so i have just started the cycling on my 20g tank, that will soon be the home of my betta sorority. :) but i have a few questions, and i would love some answers from anyone who can help :)
first, i am doing a fishless cycle using fish food (betta pellets, figured that since none of my fish show the slightest interest in them i shouldnt let them go to waste... lol) and i was wondering... about how much should i put in? i already put a couple relatively small pinches in, but is that enough? how often should i "feed" my tank? when should i take my first reading? (how long does it take for the ammonia to show up, so i will know if i didnt put enough food in)
also, i was wondering if i should be putting water conditioner in the tank?? that is probably a stupid question, i just want to know for sure :)
another big question that i have is, most people cycle their tank, add a few fish, wait for it to balance out then add a few more. because i am doing a sorority, i cant do that. so i was wondering, would it help if i added a much larger amount of food, so it would produce way more ammonia, so more nitrates and nitrites? would it make it so that when i did add them, the ammonia spike would be more controlled because their would be more beneficial bacteria to handle it, or would it be too much for the bacteria to form, or does it not make a difference? sorry for all the questions, and sorry if the answer was some where and i missed it, i just want o try to get this right, with as comfortable settings as possible for my lil girlies :) thanks for reading!
Lets see I will try and answer all the questions and if I miss one sorry.
Betta pellets are pretty small so I'd say it's safe to put quite a few in. Also I'd add more before the others have completely turned to nothing.
I'm not entirely sure how long any of the process will take but I'd take readings every 4-5 days or so. That way you know when the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate have spiked and when they start to go down. Also the tank will cycle regardless of how much food you put in so I wouldn't worry that you're not putting enough in. Basically just let it do its thing after the foods been in there a while.
There's no need for conditioner at this point.
It is better to add only a few fish at a time but how many are you putting in? If it is a lot then just do a water change every couple of days until the tank is able to maintain itself. That will pretty much be the only way to prevent serious damage other than adding conditioner after each change.
Now I have a question for you. Are you planning to put in any live plants?
ok, im using betta flakes (dont know why i put pellets! lol), so i just put a couple pinches in. and are you sure it would still cycle if i didnt keep putting food in? i thought it would only cycle if it had a supply of ammonia...maybe im wrong?
im confused about the water conditioner... still. lol i dont know why it wouldnt still make the bacteria... maybe the clorine in regular water kills it? i guess ill add some today, hope it doesnt mess anything up... i dont know if it affects the good bacteria, but i know that it still has ammonia, i just tested for that. im confused lol
and for your question, i will be adding between 11 and 15 fish at once. its a betta sorority, so i cant add them spread out like i normally would have. i know ill have to do daily changes, but its worth it :)
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I think conditioner is still necessary. I don't think the becteria will be able to grow in plain tap water.
I've never though of it this way actually. What I meant was to not add any conditioner that would remove ammonia. de-chlorinator would be ok I guess but even after the water has been in the tank a while bacteria will grow with tap water.
i was wondering about that... but all the declorinators i have also remove ammonia, so i think ill have to do without til i get my next check (a couple weeks).
i do plan on adding a few live plants, but im not sure when... probably going to be a couple weeks for that too. ill definately get them as soon as i can tho, and i will make sure i get them when i get my girls to put in, because the bioload is going to skyrocket and i want them there to help keep it under control :)
and just to let you know, i let the water sit for about 4 days before i started the cycle (i bought the tank secondhand, so i wanted to make sure it held water lol) so i think anything in the water that can evaporate did already.
oh and i just took an ammonia reading, ots 1.0, highest its been so far. i put 3 pinches of food in, so do i just keep doing that til the ammonia reads 0, even tho im putting the same amount in? thanks for the help you guys :D
I wouldn't worry about the conditioner too much since you won't really be doing any water changes when the tanks cycling.
Live plants will be really great though once you're able to get some. The more the better haha.
As far as the food goes when the old food completely dissolves add some more in. That way it will keep the bacteria fed. If you keep adding more and more too frequently then more and more bacteria will have to develop which could slow the process down. Basically what you're watching for is a spike in the ammonia reading followed by a spike in the nitrite reading then a spike in the nitrate with all of them going back to 0 afterwards. When that happens the tank is done.
thanks guys! i actually had no idea i wasnt suppose to add it every day... :/ ive been adding 3 pinches of food every day, and the ammonia is closer to 2.0 ppm now. i actually dont have a nitrite testing kit, they were all out when i bought the others. another thing im going to be looking for when it comes time to go to petco again... lol the nitrate was between 0 and 5 ppm. so is their a way right now (without the nitrite test) that i can see if my tank is ready? can i just judge the nitrite level with the ammonia, so when the ammonia goes down the nitrite most likely did too? i know thats a bad way to do it, but i have no way of getting another test thing for a while...
also, how would you recommend me lowering my pH, preferably in a natural way? i tested my pH and it must be wel above 7.6, because when it tested that at first i used pH down and nothing happened... ive used it like 5 or 6 times now and its still reading a clear 7.6. but i dont really want to use any more chemicals than i have too, so is their a better way to do this?