So, I'm doing an in-fish cycle of a 5 gallon tank. It's been up for 5 days now, but I used as much water as I could from my betta's old 1.5gal tank when setting it up. My tank has my betta, a marimo ball, and a live stemmed plant that I don't remember the name of (was on clearance at petsmart), as well as some silk plants. Here is a picture that shows all 3:
As I understand cycling, I'm supposed to test the water daily for Ammonia and change as soon as it reaches .25ppm. I was under the impression that I should be seeing this ~twice weekly early on. Well, on day 5...I'm still barely registering any ammonia. I'm actually *seeing* some now, but it's still under .25ppm. I've also tested for nitrites and nitrates just in case I *somehow* cycled past that, those are still both showing 0ppm.
I don't want to go too long between water changes as I understand that there are other dissolved compounds that could be harmful. But, I also don't want to starve the system of ammonia and crash the cycle.
I know that the plants could be having an effect, but I'm not sure how much. I've also been adding a couple drops of Prime in between changes (water is treated with Prime) to help keep the ammonia *in* the tank safe while cycling.
How should I approach at this point? I'm assuming I should be doing, at a minimum, at least a 50% water change once weekly as that seems to be what maintenance for a cycled tank would be. But, I was also expecting to be doing changes more frequently as the tank hasn't cycled yet, but I'm not seeing the ammonia levels at a point to trigger a change.
I've found that some fish just don't produce as much ammonia as quickly as others. I don't know what scientific sense that makes (different metabolism, etc.), but it's true. Keep testing. Keep adding your Prime each day - 5 drops per day in between water changes. And what you're assuming is correct. Just change 50% once a week as you would a cycled tank unless you get a reading of .25ppm or higher in between changes.
I think that plant is a crypt, though it's hard to tell in the picture. Either way, 1 plant wouldn't really be affecting the ammonia levels much. Just go by the once a week/.25ppm of ammonia rule for water changes and you're good!
Did the 50% weekly water change, still haven't really seen much ammonia at all. I think it got to .25ppm the day I changed it a week in. Last night, I saw my tank get briefly cloudy for a bit and then clear up...thought "huh, wonder if that was bacteria, will have to see what happens when I test water tomorrow."
So, today still showed very little if any ammonia, but nitrites spiked to 1ppm. Uh, OK! Water change time... Glad I've been adding prime daily, but at least I know my cycle is in process now.
I'm using Prime daily. Those marbles were in my old tank...I put everything that I could in from my old tank (including filter...so my tank currently actually has 2 filters) in the hopes that some bacteria may have started to grow on some of the surface area and that I might (hopefully) be able to increase the speed at which my tank cycled.
Once the tank cycles, I'll start slowly removing anything that creates extra work to maintain or is unnecessary.
OK - so. I've seen nitrItes exactly once. I've never seen nitrAtes, and I'm going 5-7 days between seeing ammonia readings at .25ppm (though once it went right to .5 at about day 7). So, though I'm still testing every day, I'm pretty much doing once a week 50% water changes on an "uncycled" tank, and I'm seeing very little progress in my cycle, which has been going a month now in this tank (with one filter, the marbles, and cave having been around a week longer in a smaller tank).
Next week I'll be adding a snail. I know this will increase my ammonia production...which I'm actually hoping will help me see some kind of "cycle" develop. My questions though:
1) Can I\Should I add a product like SafeStart when I add the snail? The tank's been up a month, and I can't say for certain I have much if any BB helping things along. Water is treated with prime before adding to tank. I've dosed the tank with some AQ salt a couple times when I've seen my guys fins start to get ratty, I know I'll have to do a large water change before I add the snail either way.
2). I added the marbles and the smaller filter (I have a 3i filter that I added in addition to the top fin 10 filter that came with the tank) in hopes that any BB that had started growing in the much smaller tank would come over to this one. Since I'm seeing very little progress, can I\should I remove these now? I was initially going to wait until my cycle completed.
You're doing a weekly 50%pwc so, from a maintenance perspective, it doesn't matter if the tank is totally cycled. The only difference is you're doing more testing than you will be doing after the cycle is done. I don;t think you have to test every day; maybe 2- or 3-times a week. Keep dosing Prime.
Safestart is a good idea if you're in a hurry. Many members here have used it successfully.
A snail won't hurt; might help. You won't want to dose salt once it's in there.
Get rid of that Whisper 3I filter. It's totally useless. And I guess now would be a good time to start getting rid of the marbles. They and the cave weren't around long enough to colonize, anyway.
You can go with a bare-bottom tank until it's cycled. Then put in any substrate you chose.
I've got gravel as well, so I won't be without substrate. I was just hoping that if anything *did* colonize on the marbles, moving them into the new tank would help.
I'll definitely take down the filter and I'll start slowly removing the marbles. Not having them in there might make things easier for the MTS when I get it anyway...and they just make tank maintenance more difficult.