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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In our efforts to provide the best help that we can for our members, we are examining the presentation of "the cycle" and what it means for your aquarium. It would be a great help to hear from you regarding any difficulties in understanding the cycle or the practical application thereof.

This is NOT an advice thread, but rather an information collecting thread. So please, help us help you. What aspects of the cycle do you (or "a friend" ;-) ) find troublesome/difficult to understand? What aspects deserve special attention?

Again, this is NOT an advice or debate thread. Simply people sharing their opinions.
 

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I will be watching this thread Jaycee. It is important for me to know how to be more helpful to those having trouble with cycling their tank.
 

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The issues I've been having is when to do a water change and how much. Also with the fish food method from experience Micropellets or any tiny type of food is a lot harder to dose and regulate.
 

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What if we have unfiltered, uncycled tanks? Then we wouldn't need information about cycling, as much as we'd benefit from information about water change schedules (frequency and percentage).

I'm not trying to be difficult. (Really, I'm not!).... But to me, there seems to be an assumption that people are trying to establish or maintain a cycled tank.

There are a LOT of people on this forum (BF.com) who have small unfiltered tanks, and rely on frequent water changes to remove wastes, etc. For us, information on how often to do water changes and what percentage to change, would be more helpful than advice or suggestions on how to how to cycle a tank. For example, I'd love to see some numbers regarding the amount of waste produced by one Betta per day. (Since this is BF.com, my assumption is we have Bettas.) This will help people understand what happens when they do, or don't do, their water changes. Etc...

Perhaps the first question should be: How many people have uncycled tanks, versus how many people have uncycled tanks (or NPTs)? Then gather information from these groups on what concerns they have about these tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
People who keep uncycled tanks are essentially doing a perpetual fish-in cycle (ironic, considering how out of favor that method is). While they may not be completing their cycle, it's nonetheless got an enormous impact on their aquarium.
 

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People who keep uncycled tanks are essentially doing a perpetual fish-in cycle (ironic, considering how out of favor that method is). While they may not be completing their cycle, it's nonetheless got an enormous impact on their aquarium.
OK, let's go with this. I'd be interested in seeing more information about this.

A common recommendation in this forum is that 1-4 gal unfiltered tanks should receive one 100% and one 50% water change per week. Many members have tanks in this size range (myself included). So I'd like to know if this is an appropriate recommendation. I'd also like to learn more about how following this water change schedule (rather than cycling the tank) impacts the aquarium and the fish in it. I'd also like to learn how the water in a water-change-only-schedule compares to that of a cycled 1-4 gal tank.

Which leads me to my next question: Many people say it's difficult to cycle a small (1-4 gal tank). Is this true? What can be done to allow people with 1-4 gal tanks to cycle their tank? (Please keep in mind that simple solutions are best. Based on my observations, many members of BF.com are young or don't have a lot of experience with fishkeeping and/or access to expensive equipment.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
OK, let's go with this. I'd be interested in seeing more information about this.

A common recommendation in this forum is that 1-4 gal unfiltered tanks should receive one 100% and one 50% water change per week. Many members have tanks in this size range (myself included). So I'd like to know if this is an appropriate recommendation. I'd also like to learn more about how following this water change schedule (rather than cycling the tank) impacts the aquarium and the fish in it. I'd also like to learn how the water in a water-change-only-schedule compares to that of a cycled 1-4 gal tank.

Which leads me to my next question: Many people say it's difficult to cycle a small (1-4 gal tank). Is this true? What can be done to allow people with 1-4 gal tanks to cycle their tank? (Please keep in mind that simple solutions are best. Based on my observations, many members of BF.com are young or don't have a lot of experience with fishkeeping and/or access to expensive equipment.)

I've requested that this be moved to its own thread. I'd be more than happy to respond there. Definitely a post that deserves a response, and would make an excellent thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
This is just a thread for people to share their concerns and difficulties with regards to understanding the nitrogen cycle so that we may use the information collected to better serve our members. If someone doesn't care about the nitrogen cycle, then they should move on to another thread... (Not that I'm implying that you don't care :) )

Too, I would encourage anyone who posts to start a thread if they'd like to discuss their situations and would like help with something so that the thread doesn't get cluttered with discussion.
 

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I definitely needed an in-dept troubleshooting guide. I ran into several problems such as strange testing results. For example, one day my nitrates were high and suddenly they dropped to 0.5 ppm. It was mentioned somewhere how nitrates would show low at off the chart levels, but I have no idea how truthful that really is. I also needed a guide on water changes, which seemed to be a bit lacking. I had some days where I felt like I stalled and I would do water changes to get readable results. I was also convinced that if I continued to dose 3ppm everyday, my nitrites would be stuck at high. There was also some discussion on whether high ammonia would cause dormancy among nitrifying bacteria. Some guides would recommend that you continue to dose 3ppm while waiting for nitrite to drop, and the causes of dormancy was never mentioned. I found it easier to cycle when I dosed 1 ppm per day after my tank was able to consume 3ppm ammonia in 24 hours.

There is a lot of disagreement and variation among information you find in cycling guides. Some may not necessarily be evidenced based. I found this to be an issue for me. I wasn't sure if I should dose 1ppm per day or 3ppm per day while nitrites fall. A lot of information I came across seemed to be opinion based, so I had struggled with figuring out what was the right thing to do.

I also found that cycling products didn't get very much spotlight. I had no access to seeded material and I had tried cycling for a month with no results. The ammonia was only being lost from evaporation or consumption by plants. After some desperation and a month of fail, I bought Dr. Tim's after seeing it on youtube, and it definitely helped me get going. The first month of my cycling was basically a control trial, in which there was no seeding, no cycling products and nothing was happening. After I added Dr. Tim's, I saw results the next day. It would have been nice if people didn't overlook the cycling products and not simply write them off as not being effective, not containing the correct bacteria types, and such. Cycling products need more attention. It had really helped me get going and I think it would help others who were stuck like I was.
 

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When I first found this forum, I read the stickies in search of basic care information. I assumed that cycling wasn't relevant to me or didn't apply. It seemed complicated, but also that it would happen in its own time, so I didn't need to concern myself with it. My feelings changed after I bought the ammonia test kit and discovered ammonia in my source water. I think it would help to warn people that their clean (gasp) water may be toxic to fish. In this case, running an uncycled tank seems ill advised. I see people here who assume that 2 wc per week in an unfiltered bowl is good care, so they don't check their ammonia at all. I certainly didn't know any better myself when I let my teenager bring this fish home. But if the water starts out with ammonia, it's obviously necessary to protect the fish with an ammonia-locking conditioner and keep up with frequent wc. Bottom line is, "should I cycle" would be answered, with advice to test source water ammonia. "If...then..." may address certain conditions, including "If ammonia starts above zero, then DO establish a cycle."

The next thing that would have been helpful to me is a checklist of things to look at when cycling is not occurring (or not progressing quickly enough). I see that for most people, as long as they use a filter and don't do 100% wc, the tank will cycle in 4 to 8 weeks. But for those of us where it doesn't seem to progress typically, it would help to have a list of things to run down, to make the trial and error feel less random and more like an organized process of elimination. I still don't know why my 2.5 gallon tank never cycled, despite the sponge filter and TSS. There are tests that I never ran: pH, GH, KH. I didn't know to leave the hood light OFF after applying TSS. That is not mentioned in the directions on the bottle. I also didn't know that raising the temp from 79 to 81 would have given the bacteria a better chance of success (assuming they were alive to begin with, which is also in question). I agree with NanaBeams that a troubleshooting guide would have been helpful. I also agree that complete information about bottled bacteria products - and how to maximize their effectiveness (my addition) - would be of benefit.
 

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OK, let's go with this. I'd be interested in seeing more information about this.

A common recommendation in this forum is that 1-4 gal unfiltered tanks should receive one 100% and one 50% water change per week. Many members have tanks in this size range (myself included). So I'd like to know if this is an appropriate recommendation. I'd also like to learn more about how following this water change schedule (rather than cycling the tank) impacts the aquarium and the fish in it. I'd also like to learn how the water in a water-change-only-schedule compares to that of a cycled 1-4 gal tank.

Which leads me to my next question: Many people say it's difficult to cycle a small (1-4 gal tank). Is this true? What can be done to allow people with 1-4 gal tanks to cycle their tank? (Please keep in mind that simple solutions are best. Based on my observations, many members of BF.com are young or don't have a lot of experience with fishkeeping and/or access to expensive equipment.)
I had one fish in a 3 gallon and 1 in a 2.5 gallon. The 3 gallon was unfiltered while the 2.5 gallon was filtered. I buffered the outflow of that filter with sponge, and wrapped sponge around the intake. It cycled in about a month. It was my first tank since I was a child, and i had no idea about cycling. Until I came here and checked it out. And then I was told it was too hard to cycle a small tank! Except mine did! Pretty easily! I can't understand WHY everyone says a small tank is hard to cycle when mine did it soooooo easily! (now if only my 29 gallon would cooperate)

In my limited experience, a small filtered tank was easy. I changed half a gallon of water in the 2.5 gallon (it only held 2 full gallons of water) every other day. once a week I did a 1 gallon change. In the whole month, I only did 1 hundred percent change, and that was solely because my son dumped a bunch of food into the tank. I never fed my fish more than he could eat in under a minute, and used a turkey baster to suck up debris every other day.
My betta did beautifully in there. He grew out his fins, and was a happy little fish. In fact, if it hadn't been for wanting more bettas, and getting the 29 gallon tank, i probably could have left him there his whole life and he'd have been happy.
 

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Recently the BF forum has been blessed with an influx of intelligent, resourceful and caring new members. Many of them are posting to this thread. This is so gratifying that I'm quite speechless (which is saying something for me).

Thank you all.
 

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It seems to me that there are a LOT of people (including me when I first started in the hobby) who think that cycling is this huge complex thing you have to impose on your aquarium rather than it just being a natural process of allowing a balance of beneficial bacteria to grow. When cycling (at least fish-in, which many people do with bettas), is more the process of just not hindering what will happen on its own and maybe giving it a boost here and there. I think a lot of people don't cycle because they think it means a lot of work and scientific measurements and they don't understand. And I think also a lot of people don't cycle or don't go about it in the best way because they think of having one or two bettas as just casually having them as pets and that cycling is for "fish people" who maintain large community aquariums. It might help to have a good clarification that it's more "allowing the cycle to complete by not preventing it" rather than something you actually DO. If that makes any sense. It's just the sense I've gotten.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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I definitely agree with the above posters who said a troubleshooting guide would be beneficial. When I found this forum I read the stickies about the nitrogen cycle and water changes. I started testing my water to be sure ammonia didn't get too high, got some Prime, and pretty much got into a routine of twice a week 50% water changes, thinking my tank would cycle in a few weeks if I was lucky, or 6-8 weeks at the most. Didn't happen. So I started asking and researching trying to find out what I was doing wrong. It's been difficult but I hope I'm on the right track now and I'll soon have my tanks cycled.

My challenges or areas where information wasn't readily available: Information about source water (beyond just testing it for ammonia) and what to do about problem water with regard to cycling.
Information on what is necessary to get beneficial bacteria to grow: Conditions and chemistry of the water, amount of ammonia needed vs. how much is too much, what types of filters work best and how to set them up (replacing inadequate filter media, how to balance amount of current needed for beneficial bacteria with keeping it low enough to keep betta happy).

givemethatfish's comment sounds SO much like what I heard at Petco when I bought our first betta. That cycling is only for people who want large tanks with a variety of fish and a fancy setup.

A list of things that prevent or stall cycling, so we know what NOT to do, would also be useful.
 

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If I had mod status I'd have edited into the end of that post in red
*Agent13 likes this post *
Which may be one of the reasons I'm not a mod ;-)

Thanks GMTF! Great post


Sent from Petguide.com App
 

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It seems to me that there are a LOT of people (including me when I first started in the hobby) who think that cycling is this huge complex thing you have to impose on your aquarium rather than it just being a natural process of allowing a balance of beneficial bacteria to grow. When cycling (at least fish-in, which many people do with bettas), is more the process of just not hindering what will happen on its own and maybe giving it a boost here and there. I think a lot of people don't cycle because they think it means a lot of work and scientific measurements and they don't understand. And I think also a lot of people don't cycle or don't go about it in the best way because they think of having one or two bettas as just casually having them as pets and that cycling is for "fish people" who maintain large community aquariums. It might help to have a good clarification that it's more "allowing the cycle to complete by not preventing it" rather than something you actually DO. If that makes any sense. It's just the sense I've gotten.
If I am understanding you correctly, I agree that cycling an aquarium can seem daunting at first glance. Simple instructions can diminish that intimidation factor to a large extent, and perhaps placing emphasis on "Just let it happen," can help many.

However, taking that approach alone does not address many of the needs of either the people who post asking for help who are already in a state of anxiety, or for those who want to know what's going on and how to participate successfully in that process. It is a "Let it happen" process to a very large extent, but when the cycle doesn't go according to description, there is as much of the "Try this" or "You can do this to help the process along" as their is in only taking the hands off approach. Not every situation resolves itself. Some do require intervention of one sort or another. Having that info available to those seeking out more detail is a plus, not a draw back.
 

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So perhaps the answer is to make two guides. One for people who rated themselves low on Jaysee's "caring about the mechanics poll" and one for people who rated themselves with a high number.

The "just follow this guide" would help people who didn't need/want to know the mechanics. It could be a flow chart: "Do this first. Do this next. If this happens, do this. Otherwise, do that."

The more detailed guide could tell people why stuff is happening. Ie: If your nitrates go up, it's because.....

Actually, this might be helpful to new people (not just those who rank themselves with a low score). The simple flow-chart guide would allow people to set up a filter initially, then as they learn more about the process, they could move onto the more detailed explanation.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So perhaps the answer is to make two guides. One for people who rated themselves low on Jaysee's "caring about the mechanics poll" and one for people who rated themselves with a high number.

Soooo, just one guide then..... ;-)
 
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