How do I actually use it? The directions on the bottle say to just pour the whole thing in, and it treats up to 15 gallons. That's all well and good, except my tank is only 5 gallons. So I need to know how much I should be adding. Does it mean it just starts to be ineffective in a tank bigger than 15 gal. and I should still add in the whole thing anyway, or should I just use 1/3 of the bottle?
After 3 failed attempts at getting a fishless cycle to work, I'm deciding to once again start over but with a fish-in cycle this time, so I don't want to use too much and end up killing my fish. So I guess I should also ask how long I should wait to add my fish after adding in the Safestart?
Add the whole thing. Everything I've ready says that it works best if you use twice as much as the bottle says to use.
I used about a quarter of the larger 8+oz bottle (for 75 gallons) doing a fish-in cycle in my 6.6 gallon tank.. by my math that was enough to treat 18+ gallons and that tank has completed it's cycle in 8 days from adding the SafeStart (reading 0 ammonia two days in a row, 0 nitrites and 5ppm nitrates). I have a 10g tank that got a similar dose and it's almost fully cycled doing a fishless cycle, but it's not heated and I think that slowed it down a bit.
Ah! Thank you, I went ahead and just dumped the whole thing in there, so I guess I'll try the fishless cycle again since everything I've read about safestart says it cycles quicker that way. Hopefully this will finally work!
Oh, I should also add that my 6.6 was cycling without extra help for a little over 2 weeks before I added the SafeStart.. I think if you can add it and add a decent amount of ammonia (not over 4ppm) and keep the water warmer than you normally would it will speed up the cycle process a lot :)
I should probably tell everyone what all I did yesterday when I restarted everything. I decided to restart the cycle mostly because I remembered that I tried to do a fish in cycle with Tudor before I noticed he was sick (he was only in there for a day, so I don't think cycling had anything to do with it), and since he died of some unknown cause I didn't want to risk the new fish catching it (no matter how small a chance it may be) so I emptied the tank and disinfected everything with vinegar and swapped out the old filter cartridge and sponge. I should probably mention its a 5 gallon tank.
I added gravel, some live plants, and a moss ball along with the decorations, and set the heater to 82 degrees (I'm not sure how high I can keep the temp with the plants, so I'm starting lower than I would have without plants until I figure out the safe range). I put in 10 drops of Prime, and then I put in about 8-9 drops of pure ammonia. Did a water test for ammonia right away and it came back at 2.0ppm.
Last night I did a water test before bed:
Ammonia: 4.0 ppm (probably rose because it hadn't fully saturated the water when I did the first test)
This afternoon I tested it again:
Nitrate: 15-20ppm (it was right in between 10 and 20 on the color chart)
Not sure if I just plain missed the nitrite spike or if its skewed because I used prime (told myself I wasn't going to add any yet, and then found myself adding it anyway out of habit), either way this seems quite promising!
That's amazing progress for only three days. Do a 50% change if/when the nitrate gets >40ppm.
I wonder why you don't get nitrite readings. Maybe something to do with the Safestart?
Nice job, Roxie. Keep us updated.
I think maybe the nitrite has more to do with the fact that I put in SeaChem Prime at the very start. I've heard that it can sometimes skew ammonia and nitrite readings because its supposed to convert it to a less toxic but still usable form. Its either that or the fact that the test tube I use for the Nitrite test is... Leaky. If I shake it too hard I end up losing half the sample. I think maybe next test I'll try using the one I have reserved for pH, since I haven't used that one yet and hope its not as leaky.
Then again, I do have a lot of live plants in there for the size of the tank.