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Discussion Starter #101 (Edited)
Olganc, everybody worries about cycling the tank. It's going to happen naturally and inevitably as long as there's ammonia (food), oxygen (to oxidize) and enough current to blow the oxygen around. You have to actually work to prevent the nitrogen cycle from developing.

The bacteria are everywhere: in the tapwater (unless it has dangerous levels of chlorine), in the water molecules in the air, in every splash of water that's non-toxic, in the corners of your eyes, on the tank surfaces, plants, even the fish. The only time and place that there's no bacteria is when there are so many plants that they eat all the ammonia before the bacteria can get to it. The keepers job is to keep ammonia/nitrite under control until the bacteria or plants takeover.

So, yes, the bacteria is in and on the wood and the plants -- and the surfaces. Even washing in tapwater doesn't remove it all. (Your Guppy are providing enough ammonia.) Still 0.50 nitrite is a little high. Perhaps something (wood, plants) are decomposing enough to add ammonia.

I would just go ahead with the cycle. It certainly doesn't hurt, and it's less work than preventing it. Leave the wood and plants, add gravel and an aerator; they will encourage the cycle. When you get the hydroponics up and running, the bacteria will take a back seat to the plants; plants use ammonia faster than cycling bacteria.

As always, while cycling, feed sparingly and vacuum up waste and leftover food regularly.

Good answer by Kay about the protein film. Skimmers are for saltwater tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #103
First principle, CB: always put the fish in the largest water you have -- that's the 10g.

In a 10g it doesn't really matter how long it takes to cycle. You should do a 25% to 33% water change every week, anyway, for a lot of reasons that don't have anything to do with the cycle. That will be enough to keep ammonia from building up. A few drops of Prime every day for a month or 6-weeks is for security -- just for your peace-of-mind -- along with regular testing, of course. As long as you add a few drops of Prime every day, no harm will come to your fish.

If you must perform a fishless cycle, you're better off cycling the filter in a separate, smaller container. This is referred to as a "bucket cycle." Install the cycled filter later in the display tank. Much better than leaving the fish in the small tank while the large one cycles..

As always, while cycling, feed sparingly and vacuum up waste and leftover food regularly.
 

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The filter that came with my tanks says I need to change the cartaradge every four weeks. Do I have to recycle every four weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #105
That advice from the manufacturer is to get you buy more filters. Do NOT change the cartridge until it falls apart. That's where a lot of the cycling bacteria live.
 

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Hi Hallyx. You surely got me started right. Tank reads very well on everything. Now I'm wondering about the opalescent sheen on the top of the water. It seems the experts say it's protein and won't hurt anything but I would like to eliminate it if possible . I can get a lot off by wadding up paper towel and skimming but is there a better way? Thanks guru. I'm adding a pic you may be able to see what I mean.
 

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Beginner

I haven't had a chance to read through all of the posts yet, but I've made it through the first 9 or 10 pages. I am planning to get a betta, but wanted to do my research first. I have a 5 gallon MiniBow tank right now. I don't have anything else yet. I was planning on adding some gravel and a couple of live plants, then attempting a fishless cycle before actually buying a betta and putting it in there. After reading through this thread, it seems like I might be better off doing a fish-in cycle since it's a 5 gallon tank with only one fish?

So, could I add my gravel and plants to the aquarium, fill it up with water, treat it with Tetra SafeStart, then go ahead and add the fish? Then test the water after 24 hours or so and start following the two-sentence tutorial from there?

I know I need a heater as well. I was planning on getting a 25W Hydor Theo.

I was also wondering about the filter that comes with the MiniBow. Will that be OK or should I get a sponge filter? Any recommendations?
 

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Yes, you can start with fish in. You do need a heater as that really matters to bettas. Filter is not so important as they don care for a lot of water movement. It's more for your clean water. The filter is an important holder of the good bacteria. So a bag or sponge is good. Don't clean it in tap water just riffle it in the water you remove. Same with ornaments when you clean them do it in the discard water. That retains the bacteria you need. If you prepare the water, temperature is important. Try to keep it the same, add the amount of Prime or safe start most of us use Prime as it's very good and less expensive. 1/3 water change a week works for me. If you use a simple plastic tube or aquarium cleaner just go into the gravel and move it around. My baby doesn't mind at all. He just swims over and looks to,see who the visitor is.lol the only three other things I suggest is a leaf hammock my Nutmeg just loves his, a water testing kit and a thermometer. You know you need some sun for the plants but don't put the tank in a place of really direct sun. Hope this is some help. J
 

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That advice from the manufacturer is to get you buy more filters. Do NOT change the cartridge until it falls apart. That's where a lot of the cycling bacteria live.

Hello Hallyx!
I have this cartridge that has activated carbon inside. I'm nearly done my cycle. My readings are ammonia 0, nitrite 0 (today for fhe first time after it was on 0.25 for a couple of days) and nitrate 5.0. I will test again tomorrow. I still added prime for my peace of mind. The question is, should I just buy activated carbon and replace it while keeping the same cartridge, or should I get it completely replaced for an alt ae pad or coarse pad (not sure which one is actually better)?

Thank you!









 

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Discussion Starter #110
... it seems like I might be better off doing a fish-in cycle since it's a 5 gallon tank with only one fish?

So, could I add my gravel and plants to the aquarium, fill it up with water, treat it with Tetra SafeStart, then go ahead and add the fish? Then test the water after 24 hours or so and start following the two-sentence tutorial from there?
That's how it's done. Keep a log of your readings and what you did to maintain the tank: Water change schedule, feedings, activities, etc..

I was also wondering about the filter that comes with the MiniBow. Will that be OK or should I get a sponge filter? Any recommendations?
The MiniBow filter will probably be OK. You can baffle it if the current annoys your fish.

Andrea, I like to use the coarse (black) filter foam. It's easier to clean, and doesn't clog as easily. Carbon serves no useful purpose in a Betta tank.

JCE, if you can manage to riffle the surface (by re-directing the filter or using a bubbler), you can prevent the protein film buildup. Prime and Safestart are not equivalent products. Prime is a water conditioner: dechlorinator and ammonia-detoxifier. Safestart contains cycling bacteria to help kickstart the nitrogen cycle.
 

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Ok Hallyx, I use the prime and so far so good. I was thinking about a bubbler I hope a small one. I'll see if he likes it . I find a paper towel across the surface is pretty gpood. The film is mostly just before I change water and then of course it's less.
You are really the go to person, thanks. J
 

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Thank you Hallyx! Now, if I'm already done with my cycle and I want to replace the activated carbon cartridge for a black foam filter. How do I do this without loosing most of my BB that's already on the cartridge? Would I experience a mini cycle or do I have to start cycling again with the black foam filter?
 

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Discussion Starter #113 (Edited)
The bacteria first grow rapidly in the filter, then spread throughout the tank into the substrate, walls, plants and decor. This is called "establishing" the cycle.

In a few weeks, replace the cartridge with the AQ sponge and stuff the old filter pad (minus the carbon) inside, if you have the room -- if not, strap it to the intake.

Keep an eye on your readings. But a mini-cyle is no big deal. You may not even notice one. At least that's been my experience.

JCE, I forgot to mention: That film is a sign of excess organics. Vacuum the tank really well with every water change. Feed sparingly with high-quality food. This promotes more complete digestion which will cut down on organics. Live plants help too.
 

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Hi Hallyx, I am feeding only Omega One Betta pellets, two morning and evening. I do vacuum but without moving everything, of course, it is not really "clean". Do you ever take the fish out and clean the gravel at least with tank water?. My readings are so good I hate to disturb too much. What do you use to vacuum, mine is just a gravity tube.
 

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Discussion Starter #115
You're doing fine, JCE. I was just mentioning all the finicky little things I could think of.

Here's what I use to vacuum/siphon my tanks.

50-cent siphon

For >5g tanks I use one size larger tubing.
 

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OK, I guess long as Nutmeg is happy, and he is, I will just keep doing what I'm doing. You have been so swell for your newer S. Thanks again. Here is Nutmeg my beauty. JCE
 

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Hello again Hallyx,

I vacuumed my gravel yesterday and performed a 25% water change. My tank was cycled and I believe I am experiencing a mini cycle because this morning my nitrite spiked from 0 to 0.25

I added prime. Moreover, can moving the gravel around for planting harm my cycle or perhaps produce too much Co2? I have an Eco complete gravel.

Thank you!
 

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Lastly, my nitrate is 1.0 even though I performed a water change yesterday and I see some brown algae on my Amazon swords.
 

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Discussion Starter #119
See -- not much of a mini-cycle.

Disturbing the substrate may stir up and release some organics, but nothing your cycle can't handle.

You should be reading a slight increase in nitrate. That's one sign your cycle is working.

The brown "algae" is actually diatoms -- quite common in new tanks. Just wipe it off. Eventually it will go away. Nerite snails love that stuff.
 

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See -- not much of a mini-cycle.

Disturbing the substrate may stir up and release some organics, but nothing your cycle can't handle.

You should be reading a slight increase in nitrate. That's one sign your cycle is working.

The brown "algae" is actually diatoms -- quite common in new tanks. Just wipe it off. Eventually it will go away. Nerite snails love that stuff.

Thank you! I did read nerite snails are good algae eaters. However, the cons I see with them is that they lay eggs around the tank specially on the glass and wood (which is even harder to remove).
 
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