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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm really new at this and don't know what to expect. I'm trying to cycle my tank quickly, and the guy at the fish store suggested that I use StartSmart Complete. I conditioned all my water, put in about 2 tbsp of aquarium salt, my moss ball, and then put about an ounce of the StartSmart in. This was only yesterday and the water is already cloudy. Is this okay?

I haven't gotten my filter or heater yet - I was planning to wait about a week - but I read somewhere that in order for the bacteria to establish itself, it needs the water to be warm and flowing. Should I get the filter and heater now instead of in a week?

Thanks!
 

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I'm not sure about the SmartStart Complete. I don't even know if that is what cause your water to become cloudy. Sometimes it just happens and there is a good chance the water will not clear up, unless you have a filter running. Have you had cloudy water in the past or is this cloudy water new to you?


Here are some links for you on cycling and a highly recommend product used for cycling. However, not everyone is a fan of adding cycling additives.

Drs. Foster & Smith - One and Only
A Beginner's Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium Cycle
Step-by-Step Nitrogen Cycle Guide
 

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It is well-known that the bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle are nitrosomonas and nitrospira (some call it nitrobacter). Any product that can cycle your tank will list these in the literature. Smart Start does not say it contains these.

There are products that decompose sludge and clarify water. That does not mean they contribute much to the cycle. Biozyne, NutrafinCycle and SmartStart (as far as I can tell) are among these. A cloudy tank suggests a bacterial bloom. This can happen in uncycled tanks and in fully-cycled tanks. It doesn't mean your tank is cycling.

Nitrifying bacteria are living organisms. They have a long (>6mo) but finite shelf-life. They are vulnerable to high (>90*) and low (<35*) temperature which may be encountered during shipping.

CP3 has recommended the cycle-starter product sold by the man who invented a way to bottle this live bacteria. It is arguably the best because it is shipped fresh from the factory in an insulated container, giving it the best chance of arriving in your tank strong and healthy. It is also the most expensive.

Among others, reputable products include: Tetra Safestart, ATM Colony, API Quickstart, NiteOut. Each of these has been reported to work IF they have never been exposed to temperature extremes and are used fresh.

CP3's recommended articles to read are excellent.

Salt is not advised in a freshwater aquarium.

The nitrogen cycle requires flowing water. A filter is the best way to achieve that because the bacteria multiply in the filter---also on the walls, decor, plants and substrate.

If I were you, I'd remove the water from the tank then refill with conditioned water. (Prime by Seachem is most often used because it detoxifies ammonia.) Completely setup your tank, install a filter and heater (78*-80*) and put your fish in. Test your water every few days with a liquid test kit (Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies is most often used and the price just went down)

After a few days, if you choose, you can use one of the recommended products to kickstart your cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a lot for the advice! I've refilled my tank and have my filter running, and should get my heater in the mail tomorrow.

I'm going to try the fishless cycle with food pellets instead of bottled bacteria, which unfortunately means waiting another week or so, but oh well. FYI, i've been putting off getting a fish for months for one reason or another, and I'm kind of tired of waiting, but I want to do this right, so there.

Also, I've never had fish at all before, so i really don't have anything to compare.
 

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Using rotting food as your ammonia source is old-school. While it may work, it leaves a bad stench in your tank which lasts a long time. It can also foster mold.

Fishless cycling produces a large nitrifying bacteria colony. It's the way to go if you plan on stocking many fish at once, like a community tank with schools of fish or a Betta sorority. A colony that large is more than one Betta needs. I highly recommend you look into fish-in cycling, which uses your live fish's waste as an ammonia source. In a 15g tank, a weekly 50% water change is all you need. The tank will cycle automatically with no further effort on your part. Once the tank is cycled, you can slowly add tankmates, shrimp, snails...Then, you should do a weekly 50% water change as standard maintenance for the life of the tank.

Use Prime by Seachem as our water conditioner because it detoxifies ammonia, a benefit when fish-in cycling. With this information, you don't have to wait any longer to get your fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Excellent! Thanks a bunch. So, what's the best method for changing the water? I was hoping not to have to buy one of those tank vacuums...
Also, how would i bring the ph down? It's at 7.8
 

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Those tank vacuums (siphons) are an important part of fishkeeping. You'll use it often (at least every week) over the years. Get the small one.

Just to double check: My recommendation to change water 50% weekly is a general rule. A 33% (5gal) change would probably work just as well. That's what you want that test kit to determine.

The 7.8pH is perfect for cycling and just fine for your fish. Don't mess with pH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I got my fish! He's has lots of colors and very healthy fins. He's really active and seems eager to explore his new tank, bumping and surfing against the sides of his plastic bag. I've had his bag in the tank water for ~an hour to get him used to the temp (74 F) and he seems fine. I fed him one pellet when i got him home and he seemed to like it.

I was wondering, when should i start adding water from the tank into his bag?
 

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Terrific, you know about acclimation. Start changing out his cupwater now, a shotglass at a time every ten minutes. He ought to be ready to go in in about an hour or so.Make sure his tankwater is conditioned with Prime.

Just for fun, save some of his cupwater. When you get your test kit, you can check it and learn something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I had already mixed tank water with his water, so I couldn't save any.

Does he need a bubbler? I had it running when i first put him in, but the current it created kept him from getting to the surface in that corner, so i turned it off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
He's also darting around the outside of his tank and flaring a lot. I think he can see his reflection, and I was hoping it wouldn't bother him much, but is he going to exhaust himself trying to challenge the "other betta"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Okay, I stuck a tank background paper to the side he was flaring at and adjusted the lights in my room and he's finally calmed down. I've added a couple more plants and a castle, too. However, now he's not eating his pellets. He might just be stressed from all the stuff moving around, but if he doesn't eat tomorrow, I'll probably try a different variety.
 
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