Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: East Tennessee
Oh good, I was worried about him! :) The pictures are hard to really see anything (I completely understand that one...I have a heck of a time getting pictures of my guys as well!), but he's not clamped and looks healthy. :)
Are you going to cycle his tank?
You may already *be* cycled since he's been in there...not sure though with the filter being off.
A few other members were having some trouble figuring out the cycling stickies (myself included in the beginning, lol!) so I typed up the Easiest Guide To Cycling Ever. ;)
Okay, a few things before I get started on the cycle stuff. I don't know what you know and what you're unclear on, so I'm just going to assume that you're a blank slate and start from the beginning. :) That way it's here if you need it, or you can skip it if you know already. :)
First off, the cycle stuff sounds really complicated and confusing, but it's really, really not. I mean, the tank will cycle with or without you doing anything...it'll just be smoother, safer for your fish, and probably faster if you do it "correctly", which is what I'll outline here. :)
What the basic cycle is:
fish produce ammonia, ammonia is then broken down by Bacteria A into nitrite, then Bacteria B comes in and breaks down the nitrite into nitrate, when you have enough of both of these bacterial types (BB's or Beneficial Bacteria) to break down all the ammonia and nitrite into nitrate at a good clip, then you're cycled. :)
What the BB's need to live: a food source (your fish, his waste, and any uneaten food in the tank), an air source (any time the water is agitated, this puts oxygen into the water, this is done through bubbles in a sponge filter and through the water falling back into the tank with a HOB filter), and a place to live, called surface area. This area is avail in your filter in the "filter media" and in the gravel in your tank. There is also a small amount living on your tank walls, plants, and decorations, but mostly in your filter and your gravel.
This is why some people have a hard time getting a small tank to cycle, or to keep a steady cycle. Under 5g's is a small tank. Most people who can get a small tank to cycle do it with a good layer of aquarium gravel, and a sponge filter. These two things maximize your surface area for the BB's to live on, giving you a better chance of being able to cycle, and to hold a steady cycle. It's not a guarantee, but it's a better starting chance.
Tools for cycling:
Master Freshwater Test kit. This is not negotiable. ;) (trust me, I tried, lol!) The test strips are *not* accurate, and you will only waste your money. This is the voice of experience...I didn't believe it, bought the strips, only to realize that they really *are* that bad...and I'd wasted 10$ that could have gone towards a Master Kit. It's a 20-25$ investment, but it's worth it, and they last just about forever.
There are a lot of parts to the Kit, but you really only need to worry about the Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate testing solutions, the others are not really important at this stage of the game. Your water hardness and Ph are not something you can really change realistically (there are chemicals to mess with them, but they just make your tank unstable, and it's better to have a steady number that's maybe not ideal but suitable and *stable*, rather than one that's going up and down and sideways all the time because you're messing with it). Bettas are tough, they can adjust to whatever Ph and Hardness you have. Keep these parts of the kit because you might need them later, but for now, you just need the three big ones: Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. :)
Prime. Prime is special stuff, because it neutralizes ammonia into a form that is not harmful to your fish, but is avail to be used by your cycle. Prime is the *ONLY* product on the market that does this. Prime is important in case your ammonia spikes and you can't do a water change right then, the Prime will buy you a day or two of continued cycling, while keeping your fish safe. :) Also, don't be alarmed, but even after you put in Prime, the test kits will still give you an ammonia reading. This is because the kits are not differentiating between the ammonia and the ammonium. The ammonia is toxic, the ammonium (what the Prime converted the ammonia into) is safe for the fishies *and* the cycle.
That's it. You're ready. :)
Steps to the Cycle:
Oh, one more note. *DO NOT* let your ammonia, or nitrITE get above 0.25. If it gets to that level or above, do 50% water changes to get it back down into safe levels. Below 0.25 is safe, but you need *some* ammonia and nitrITE to keep the cycle going, so don't get it down to zero. :)
Pre-Step: test your tap water for ammonia. Hopefully, your tap water reads at an ammonia level of 0. If it doesn't, that is another issue, PM me back if that's the case and we'll hit this another way. :)
Step 1: set up your tank, and throw in a fishie. ;) Put in your gravel, your treated water, some plants, decorations, whatever you're going to put in there, and start up the filter. Over the next several days, your filter is providing two things: air into the water, and a place for the BB's to live once they get going. That's it. Your fish is producing ammonia, so the BB's now have all their needs: air, living space, and food. From this point you're going to start testing your water for ammonia.
Step 2: some days have gone by. It depends on your tank how many, smaller tanks produce more ammonia faster just because there's less water to dilute it. Once your ammonia gets to 0.25, then you need to do a 50% water change. Your goal right now is to keep the water at 0.25 ammonia, this is enough for the BB's to start eating, but not enough to hurt your fish for a few weeks. You're going to start testing your water for nitrITES at this point as well.
Step 3: more days have gone by. At some point, your ammonia will start going down, and your nitrITES will start going up. Have a small party, you're getting there, yay!! ;) After some time, again, depending on the tank, your ammonia will fall to 0, and your nitrITES will go up to a reading. Again, the nitrITES need to stay at the 0.25 level, if they go above this, do a water change to bring them back down.
Step 4: additional days have gone by. Probably a couple or a few weeks. The average cycle takes a month...some are quicker, some are slower, but about a month is average. At this point, your nitrITES start going down, and your nitrATES start going up. This will continue for a bit until you have readings of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrITES and 5-20 nitrATES. This is when you have a big party. ;) You are now cycled, yayayayay! :D At this point, your tank is newly cycled. It may still have some fluctuations, but the basic process is complete. :)
Step 5: keep testing your water every few days to a week for a month or so, just to make sure you don't have any blips in your cycle. This will also tell you when to start doing water changes. In a cycled tank you won't ever do a 100% water change, only 25-50% changes, usually 25% once a week or every two weeks. The way you know when to change your water is based off your nitrATE readings. You're going to test this pretty often for a bit to find out how long it takes *your* tank to reach a level of nitrATES that need a water change. If nitrATES are above 25, you need to do a water change to bring them down. After you've done a few weeks of testings, you'll start to see a pattern and you know, on average, when you need to do your water changes. :)
Notes about water changes post cycle: never, ever put chlorinated water into your tank. Always make sure your water has been treated before it touches your tank, gravel, or filter, otherwise the chlorine will kill your BB's. Also, never rinse your sponges or cartridge in untreated tap water for the same reason. If they are mucky, just swish them around in old tank water until the gunk is cleaned off. They don't need to be super clean, just knock the big stuff off.
Not too hard. :) Just some time, some readings, and some water changes. :)
Last edited by Blue Fish; 09-30-2013 at 12:59 AM.