Tetra "SafeStart" Bacteria Additive review. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 03-16-2012, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Tetra "SafeStart" Bacteria Additive review.

Hey Folks,

I just wanted to give a snappy review of the Tetra SafeStart Bacteria additive. I purchased this when I was setting up my 3rd fish tank to try and help the cycling process (It's a 20G tank). Well I already had some Zebra Danios in there for "fish in" cycling since I heard those are really bullet proof fish. The ammonia hopped up to around 1.0 ppm and I said the heck with it and bought some of the Tetra SafeStart. I've tried another brand on a 10G tank called API QuickStart (Complete snake oil by the way, we'll get to that in a bit though.)

I added the SafeStart and waited about 24 hours and checked my nitrates and nitrites and surprisingly it was already starting the cycle. After 72 hours the tank was completely cycled, yes I know I'd be skeptical too? I was actually really surprised that this additive worked since I had tried QuickStart which advertised the EXACT same thing that SafeStart supposedly does. The QuickStart didn't boost the cycle one bit actually, the ammonia stayed the same but hey no nitrifying bacteria as it claimed.

IIRC though the SafeStart formula was actually owned by the folks who made Bio Spira? and then was sold to Tetra.

I was skeptical when I read the reviews of SafeStart originally because I read some good and some bad. Alot of the bad reviews though was user-error. Like one guy added it to his tank and claimed it killed all his fish. Come to the full story he had really changed water and added no water conditioner and bloop there goes all his fish.

Anyhow, I don't know how many people prefer a natural cycle or the quick cycling way but I was ready to get the 20G tank up and running so I could give the Danios back to my LFS. The stuff worked for me and hey guy's it's like 14 bucks for a 250ml bottle (Treats up to 70G) so it's not going to break the bank to give it a shot if you want. While YMMV it did work wonders for me and I'd like to hope if anyone else DOES decide to get it that it'd work for them too.

The QuickStart stuff is snake oil in my opinion though and isn't worth a penny. I bought it and it showed no results period and I wouldn't recommend this stuff.

Feel free to comment/discuss!
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post #2 of 3 Old 03-17-2012, 12:46 AM
Adamson's Avatar
Good to know, I normally use the Seachem brand "Stability" that seems to work quickly for me.
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post #3 of 3 Old 03-17-2012, 12:21 PM
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I've written about this previously, but as you've raised the issue of biological supplements in this one I'll add a few comments.

I regularly recommend Tetra's SafeStart and Seachem's Stability as good products. Both are live nitrifying bacteria. As you (Andrew) mentioned, SafeStart is Dr. Tim Hovanec's formula that was sold to Tetra a few years ago. And Dr. Hovanec is the chemist who led the team that discovered the true species of bacteria that carry out the nitrification cycle in water [read more on this here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/ ], and he developed bottled bacteria.

One does have to sound a note of caution though; neither product is any sort of "instant cycle" as some tend to think. These products simply seed the nitrifying bacteria, which quickens the time required to establish the cycle, but it does not instantly or miraculously "cycle" a new tank.

The degree to which the cycle establishes depends upon the water volume and fish in the tank. The fewer and smaller the fish, and the more water, the safer it is. Ammonia is released by fish into the water via respiration, and of course from waste products as they are broken down by other bacteria. The greater the water volume to fish bioload, the less will be the effect on the fish. And seeding the tank with live bacteria gets the process going faster. But the more fish there are, the longer it will take, and the more detriment to the fish. And there are no "hardy" fish that are not affected to some extent by ammonia or nitrite above zero. But very few fish in a large volume of water and using bacteria is less likely to cause significant issues for the fish.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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