20 Gallon, New Tank Cycling And A Betta Fish

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Ojfish, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Ojfish

    OjfishNew MemberMember

    Hi All!

    Bare with me as I explain my dilemma,
    I currently have a gifted 1 gallon unfiltered, heated tank for a betta that was given to my child. I thought I would upgrade him to a more comfortable 20 gallon tank instead. I also wanted to add some friendly tank mates that I researched he would be fine with.
    I made the big mistake of not cycling the tank however, before adding the new tank mates (minus the betta). They all unfortunately passed within the day. I had tested the water , not ammonia though (insert a “duh” moment here) and everything has been testing within good limits it should be. The water is testing hard though. I’m sure it was a mixture of no bacteria/high ammonia that possibly killed them. They looked to be gasping for air essentially. I had fed them before they died as well so the day after the disaster the tank had greyish cloudy water that subsided and now the tank looks semi clear. It is day 6 from the disaster and I did a 25% water change today.
    Should I attempt to add the betta in to help cycle it? I’m afraid of killing him as he’s my young daughters favourite fish. I know they are hardy as he is just getting by living in his current condition and I eagerly would like to add him to the 20 gallon. Should I continue to wait for the tank to cycle before I do? I’ve been checking the ammonia levels since day 4 and they’re reading 0. Same with NO2 and and N03. So I haven’t seen any spikes yet. pH is fine and KH is good. gH is at 120 ish ppm.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    How are you cycling the tank? Are you using fish food? Are you using straight ammonia? If the fish died 6 days ago and you removed them from the tank, you have to have been adding something to feed the bacteria.
  3. OP

    OjfishNew MemberMember

    I’ve added fish food and have been removing it the next day as it’s turning into white algae. Haven’t added anything else. I unfortunately don’t know anyone who can give me their substrate, etc. I was hoping to do a fish cycle but The fish (after the cycle) will have to be able to associately peacefully with the betta and I’m not sure if the recommended cycling fish would. Is there something else I should be doing? After the water change today, I just added the usual water conditioner and bacteria supplement (bottled)

    Should I still hold off adding the betta until the tank is safely cycled?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2019
  4. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    I won't be of much help to you. I don't cycle tanks. I seed media in my other tanks and I get an almost instant cycle when I start up a new tank. There are those here that fishless cycle using ammonia. I'm sure someone will chime in soon.
  5. Donovan Jones

    Donovan JonesValued MemberMember

    One of the methods I've seen is to throw decaying stuff in like fish food, veggies etc, and then to do relatively frequent water changes, testing to see when ammonia stays at 0

    As for the Betta they're bullet proof fish that may very well handle that bad water quality, but that doesn't mean they will like it, so I would simply add stuff to decay
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2019
  6. ramsbee

    ramsbeeValued MemberMember

    I always recommend a fishless cycle for the safety of the fish. Did you test ever to see if you had any ammonia level at all? I always use pure ammonia to cyle any of my tanks. You can find it at ACE hardware for pretty cheap. I would recommend talking to a LFS to see if maybe they can give you some media to help seed the tank. I wouldn't put any fish in there as ammonia and nitrites are toxic and can stress the fish out. Patience is key when setting up a new tank for the good of the fish. With your Betta being in such a small bowl I would monitor his water quality closely as well.
  7. Whitethorn

    WhitethornValued MemberMember

    I did cycling without any fish. I just occasionally added a few pellets of fish food from time to time. It took a **** of a long time though. 8 weeks and I had a ready tank. I don't really like the idea of a fish-in cycle because you put the fish under stress. If you put in a fish you actually want in the tank, it may die. If you put in feeder fish that you might not want in your final stocking, there's always the chance that the fish could survive and you're left unhappy. Good luck with whatever you decide to go with though!
  8. Avectasi

    AvectasiValued MemberMember

    I currently have had a betta and had many homes that I had to change! He started out in a 1.5 gallon then to a 10 all of these are unfiltered since I didn’t knew much about the cycle during the 10 gallon he lived pretty well with heater and uncycled filter. What you need to do is having frequent water changes if you want him to survive. With prime that detoxifies ammonia and nitrite it’s great for not killing the fish. Another thing you could do is buying TSS and adding to the whole tank.

    Though these problems that the test kits get wonky during the process which is 1-2 weeks and you can’t change water or add any chemicals or it will kill the BB.

    The last thing you could do is buy a seeded sponge filter media by angelsplus therye around 14 plus shipping these are the best choice since it almost instantly cycles your tank!

    Hope any of these help good luck!
  9. SegiDream

    SegiDreamWell Known MemberMember

    Fishless cycle or not you have a betta in an uncycled tank regardless of which tank it is in, so yes you can put the betta in the 20g. I recommend a water conditioner like Prime for all water changes and before adding any water to the tank etc if you are using tap water. Prime will help protect fish up to 1ppm ammonia and nitrite total combined. Add the betta the next day and add a bottle of TSS+ at the same time as adding the fish. Always shake prime and TSS bottles before use. I also recommend that you have a liquid test kit that checks ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph and follow the instructions carefully. Don't test the water within 48hrs of adding TSS and the betta. Hopefully it will cycle within 2 weeks as advertised and many here recommend no water changes in that time period. But if water parameters rise and the fish is distressed then a water change is needed and you can supplement with more TSS the day after a water change. Your tank is cycled when you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some nitrates. After that you will need to do partial water changes on a regular basis, though how much and how often with just one betta in a 20g I can't say for sure but watching when the nitrates reach about 20-40 is also a good indicator of when water changes are needed.

    IMO if this is a male betta a community fish tank is probably best avoided.
  10. spicegirls5ever

    spicegirls5everValued MemberMember

    I did a fish in cycle with a betta. I used prime to detoxify the ammonia and nitrite. I also did DAILY water changes, often 50%+
    None of that is really recommended and I'm surprised the fish survived. I wasnt away of the cycles until I'd already bought the fish. You can do the same as I did, but you have to be rigorous about testing, treating, and changing the water. It took me almost exactly a month for the tank to be ready and I probably spent half an hour at least every evening changing water and testing.

    I would try to avoid doing a fish in cycle. Talk to your local pet store and see if they can give you any filter media. If not, buying a plant or some moss from their tanks may help seed yours, but it will still take a while. I'd try to talk to a smaller family owned store rather than a petsmart to get the media.

    If you can buy media online as someone suggested I would absolutely try that.

    If you do go for the fish in cycle then load the tank with plants during the cycle. They consume ammonia and nitrates and may add beneficial bacteria as well. They'll also keep your tank healthy after the cycle and reduce the frequency of water changes.

    I've never used tetra safe start or api quick start, I saw the reviews were all over the place. Research them for yourself, they may be what you need. Seems like you've got to follow the directions exactly for them to work.