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Old 12-19-2012, 07:51 PM   #1 
Taffy1
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Unable to cycle 5 gal tank!

I have a [blind] male betta in a 5 gallon tank. He's been in there for the past 2 months or so.

I had taken one of the filter sponges from my 55g community, which has been cycled for years to help with the cycling. I've had Betta's in this 5 gal tank in the past, without the slightest problem; although it had been cleaned and put away for several months prior to getting this guy. 1 fish in a 5 gal...should be easy, right?

Well for some reason, from the beginning, I had trouble with ammonia levels spiking - quickly! Every other day, at best, I have to do a major water change because the ammonia levels will spike to close to 0.5

About a week ago, I got the idea of taking a (healthy) plant out of the 55g planted community to take over to the 5g...thinking the plant would help with the levels.

No dice. Still bad...still having trouble with the ammonia levels. I had even tried the little ammonia chips in the filter, but again always the same. Nitrite and nitrate have always been 0

Never any food in the tank to cause that either. Feeding time, I take him out and put him in a betta jar. Much smaller surface area for him to find the food. (Feeding a blind fish is NEVER quick or easy).

I had thought of taking some of the gravel from one of the other tanks to help with cycling; but I doubt it could help - since the filter sponge and plant did nothing.

Thanks
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:27 PM   #2 
Geomancer
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Cycling takes normally 4-8 weeks to finish, you should also test your tap water to see if any is present in that. They key word though is normal, which means it can take longer. Give it time.

Seeding from an established tank can cut that time down, but it doesn't make anything instant.

Too aggressive of cleaning can disrupt the cycle. Changing water isn't an issue, but scrubbing and/or rinsing things can.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:05 PM   #3 
Taffy1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geomancer View Post
Cycling takes normally 4-8 weeks to finish, you should also test your tap water to see if any is present in that. They key word though is normal, which means it can take longer. Give it time.

Seeding from an established tank can cut that time down, but it doesn't make anything instant.

Too aggressive of cleaning can disrupt the cycle. Changing water isn't an issue, but scrubbing and/or rinsing things can.
Tap water has 0 ammonia.

I am aware of the average cycling times. But whenever I have gone through any type of cycling, we have had ammonia in the early stages, followed by some nitrates/nitrites. In this case, we get NO nitrates/nitrites. The ammonia spikes quickly, and never seems to get past that phase - despite the seeding.

In the past, with this 5g tank, I've rarely had anything but a mini cycle. One fish in a 5g seeded tank has always gone extremely quick and smooth.

This is different ... abnormal. Something has to be wrong... a [seeded] tank that cannot cycle within a 3 month period is abnormal. No way should I have to do a major water change every day or every other day.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:14 AM   #4 
Taffy1
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Well I am cautiously optimistic.

Last night I decided to try changing the filter. Not the filter media just the filter. I just left the media floating in the tank.

The filter was one of the OLD Waterhome. The impeller is on the inside; you cannot take it out to clean it. I had done my best to try to clean it out; but then I started to wonder if perhaps that wasn't good enough.

Last night I checked the parameters, and the ammonia was at 0.25... Typical level for 24 hours after the last water change. I just did about a 50% water change. A couple of hours, not surprisingly, the ammonia level was at about 0.125.

Tonight I checked it, no level was pretty much exactly where was last night. So I'm not quite jumping up and down yet, this is the first time that the ammonia was noticeably LESS than 0.25.

I will continue checking the levels daily, but really hoping that I don't have to continue to change the water every day.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:31 AM   #5 
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I wish you the best of luck. Aside from a sick fish nothing is as stressful to a tank owner as cycling.

Bless you for taking in a blind fish, by the way. ^_^
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:53 AM   #6 
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What water conditioner are you using? Some conditioners, such as Prime, will turn harmful ammonia into safe ammonium, but it will show as ammonia when you test it.
You will have to judge based upon your water changes and the plants. If you are using Prime, done a water change and the next day or two you test ammonia, most likely it's ammonium and nothing to worry about. As a single betta who puts off very little ammonia themselves in the tank, with no excess food and with a live plant there along with use of a water conditioner (dosed for full tank when doing partial water changes) should be no issues with the ammonia.

I have a blind boy myself, a white plakat named Mouse.. such a sweet guy. But he stresses in anything over half a gallon.. so have him in half a gallon with my breeders where he is active and happily eating.

Last edited by Myates; 12-22-2012 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:25 AM   #7 
Taffy1
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The conditioner I have now is Aqua Safe. Prior to this one was the Big Al's one. I had thought of picking up some Prime ... For the reasons you mentioned.

The levels tonight are still under 0.25. I did not do a WC, so I'll see where we are at tomorrow. I believe things may be better since changing the filter...since a rise of less than .25 per day has been unheard of in the past 3 months. If I had skipped a day, the levels would be at least .5 the next day...so it was rare to skip a day.

So, with skipping tonight, it will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

Just out of curiosity, how do you feed your blind boy? Seems to be a very time consuming process for me. The last blind fish I had was not quite so difficult. When I unplugged the filter, he knew what it meant. He'd go to the surface, and I'd drop the food close to where he was, and would find it before too long. This one is not quite so smart... So I have to take him out of the tank for feelings.
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Old 12-27-2012, 02:19 AM   #8 
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Well the saga continues!!

Well of the 20 or so yrs I've successfully kept fish, I've NEVER encountered so much trouble cycling a tank!

last night, I got home from visiting for Christmas dinner after 1:30am. checked the ammonia levels and found them to be close to .5. Previous day (Christmas Eve), I'd done a partial change, getting down to less than .25.

Since I needed more water conditioner anyway, I went to Big Al's; where I argued with 2 different people who adamant that one should not even consider a water change for at least 6 weeks when cycling a tank for a Betta; regardless of numbers - which need not be tested in that time . I said,"I'm sorry, but while I agree that Betta's are relatively hardy, no fish can tolerate ammonia levels that are off the charts for a prolonged period of time!" I've had fish for many years, and until now, I've never even seen a major cycle numbers with only one fish in a 5 gal, especially one seeded from an established tank! Then I was told to try the ammonia chips... This would prevent any ammonia. been there, done that!

Then we agreed to try cleaning out everything thoroughly, and soaking everything in vinegar and water. Since I clearly have yet to get past the first day of a cycle, I've nothing to lose. Filter sponge was just rinsed under tap water; not vinegar. I've even thoroughly cleaned his Betta jar (feeding jar). In the process, I dropped and shattered the heater so off I went to replace that

So this was the perfect opportunity to replace the gravel - which I'd wanted to do for a while anyway. Now every nick and cranny is spotless.

Now he is in the Betta jar, floating in the tank ... Just in case there is any more fine particles from the new gravel; even though it was well strained and rinsed before going in the tank. I feel bad for him there, but he'll survive overnight.

If I were to see ammonia tomorrow - without a fish present, I'd have to conclude that there is a "hardware" problem somewhere!

Fingers and toes crossed!!
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