Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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smit3183 09-11-2011 01:38 PM

water parameters question
I have a 55 gallon tank that ive been trying to cycle since august 12th. I got a little impatient and decided to try this new product called start smart complete. It's suppose to cycle the aquarium within a couple days,well before using i had ammonia readings usually between .25 and 1.0,no nitrites or nitrates. 2 days after using start smart I have readings of 1.0 ammonia,.25 nitrite and 10-20 nitrate. Is this stuff starting to work? I was told not to do any water changes for maybe a month after using. What should I do?

Byron 09-11-2011 01:47 PM

I will assume you have a knowledge of cycling issues, so will jump straight to your specifics. Can you give me a link to this product online so I can check it? I've not seen it myself. It sounds like a bacterial supplement, some of which are good, some not.

I will say there is absolutely no product on the market that instantly cycles an aquarium. It takes time, from 2 to 8 weeks for the nitrifying bacteria to become established at the necessary level to handle the nitrogen cycle at that time. Good bacterial supplements "seed" the tank with these bacteria so it does speed things up a bit, depending. I may have more suggestons when I've checked out this product.

Also, indicate in your response if you have live plants; this has a significant bearing on cycling.


smit3183 09-11-2011 01:58 PM

water parameters,I have no live plants,currently have 3 giant danios and 5 zebra danios

Byron 09-11-2011 02:36 PM

From the info on their site, they sort of sound like they know what they are talking about--up to a point. I am not a biochemist or microbiologist, and such a person would have to analyze this product to ascertain the "bacteria" present. But assuming it is close to what they allege, it will work much the same as other products like "Cycle" and thus ammonia will rise. These products work by adding various strains of bacteria to the tank to "jump start" the establishment of nitrifying bacteria. But here is where we come to some issues.

They state that nitrosomonas and nitrobacter are the bacteria. This is false. It was proven several years ago by Dr. Timothy Hovanec that the second phase bacteria strain responsible for converting nitrite to nitrate is not nitrobacter but Nitrospira marina. You can read more about this in my article on bacteria on this forum, here:

So that is one error. Their claim that this product "instantly cycles" an aquarium in which the appropriate stock of fish can be added the first day is something I would not rely on; no product on the market does this as far as I know. If one actually did, it would be an instant best seller and worth thousands to whomever developed it. Even Dr. Hovanec has not managed this feat.

But even adding the wrong bacteria is a help. Dr. H tested "Cycle" himself, and found it contains the same bacteria, nitrospira and nitrobacter. Yet it reduced the initial cycling period by several days. His conclusion is that by adding even the wrong bacteria, it stimulates the true bacteria somehow. He repeated this result himself, and I won't go into the scientific details as it would put all of us to sleep. Besides, I don't understand them myself; I just accept the results.

So. back to your initial question, yes, with this sort of product a rise in ammonia is to be expected, and the cycle will establish itself "normally" over a period of several weeks. The product should speed this up a bit, and from your numbers I would think it has done just that.

For the future, there are products that do this better, since they contain the "correct" bacteria. Tetra's SafeStart (which is Dr. Hovanec's formula, they bought it) is one, and Seachem's Stability is another. There may be others, I can't say. But having used these, they do work. But, they are not instant cycling, they just seed the tank and speed it up. But provided the fish load is minimal for the tank volume, this can work to avoid any noticeable harm to the fish from ammonia or nitrite. And without these products, or some other form of seeding, this is not possible; however, live plants will assimilate the ammonia as ammonium and the "cycle" will be completely undectable and thus not harmful to fish at all.

Hope this helps; feel free to ask if anything is still unclear.


smit3183 09-11-2011 02:55 PM

this product is new..
only been out a few months, Manufactured in Ohio,luckily I live in Columbus,Oh,so you can currently only get this product from certain stores in ohio and online..No one really knows about this. I started my tank with Seachem Stabilty and it was an epic fail in my opinion,followed directions and saw no progress and even lost a few fish,also was dosing with prime

BarbH 09-11-2011 02:56 PM

I agree with what Byron has said, and I would also like to just add my experience with using Tetra Safestart with two different tanks that I have set up using this product. On my first tank, my 50 gallon I followed the directions that I had found online on another forum that had done a Q and A with tetra on the product. From tetra they say not to change the water in the tank for two weeks while the product is establishing itself. I followed that advice and two weeks after adding the product when I tested my parameters, my ammonia and nitrites were high, along with my nitrates. The following days after I carried out some rather large water changes. Once my ammonia and nitrites were reading 0 I did have nitrate readings. The second time that I used tetra safestart was when I set up my 20 gallon convict tank. This time around I did water changes when ever my ammonia was above .25 and when I was getting nitrites readings. Within a couple of days of starting I was getting nitrate readings. At the end of two weeks I carried out another water change having some nitrites. After that water change my ammonia and nitrites were at 0 and I had nitrates. Since then everything in that tank has been good. I know that the company says not to do water changes for a certain amount of time, but from my experience doing frequent water changes as needed did not change how the product worked. If interested I do have the numbers and the water changes recoreded in the parameters and the maintence log under both of these tanks. If it was me I would still carry out the water changes, especially if you have fish in the tank. Even if it would make things take a little longer, at least I know that I am keeping my fish safe and healthy.

Byron 09-11-2011 03:25 PM

Thanks for picking up the water change aspect Barb, I missed that previously. I was also going to say much the same, do water changes as needed. B.

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