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Old 09-18-2010, 11:03 PM   #1 
ashleyy's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
Question What exactly is a "cycle"?

Can someone explain what a cycle is in extreme detail, and how to go about doing it? lol I've have never had a fish until I got my betta a few weeks ago. I have a 2.5 gallon tank so I know I'm not supposed to cycle it. But I'm asking for a 5 or 10 gallon tank for Christmas so maybe I could do it then.

Also what are the benefits or cons of doing this?

If someone could explain this to me or direct me to a thread or website that is extremely clear I would much appreciate it!
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:06 PM   #2 
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:41 PM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
The nitrogen cycle-two types of bacteria at work here-one convert ammonia to nitrite and another convert nitrites to nitrates and then some of the nitrate turn to a gas and leave the tank-

These bacteria need oxygenated water to thrive and colonize-they are sticky and adhere to everything in the tank-like the walls, decorations, plants both real and fake, in the top layer of the substrate and in the filter media, very little are in the water column itself.

To cycle and this can be done in just about any size container that has some type of aeration-filter is best due to the surface area on the filter media for the bacteria to live/colonize.

It can take 4-8 weeks to complete the nitrogen cycle-this depends on surface area, water flow, pH, water temp...etc....

You can speed the nitrogen cycle by seeding the tank with healthy established filter media and/or substrate from a cycled tank

You can cycle with fish or without fish-both take about the same time, however,
fishless-you will need some way to monitor the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and you also need an ammonia source.
Fish-in cycle- the fish is the ammonia source-although it is easier and better to have the water testing products-it can be done without them provide that you are willing to make the needed water changes to keep the fish safe.

Fish-in-cycle in anything smaller than 5g can be done, however, due to the number of regular water changes needed to maintain water quality it is a non-issues IMO-however, you still want to maintain the cycle in the smaller tanks for those times when "life happens" this will give you that wiggle room so to speak if you miss one of the twice weekly water changes because of life......

Regardless of tank size or cycle-anytime you see a change in the fish behavior...make a 50% water only change to rule out the environment as the cause, even if you just did a water change earlier in the day or the day before
Always-try to match the water temp from new and old water and use dechlorinator with any new water added to the fish if on city water supply that covers-chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals.
When water changes are done correctly-it should not be stressful on the fish and often they will even start to look forward to them.......

Freshwater fish thrive in fresh water after all.........
To be a good keeper of fish you must first be a keeper of water....

In the 5-10g filtered tanks-fish-in cycle with one betta and no water testing products-by making water only changes of 50% 2-3 times a week with vacuuming every 7 days-should keep the fish safe during the nitrogen cycle...provided that you don't over feed and uneaten food is removed after feeding

You don't want to over clean-during and after the nitrogen cycle-only vacuum the substrate in areas that can be reached without moving anything in the tank no more than weekly, only swish/rinse the filter media in old tank water with a water change or in dechlorinated water to get the big pieces of gunk off to maintain good water flow to prevent removing too much of the good bacteria or killing it.

The nitrogen cycle is a balance and in a closed system we have to help this balance by making water changes-more filtration or clear looking water doesn't mean safer water-you can't see ammonia, nitrite, high nitrate or the DOC's that can build up in closed systems.........
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