Confused Half Way Through Fish-in Cycling

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by samtchi, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. samtchi

    samtchiNew MemberMember

    Hey all.

    I have a tank I'm fish-in cycling, not by personal preference but took over as caretaker of a friend's betta when they moved back in early March. It's been 5 weeks come this weekend, and the tank still isn't cycled.

    It's a 5.5 gallon, our pH out here is 7.6. For two weeks, I had almost no ammonia readings with the betta in the tank, but did a weekly water change anyway. 2 weeks ago, I had my first ammonia reading. I've been doing small 15-20% water changes daily to every other day since the ammonia was building up and fluctuating between 0-.25 ppm, then eventually .50 and climbing so I figured okay, good sign. Then this Monday comes along, and I get my first hint of nitrites! Somewhere between .25 and .50, leaning towards .50 ppm. I did a small, maybe 15% water change that day because I was going to be gone overnight and wanted the betta to be safe just in case a spike happened overnight.

    Since then, since Monday, I've had no nitrite readings whatsoever. All testing is done via instructions from the API liquid testing kits. I did put in Prime conditioner on Tuesday, yesterday, which is the only variable since then, to keep the betta safe in the midst of the cycle kicking in.

    But now I'm at this point for the last two days where I'm getting almost nothing---0 ammonia ((maybe a very very light .25?)), 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates.

    Was absolutely positive there was no way that that small of a water change removed almost .50 ppm of nitrites. I'm not sure if this is because of Prime, or if I managed to somehow ruin 5 weeks worth of progress? I'm not sure what's going on with the tank. This is only my second cycle, so any help would be great.

    I wanted to throw Tetra SafeStart in there, but the betta has had fin rot in the past and I was worried that being unable to use Prime, the ammonia/nitrite spikes might affect him during the cycle.

    Any input would be great, thanks!!
  2. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    You are doing fine. Adding the Prime isn't going to stall or slow your cycle. Prime just makes the ammonia/nitrites less harmful for your fish but it is still there to feed the cycle. It will still show up in the tests if it is there.

    The best thing you can do is relax and enjoy your water pet. As long as you are keeping his water fresh with water changes and are treating the water with prime to detoxify the ammonia/nitrite when it shows up the little guy will be fine.

    That little nitrite reading may be the only one you will see. It is possible that your tank already has enough bacteria to convert the small amount of ammonia one little betta is going to produce into nitrite and then to nitrate. It is possible that all the water changes have kept the nitrates so low that they don't show up on the test for them.

    edited to add: You can check to see if this is true by not doing a water change for a couple of weeks. You can go ahead and run the tests. If ammonia + nitrites is less than one put a full dose of prime in the tank. It the 2 combined is 1 or above go ahead and do a water change to get it down and then dose a full dose of prime.

    with just the one little guy i there i don't think you will see a spike of ammonia and/or nitrites unless there is a big build up of detritus in/on the substrate. If your tank is growing nitrates you should start seeing them after a couple of weeks of no water changes.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  3. OP

    samtchiNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the reply! I'll keep an eye on the levels. I haven't done any extensive cleaning so I can't imagine I disrupted the entire cycle. I was really uncertain because the ammonia spike was almost a 2 week journey, whereas my nitrites was a day-long thing and now completely absent. I suppose you're right though, he is just a single fish and perhaps I'm finally cycled, and the nitrate reading is very minuscule? I'm just going to hope that's the case.

    There's mixed signals online about Prime messing with API readings and accuracy, but I don't really feel safe going 48 hours without using Prime to test that theory. At least for now, since he's just recently been away from fin rot for a week or two, trying to give him the safest, most stable conditions I can at the moment.

    Who knows, I'll just keep up on it. I would like to, as long as the ammonia/nitrite levels stay low, bring water changes down to once a week so, like you said, the nitrates can do their thing.

    Good news is, he is currently making a bubble nest!
  4. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    You're welcome. It sounds like your little guy is now feelin' good :) and you are doing everything right to keep him happy and healthy.
  5. Jenoli42

    Jenoli42Well Known MemberMember

    with that bio load, just be super slow and cautious about adding any new fish or critters because even 1-2 may cause spikes. with a betta, you might not be planning on any, but i wanted to say that now so you don't get frustrated if you do in the future :)
  6. OP

    samtchiNew MemberMember

    Thank you! I figured that may happen. Any future tanks, I plan on cycling fishless because I really don't want to see them get hurt through the cycle. I do not intend on adding any others to the two Betta tanks I own but thank you for the input!!
  7. OP

    samtchiNew MemberMember

    Wanted to chime in and say that after leaving the water be for a couple days, I saw the ammonia rise again, then fall yesterday. Checked the waters before work this morning, 0, 0 and nitrates probably around 5! Happy it seems like my water finally cycled. Also happy my little buddy is in stable waters for once! :) Thanks again for the input earlier!!!
  8. mattgirl

    mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Thank you for the update. That is very good news :) It looks like you can now rest a bit. Since this little guy hasn't always been taken care of as well as you are taking care of him his immune system may have been compromised so he may be prone to getting ill. As long as you keep up with water changes he should now live a much longer healthier life.

    Let your water tests be your guide. Over the next few weeks you will want to go ahead and keep an eye on the perimeters and if you happen to see spikes (I don't expect you will) you will now know what to do about them.

    If the nitrates stay low (I expect they will) you may not have to do a water change weekly but I would never go over 2 weeks even if the nitrates stay low. Fresh clean water is the very best medicine you can give him for the rest of his life.
  9. OP

    samtchiNew MemberMember

    Thank you yet again! As someone completely new in this field with nobody to go to in my day to day life and generally am afraid of using forums for obvious reasons, ((people haha)), I can say that everybody has been so welcoming and helpful and patient, yourself included!

    I love the little fellas I have and want to do everything in my power to make sure they have happy, healthy lives.

    I plan on keeping to weekly water changes at the bare minimum, as I agree, fresh water really is the best!

    I'll keep an eye on the waters for awhile, once I'm positive they're not going anywhere extreme, I'll lessen it as I've been doing them daily.

    Thank you though! I'll keep up on their health and keep a vigilant eye!!