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Old 06-16-2011, 01:24 PM   #1 
soccerdog693
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Cycling a 2.5 gal - maybe I'm just lucky?

I got my first betta fish in December when I got the aqueon 2.5 gal tank (plus filter and heater) for Christmas. I'm a bio/pre-vet college student and really wanted a pet for my dorm. I know 2.5 gal is kind of small, but it's easy for me to transport between college and home several times a year. ANYWAY after doing a lot of research before actually buying the fish itself I learned that cycling a 2.5 gal is extremely difficult, so I decided just to keep up with the water changes (1 50% and 1 100% a week) and put my betta in an uncycled tank. I constantly checked my ammonia and nitrates. Because it was uncycled I figured my nitrates would always be 0, but then about 2 weeks later I got a nitrate spike and 0 ammonia! Then after that, I always got 0 readings for both (as well as a lovely little bit of algae :/ ) Entire cycle took 2.5 weeks.

Unfortunately my petco betta that I had been fighting to keep alive died after 2 months - water params were all normal. So I got another betta from a GREAT lfs and again my tank cycled in 2.5 weeks with me doing nothing! This betta has been alive for 4 months and is going strong with not a single health problem!

Has anyone else had "accidental" cyclings? I mean, of course I'm thrilled my tank cycled, but I guess I thought it was "near impossible" to cycle such a small tank? Am I just incredibly lucky?
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:06 PM   #2 
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Its not that the a small tank can't cycle...they can....its more due to lack of surface area for the nitrifying bacteria to colonize and this limits what it can do for the tank...the nitrogen cycle is limited...not absent.....

In a 2.5gal filtered tank...I would make twice weekly 50%.....I wouldn't do any 100%...you want your water prams to read-ammonia and nitrite 0ppm and nitrate 5-10ppm...

Love to see pic of your new Betta.....
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Old 06-16-2011, 03:53 PM   #3 
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I've noticed my 1 gallon tanks always have 0mmp for ammonia and nitrite as long as I keep up with my full and partial water changes. I may have beneficial bacteria on my filter cartridge by accident, but I don't think that means I cycled 1 gallon tanks by accident. I just have really clean tanks.

Based on the way my 6 gal tanks are cycling, I don't think a tank can cycle without an ammonia spike before the nitrite spike. I don't know how you decorated your tank, but live plants can cycle a tank by absorbing ammonia. If you have a ton of live plants in a 2.5 gallon tank, then it could be cycled without bacteria. If all your plants are fake, then you just have extremely clean water.

You do a lot more for your fish than you realize. Multiple water changes a week for someone who is a bio/pre-vet college student is a lot of work. I'm sorry to hear about the sick fish, but I'm glad your second fish is doing so well. :)
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:09 PM   #4 
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Yeah, I don't do the 100% any more. But here's the thing, I always get 0 reading nitrate.... I know there is a nitrifying bacteria that turns nitrate into N2 gas, as well as algae that does the same thing. How often should I do water changes if I don't get nitrates?
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:13 PM   #5 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2U7kNun8b8

Here is a video of my new betta, Smaug, swimming and "fighting" with the mirror. He's an orange VT, not super pretty, but the VTs at my lfs were so much healthier than the pretty ones at petco, and I didn't want to lose another betta.
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:30 PM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soccerdog693 View Post
Yeah, I don't do the 100% any more. But here's the thing, I always get 0 reading nitrate.... I know there is a nitrifying bacteria that turns nitrate into N2 gas, as well as algae that does the same thing. How often should I do water changes if I don't get nitrates?
Unless you have lots of live active growing plants in the tank..the absent nitrate is an indication that the tank has not established the nitrogen cycle....

In 2.5gal filtered tank-regardless of nitrogen cycle stage, without lots of active growing live plants for 1 adult Betta, with or without a few shrimp and/or snails....twice weekly 50% water changes would be needed to maintain water quality and fin health...1-50% water only and 1-50% to include substrate vacuum....
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:43 PM   #7 
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I'm getting my water tested tonight at petco. I have ammonia and nitrate testing kits (they don't sell individual nitrite ones that I can find) but I always get 0 nitrate AFTER I have a nitrate spike. Doesn't the nitrate spike indicate a nitrogen cycle? Plus I have algae, which I thought grew from nitrates, not nitrites.
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:04 PM   #8 
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If you are using the API brand nitrate tester...be sure and shake, bang on the table and shake some more on the #2 bottle of reagent..it tends to settle and can cause skewed readings...also be sure and shake the test tube hard and long enough per the direction after add the #1 & 2 reagents...it can really make a difference on the results if you don't follow the direction/time line etc...with the API brand product

Algae doesn't always mean you have nitrate and it can also mean the nitrate is limited...algae doesn't need much......

Nitrate spike doesn't mean established nitrogen cycle...you want to see a somewhat stable level/reading...5-10ppm is ideal... up to 20-30ppm.....you want to keep it under 40ppm because-long term high nitrate can affect immune response, growth and general health...but- you won't see its effects until you make a large volume water change or add new fish....
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:27 PM   #9 
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The case of the missing nitrates has been solved!!!! Thanks OFL for your suggestion on the API kits, I think I had gotten lazy with my shaking - I tested ammonia and nitrate with fierce shaking on the number two bottle for nitrate - readings are 0 ammonia and 5ppm nitrate. Thanks so much!!!

The relatively low nitrate makes sense, I did a small water change this morning.
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:55 PM   #10 
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Cool. At least it was a testing error that gave you 0ppm for nitrates. I hope the new tanks I set up for my bettas cycle in just 2.5 weeks. But I doubt I will be that lucky. >.<
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