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Old 11-21-2010, 03:06 PM   #1 
hailukah
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Question Cycle or Not?

Hi all!

First of all I'm very impressed with the knowledge and activity in this forum. I've been able to find a lot of needed information.

But now I'm needing an opinion.

I have a 3 gallon heated Pet Keeper with a single male Betta. I love having him on my desk and watching and taking care of him.

I've also made a filter that moves just a little bit of water. And it has been keeping the water a bit clearer. However, I'm not so pleased with the look of the filter in there. I've also looked at the filter options on-line and I don't think I would like the look of them either.

So my question is:

For small tanks, which is generally preferred: cycling the tank, checking levels, partial water changes, yadda yadda; or just a 50% and 100% water change per week with no filtration?

I can see the merits of both. And right now I'm leaning towards ditching the filter and just checking ammonia levels for a week to work out a suitable WC schedule. But I am interested in the thoughts of others who have faced this similar decision.

tl;dr 3 gallons, cycle or not?

Thanks.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:29 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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As long as you are willing to make the needed water changes you don't need filtration for the nitrogen cycle-by adding live plants to the tank can also help in keeping water quality safe for the Betta as well.

I don't use filters in my smaller tanks or filters in some of my big tanks for that matter-but I also have lots of live active growing stem and floating plants that function as the filtration system in my soil based tanks.

Filters can also cause some problems for some long finned Bettas especially in the small tanks in my experience.

Filtration and the nitrogen cycle can be helpful when life happens (so will live plants) by giving you wiggle room so to speak, however, in small tanks due to the number of needed water changes in the first place to maintain water quality the nitrogen cycle is moot in a sense.....small tanks will cycle as long as the nitrifying bacteria needs are met-but you have other things that happen in a closed system and things that are just as harmful to the fish that we as hobbyist can't test for and that only a water change can fix.

As far as filter needed or a completed nitrogen cycle-in my opinion/experience neither are needed to maintain water quality or to keep this species in a small tank-
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:40 PM   #3 
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I just want to add that I agree with Oldfishlady.
Filters are not strictly needed in smaller betta tanks, but be sure to compensate by more water changes and possibly think about adding a few fast growing stem plants or floaters. These are the two best nitrogen sinks for bettas.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:47 PM   #4 
hailukah
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I appreciate the responses. Live plants aren't in the plans for now.

I know I have basically an even choice between filtered and filterless. I'm just wondering if cycling and easier maintenance wins over bigger water changes with a cleaner looking tank.

It's basically form vs function.

And I like form.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:55 PM   #5 
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Well, you've pretty much answered your own question lol.

If you like the look of having no filter and you are willing to put in the work to maintain a tank without it then go that route.

I have tried both and I haven't found much difference in my tanks as far as fish health goes. As long as water changes are large and frequent enough to remove waste then there isn't much difference between the two except that your fish is getting more fresh water.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your tank will still build up a small colony of bacteria on things like the gravel, ornaments, plants, etc. This isn't enough to compensate for a filter, but it does help a bit.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:59 PM   #6 
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Regardless of filtration or not-water changes are still needed-a filter and the nitrogen cycle only changes the amount/percent of water change needs not frequency in small tanks...even with filtration in small tanks twice weekly of 50% are needed...without filtration twice weekly 50% and 100% are needed just for the DOC's (dissolved organic compounds)

Clear water does not always mean good water quality...its what you can't see or test for that is often the problem......
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Old 11-21-2010, 04:07 PM   #7 
Kribby
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
Regardless of filtration or not-water changes are still needed-a filter and the nitrogen cycle only changes the amount/percent of water change needs not frequency in small tanks...even with filtration in small tanks twice weekly of 50% are needed...without filtration twice weekly 50% and 100% are needed just for the DOC's (dissolved organic compounds)

Clear water does not always mean good water quality...its what you can't see or test for that is often the problem......

Agreed, water changes are the best thing we can do for fish, though a betta is the only fish I will do a 100% water change on. My africans would probably kill each other if their water chemistry was changed that much each week. But I also use other filtration methods to remove DOCs with them. Obviously not an option for a small betta tank.

Watching the behaviour of your fish can often give you an indication of whether or not more frequent and larger water changes are needed.
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Old 11-21-2010, 04:07 PM   #8 
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The filter's coming out then. My little guy's gonna be pampered with plenty of water changes.
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