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Old 03-27-2010, 09:59 PM   #1 
LolaQuigs
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Tank Cycling and Maintenance Questions from a TOTAL Newbie

Hi everyone! I'm sorry if these questions are beyond basic, but I'm totally new to fish care! I am planning on getting a betta, got this tank and nothing else yet (waiting till at least next weekend so it's not all on the same paycheck.) I have a few questions about cycling (I'm planning on a fishless cycle once I get the substrate, heater, decorations, etc.) and filtering my new 5g tank.

1) I've heard conflicting reports on how much water to change. I read somewhere a cycled filtered 5g should have a 50% water change weekly. Read in a few places it should be 25% weekly. That aquarium calculator thing recommended 8% weekly. So what's best?

2) I read about how often to test parameters, but I'm not sure exactly WHEN. Should it be on the same day as the water change? If so, should it be before the water is changed, after, or both?

3) I read somewhere else on the forum about not needing to change the filter every two weeks like the directions say. That was exciting because I don't want to buy tons of filters! So it's okay to just reuse (with ocassional rinsing) this filter cartridge?

The filter also comes with this "Bio fiber" thing; the instructions say never to clean or replace the bio fiber. So is this thing going to hold bacteria to keep up the cycle? Or should I still put part of the old filter in with the new one when it is time to change the filter?

4) I'd like to add a live plant, but since I have no experience with aquariums in general, I'm not sure if I'm ready for the upkeep of plants. Do all plants require a CO2 diffuser or are there any kinds I can just put in there as is and not have to really worry about?

Sorry for all the newbie questions! I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right so I can give my future fish the best possible environment! Thanks to anyone who actually read through that long mess!

I'm sorry if these questions are really basic, but everything I know about keeping bettas, I've found online but I haven't really been able to find anything addressing these specifics. I just want to make sure my fish is happy and healthy and I'm doing everything right!
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Old 03-28-2010, 12:28 AM   #2 
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I always do 50% changes... clean water can NEVER hurt your fish.. the bigger the change the better. As long as you only have one fish in the tank and no tankmates you can do 25%.

I test my parameters on a cycled tank 2x a week. I test the day of a water change... right before, then I test the day after to make sure that the cycle wasn't messed by the water change. Once your tank has been stable for a few months you can go to just testing weekly before water changes.

You don't need to change the filter cartridge until it starts falling apart. If I were you I would throw out the carbon in your filter and fill it with filter floss or a sponge.. something for bacteria to grow on.

Don't worry about co2, thats for serious planters. Easy starter plants I would recommend are Java moss, java fern, dwarf sagittaria, crypts, anubias, and vals.


I think I covered everything but if you have anymore questions please ask :)
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:46 AM   #3 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LolaQuigs View Post
4) I'd like to add a live plant, but since I have no experience with aquariums in general, I'm not sure if I'm ready for the upkeep of plants.
There are some good tutorial sticky threads at the top of the "Aquarium Plants" section that explain what's involved in keeping plants without a whole heap of hi-tech equipment.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:38 PM   #4 
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Thanks for the help guys! I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get closer and closer to getting my fish!
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:37 PM   #5 
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Well I'm back! As I thought I would be! I haven't even started my cycle yet and I'm having issues. Three days ago I tested my parameters before I conditioned the water and they were all very high except nitrates. After conditioning I tested again and they were slightly lower but still high. So I yesterday
added a little more Prime (had to estimate, it's hard to figure out what is 1 mL for my 5g tank without anything to measure milileters.)

So today I measured again, hoping to start cycling. My heater and filter have been running for three days, the temperature is about 78.

My ph reading still seemed pretty high at 7.6. What is a suitable ph for bettas? If it's under my water's ph, how can I lower it?

I'm getting ammonia readings. Is this bad? I mean, if you do a water change to lower ammonia, what do you do if your water already has ammonia? Today my reading was .5; it was even higher yesterday and extremely high the day before.

My nitrites are at 0 today, so at least something seems to be going well.

Nitrates: My first test and the test I did yesterday showed 0 nitrates, which is good. But when I tested today I got a reading of somewhere between 0-5

I'm using the API liquid test kit, btw.

What is wrong with my water? After doing these tests I'm kind of afraid to drink it lol.
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Old 04-08-2010, 07:53 PM   #6 
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Are you adding ammonia to your tank as your method of fishless cycling? Also, are you using Prime as your conditioner? I have the medium bottle of Prime and the directions say 5mL per 50 gallons which equates to .5mL per 5 gallons (same as what you said). I found out that the directions on the smallest bottle of Prime say 2 drops per gallon so instead of .5mL, you could just measure out 10 drops if you have a pipette or some other kind of dropper.

Your pH should be fine. I have learned that it is not necessary to lower or increase the pH since your betta will adapt. However, it is important to keep the pH the same when you do water changes. If you are getting your water from the same source every time, this should not be a problem.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:03 PM   #7 
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I am using pure ammonia to do a fishless cycle and Prime to condition. I really didn't want to have to start messing with the ph, I'm glad I don't have to.

Thanks, measuring such small quantities is so much easier when it's done in drops; I have an eye dropper but I wasn't sure of the mL to drops conversion :)
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:49 PM   #8 
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You shouldn't need to be doing any water changes whatsoever during a fishless cycle with ammonia. You only do a large water change (60-80%) at the end of the cycle once you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and about 20 nitrate. Keep the level of ammonia the same everyday (4-5ppm) until nitrites show. You aren't adding ammonia everyday, you are only adding enough to keep the level the same. You will want to test the water everyday so that you know how much ammonia to add to keep the level the same. Once nitrites show, cut the ammonia level to 2-3ppm. This will now be the level of ammonia you want the tank to stay at everyday until you are seeing the ammonia go to 0 within 12-16 hours with the accompanying 0 nitrites, and about 20 nitrates.

I wouldn't worry about your water parameters right out of the tap. What matters are the levels in the tank you are cycling. If you already have a bit of ammonia in your water, then just add less of the pure ammonia.

This might come in handy: http://www.fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator.htm

If you test the water one day and you have 1ppm ammonia and need to get 4-5ppm, then you can just input the numbers and it will tell you exactly how much ammonia you need to add.

Hope that helps!
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Old 04-10-2010, 07:57 PM   #9 
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Thanks for the info. I haven't been doing any water changes, I was just afraid that when I have my fish and I do water changes, the tap water may have too much ammonia in it. And thank you for the link, I've heard people mention the calculator but I was having a hard time finding it myself!
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