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Old 03-01-2013, 09:26 PM   #11 
shellieca
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Originally Posted by slowdown View Post
I do have one fish in (one male betta) and it's a 5 gallon tank. The tank is about a month old but the filter has only been in for 3 weeks. The ammonia was at its highest level today - just under 1ppm, up from .25 two days ago. I did a 50% change immediately and will monitor daily. Still 0 on the nitrites.

If I keep the ammonia to .25, will the tank still cycle, or does the ammonia level need to go higher to keep the cycle going?
It may take longer to cycle because of the lower ammonia but since you have a fish his health is more important. I had a 10g tank (fish in cycle) that didn't show nitrites until week 6 & they lasted for 2 wks, the total cycle took 8 wks. My current 10g fish in cycle showed nitrites after a week BUT I added Stability (bacteria booster) to the current tank. Last Sunday nitrites were 1 after daily ~80% water changes they now register ~.25 so hopefully soon they'll be gone.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:02 PM   #12 
Nicci Lu
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If I keep the ammonia to .25, will the tank still cycle, or does the ammonia level need to go higher to keep the cycle going?
Just to clarify a bit for you: keeping the ammonia levels down will slow down the cycling process, but it won't stop the process from occurring. That's why tanks cycle faster with fishless cycling, because you can keep ammonia levels sky high and that provides more food for the beneficial bacteria (BB).

But with fish in cycling, our main concern is the health of the fish so we do water changes whenever ammonia gets to .25 or higher. The goal is not to keep ammonia at .25, but to keep it below that for the sake of the occupants. Even if the test results show 0 ammonia, there are still trace amounts present that will feed the BB.

Don't worry about the cycle- it'll happen eventually as long as you don't change your filter media (do swish in old tank water once per month), don't wash out your gravel if you have it (do vacuum it) and don't remove your decorations and wash them. Just focus on water changes and keeping your friend healthy.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:11 PM   #13 
AyalaCookiejar
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The fish produce a constant amount of ammonia to feed the BB.

.5 is high, even .25 is detrimental. Change the water every time you see ammonia. If its .5 or higher, I'd do a bigger water change. Also, that's a lot for the ammonia to rise in two days... Do you use a siphon? If you have a lot of uneaten food and poop in the gravel it will cause the ammonia to raise faster. Generally, in tests done by members here, ammonia doesn't usually show up in a 5 gallon tank until 4 or 5 days after a water change with one fish... Does your tap water have ammonia in it?

I just think we might be missing something because it sounds like a pretty drastic jump in ammonia in a short amount of time....
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:42 PM   #14 
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It's now been 4 weeks with this tank and still no nitrites. I am changing the water whenever ammonia reaches .25. I tested the tap water tonight (it's filtered in a built-in under the sink filter) and no ammonia showed up.

I don't have a siphon. It's a 5G tank so I've been emptying 1/4 of the water, stirring it up a bit, and emptying 1/4 more, catching as much of what gets stirred up as I can. Is this enough, or do I need to be siphoning/vacuuming?

I'm a little concerned because I'm supposed to go out of town for a week several weeks from now, and I'm worried about these levels spiking while I'm gone, since nothing really has happened yet--
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:14 PM   #15 
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There are some additives you can use that are like BB in a bottle. I've heard good things about Dr. Tim's live nitrifying bacteria. However, it can't be exposed to extreme temps, which is why I never got it because I'd have to order it online.

Cycling can tank 2 months or longer. The more surface area you have, the better. I add extra filter sponge to my filters. They also grow faster at higher temps. I had my tank that was fishless cycling 84 degrees. 80-82 would still be safe for the fish. They also prefer dim light and the bacteria pretty much falls from the sky, so if the tank is almost completely covered, it could take longer to get the bacteria in your tank. I've also been told that there's not as much of the bacteria in the air in the winter. Being exposed to unconditioned tap water even for a second can kill the bacteria as well..
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:13 PM   #16 
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Okay, a month later and still no cycle. I'm wondering if it could be related to the filter? I have a Marina S10 slim filter, which the fish is fine with. It comes with 2 filter cartridges - both containing charcoal - they also make one without. They suggest discarding one of the filters every 3-4 weeks (I think) but keeping the other one in. Could the carbon be keeping the tank from cycling? AyalaCookieJar - you suggested a filter sponge - is that something I can cut to size & sub in for the Marina branded media?

The tank is partially covered and 82 degrees. I've conditioned all tap water I've ever added to the tank.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:27 PM   #17 
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Yes, filter sponge can be cut to any size and I'd shove in as much as possible. I've learned some interesting things about cycling.

The BB falls from the sky. Literally. If the tank is covered well, this method doesn't work well.
If the water falls and causes surface agitation the BB will grow faster.
They grow better in higher temps.
The more surface area, the better. More sponge in the filter, more decor/gravel, etc...

This is an old post... How big is the tank again?

Carbon isn't really needed. Its useful if you need to remove toxins (like if there's rust in the tank or something was accidentally sprayed over it), or meds. If you don't allow any of that in the tank, you don't need carbon (but its helpful to have on hand for emergencies). It also stops working after about a month. Sponge is better. Removing the carbon and using filter sponge will provide more surface area.

Never change all of the filter media at once because you'll lose your BB.

I've actually had the same problem. My four gallon didn't cycle for months so I got live plants instead and added 4ppm pure ammonia and left it there. It eventually started to cycle when I uncovered it an left the lid open but I stopped daily testing.

Also I have two of the exact same tanks with the exact same filter and media and one male Betta in each and one cycled in a month, the other still isn't cycled since November. I don't really get it, but I'm planning on trying to seed that tank.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:32 PM   #18 
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It's a 5 G tank with one male betta. I started the tank in mid-February. Ammonia levels will go up, but I keep them in check with water changes (50% or whatever is needed). It would be less work in the long run if the tank would cycle, but I guess we're doing okay so far with it as it is - it just means a fair number of tests. I went out of town and left a dissolving food pellet thing - and came back to a healthy fish, but ammonia at 4ppm with a mess of dissolved food on the bottom of the tank. Somehow the fish is still ok but I did an almost 100% water change to get the ammonia back down.

I'll try a sponge filter. The carbon ones are expensive anyway, and there shouldn't be any of those contaminants in the tank.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:38 PM   #19 
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I forgot to mention that I also seeded my 4 gallon before I left it sitting there, lol. It might be easier to just seed the tank...

Sponge filters are great, though. They're pretty cheap and cause little water disturbance. But I think they might be kind of large? I've never had one so I'm not 100% sure.
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