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Old 03-17-2011, 08:13 PM   #1 
kathstew
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Filter and cycle help?

Hi!
I have a 5.5 gallon tank, that is divided into two, for two females. I do not use real plants, only fake. Both of my girls are happy and healthy.

I just got a mini elite filter. I was wondering if someone could explain to me the freshwater cycle, and what exactly a filter does.

I understand that fish release ammonia into the water, and that they need oxygen to survive. I understand we clean the tank to get rid of the ammonia. But could you help me understand a little more in depth this cycle?

I want to understand what my filter is doing, and what is going on in the tank. :D

I have read the sticky about the freshwater cycle, but didn't understand it very much. I appreciate the answers!
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:31 AM   #2 
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Originally Posted by kathstew View Post
Hi!
I have a 5.5 gallon tank, that is divided into two, for two females. I do not use real plants, only fake. Both of my girls are happy and healthy.

I just got a mini elite filter. I was wondering if someone could explain to me the freshwater cycle, and what exactly a filter does.

I understand that fish release ammonia into the water, and that they need oxygen to survive. I understand we clean the tank to get rid of the ammonia. But could you help me understand a little more in depth this cycle?

I want to understand what my filter is doing, and what is going on in the tank. :D

I have read the sticky about the freshwater cycle, but didn't understand it very much. I appreciate the answers!
I haven't long grasped the whole concept of cycling so Let me try to explain this, in a none confusing way for you lol :)

Basically when you cycle a tank, you are creating good bacteria for your fishes to survive and live in. This is done by adding Ammonia.

Ammonia comes from loads of different sources; fish waste, decaying plants, rotten food. These waste materials all convert to ammonia which, when found in large amounts is toxic to fish. The creation of ammonia and its growth in your fish tank is what is called, the nitrogen cycle; a good thing :)

If you decide to do a fish in cycle, they will instantly start producing ammonia for you and by the 3rd week the ammonia may well be toxic already, this is where you come in and immediately do a 50% water change. When the good bacteria starts growing in your fish tank, it will start to reduce the levels of ammonia in your tank, which will take weeks if not months to properly establish in your aquarium. When the bacteria starts to break down the ammonia it then converts in to Nitrites which is also harmful to your fish. However, the aquarium needs another type of bacteria to take care of this problem.

So now that you have nitrites in your tank because of the action of Nitrosomonas bacteria on ammonia. To finish the cycle, your tank needs another type of bacteria; the nitrobacter bacteria. This type of bacteria will then convert Nitrites to Nitrates which isn't harmful to your fish. That type of bacteria doesn't develop until there are plenty of Nitrites, this is why the nitrogen cycle takes forever before its properly established. Adding plants to your tank will help the nitrogen produce quicker, which will complete the cycle faster. :) Also it is best to only add a few fish to your tank at first, this will stop the quick accumulation of waste materials which remember...convert to ammonia.

To summarize the whole process.... There are 3 stages to the nitrogen cycle

1st - Ammonia - This is produced by fish waste, decaying plants and rotten excess food.

2nd - Nitrites - This is produced by a certain type of bacteria, which absorbs the ammonia and makes nitrites, which are harmful

3rd - Another type of bacteria absorbs the nitrites and produce Nitrates, which are not harmful.

The nitrogen cycle may take some time, so remember to keep doing small water changes of about 50% every other day,this will keep the ammonia under control and won't kill your fish :)

Hope this helps and that I have patronised you, in any way :)

Good Luck :)
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:35 PM   #3 
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Welsh, thank you for your answer. I think I am starting to get it. LOL. I appreciate you writing all that, it is helping a lot. I'm using it as a reference for when I forget how the cycle works, LOL.

So, I've already had my fish in my tank for a good three weeks. Before, I'd always be doing 100% water changes and 50% changes 1 a week. Now that I've added a filter, how many water changes will I need to do? And do I have to follow the cycle, as in allowing the ammonia to convert to nitrites and then nitrates, or could I just continue with changing the water and removing the ammonia? Because in the sticky, I've read the fish-in cycle is the most difficult cycle, and I don't think I have the time anymore to be doing a fish-in cycle. :$ I don't want to risk hurting my fish.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:18 PM   #4 
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Originally Posted by kathstew View Post
Welsh, thank you for your answer. I think I am starting to get it. LOL. I appreciate you writing all that, it is helping a lot. I'm using it as a reference for when I forget how the cycle works, LOL.

So, I've already had my fish in my tank for a good three weeks. Before, I'd always be doing 100% water changes and 50% changes 1 a week. Now that I've added a filter, how many water changes will I need to do? And do I have to follow the cycle, as in allowing the ammonia to convert to nitrites and then nitrates, or could I just continue with changing the water and removing the ammonia? Because in the sticky, I've read the fish-in cycle is the most difficult cycle, and I don't think I have the time anymore to be doing a fish-in cycle. :$ I don't want to risk hurting my fish.
You are welcome :)

The fish in cycle has never been my favourite, it's too much work and takes up too much conditioner in my opinion lol.

You've had your fish in the tank for 3 weeks. Have you performed any water changes yet? by now you should have at least carried out a 50% water change, if not then it would be best to do that as soon as you can :) basically what your doing when you do water changes is taking out the high amounts of ammonia, there will still be ammonia in your tank which is needed to create the nitrogen cycle and complete it :)

Do you have a test kit? you will need a test kit somewhere down the line, this will help you determine which stage your cycle is at and also how much of each is in your tank. The API freshwater test kit is the most recommended and reliable. :)

Anything else you want to know, don't hesitate to ask. I will try my best to help you :)
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:13 PM   #5 
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I don't think I want to cycle my tank, because the fish are already in there, and I don't want to risk the ammonia spike killing or hurting them.
I originally had the two fish in seperate 1 gallon bowls. I did 100% water changes every other day. About a week later I upgraded to the divided 5.5 tank. I've been doing one 100% change a week, and one - two 50% water changes a week as well. With this filter, would I be able to switch to just a 100% water change?
I really don't want to risk my fish with a cycle.
No, I do not have a test kit. If I were to continue without cycling my tank, would I need one?

Thank you for your help, and your kindness in your answers. I really appreciate that you aren't talking down to me. =D
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:55 PM   #6 
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