Hey,I know there's a recent perspective that a tank can be too clean. I'm leaning in that direction, myself. But I draw the line at ammonia. NO ammonia is the right amount -- 0.0ppm. Same for nitrite. You want to let your dissolved waste (DOC) build-up, fine. You want to let nitrate increase >40ppm, no harm. Algae, great. But ammonia is the big stressor -- more than water changes, more than pH drift, more than high TDS. I accept NO ammonia in my tanks.
Safestart has cycled many tanks of members with whom I correspond. The occasional time it does not work leads me to conclude one of two things.
Because it's live bacteria, it can be killed by overheating >95*, or freezing during shipping. Petstores do not treat these living organisms any different than a Sponge Bob ornament, so sometimes you can get a bad batch.
The bacteria have a long but finite shelf-life. Tetra says a year. From the feedback I get, six months is still good.
Always use Prime during a fish-in cycle <period>
Of the people you know who have used safestart successfully, do you know how long it takes on average to start seeing nitrites?
Have you heard any good/bad about Topfin Bacteria Supplement?