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Old 12-05-2008, 08:01 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Texas
new aquariums and cycling questions


ok, to make the long story short: I exchanged the 10 gal. tank kit and bought two 2.5 gal. aquarium kits with undergravel filter. Still waiting for the air flow control thing, the heaters and the water test kit to arrive. In the meantime I would like to ask a few more questions about the cycling:

- Why does the size of a tank matters in terms of cycling? I still don't understand that.
- To cycle the tank I put everything in: gravel, plants, hiding places, plugged in heater, thermometer, conditioned water with a temp. of 78, except for the fish, right? Oh, and I need something to produce ammonium. In a small tank like this, would the betta flakes that came with the kit be enough?
- I would like to use the plants and hiding places that I'm using now in the bowls, but I don't want to take it all away from the fish, while cycling. As far as I understood, the decoration also helps putting the ammonium, nitrites etc. to the level where they should be. So I thought, if I tried to cycle the aquarium just with some gravel and one new plant and then put the fish AND the decoration from the bowl in, it could mess the cycle up, is that correct? So, any suggestions, what would be the best thing to do?
- Should I bother at all trying to cycle or should I just put the fish in?
- If the tank is cycled and it took, let's say, 1.5 or 2 weeks, how long would the fish be in this water? Until the numbers are getting bad? Then I would do a ?% water change?

My last questions are not cycling related:
- In case one fish dies from a disease, how would I clean the aquarium properly so a new fish wouldn't get infected right away?
I assume that bacteria or viruses die after being exposed to the air for a while, so I would think, that cleaning the tank, decoration, filter etc. with water and a cloth and then let it sit there for a week or so should do the job?
- Can I use one of those brown/red terra cotta flower pots in the aquarium?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:25 PM   #2 
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I wrote this a while back and seems a good place to put it.
The Fishless Cycle

Ammonia and nitrites are lethal
to fish and many water changes will be necessary for fish to survive if they are in an un-cycled tank. Far less work is involved in the "fishless cycle" with no loss of life and is much faster with less work and worry. It takes many days with fish in your tank to give you the level of ammonia you can get immediately using this fishless method which cuts your cycling time down considerably.

It is VERY important to understand that changing your filter media, cleaning your gravel or disturbing your gravel during a cycle will delay the process. Leave your tank alone and let these beneficial bacteria’s grow.

Always use dechlorinated water and, when safe to do cleaning, clean in dechlorinated water or old tank water or you will kill the bacteria you have worked so hard to grow.

Add enough “pure ammonia” (no soaps, scents or other additives) to your fish tank to register 4-5 on your tester. (Yes, a test kit is needed and is very important but it is also important for all means of cycling so get one.)

Check your ammonia level in the tank daily. The ammonia level may not move at all for several days but will then began to decline as the Nitrosoma (ammonia eating) bacteria grows. Each day, continue to add enough ammonia to reach 4-5 on your tester. Before long, in a 24-hour period, you will notice your ammonia has declined and your nitrites are now registering. Now is the time you decrease the ammonia you have been adding each day to half. Add daily enough to now register 2-3. You have grown your ammonia eating bacteria but ammonia still needs to be added daily to keep it alive. Ammonia levels too high can actually inhibit growth of nitrites and the cycle can appear to "stall out" in the nitrite stage if levels of ammonia are not reduced.

Your nitrite eating bacteria (Nitrobactor) is a slower growing bacteria and this is when your patience will be tried. Your nitrites may remain almost the same without moving for a week to 10 days…..and in some situations, even longer. But do not despair because one day you will do your daily testing and see your ammonia is now registering 0 (as it should be doing each day) but your nitrites are also 0. At this time, you will have very high levels of nitrates. Do a large water change to bring those nitrates down to 20 or less and you are ready to add your stock.

Your bacteria will die in your tank if you do not add fish to keep the cycle going. If you are delayed in adding fish, continue to add a few drops of ammonia each day until you are able to add your stock. Stock with common sense………add several fish each week instead of many all at once.

To cycle even faster, if you are able to get some seasoned gravel from another cycled tank, add that old gravel on top of your new. If you do not want to mix colors, add the seasoned gravel to a nylon stocking and drop it in the tank. A seasoned filter pad will get things going very quickly for you as well as vacuuming an established tank and transferring the mulm into the new tank. (That’s the nasties under the gravel.) Bacteria is on the hard surfaces, wood, rocks, filter media and gravel and not in the water. No need to transfer water.

Some think that bacteria boosters help in the cycling process. I do not. I find they skew with the ammonia levels and make it difficult for you to know what your actual readings are and actually delay cycling giving you highs one day and lows the next actually delaying your progress. I find the same holds true for Amquel and other ammonia reducing products.

Cycling with fish

You went out and bought fish before reading this article. What do you do now? Now you have a problem and must be prepared to test your water parameters daily, sometimes twice a day and do many water changes for your fish to survive.

A Master Test Kit is vital to know what is taking place in your tank and necessary for doing any type of cycle.

It is not necessary to buy those Master Kits that cost $45. Cheaper ones can be purchased that do the same thing. I buy the API test kits online for $17.

The first week you have added your fish, you must began testing for ammonia daily. Fish release ammonia thru their gills, their food and their waste. You must do water changes often to hold these ammonia levels down or your fish will die. Try to not let the ammonia in your tank get over .50. The following week, start testing for ammonia and nitrites. Do not remove all the ammonia or your tank will not cycle.

Just as in the fishless cycle, your ammonia eating bacteria will grow quicker than the nitrite bacteria. Ammonia and nitrites are lethal to fish so be prepared for many water changes when either of these toxins become too high. And also in this cycling method……..NO CLEANING.

The speed that your tank will cycle depends on water hardness, water temperatures, whether you are using aeration, the size of your tank and how many fish you have added to start this cycle. In addition, if you have “seeded” your tank with used gravel or a filter from an established tank.

Aerating the tank and raising the temperatures to 82 will also get the bacteria growing faster. Unless you have a well for your water, you must always use a dechlorinator or you will kill the bacteria you have been growing.

Feed fish sparingly while cycling. This will help keep the ammonia levels down as rotting food will decay causing more ammonia. Feed only a small portion once a day perhaps every 3 days. Fish can go even longer.

Some feel the water changes are unnecessary. Read the link below and see if you wish to put your fish thru this process without water changes and let your conscious guide you. Remember, too, that your fish are trapped in a glass box with no way of escaping these toxins.

Never try to cycle a tank with Discus, Angelfish, Betta’s or any fish that are fragile. One of the few fish that can live thru this cycling process is the Zebra Danio. But even they must have levels they can live thru. Most others will not live unless you are willing to keep up with almost daily water changes. Some use feeder goldfish. However, if they do not die you are stuck with goldfish you may not want.

Myth……..water changes slow down your cycling.
Bacteria is living in the gravel and the filter, wood, rocks and other hard surfaces. It is not in your water.

It can be boring waiting on a cycle when you're anxious to get that tank full of fish but remember this:

It is also boring to watch your new fish die
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:48 PM   #3 
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wow nice cycle help
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:28 PM   #4 
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Great post on cycling.
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:32 PM   #5 
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Great post.

Thing is though... it is in debate that a small tank of 2.5 gallons and less will ever cycle because of the need of constant water changes and the fact that it is small. You really need to watch your params with a tank of that size.
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:58 PM   #6 
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How often would you need to change the water of a 2.5 gal if it can't cycle?
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:45 PM   #7 
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thank you for your posts. You are hopefully not getting tired from all these beginner questions, but I'm still a little in the dark though of what I should do.

I checked my 2.5 gal. aquarium capacity and it actually holds about 8.5 liters without decoration (9.46 liters = 2.5 gallon). Since I have my fish in 6 and 7 liter bowls right now I guess it would not make a big difference for them to move to the aquarium right away, right? Just that the water would be getting 78 instead of 75, because I have the heater. I would use the pebble stones and decoration I'm using now plus new stones and a new plant. I would use all new (and conditioned) water or part of the old water from the bowls?

I will check the ammonia the first week and ammonia and nitrite the second week and do partly water changes, if the numbers are not good.

With the feeding I'm a little hesitant, because I would like to feed them as usual, since everything else is new. I normally feed 4 pellets a day (2+2) and they have about one fasten day per week. I could go with 2 pellets every other day. Would that be ok or does all that depend on the parameters?

Anything else?

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Old 12-07-2008, 08:07 PM   #8 
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Could someone tell me how often to change the water of a 2 1/2 gallon tank if it can't be cycled?
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:12 PM   #9 
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About 50% twice a week should be fine!
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:55 AM   #10 
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Ooooh, great post! I've hit the nitrite "hump" mentioned in the post & I was starting to freak out. I was going to do a water change because I thought the bacteria were overloaded or something, but I'll just keep on truckin'. (This is a fishless cycle.)

Last edited by julsicat; 12-09-2008 at 12:57 AM.
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