I received a 25 gallon tank for my birthday, and I will eventually be setting it up as a planted tank, unknown stocklist at this time. Tetra supposedly bought out the formula for freshwater Biospira, but I know that sometimes companies like to change their formulas, unfortunately, and I've been hearing some mixed reviews of Tetra Safestart, so I thought I would do an experiment to see how well it works at this point in time. That way I can feel more comfortable suggesting it to people who are in the unfortunate situation of being mislead by their LFS or chain store, and have puffers in uncycled tanks.
I purchased a bottle for up to 30 gallons, and it doesn't expire until 2012.
Everything in the tank is new, so there is not chance of me accidentally seeding the tank from any of my other tanks.
Volume: 23 gallons with the substrate displacement.
Substrate: Caribsea Floramax Midnight, 24 lbs.
Filtration: Right at the moment, I have 2 HOB filters with a total of 225 GPH. The chambers both hold a sponge and Biomax media in media bags.
Lighting: N/A, but 2 6500K T5
Right now the water has just been circulating with only Prime added, I'm trying to simulate the best I can the advice people are often given at pet stores, in this case they normally tell people to let the tank sit empty for at least 48 hours so "this really neat biological filtration can happen" lol. Rubbish advice.
(I will do another reading before I add the Safestart)
KH - 5°
pH - 7.6
Ammonia - 0.5
Nitrite NO2 - 0
Nitrate NO3 - 0
Temp 72°F, but I will raise it to 78° - 80°F before adding Safestart.
There are a couple things that may differ from most tap sources, my tap water doesn't have registerable KH, so I have to add baking soda to raise it to 5°, which is still on the soft side, but it should be enough to support the bacteria. Also, my tap has an almost constant reading of 0.5 on ammonia, and sometimes it's as high as 1.0, or as low as 0.25.
I do have a question:
What is the average ammonia discharge/bioload for a average stocked 25 gallon? I don't want to have to add fish, I would prefer to just replicate the bioload, and I know the fishless cycle is a much higher level than what fish would produce. I want to simulate the scenario of "just bought fish didn't know the tank had to be cycled" without actually putting fish in. However, I do have a few fish that are waiting to go back to the store that I could hold on to for a little while longer, and I do have a safe place to return them to incase this product doesn't work as well as it used to.