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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody know what's actually in this stuff? I've always been a little sketched out just because it seems TOO easy -- and I'm not one for a quick fix. Gonna be starting a couple of tiny tanks up soon and got a bottle of this potion with one of them, leaning toward a traditional cycle though.
 

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I think Tetra Safe Start is what you're referring to. The reviews are great for this product. When I had to replace a cracked 20g with a new one, I experienced a mini-cycle. My fish were clearly stressed out, so I bought a bottle of this stuff and dumped it in. Within an hour, my fish were noticeably more relaxed, and I had no issues after that. I think I may have used this to prep my 2 gallon nano as well. The nano had guppy fry for a while before I was able to get some neos. I had no issues with deaths in the tank, so I'm thinking the product did it's job. At any rate, look up this product, and you'll see that it has been very positively reviewed.
 

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if this was an autos forum, i'd say ether!



but it's not so i'll stop hyjacking your thread :hihi:


i think your right, traditional cycle is the way to go.
forget that snake oil. (i do anyways).
 

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If you're going to use one of these quick start fluids, make sure to use the Tetra brand. There might be another brand that works as well, but I know that there are other products out there that don't contain the right kind of bacteria to seed you tank with. When I initially set up my 20g (the one that eventually cracked), I think I used the API version, which ended up not working too well because it didn't have the proper bacteria. When I switched over to the new 20g, I used Tetra Safe Start to deal with the mini-cycle and had no issues with the tank.
 

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hmm.
i find that kind of funny!
seems the(some) experienced aquarist that knows the nitrification cycle, knows ammonia is bad for fish, uses that safe start.
without introducing a source of ammonia for the bacteria to feed on, and fails!

and the person going in blind, dumps in his or her fish (source of ammonia)
and has good results. with the nitrogen cycle!

knowing that now, the next time i need to cycle a tank, i may just try it.
because i would done it the first way i said and failed.


learn something new every day:icon_idea
 

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I love using bacteria-in-a-bottle products and I use Tetra SafeStart all the time. My understanding of it is this:

Nitrosomona and Nitrospira are chemoautotrophic bacteria, meaning they derive energy from inorganic compounds without the use of photosynthesis. They utilize carbon dioxide in oxidation of nitrogen compounds, converting our well-known ammonia-nitrite-nitrate cycle. They get carbon dioxide from aeration of the water, hence they are aerobic nitrifying bacteria. There is anaerobic nitrifying bacteria, but that's a whole separate group we're not concerned with in the planted FW world...

These chemoautotrophs, when they run out of food, do not "starve" and "die". They simply go dormant (Burrel et. al. 2001); the only way to truly kill a bacterium is to poison it, or to rupture its cellular wall, i.e. by freezing water-based bacterium, or other means. Thus, products like Tetra SafeStart, ATM Colony, Dr. Foster & Smith's One & Only, and the old BioSpira products do in fact contain nitrifying chemoautotrophs, they're just dormant and biding their time until they get some more food.

This also raises the answer to the question, "How do bacteria 'naturally' colonize a tank during a fishless cycle?" - the answer is they are delivered to the tank through vessels like moisture droplets suspended in the air (i.e. humidity), your hands, plants, etc. where they remain dormant and wake up in a favorable environment.

Pretty much the ONLY way I know of to kill bacteria is to sterilize with something caustic like bleach or ammonia (in VERY high concentrations), or to freeze it. Even after freezing, though, some bacteria can survive, just like some humans can survive being frozen to death (don't ask me how I know that).

Hope this helps. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, as well.
 

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This also raises the answer to the question, "How do bacteria 'naturally' colonize a tank during a fishless cycle?" - the answer is they are delivered to the tank through vessels like moisture droplets suspended in the air (i.e. humidity), your hands, plants, etc. where they remain dormant and wake up in a favorable environment.

sure, 10 to 12 months down the road maybe, but not without introducing a source of ammonia to feed the nitrifying bacteria!
even people that do fishless cycles, add something. like dead shrimp, pure ammonia.
and your still looking at 3-6 weeks to sustain a colony of bacteria that'll
be a continuous cycle of life support for the fish as well as the nitrifying bacteria.

ya know circle of life, and all that.
 

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hmm.
i find that kind of funny!
seems the(some) experienced aquarist that knows the nitrification cycle, knows ammonia is bad for fish, uses that safe start.
without introducing a source of ammonia for the bacteria to feed on, and fails!

and the person going in blind, dumps in his or her fish (source of ammonia)
and has good results. with the nitrogen cycle!

knowing that now, the next time i need to cycle a tank, i may just try it.
because i would done it the first way i said and failed.


learn something new every day:icon_idea
Makes sense. The bacteria need to have some sort of food source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interesting. I've always wondered if it was just some kind of chemical that neutralizes any ammonia, etc. present in the water. Thanks Guyver, makes total sense. I'm sure it does still take a while to build up enough bacteria to be self-sustaining but it probably at the least won't hurt things.
 

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I love using bacteria-in-a-bottle products and I use Tetra SafeStart all the time. My understanding of it is this:

Nitrosomona and Nitrospira are chemoautotrophic bacteria, meaning they derive energy from inorganic compounds without the use of photosynthesis. They utilize carbon dioxide in oxidation of nitrogen compounds, converting our well-known ammonia-nitrite-nitrate cycle. They get carbon dioxide from aeration of the water, hence they are aerobic nitrifying bacteria. There is anaerobic nitrifying bacteria, but that's a whole separate group we're not concerned with in the planted FW world...

These chemoautotrophs, when they run out of food, do not "starve" and "die". They simply go dormant (Burrel et. al. 2001); the only way to truly kill a bacterium is to poison it, or to rupture its cellular wall, i.e. by freezing water-based bacterium, or other means. Thus, products like Tetra SafeStart, ATM Colony, Dr. Foster & Smith's One & Only, and the old BioSpira products do in fact contain nitrifying chemoautotrophs, they're just dormant and biding their time until they get some more food.

This also raises the answer to the question, "How do bacteria 'naturally' colonize a tank during a fishless cycle?" - the answer is they are delivered to the tank through vessels like moisture droplets suspended in the air (i.e. humidity), your hands, plants, etc. where they remain dormant and wake up in a favorable environment.

Pretty much the ONLY way I know of to kill bacteria is to sterilize with something caustic like bleach or ammonia (in VERY high concentrations), or to freeze it. Even after freezing, though, some bacteria can survive, just like some humans can survive being frozen to death (don't ask me how I know that).

Hope this helps. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, as well.
thought this was a great read, and great info! always assumed that I should not use these as ive always heard "whatever is in the bottle is dead" theory.
 

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Here is the fishless cycle.
There are a few comments about the optimum conditions for raising these bacteria, and ideas about how to jump start the colony, including bottled products. They do work. However, the bacteria are a bit more delicate than some, so if the bottle has been mishandled the bacteria may be dead. They do not tolerate freezing or overheating. They do not enter a true dormant phase like many other bacteria.

When looking for one of these products look for Nitrospira species of bacteria.
Dr. Tim's One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift's Nite Out II
perhaps others.

Here is a link to one of the scientists who identified the right species of nitrifying bacteria.

http://www.timhovanec.com/Publications/ScientificPapers/ScientificPapers.html

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1b) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
 

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hmm.
i find that kind of funny!
seems the(some) experienced aquarist that knows the nitrification cycle, knows ammonia is bad for fish, uses that safe start.
without introducing a source of ammonia for the bacteria to feed on, and fails!

and the person going in blind, dumps in his or her fish (source of ammonia)
and has good results. with the nitrogen cycle!

knowing that now, the next time i need to cycle a tank, i may just try it.
because i would done it the first way i said and failed.


learn something new every day:icon_idea
You just enlightened me, thanks!
 

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This is the API Brand, I have used it but it still will cycle the tank. This is commonly used by stores like Petland as thier "Cureall" was in there once and the guy was like if theres any change at all in the tank add this. If you test high for ammonia add this stuff. Not once did he mention a water change just said to add quick start. It may help a bit but will not do as it says on the bottle. I beleive mine says instantly cycle your aquarium and add fish immediatly.
 
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