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Old 08-13-2012, 12:40 AM   #1 
Otto Vella
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Join Date: Aug 2012
my first tank... any advice...

Hi all,

I have started a fish in cycle with a male betta in a 3 gallon tank.
He has a heater, a sponge filter an anubias plant with 4 flower heads on it & a couple of semi-precious gem stone slices, all soft edges, nothing sharp for his delicate fins.
I'm not sure if he's fully grown as his body, not including fins, looks to be about 3-4cm long.
As i said, I have started a fish in cycle & am doing tests every day via the API master kit.
I have read many many different opinions on fish in cycle... so I'm here to get the best advise for what I've chosen to do.

I'm doing 25% water changes daily due to ammonia reading .25 ... my tap water also reads this for ammonia. I'm in Sydney, Australia. I'm treating the tap water with API betta water conditioner, stress coat & stress zyme.
He won't eat the pallets that I initially got for him but loves the nutrafin max flakes. Also a little freeze dried bloodworm once a week.

He has no physical signs of stress or deterioration & is happy cruising around his tank. He eats what I give him, there's not much uneaten food going to the substrate as he's pretty quick to get each little bit.
He does have this habit of eating the middle of the anubias flower, spitting it out then chasing the bits, eating them, spitting them out... I feed him twice a day but for a bit less than a minute as I'm cautious of overfeeding while doing the fish in cycle. I try to make sure he eats each bit before I give him more as I hear flake food can be a bit harder to remove.

I have 4 small live plants arriving this week, all researched for the betta & where I have the tank situated... On the kitchen island/bench. It's the hub of our apartment & he gets lots of attention, which he adores... I never knew bettas were such show ponies!!

The anubias looks healthy, is attached to driftwood & came from a clean established tank at one of the pet stores in my area. They deal mainly in fish so I'm happy that it came from there. It has since today started to get this white fuzz, almost like a cocoon on some parts. It is not affecting the betta as far as I can see & he's still happy cruising in & out of it.
Some say it's algae, some say it can't be algae as algae isn't white(?), others say it's a natural part of the cycle & bacterial bloom & it will go away on it's own...

I'm quite confused with some of the conflicting information so if anyone else has had an anubias with a similar thing going on or if you have done a fish in cycle in a 3 gallon tank with a sponge filter & have any advice I would appreciate it.

I know that the fish in cycle technique is not ideal but not impossible & as I've started it & am monitoring daily results...

pH is about 6.4
ammonia .25
no nitrites yet
no nitrates yet

With 25% daily water changes so the ammonia doesn't get too high am I on the right track?
Does the ammonia have to go higher quicker to see a nitrite result? Or try to keep it as low as possible without too much drastic change to the little guys environment?
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:10 AM   #2 
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Ammonia at 0.25ppm is the absolute maximum you should allow. You can make larger and more frequent water changes to keep it well below that. Not much nitrifying bacteria in the water column, so change away.

The white fuzz sounds like Saprolegnia mold (or fungus, I forget), not dangerous but not good. wash it off and continue.

Oh...I just saw you have very low pH. Your cycle is going to take a long time, if it can establish at all. On the bright side much of your ammonia reading is likely ammonium, not hazardous to your fish.

I suggest you contact Littlebettafish on this forum. She's from Sydney and knows how to deal with low Ph softwater conditions.

And welcome to the forum.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:40 PM   #3 
Otto Vella
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Thank you for the info!
I did wonder about the ammonia/ammonium thing... I shall contact littlebettafish regarding the low pH.
When you say larger & more frequent... Twice daily?
I have been checking before changing the water & a half hour after, slightly less ammonia & then checking again a few hours after that, still around .25
Wasn't sure about frequency of water changes while it's trying to cycle.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:56 PM   #4 
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I'm actually from Melbourne. But our tapwater is also really soft here. Great for wild bettas, killifish and other softwater species, but annoying when you want to get a cycle established.

I just use some shell grit or crushed coral in a stocking in my filter. Over time this bumps up your KH, which in turn also increases your pH. I have found that while it is difficult to cycle a tank at a lower pH, once established, your cycle should be able to maintain itself at this level.

If your tapwater has ammonia already in it, doing more water changes is still going to give you an ammonia reading until your tank has cycled and your bacteria are able to process it.

I would advise purchasing some Seachem Prime; this converts ammonia into ammonium, which is still able to be processed by your bacteria but is much less harmful to your fish. Your test kit will still give you a reading but that is because it is not able to distinguish between the two different forms.

Do be aware though, that at a pH below 7, your ammonia is mostly in the form of ammonium anyways. Therefore, you must be very careful about altering the pH because as soon as it gets above neutral your ammonium converts back to ammonia which is very toxic to fish as you know.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:34 PM   #5 
Otto Vella
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Thanks for the quick reply, once I acquire the seachem prime do I halt using the other products mid cycle or phase each one out while phasing in the prime?
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:01 AM   #6 
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Prime converts ammonia to ammonium far a day or two. It also removes (actually encapsulates) heavy metals.

I'm not sure what other products you're referring to. Prime is all you should need.
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:07 AM   #7 
Otto Vella
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I'm currently using API betta water conditioner, stress coat & stress zyme.
I have read its safe to switch to prime during a cycle.
Have ordered some... Read some interesting stuff about using prime & doing tests, reading immediate results as opposed to waiting 5 minutes.
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