I posted a bit about this in the other subforum, but I think this is urgent enough to ask again.
I didn't cycle my 3 gal Kritter Keeper before I got it. I know, I know, BAD. Well, I haven't cleaned the tank yet, but was planning on doing it tomorrow.
So, in a filtered, uncycled tank, how much water should I replace weekly? Should I vacuum the gravel? Should I take my fish out?
My stupid test kit didn't come with a test for ammonia, but there are no nitrates or nitrites in there.
I've been thinking about getting a bigger tank. She hasn't been in here for more than a week though, hahaha.
Cycling is confusing. I guess I don't understand how the bacteria get in there. I mean, all the tutorials on cycling say you should as substrate from other tanks, but I don't have other tanks!!!
I really need a better test kit, though. She's been fine, but I may just go for a 100% change.
I believe that for a 3 gallon you would need to change 100% of water at least once per week, and possibly a 50%. With no filter...probably want to do 1 50% and 1 100%! And yes, you need to vacuum gravel or take it out and rinse...for 100% change, take fish out during the cleaning. Don't forget to clean inside walls of tank.
It will get easier...information overload to begin with...;)
Under 5 gallons isn't too small to cycle, it is just harder to start-up and keep stable. If you aren't going to try and cycle the tank then I would recommend removing the filter as it will not be of any benefit. If you do remove the filter then you can do weekly 100% water changes (every 4 - 5 days or so) where you remove the fish, empty all the water, and rinse out the gravel/decorations. Make sure the fresh water you re-fill the tank with is the same temperature and that you add water conditioner before adding your Betta back in.
The image below puts in simple terms how the Nitrogen Cycle works.
Ammonia eating bacteria should be found naturally in small amounts in your tap water.. You can buy supplements (bacteria in a bottle), but it is questionable if these actually help. Since there is already a small base amount of these bacteria, you job is to help them reproduce enough to balance out all the ammonia the fish produces. Without a fish, you have to add ammonia yourself, and over time the bacteria will feed and reproduce, until the ammonia you're constantly adding is reduced to 0. The bacteria will grow in substrate and on filter cartridges. Cycling a 3 gallon isn't really needed.
If you get a bigger tank, just cycle without her inside, it will make it easier.
With a filter a 100% every week should suffice :)
Your 3 gallon won't cycle. So don't bother with it. For water changes do 100% and a 50% weekly. Smaller tanks are a lot of work. Sure you don't need to have a 5 gallon bucket but you just have to change the water so much.
Cycling just involves an ammonia source and some type of filtration. The ammonia source will give food to one type of bacteria that converts it into nitrite. That is the first stage. Then the next stage is when different bacteria establishes and converts the nitrite to nitrate. That is when the tank is fully cycled.
Cyclying is really only needed for species that aren't hardy like tetras. Bettas are hardy and if you want can be used to cycle a tank. Though many don't recommend it, if the tank is big the ammonia won't build up as fast. Providing a safe environment or at least in my opinion.