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I went out to walmart the other day, and ended up coming home with another tank (it's the second time I've done that this week, oops!;-)). It's a three gallon, and I was wondering if it's possible to cycle a 3 gallon tank? There's at least an inch of gravel, and a good amount of decorations. It's also filtered and heated, so I feel like that's plenty of room for bacteria to grow. Or am I wrong?

I already bought another little guy for it (who's super cute, btw! :lol:), so if I do cycle, it'll be a "fish-in" cycle. But I'm willing to keep up with the water changes to keep the ammonia from burning him :-D I use ammonia alert disks because I for some reason get false-positives for ammonia with the API Master test kit, so I'm always monitoring ammonia levels, and it detects ammonia as low as 0.05PPM.

I'll attach a picture of the setup to help you judge whether or not it's cycle-able :) Thanks in advance!
 

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I posted a while back about the ability to cycle a tank that is under 5 gallons. While the general consensus is that it is hard to do and have a stable cycle, I believe I left the discussion with the opinion that it IS possible given the correct conditions.

It requires having a large enough surface area for a beneficial bacteria (BB) colony. Usually the bb grow on all surfaces in a tank, but a small tank doesn't have enough surface area to establish a large enough bb colony that won't be as vulnerable to any changes in the tank.

One day I'll try cycling a smaller tank using a sponge filter rated for a much larger tank. The sponge filter should hopefully have enough surface area to make up for the smaller surface area of the tank itself. BUT these are just my own opinions; do your own research and decide for yourself.
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I'm testing small tank cycling with my 2.5 gallon right now. I've put quite a few plants and, since March, have been rinsing the filter in tank water rather than replacing it. On checking the water parameters yesterday, everything is in the safe zone. I'll keep checking to make sure it's keeping stable.
 

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Hey, Ramble, what's your maintenance routine? I'm curious if you're just doing partial water changes once a week or if you follow some other type of routine.

Oh, and what type and size sponge filter are you using?

Thanks!
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Joe and Ramble and I are on the same page with this; our learning is at about the same stage. I've cycled two 5gal bare-bottom tanks by using a Hagen Mini underwater filter with added foam at the intake and outflow.

I'm waiting for the arrival of an ATI sponge filter/bubbler. Then I'll start cycling my 3gal.

According to Thunderloon (who knows whereof he speaks), if you have enough area for the bacteria, you can cycle anything safely with stability.

Joe, do you have the URL for the thread where we discussed all this with Thunderloon?
I might try some stainless steel mesh scrubber as suggested by BasementBettas.
And, if you're interested, I do a 50% with vacuum every week just to clean up the grunge and cut down DOCs. Doesn't need it for NH3/NO3.

I have a bubbler like yours in the picture, vaw, which I use as a repository for my BB gravel. It's useless otherwise, unless you modify it. Take it out and look it over, you'll see what I mean (hint: the air outlet is too high, bypassing the filter material, which is inadequate in any case).

Try to find a 1/2cup of substrate or some filter foam from a cycled, established tank. It will pay dividends in speeding up the cycle.

What are you using for water conditioning? Some conditioners change ammonia into ammonium, which is not harmful to fish but reads the same on the API test. I don't know about those discs. Nobody around here seems to trust them, but I'd like to hear the results of any corroborating tests you might perform.

To bad you're doing fish-in. You wont be able to do the high-temperature and high ppm ammonia tricks. But plenty of aeration and flow ought to help it along.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Joe and Ramble and I are on the same page with this; our learning is at about the same stage. I've cycled two 5gal bare-bottom tanks by using a Hagen Mini underwater filter with added foam at the intake and outflow.

I'm waiting for the arrival of an ATI sponge filter/bubbler. Then I'll start cycling my 3gal.

According to Thunderloon (who knows whereof he speaks), if you have enough area for the bacteria, you can cycle anything safely with stability.

Joe, do you have the URL for the thread where we discussed all this with Thunderloon?
I might try some stainless steel mesh scrubber as suggested by BasementBettas.
And, if you're interested, I do a 50% with vacuum every week just to clean up the grunge and cut down DOCs. Doesn't need it for NH3/NO3.

I have a bubbler like yours in the picture, vaw, which I use as a repository for my BB gravel. It's useless otherwise, unless you modify it. Take it out and look it over, you'll see what I mean (hint: the air outlet is too high, bypassing the filter material, which is inadequate in any case).

Try to find a 1/2cup of substrate or some filter foam from a cycled, established tank. It will pay dividends in speeding up the cycle.

What are you using for water conditioning? Some conditioners change ammonia into ammonium, which is not harmful to fish but reads the same on the API test. I don't know about those discs. Nobody around here seems to trust them, but I'd like to hear the results of any corroborating tests you might perform.

To bad you're doing fish-in. You wont be able to do the high-temperature and high ppm ammonia tricks. But plenty of aeration and flow ought to help it along.

Good luck and keep us posted.
I can adjust the power on the bubbler, but my little guy loves it. He's pretty rambunctious and tries to eat the bubbles, lol.

I have three fully cycled tanks, so I can take gravel from those. The only reason I didn't was because I wasn't sure if it was have the same affect if I left the gravel inside of a plastic container instead of just tossing it in. Otherwise I'll spend an entire day picking blue gravel out of the brown gravel, hahaha.

I use Prime, which I know is one of the conditioners that binds ammonia into ammonium. I used to be on another fish forum website, and somebody there recommended the disks to me because I was having issues with having 1ppm of ammonia all the time, even right after a water change, but I had 0 nitrites and positive nitrates. The disks I use are made by Seachem and they're about $5 on amazon. I'd be willing to perform some experiments, if you have any suggestions on what/how I should do them :-D
 

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Ok, I hunted up my old thread like Hallyx suggested...

Is it possible to cycle a small tank?

Hopefully that works; it's always hard to predict results since I'm currently on my phone.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes and feel free to ask as many questions as you like, I'm sure someone will have some advice.
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Thanks! That was really helpful! I'm thinking that I'll throw gravel from one of my cycled tanks into some nylon to help speed it up, and just go with the flow from there? If I find that I'm having trouble, I'll go out and buy one of the tetra filters rated for 5-15 gallons from walmart. I have that filter in both my five gallons (which are fully cycled) so I could take one of the dirty cartridges from one of those tanks, which I think would help a ton. Then I'll baffle it to keep the tank from turning into a riptide :lol:

I'll keep you all posted on how things are going! :-D
 
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