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Old 11-27-2010, 09:38 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Philly
Don't fully understand cycling process?

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking and reading all of the awesome information in this forum since I became a betta owner in Oct., but only now signed up. Thank you for all of your awesome posts!

I often see people talk about cycling their tanks, but I'm not sure I fully understand. Today, I bought a 5 gallon tank at Walmart and a divider from a local fish store. I've been looking at posts on cycling your first tank. Some say to cycle it for a week, others 6-8 weeks, others 24 hrs before putting your fish in. They talk about getting the water to the right levels with the filter.

Right now, my male is in a 2.5 gallon tank and my female is in...I'm not sure of the size, actually. It's a small tank of my sister's--much too small for her, but when I bought her, I thought it was okay for a m and f to be together! Thank goodness for this site! I moved them apart w/in a few hrs, though, but for now, she's in a tiny tank. She's chilly, though, since it's too small for a heater. I'm making do with a desk lamp. Obviously, I don't want to wait the 6-8 weeks some sites are recommending before putting her in a nice, warm tank with a heater, esp. since we got our first snowfall on Thursday! I want to put them in the new tank asap.

Should I put water in the tank and let it sit for 24 hrs with a heater, stick the bettas in, and then put the filter into the old 2.5g tank to run 6-8 wks before putting the filter in the new tank once it has the "good bacteria growth?" Do I put the filter in now and run it 24 hrs before putting them in? What's the proper way to make sure my brand new tank is safe for my bettas before I put them in? I've already cleaned it out (just water and a wipedown, no soap).

Also, I have the generic filter the tank came with (just the generic one that comes with the Walmart 5g starter), but I also purchased a whisper internal filter b/c I thought it might be better? Which do you guys think is the best?

Thank you for any and all help! My bettas and I appreciate it!!

Last edited by abackwardsstory; 11-27-2010 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:53 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the wonderful world of Betta keeping.......

The nitrogen cycle sounds complicated but it really isn' long as you provide the right conditions for the nitrifying bacteria the nitrogen cycle will happen....the nitrifying bacteria need oxygenated water and a surface area to colonize on
You have two different bacteria at work-they start out air born and find their way into the water-one converts ammonia to nitrite and another converts nitrite to nitrate......
Nitrifying bacteria are sticking and adhere to everything in the tank-like the walls, decorations, plants both fake and real, in the top layer of substrate and in the filter media-very little are in the water column so water only changes will not slow or hurt the nitrogen cycle process, however, over cleaning the substrate (more than weekly vacuum), using chlorinated water to clean the filter media, changing the filter media can stall, slow and/or cause a mini cycle and ammonia/nitrite spikes

It can take 4-8 weeks for the nitrogen cycle to complete-several thing can change this-water temp, pH, live plants, oxygen level to name a few...

You have the "Fishless" method and most common way to start this is with pure ammonia or raw shrimp and maintain ammonia levels of 3ppm
With this method you need a water test kit to test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH on a daily basis

You have the "fish-in" method-you don't have to have a water test kit to do a fish in cycle, however, I do recommend them for any level hobbyist-but often most people can't afford a proper kit in the long as you are willing to make the needed water changes the fish will be fine with the fish-in cycle with or without the use of a test kit

You also have the seeded method-you add a piece of healthy cycled filter media and/or healthy cycled gravel from a mature healthy cycled aquarium-depending on the amount used and size tank you are cycling and bioload-seeding a new tank can cut the cycling time down by about half

What I would do-I would use the 2.5gal for the female and the new 5gal for the male-make the needed water changes on both-I would save the smaller container and use for a QT/treatment tank if needed.

5gal-twice weekly 50% and one needs substrate vacuuming-filter media a swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change a couple of times a month and when the water flow slows-during the cycling process-
Once cycled 1-50% weekly with vacuuming should maintain water quality provided that you are not overfeeding and uneaten food is removed

2.5gal-same thing twice weekly 50% water changes and filter media cleaning-I have found it to be difficult to vacuum such a small tank so I use the stir and dip method with them-due to the size and needed water changes on this size tank-the nitrogen cycle is moot in a sense-it still needs twice weekly water changes even after the cycling process IMO to maintain water quality, however, the cycle will establish and this can give you some wiggle room so to speak when life happens

You need to have filters running 24/7 to maintain the nitrogen cycle-the good bacteria can start to die after about 6 hours without oxygen
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:05 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Georgia
:) I'm assuming you'll probably want to go with fish in cycle so you can move your male to the five gallon and female to the 2.5 gallon (or your female to the 5 and keep your male in the 2.5- either way is fine) .

You'll want to get the api master test kit ( ), which you can get from walmart for half the price LFS sell them for. For your two tanks, as you start the cycle, test your tanks once a day, and whenever your ammonia gets above .25 ppms, do a water change for that tank. Eventually you'll see that ammonia stops registering and that nitrItes start appearing, same idea, do water changes as they appear. Once you have nitrAtes and 0 ammonia or nitrItes, you're cycled, then you only have to do a 50% water change weekly for the 5 gallon and 50% once (twice is better) a week.

To clean the filter media, just take it once a month or so and swish it around in a bucket of tank water to get the mulm out. I like to do this with the water I get from tanks during a water change to make things a bit quicker.
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