Hi all, been reading a lot here since I got my bettas as gifts. Hoping y'all could provide some insight here. :)
I'm still new to having and maintaining my own aquarium, but already have two bettas in the household so I've been brainstorming ways to get that darned nitrogen cycle to work. Ammonia is out of the question, I will NOT cycle with any possibility of fatalities (already cried over two fish in the last month), and the other half thinks that refrigerated bacteria is a scam. So what we've been doing is testing the water religiously and dumping in Stability and Prime as needed. Oh, and water changes. So very tired.
Here's my idea: I'm wondering if anyone has done it or has any insight on possible failures/adjustments before I try it. I read that technically cycling can be done in any body of water, large or small. I want to set aside a small container of gravel with de-chlorinated water and feed it with fish food until it cycles and use the gravel to seed my tanks.
The nitrogen cycle will happen on its own when the right conditions are met and it can be safely done with the Betta provided that you are willing and able to make the needed water changes......
Good that you have a test kit for:ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH to monitor-this will make your job much easier.....
To understand the nitrogen cycle will help too....the beneficial bacteria need-oxygen, surface area and food.....a filtered tank with an ammonia source (the fish) will get it started.....the beneficial bacteria are sticky and adhere to all the surface areas inside the tank-like the walls, decorations, plants both fake and real, in the top layer of the substrate and in the filter media...very little are in the water column itself-so water only changes will not stall or hurt the process...but over cleaning can......
We need more info....tank size, type of filter, type of filter media, substrate and how deep, live plants, additives used, water temp, finial stocking plans, type of water test kits, how long has the tank been running and current water pram numbers.....
Fluval Chi 5gal (not hooded)
-built in filter, not sure what kind of filter pad
-gravel substrate, about 1.5" - 2"
-no live plants but I plan on adding a moss ball, an Anachris, java moss on a piece of driftwood and a tall but slender plant
-Running for 5 days, fish entered day 2.
-Stability has been added per instructions for 5 days so far.
Aqueon 25gal (hooded)
-Quietflow filter, not sure what kind of filter pad
-Gravel substrate, about 1.5". I haven't had time to do any hardscaping or even buy more gravel yet. I plan on having an incline.
-No live plants but I plan on adding a lot once cycling is complete!
-Running for 4 days, fish entered day 4.
-Stability has been added per instruction for 4 days so far.
Both tanks are heated to 78-80 F. I use the API liquid testing kit (I'm finding the color chart to be kind of inaccurate. For instance, Nitrate 10ppm and 20ppm are the same concentration of orange.) and test daily. Every time we add/change water it is first treated with Prime.
Water parameters for both tanks have been really good. PH both started high, around 8.0 and have been steadily dropping. Zero nitrite and nitrate activity (which worries me that nothing is happening). Ammonia always at 0 < 0.25. If it looks even a tad green we water change. We've only had to do that for the 5gal and we do a 1gal change at a time. It's just easier to control numbers that way.
There's definitely slime building on the surfaces, but I'm afraid keeping the ammonia down means no food for the bacteria. The nitrate and nitrite activity (or lack of, actually) worries me too. That's why I want to try to seed in a different container where ammonia accumulation would be okay.
Establishing the nitrogen cycle with the fish and with a test kit on hand is safe provided that you make the needed water changes and it takes the guess work out of the game with the test kit......
Right now-keep monitoring the water prams daily and make 50% water only change based on test of-ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater and once you have nitrate 5-10ppm without any ammonia, nitrite spike you are most likely cycled and this can take about 4-8 weeks
Remember-Prime-(a great product)..can change ammonia to ammonium (non-toxic) and the test kits can't tell the difference and you can have skewed results-once the biological filter is established it should read 0ppm ammonia....The stability product can also cause skewed results.
You also need to make your regular 50% weekly with vacuum in all areas that can be reached without moving anything or disruption of plant roots...this is the water change you need to do for the life of the system to maintain water quality.
Depending on your stocking level-especially in the 25gal you may only need one water change a week-remembering that when you add more livestock it takes time for the beneficial bacteria to colonize and catch up and you may need to add that second water only until then
Filter media needs to be rinsed/swished in old tank water with a water change a couple of times a month to get the big pieces of gunk off to maintain good water flow....you want them to look dirty...this is good bacteria-unless you want to use carbon (not needed) you don't need to change the filter media if they are the combined type (sponge/carbon cartridge) carbon is a personal choice more than a need-but if you plan to use carbon it needs to be changed out per package direction since it is a short lived product that can't be recharged...if the media is separate-don't change the sponge until it is falling apart...just a rinse/swish in old tank water is all that is needed.....
At any point the fish appear to be stressed, behavior changes etc...irregardless of when the last water change...make another 50% water only and dose the dechlorinator for the full volume as a general rule....Often the best water tester is you and the livestock....behavior and observation.....
We did another water change today and last night added some silk plants along with a Marimo Ball in each tank. The fish seem to be pretty happy with the setup so far.
The 5gal got a bit murky even with good parameters. During the water change I noticed that the murk is on the glass. I'm afraid to rub it off because it might be bacteria that we need. I suppose it could be algae but there's absolutely no sun in the tank and the light is an LED. Weird.