Originally Posted by Ilikebutterflies
I think the only way to cycle this small of a filter would be to do it fishless for a few weeks because wouldn't doing partial water changes make it impossible for the filter to ever properly cycle?
I have read other posts that say it's impossible to cycle a tank that's less than 5 gal. That said, I test the water in my explorer 2g tank every couple of days (liquid, not strips) and I've yet to see an ammonia spike in 2 months. I just left the filter and bio-wheel as is with no modifications, but I do 50% water changes twice a week. I just have one male betta in the tank.
Water changes, especially partial ones, don't affect establishing a cycle. The beneficial bacteria mainly cling to surfaces. The filter media (and bio-wheel) provide a lot of surface area. Changing the media is what is most detrimental to cycling. Just rinse it out in old tank water and don't change it every month as the cartridge instructions tell you.