Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Read the label and buy a product with Nitrospiros. These are the actual bacteria that thrive long term in your aquarium.
Products that include this species of bacteria are:
Tetra Safe Start
Dr. Tim's One and Only
Microbe Lift's Nite Out II.
There may be others, but read the label yourself, do not take the word of a store sales staff who says 'This other one is just the same'.
If they won't tell you what is in it, do not buy it.
To use these materials:
Pour it into the tank. Let it circulate. Add fish.
If you are adding just a few fish, then use perhaps a quarter dose to half dose. Keep the rest in the fridge. When you are ready to add more fish, add more Nitrospiros. There is no problem with over dosing (except the waste: If there is not enough ammonia, the bacteria die off to match the food supply)
Do not do a water change for a few days after adding these materials. It takes a few days for them to get well anchored to the filter media and other surfaces.
If you want to add the material today, but you know the fish are not coming for several days or a week, that is OK, but you will need to feed the bacteria. They eat ammonia. After adding the bacteria, add enough ammonia to test 1 ppm right away, and add that much again in several hours. After that you can feed the bacteria once a day, enough ammonia to test 3 ppm.
When the fish arrive do as large a water change as needed to get the nitrate down to safe levels.