Originally Posted by iamgian
No clue on how or what cycling really is... I'm still looking for the post that explains it all. Maybe it could be stickied on the Betta Care thread? I was wondering though, is cycling necessary?
Essentially, cycling is GOING TO HAPPEN! Your fish are going to produce ammonia as a waste product, in addition to that created by other factors such as rotting uneaten food, etc. This ammonia is going to provide an ideal environment for bacteria that like to "eat" ammonia. These microorganisms will, in turn, create nitrite as their own waste product, which will invite the establishment of yet another bacteria to convert the nitrite to nitrate. This process is a good thing for us keepers, because ammonia and nitrite are incredibly hazardous to our fine scaly friends. The nitrate becomes great food (fertilizer) for live plants. The trick with "cycling" is to keep your new fish from succumbing to downright toxic conditions while these bacteria establish themselves and begin to convert the waste to the relatively harmless nitrate. Ammonia can burn tissue in your fish, which would most likely effect their gills the most. Bettas are tough, so they probably won't die from it...but they will suffer the lingering effects virtually forever. So, until your aquarium has those established bacterial colonies, partial water changes are the best way of diluting those toxins and preventing permanent damage to your fish.