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Old 01-15-2010, 07:25 PM   #1 
kuklachica
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Cycling with fish?

I have four fish in a divided 20 gallon. I am afraid that I got too excited and did not do my research before adding them to the tank. They are in there (since Tuesday). What do I need to do to make sure that it cycles properly? Can someone suggest a testing kit and a schedule to follow to properly cycle the tank? Would it be necessary to put them in temporary small containers until the tank is cycled? Or can it be done with them in it?

Thank you again everyone for helping me out. I know I have posted a lot lately, but I just want to make sure I am doing things correctly.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:17 PM   #2 
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I don't know much about cycling, but I don't think you can cycle with the fish in it. Also, I've heard a lot of people recommend the liquid API test kits. I guess the test stripes aren't accurate.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #3 
dramaqueen
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The API freshwater master test kit is the one that everyone recommends. The strips are inaccurate.
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:46 PM   #4 
Jupiter
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I cycled my 10 gallon with my first two betta girls.

What you'll have to do is get a test kit (most recommend API), and do frequent (I'd say daily or every other day) but small water changes while monitering the ammonia and nitrite levels. I did about 20% WC in mine.

There is a small risk of having your fish get sick/die if you are not on top of the water changes, and the ammonia and nitrite levels get too high.
To make cycling faster, you can buy a live plant or put some something from an established tank into yours. Something like gravel, a decoration, or filter media from a cycled tank will help yours cycle faster.
In my case, when I did my water changes, I added some water from my uncle's cycled tank each time. Mine cycled in about 10 days, but it will take about a month if left to your own devices.

If you want to cycle without fish, you can either use pure ammonia, or fish food (which decomposes and releases ammonia). I don't really know much about these methods, though.
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:14 AM   #5 
beachkrazd
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I agree that the API master freshwater kit is a valuable tool! With it you can monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates (as well as pH but that is the least of your worries right now). It is expensive but it will last you a very long time.

I recommend using Seachem Stability (or any similar product that has good online reviews) which can help speed up the cycling process and reduce stress for your fish. Use 2 capfuls on the first day and then 1 capful each day thereafter for the next 2 weeks. (The bottle says 1 week, but it doesn't hurt to use it for 2 weeks.) Also, be aware that if you use things from an established tank that belongs to someone else (maybe your local fish store) you risk introducing any diseases which that tank my carry. If you know the person who owns the tank very well then it may not be a problem. You can still use Seachem Stability either way.

Use the API freshwater master kit to test for ammonia and nitrITe once or twice per day during the cycling process for the next 2 weeks (3 weeks if you don't use Seachem Stability or a similar product). If there is a positive reading for either of those chemicals you need to perform a water change immediately. For instance, try a 30-50% water change (smaller water changes, like less than 50% are usually less stressful) and re-test afterwards. Repeat the water changes until the ammonia and nitrITe are zero. Once ammonia and nitrite are consistently zero for at least 10 days, then the cycling process is probably completed by then. Then you can focus on monitoring for nitrATes and performing routine/weekly maintenance 15-30% water changes.

Since you may be doing frequent water changes you need to make sure the new water is similar to the tank water. Remember to use a de-chlorinating water conditioner to the new water, just add it directly to the bucket of clean fresh water. Try to make the new water the same temperature as the tank. You may need an extra thermometer for this, but any cheap one will do as long as it is easy to read. During this winter my clean new water is cold so I use an 'aquarium-use-only' plastic container, fill it up with the new water and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. (By 'aquarium-use-only' I mean that it has never been washed with soap. I bought the containers brand new and labeled them for fish-use only.) I add the microwaved water into the bucket of clean fresh water and test the temperature. I repeat until the bucket of new water is 1-2 degrees from the tank water. Then I carefully add the new water to the tank.

Do NOT clean the 'filter media' (foam or anything in your filter) during this time since this is where much of the good bacteria will be living. You can put an aquarium filter sponge over the intake tube of your filter as an extra source of healthy bacteria. Just use a knife to cut a slit in the sponge and try to carve out a hole in the middle of the sponge, then slip the sponge over the intake tube of your power filter. The sponge can stay there forever until the sponge is tattered and falling apart. That way whenever you change out the filter media every month (or so) your sponge will always be in the tank as a home for the good bacteria. You can rinse out the sponge in the dirty water that you siphon out of your tank during water changes. Using the dirty tank water preserves the beneficial bacteria living on the sponge.

Be careful not to overfeed your fish since this will contribute to water pollution. That is a good general rule, not just for cycling your tank. Fish stomachs are the size of their eyeball. I feed my betta just 3-4 of the tiny betta pellets, or 3 tiny pieces of high-quality flake food per day, or 4 frozen blood worms.




Quote:
Originally Posted by kuklachica View Post
I have four fish in a divided 20 gallon. I am afraid that I got too excited and did not do my research before adding them to the tank. They are in there (since Tuesday). What do I need to do to make sure that it cycles properly? Can someone suggest a testing kit and a schedule to follow to properly cycle the tank? Would it be necessary to put them in temporary small containers until the tank is cycled? Or can it be done with them in it?

Thank you again everyone for helping me out. I know I have posted a lot lately, but I just want to make sure I am doing things correctly.

Last edited by beachkrazd; 01-16-2010 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:10 AM   #6 
lavallin
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Here is a really good thread for safe fish-in cycling.
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=34505
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:41 AM   #7 
kuklachica
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Would stress-zyme work? or Nutrafin Cycle?
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:23 AM   #8 
dramaqueen
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Some say that it works and some say it doesn't.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:55 AM   #9 
beachkrazd
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Stress Zyme has some good reviews on Petsmart.com and Petco.com. If that is the only product you can find then I would use it if I were in your situation. Continue to monitor ammonia and nitrite. The Stress Zyme may help.

The 'biological products' (like Seachem Stability and API Stress Zyme) are only beneficial while starting a new tank. It's not necessary to use them with every water change once the bacteria are already established in the tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuklachica View Post
Would stress-zyme work? or Nutrafin Cycle?

Last edited by beachkrazd; 01-16-2010 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:01 AM   #10 
1fish2fish
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You can add any of that stuff but you only have a 50% chance that it will work. I prefer not to add any 'non-natural' stuff to my tank. Just don't vacuum your tank while you cycle (at least until your ammonia gets high on your tests). My motto is if your going to do a fish-in cycle be patient and take the time to do it right.

Even if the products have great reviews its not always a sure thing.. remember a lot of people don't know the proper ways to care for fish and may think that a product is wonderful when it doesn't...(for example Bettafix burns your fish's gills but some people swear by it). Also you need to find out how long the product has been on shelf.. the longer the less likely the bacteria is still alive.
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