
    -If it is not a fake reading and it is actually ammonia, did the cycle break? Is it ruined? If it is, should I add more TSS+?

    The ammonia readings started showing up before the water change and the readings stayed the same after the water change, so i don't think the wc disturbed anything.

    Thanks for any input!
  2. MissRuthless

    MissRuthlessWell Known MemberMember

    I used TSS to cycle 4 of my tanks and 3 had constant ammonia readings for the length of the cycle I think. Oddly though I never saw nitrite spikes. I finally went and got a big bottle of prime, started dosing the tanks with it and quit changing water until the nitrates hit 40 ppm. If you get some prime it converts ammonia to ammonium so you won't have to worry about the safety of your fish, but the ammonium is still there for the bacteria to process.

    Whatever you do - DON'T buy some like ammo chips or ammo lock - those products both actually remove the ammonia. I totally stalled my first cycle by using that stuff at the direction of my LPS.
  3. s hawkWell Known MemberMember

    You must of gotten the big bottle of TSS+. The little one is cheaper. I didn't really test during usage, only maybe once or twice. It's just a dump it in, and go thing. Don't touch it for two weeks. I had trace ammonia for a bit afterwards but that's gone now. Although personally from what I have read bottled bacteria can eventually just die off and be useless, so I would add the rest of the bottle if not the whole thing. I have only used it twice though but both were fish in cycles.

  4. ZedNew MemberMember

    I don't think you broke your cycle, I just think that you haven't finished it yet. it's normal to see the nitrites and ammonia levels rise and fall while establishing your cycle, because you're still cultivating the bacteria needed in the tank. It sounds like you have some BB, but they need to grow in numbers. Be patient, use the recommended dosage of TSS+ and you'll get there.

    Also, strips aren't as accurate as liquid test kits, just keep that in mind when you're having a hard time distinguishing close readings. if you're using tap water, you ought to test it to get a feel of the amount of ammonia/nitrates that are in there. I personally get 1ppm ammonia from my tap, so I used store bought spring water when I had ammonia spikes during my cycle. for the mean time, prime will keep your betta safe. It temporarily detoxifies ammonia and nitrite long enough for the bacteria to consume them. If you're tank isn't getting rid of the ammonia and nitrites within 24 hours then dose prime again to prevent harm to your fish. I would personally refrain from doing frequent water changes until your nitrates rise to over 40ppm, that way you give the bacteria a chance to grow. 20-30% weekly water changes imo. and don't disturb your filter or your gravel bed while the tank is still cycle. Good luck
  5. AndrewJ54

    AndrewJ54Valued MemberMember

    You're not supposed to test or do water hanged while using TSS. The water changes will add de- chlorinator and kill the BB before it can seed to the filter media. And to test during the two week span is not an accurate reading because there's a lot going on with the BB during that two week period. Prime is another thing entirely, without prime you are reading ammonia but after prime the ammonia does become ammonium a less toxic substance for the fish while allowing the BB to consume them. I don't believe you ruined your cycle but if you re add TSS do not do a water change for 2 weeks.

  6. Mom2some

    Mom2someWell Known MemberMember

    So you are about 5 days in to a TSS cycle, but you have been doing water changes? I would redose with some more TSS and then do Nothing for a week - feed every other day and do Not test! Then after 7 days top up the tank with a little dechlorinated water and do nothing for another 7 days.
    There is a great Q&A about TTS, but I don't know how to link it from my phone. It is stickied in the water quality section I think.
    Welcome to the forum! I hope fish keeping gets easier from here!
  7. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    Okay, first thing...test strips are notorious for being inaccurate, and if you can't trust your test strips...what good are the results. So while a bit on the pricey side, it is a very good investment to get an API Master Test Kit for Freshwater.

    Now onto the SafeStart. SafeStart is a great product, but it can be pretty finicky is not used correctly. And sadly, you did not use it correctly. But all is not lost and we can get you all sorted out.

    One thing that is recommended when using SafeStart is to not test your water for 14 days after adding the SafeStart so long as your fish doesn't look distressed. This is because you can get readings that will scare you and make you do something that will cause the SafeStart to fail (like a water change).

    SafeStart comes packaged in a "stabilized ammonia" solution. I don't know this for sure, but I have a feeling that this "stabilized ammonia" will show up on an ammonia test, but is not toxic to the fish.

    So going forward here is I would do, if it were me:
    Make sure it has been at least 24 hours since your last use of a water conditioner. Shake the bottle of SafeStart you have well and add the whole thing to the tank. (I know, it seems like a waste to pour a $22 dollar bottle into the tank, but it's not good to use a partial bottle). Then buy an API test kit on Amazon (or where ever you can find the best price. That should take about 14 days to arrive, so then on day 14 after adding the SafeStart test your water and if all worked're cycled.

    Here's that link Mom2some mentioned in the post above:
  8. MissRuthless

    MissRuthlessWell Known MemberMember

    Jdhef, that makes so much sense about the ammonia solution - when I used TSS to cycle my 29, I had ammonia readings literally off the charts, 8ppm+. I started with daily water changes but it just wouldn't go down. Obviously I ended up having to buy more TSS to complete the cycle. Guess I should have posted here huh.
  9. MissCap

    MissCapValued MemberMember

    I am also starting the use of Safe Start today. However, what is the difference between safestart and safestart+? I have the regular one. Will it still work the same way?
  10. el337

    el337Fishlore LegendMember

    The "Plus" I believe is more concentrated but the important thing is that it says "Start Up" on the bottle and not "Monthly".
  11. MissCap

    MissCapValued MemberMember

    I just looked at it and it does say use monthly. On the back it gives directions if it is a tank setup though. It also has a green lid if that matters.

    This was the only safestart at walmart. I don't live close to any other place that sells fish stuff likr Petco or Petsmart. I guess I can look at my LFS (30 minutes away) tonight when I go. Would the regular still work to cycle the tank though? I was going to start tonight.
  12. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    That's a tricky question. I think (but I'm not 100% sure) that you an use the "monthly" TSS to cycle a tank, but I believe that the tank size it can cycle is smaller than the tank size it can treat for "monthly use". So hopefully it will say on the bottle what size tank it can treat for "start up"

    BTW, once your tank is cycled, there is never any need to dose with SafeStart again. That whole monthly thing is a bit of a marketing scheme in my opinion.
  13. MissCap

    MissCapValued MemberMember

    Thanks. It says it can cycle up to a 20 gallon tank. I only have a 10 gallon tank so it should work. Thanks a bunch!
  14. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    I used Tetra Aqua Safe because it was the same brand as TSS+. Where can I find prime? Can I find it at petsmart?
  15. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    I got the big bottle because I work at petsmart, and I was eyeing the TSS+ for several days. Petsmart wasn't getting any of the smaller bottles in and there was one bottle of the big one left so I decided to suck it up and get it before someone else bought it and I had to wait weeks for more to come in. I guess I'll add more to kind of re-boot it and don't touch it?
  16. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    I know the strips aren't as accurate. Im not in the financial place to spend $30 on the API freshwater master kit. Maybe eventually, but not now. I use the API liquid test kit for ammonia only, and then I use strips for the nitrites and everything else. I know at least it's getting me in the ballpark range. And I did test my tap water as a kind of control sample, it naturally measures at 0 ppm of ammonia, 0 ppm of nitrites, and 20 ppm of nitrates. And also, I really don't want to use the entire amount of TSS+, it made my tank smell weird with just three capfuls, and it just sounds like overkill, i got the biggest bottle there is...
  17. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    When I added new water I aged it and the de chlorinator for 24 hrs so it shouldn't have killed the bacteria right? The Aqua Safe I used wasnt freshly added. I guess I have to add in some more? How much?
  18. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    I only did one water change so far, and luckily I have been feeding him every other day. I guess I'll add another capful or two and try to kind of start over. And thanks!
  19. OP

    apndiValued MemberMember

    Like I said to another person, I'm not currently in the place to get the test kit, though I will eventually, but I already spent a lot of money especially on this TSS+ stuff so it will have to wait for now. I am using a liquid test for ammonia however, funnily enough that is the one that's been giving me trouble, I'm having trouble reading it!

    And also, I feel really leery about pouring that entire thing in the tank, the bottle is huge and I only have a 3 gallon. Since the bacteria is aerobic, wouldn't that leech the water of oxygen? I keep reading on other places that the instructions telling you to dump the entire bottle in the tank is a marketing gimmick to get you to use the entire thing so you keep running out and buying more...would it really be so bad if I just poured in a liberal amount, but only part of the bottle? So I'm not using it all at once?

    And thanks for the welcome!

    Sorry for the late replies, I thought this was one of those forums that sent emails when you get replies, but I haven't been getting emails so I haven't bothered to check back till now. But thanks for the help so far!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2016
  20. Geoff

    GeoffWell Known MemberMember

    I believe you can change your settings to get email notifications.

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