Indeed you can keep a fish in an un-cycled tank. Tanks do not have to be cycled, cycling simply helps stabilize them and reduce your workload a bit on water changes.
None of my tanks are cycled, and my bettas are all quite happy and healthy with the arrangement. You simply have to remember to keep up on your water changes, that's all. Water changes are your friend. A non-cycled tank will increase ammonia levels faster than a cycled tank would, and as we all know, ammonia is bad for fishies.
On my smaller tanks (like my quarantine (2 gal) and Skark, my rescue-betta's tank (3.5 gal)) I do 50% water changes twice a week. On my 10 gallons I do somewhere closer to 40% twice a week (larger tanks with less bioload per gallon overall means less concentrated ammonia amounts). I also like to break down my tanks about once a month and put the resident betta in a cup whilst I go take out the substrate and fake plants, and scrub both them and tank down to remove any residue that may have gotten under the substrate and not already been cleared out in water changes, and to remove and algae build-up on the tank itself. However, I don't think it's really necessary that you do a full scrub on your tanks every month like I do, that's just a personal preference for keeping everything sparkling and crystal clear. Besides, it gives me a great opportunity to rearrange the tanks and their decorations, and I find variety helps keep many a better happy and healthy.
My tank and 1 gallon containers aren't cycled either. My routine for my 4 gallon is similar to Nataku's. I do 50% changes once a week and a full change once a month and like Nataku, I wash out the tank, clean plants and the glass gems. Then I put clean water in and he's good to go. I clean out the 1 gallons once every week to 10 days. I know I need to do it more often but time kind of gets away from me sometimes. lol
Some fish are better at making it trough the cycle then others. I would read up on fish cycles.
Having a water test kit is very important, so you wlll know your ammonia and nitrite levels and how much water you should change out.
I do not recommend doing a complete strip down cleaning in a 10gal tank. That size tank is fairly easy to cycle. Cleaning it completely will kill your cycle. A cycled tank is a lot easyer to maintain and easier on your fish.
Good luck with the new tank!
Last edited by Twistersmom; 03-29-2009 at 08:53 PM.
nataku i would not recommend taking out ur gravel/ substrate or w.e. cycleing basically creates good bacteria that will eat ammonia and nitrates and nitrites, so u have to clean and do water changes less frequently, if u are cleanign the gravel/substrate u are killing this cycle, these good bacteria live in the gravel/substrate, getting a gravel vaccum and vaccuming ur gravel will keep the majoraty of this bacteria there but get rid of the little nasties u dont want. i found a very helpful sight that discribes fishless cycling and cycling with a fish very well, here are the links.
Not everyone wants a cycled tank. I much prefer being able to tear down my tanks any time I want so that I may also rearrange them, and worrying about being able to keep a cycle going only interferes with that. Also, having worked meticulously for years in the past maintaining salt water tanks and all their intrinsic quirks, I much prefer the ease and simplicity of just keeping an uncycled betta tank. No pH drips, no under-substrate filters, no air bubblers, no flow paths to need to worry about. And no accursed polychaete worms to be hiding under every rock waiting for a chance to chew on fingers.... although that's neither here nor there.
My water changes and cleaning regimen are more than sufficient to keep up with any ammonia buildup in the tanks, so I have no need for cultivating bacteria to 'help' me do my job. I'm well aware of what the cycle is and how it works. I don't want it, so I don't give it the chance to occur. =]
I would agree that uncycled tanks can sustain fish if water changes are performed to keep levels of ammonia in check. The problem lies with those who do so and have no one to care for fish in the event of vacation ,and or medical emergency. I also believe in cleaning substrate(vaccuming) but cannot see the benefit of removing substrate for cleaning .
If a tank can be cycled there's absolutely no good reason not to. Some small unfiltered tanks can't be cycled. They're also typically unfit for fish anyways so its not a big deal. A ten gallon tank with a filter won't have any problem cycling at all.
I'm curious, why won't your parents let you cycle the tank? Do they insist on having fish in it immediately?
Do you have a filter? A ten gallon tank should have one. If so you can cycle the tank. It's going to require a lot of work on your part however. The first thing you need to do is choose the fish you're going to cycle with. What were you hoping to stock the tank with? You might be able to cycle with some of the fish you already plan to keep. You generally want to fish-in-cycle with a hardy fish if at all possible. You can cycle with more delicate fish but it makes the task even more tedious.
Once you have a cycling fish or fishes choosen the procedure is fairly simple. Start up the tank as you would normally. Substrate in, decorations in, install heater, install thermometer, fill with dechlorinated water, install the filter, fire everything up and let it run for a day or two to ensure everything is working, the temp is correct and stable, and you've got no leaks. Now add your fish. At this point you'll need to get into a daily routine of testing the water for the presence of ammonia and nitrites. Any time you see a reading higher than 0.25 ppm you do a water change, 30 to 50%, in order to get the levels down. You'll need to check your water daily. On a ten gallon tank you'll probably be doing a water change every day. You might even have to do two a day or one large one, though not exceeding 50%, in order to keep the levels under control. Keep it up until the tank cycles. Doing this will minimize the stress on the fish as much as possible.