So I seem to be learning something new everyday while going through this website and I realized that I did not cycle my 5 gallon tank for my betta. I put him in his new tank yesterday afternoon and I'm a little confused as how to actually cycle the tank now that the fish is already there. Should I be doing partial water changes everyday or what? Also, should I be testing the water daily as well? Lastly, how often should I change my filter media if I want my tank to remain cycled? Should I rinse off my aquarium decor and plants or keep them in the tank? Sorry about all the questions, I just want to make this easiest and as clear as I can for myself. Thank you. =)
I'm not the best at cycling but i'll try and answer most of your questions to my knowledge.
Cycling of a tank means allowing bacterial colonies to grow in the stuff like Filter medias and substrates. These good bacterial that live in your filter will "eat" away any excess food and waste your fish produces, preventing the ammonia from reaching a deadly level. In the process of cycling, there will be ammonia spikes for a while, and eventually the bacterial will grow and eat away these ammonia. However, at that stage, these bacterial will produce nitrite which is harmful to your fish. Eventually, the nitrite will turn into nitrate which is not lethal to your fish. Once you have fully cycled your tank, do not do 100% water changes. At the end of the week, you should change around 25-30% of your filtered tank water and replace with clean conditioned* water. *Depending on your methods.
As for your tank, was it established before you put the fish in? If so, how long was it filled with water?
If your tank was newly filled with water and say if you have a filter, over the next weeks (Not sure how long, some go for 4-8weeks), there will be ammonia spikes in the water which is lethal to your fish.
Depending on if you want to cycle it, for future use/reference, you can take your betta out and fully cycle the tank before readding your betta. ( there are products that "Speed up*" the time need to cycle * some say it doesnt work, but for me it does)
For water changes, i would say ( correct me if im wrong) 25-50% mid week and 100% and end of the week (unfiltered).
If you live in an area where testing kits are cheap, you can choose to test it daily, but it is not necessary.
Now this filter media, im not sure, but if you do choose a time to wash it, do not wash under tap water, drain some water out of your tank and wash it in that water ( This is to prevent washing away the bacterial colony that may or may not have grown in your filter media)
Lastly, are your decors washed before placing in the tank? If they are and do not harm your betta, i would leave them in.
hopefully i have answered this questions right and if i did answer it wrongly, hopefully some older members will correct me.
Last edited by Oldfishlady; 12-11-2011 at 06:23 PM.
Reason: link removed to another fish forum
Just wanted to add that your tank is fully cycled when Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, and Nitrate are present. Also, Nitrate is harmful at high levels. This is why you do weekly water changes in a cycled tank, to keep the Nitrate low/safe- below 20 ppm. When cycling with a fish you should test the water daily, if you can. It's important to know when the spikes happen and when water changes are needed.
What kind of testing products are you using, any live plants....
The nitrogen cycle sound a lot harder than it really is.....you can safely establish the nitrogen cycle with the Betta provided that you are willing and able to make the needed water changes and with testing products on hand-this will make it even easier for both you and the Betta.....
Put simply...the beneficial bacteria are sticky and adhere to all the surface areas in 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 and so water only changes will not hurt or stall the cycling process, however, over cleaning can.....
In a 5gal filtered tank without live plants- make 50% water change with vacuum in all places that can be reached without moving anything in the tank, cleaning the viewing walls and wiping the diatoms off decoration and vacuum them out along with this water change...this water change is the water change you need to do for the life of the system.....
Based on water prams of ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater-make a 50% water only change....remembering that some additives can cause skewed reading...like Prime-it will change the ammonia to ammonium that is harmless to the Betta but can still be used by the beneficial bacteria as food....you may or may not need to make this water change between the regular 50% with vacuum....if you don't have a test kit...make this 50% water only change anyway to be safe...the cycling process can take 4-8 weeks...
You know the nitrogen cycle has established when you have readings of:
Ammonia and nitrite 0ppm and nitrate 5-10ppm without any ammonia, nitrite spikes...this can take about 4-8 weeks.
Several things can change this process-chemical additives, live plants, pH, temp to name a few
Filter media-needs a swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change a couple of times a month...but it is best to not do this until the nitrogen cycle has established unless the water flow is compromised.....
Look forward to pic and hearing more about your Betta adventures.....
Last edited by Oldfishlady; 12-11-2011 at 05:54 PM.
i got the 5 gal cycled in 4 weeks if im correct. it was relatively easy to do the fish in method.
i do have a question on rinsing the filter. i havent rinsed the filter at all do far. do i keep some old tank water on me at all times to rinse it or do i just rinse it in the water that precedes a water change?
Thank you very much, I did not buy any testing products yet as I was confused about exactly what I should be testing for, but that will be on my to-do list for tomorrow morning. I do not have any live plants in my tank and I will be sure to look at the website now. Thank you for clearing things up for me.
Edit: One more question, once my tank has actually cycled, how often should I be testing the water after that?
Last edited by Jennuhrrific; 12-12-2011 at 12:14 AM.
On the filter media-you can rinse/swish in old tank water with a water change or fresh dechlorinted water......you want to clean the filter media of the big pieces of gunk...it should look dirty.....thats the good stuff.....
I always do my filter rinse in old tank water in a bucket. I have goldfish in a cycled tank, they are filthy fish! You don't want to reintroduce all the crud that has built up in your filter back into your tank water, thus the separate bucket. It is much easier to vacuum the. Tank into a bucket, swish the filter media in the bucket, and refill the tank with clean water than it is to try to catch all the filter crud with your vacuum.
I leave my plants, or as the goldies call them "salad", in the tank, along with the decor. The goldies have a bare bottom tank to make it easier to keep them clean. Most other fish do fine with gravel or other substrate. Goldies can too, but require more cleaning that way.