Cycling new tank for at least 5 weeks and no progression?

Semnmoz

Hi there,

I’ve been cycling a new tank for at least 5 weeks now with no clear end in view and would like to know 1-what am I doing wrong? And 2-how can I speed this process up effectively?

I’m doing a fish less cycle. It’s a 5 gallon tank with a built in low flow cartridge filter system. Heater is hiding behind the wall and tank is steadily around 75 degrees. I use fake plants and haven’t done any water changes yet and my ammonia source is added fluval bug bites betta flakes food to the tank daily, about as much as I would feed him which would be what he can eat in a minute or less. I’ve even seen the fish food decomposing as it got a bit white and fuzzy looking on one of the plant leaves where some food has dropped. I took another picture today and it’s slowly going away. I see little bug like things around it? I looked this up and people say to leave it as it decomposes it will increase the ammonia levels (which please let me know if that’s correct. I’ll add a pic of it.)

I used my tap water and the only chemicals I have used are prime to treat the water and pristine. (Which I was told will add good bacteria and now I’m questioning if I should have used it at all at this step of the cycling process??)

My parameters are as follows and it’s been the same result for several weeks now. I’m starting to think I need to add liquid ammonia at this point? Again, correct me if I’m wrong and feel free to provide me with some suggestions.

ph 6.8
Ammonia 0.25ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate 0ppm

I’m also thinking of adding an air stone/pump to help with surface water movement but I’m not sure if my betta will like that because of the increase in water flow? I always see those things creating a lot of bubbles and moving water around maybe a bit too much for a bettas comfort?

Any advice and suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Fishstery

I would suggest removing those cartridges because they are junk. They make people think they need to be replaced every so often which is just a money making scheme. You should never throw away any of your filtration media. I would buy a box of fluval biomax from petsmart and stuff as much as you can in the back of the filter. Adding pre filter like filter floss would help even more to help catch all of the small gunk particles and make filter maintenance easier. You can throw away and replace filter floss every few months when it starts to get clogged. You can buy a large bag on Amazon for cheap. You are still in the very beginning stage of cycling so replacing your media now is your best bet. Bacteria will colonize better with some better media in the filter.

As for your cycle, you haven't added much ammonia to Kickstart it. I advise against using fish food to fishless cycle because there's no way to accurately measure it to achieve a certain ppm of ammonia. Ditch it and dose Dr tims liquid ammonia until you reach 1ppm. Let it sit until you see ammonia drop. Add in more ammonia to constantly maintain 1ppm. Only do a few drops at a time, wait an hour, and test. Keep track of how many drops it takes to get to 1ppm. From there do the math. If you had to add 8 drops of ammonia to reach 1ppm, and in 2 days you test for .5ppm, then you need to half your original dose and add 4 drops to reach 1ppm and so on. At some point you will see nitrite pop up. Continue feeding ammonia to 1ppm. Nitrite will spike high and for a week or two everything will stay the same. Then randomly nitrite will disappear. At this point test for nitrate. If you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate present you are in the home stretch. Dose ammonia again to 1ppm. After 24 hours, if ammonia and nitrite are reading 0ppm then your tank is cycled. I do one last test for nitrate and if it is under 20ppm no need for a water change before adding fish. If nitrate is above 20ppm do a water change before adding them.

A question though, you said you are doing fishless, so I assume your betta is in another tank currently and he is the only fish you plan on stocking the new tank with?
 
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mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I know some folks aren't going to agree with me and that is alright. As you are seeing, the amount of fish food you are adding isn't producing much ammonia. What I would do is change out most of the water in this tank. While doing it i would siphon all the decomposing fish food out of there. Once don't I would go ahead and put my fish in this tank.

Cycling a tank is important but going through this long drawn out process isn't necessary when we are doing it for a single fish. The bio-load in the tank is going to be so low we should never have a high spike in either ammonia or nitrites. If either show up a water change will remove them.

The tank will eventually cycle. Cycling simply means we are growing bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite. This tank will eventually grow enough to handle the very low bio-load produced by the one little fish. .
 
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Fishstery

I know some folks aren't going to agree with me and that is alright. As you are seeing, the amount of fish food you are adding isn't producing much ammonia. What I would do is change out most of the water in this tank. While doing it i would siphon all the decomposing fish food out of there. Once don't I would go ahead and put my fish in this tank.

Cycling a tank is important but going through this long drawn out process isn't necessary when we are doing it for a single fish. The bio-load in the tank is going to be so low we should never have a high spike in either ammonia or nitrites. If either show up a water change will remove them.
I won't negate your opinion because I know you are a well trusted member here on this site. I dont know if I would do a fish in with a betta though...because they are so easily sensitive and delicate in regards to fin issues from ammonia and nitrite. Bettas aren't as hardy as they once were believed to be, I've discussed this with other people on the forum. I think at this point it is safe to assume due to mass over farming most bettas have pretty weak immune systems. I've kept tons of more difficult species over the years and bettas were the ones I had constant health issues with even in a properly maintained setup. That is just my two cents though!
 
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ProudPapa

I won't negate your opinion because I know you are a well trusted member here on this site. I dont know if I would do a fish in with a betta though...because they are so easily sensitive and delicate in regards to fin issues from ammonia and nitrite. Bettas aren't as hardy as they once were believed to be, I've discussed this with other people on the forum. I think at this point it is safe to assume due to mass over farming most bettas have pretty weak immune systems. I've kept tons of more difficult species over the years and bettas were the ones I had constant health issues with even in a properly maintained setup. That is just my two cents though!

I was typing out a bunch of stuff when a notice popped up that there were additional replies, but it was essentially the same thing mattgirl wrote. Unless the betta in question is already in a fully cycled tank I don't see how it can hurt to do a fish-in cycle with it (after doing the water change and removing the decomposing food). I'll bet it will be better off there than it is in a little cup in the store, if it hasn't been purchased yet.
 
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mattgirl

I won't negate your opinion because I know you are a well trusted member here on this site. I dont know if I would do a fish in with a betta though...because they are so easily sensitive and delicate in regards to fin issues from ammonia and nitrite. Bettas aren't as hardy as they once were believed to be, I've discussed this with other people on the forum. I think at this point it is safe to assume due to mass over farming most bettas have pretty weak immune systems. I've kept tons of more difficult species over the years and bettas were the ones I had constant health issues with even in a properly maintained setup. That is just my two cents though!

I do understand what you are saying. Unfortunately that seems to be the case with most of the fish available to us in today's world. As long as water changes are done if ammonia does show up the fish should never be in any danger. The tank in question has been running with fish food in it for 5 weeks and the ammonia has only gone up to .25ppm. That is with no water changes. With water changes it shouldn't even get that high with just a single fish in there.
 
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Fishstery

I do understand what you are saying. Unfortunately that seems to be the case with most of the fish available to us in today's world. As long as water changes are done if ammonia does show up the fish should never be in any danger. The tank in question has been running with fish food in it for 5 weeks and the ammonia has only gone up to .25ppm. That is with no water changes. With water changes it shouldn't even get that high with just a single fish in there.
I can agree that one single betta won't really cause much ammonia and nitrite buildup. If the OP decides to go the fish in route, I would at the very least suggest daily dosing of seachem prime to the tank to detoxify any ammonia present until the tank is fully cycled.
 
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mattgirl

I can agree that one single betta won't really cause much ammonia and nitrite buildup. If the OP decides to go the fish in route, I would at the very least suggest daily dosing of seachem prime to the tank to detoxify any ammonia present until the tank is fully cycled.
I do agree up to a point. I recommend daily testing. If ammonia is detected add Prime. As long as it never goes above .25ppm I do recommend adding Prime every other day. If it goes above .25 a water change needs to be done and of course Prime added. As long as the ammonia is kept down to a negligible level the little guy should never be in any danger.

Even if it never goes above .25 I recommend changing out 50% of the water weekly. If we do this for the life of the tank we should avoid problems and our Betta should live a long healthy life if he is healthy to begin with. The most difficult part seems to be getting a healthy one to begin with. They, like so many other fish, have been so over bred it is difficult to get a healthy one and we are left with the heartbreak of doing our best and still losing them. :(
 
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Semnmoz

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I know some folks aren't going to agree with me and that is alright. As you are seeing, the amount of fish food you are adding isn't producing much ammonia. What I would do is change out most of the water in this tank. While doing it i would siphon all the decomposing fish food out of there. Once don't I would go ahead and put my fish in this tank.

Cycling a tank is important but going through this long drawn out process isn't necessary when we are doing it for a single fish. The bio-load in the tank is going to be so low we should never have a high spike in either ammonia or nitrites. If either show up a water change will remove them.

The tank will eventually cycle. Cycling simply means we are growing bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite. This tank will eventually grow enough to handle the very low bio-load produced by the one little fish. .
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I’ve had many animals and I’ve never done so much research for any of them as I do for fish lol. People think fish are easy pets but I honestly think they are one of the hardest. I find myself constantly researching and troubleshooting during fishkeeping. I do have another question maybe you may know.

what are these little insects that are eating the decomposed food??? Are they harmful to the tank or fish?
 
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mattgirl

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I’ve had many animals and I’ve never done so much research for any of them as I do for fish lol. People think fish are easy pets but I honestly think they are one of the hardest. I find myself constantly researching and troubleshooting during fishkeeping. I do have another question maybe you may know.

what are these little insects that are eating the decomposed food??? Are they harmful to the tank or fish?
You are so very welcome. I agree, there is more to providing a healthy home for our water pets than folks think when they first get into the hobby. Thankfully you have come to the right place to learn. :)

Hard to say exactly what they are but is isn't at all unusual to see tiny life living in our tanks. I am not sure how they manage to get in there but most are not a problem. Sometimes they disappear as quickly as they appeared. If you could get a picture of them I am sure someone can identify them for you.

edited to add: I just reread the OP and noticed you had added Pristine. I wouldn't be adding that to this tank. I don't believe it is bottled bacteria. I am thinking it is designed to clear up cloudy water. It is not going to do anything to help get this tank cycled. oops, I read up on it and it is supposed to help cycle a tank and also do lots of other stuff. Reading the label makes one think it is a miracle in a bottle since it claims to do everything. :D.

If you choose to continue your fishless cycle I will recommend you get some liquid ammonia and also raise the temp in the tank up closer to 80 degrees.
 
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Semnmoz

You are so very welcome. I agree, there is more to providing a healthy home for our water pets than folks think when they first get into the hobby. Thankfully you have come to the right place to learn. :)

Hard to say exactly what they are but is isn't at all unusual to see tiny life living in our tanks. I am not sure how they manage to get in there but most are not a problem. Sometimes they disappear as quickly as they appeared. If you could get a picture of them I am sure someone can identify them for you.

edited to add: I just reread the OP and noticed you had added Pristine. I wouldn't be adding that to this tank. I don't believe it is bottled bacteria. I am thinking it is designed to clear up cloudy water. It is not going to do anything to help get this tank cycled. oops, I read up on it and it is supposed to help cycle a tank and also do lots of other stuff. Reading the label makes one think it is a miracle in a bottle since it claims to do everything. :D.

If you choose to continue your fishless cycle I will recommend you get some liquid ammonia and also raise the temp in the tank up closer to 80 degrees.
I had took a video but I don’t think I can upload video here. So I screenshot from the video. Those little whitish dots move and even look like they jump.
 

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mattgirl

Check out seed shrimp or spring tails. What you are seeing could be either. Both move around in kinda jerky jumps.

BTW: You can post videos but they have to be uploaded to youtube or somewhere like that first and then linked here
 
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Fishstery

Check out seed shrimp or spring tails. What you are seeing could be either. Both move around in kinda jerky jumps.

BTW: You can post videos but they have to be uploaded to youtube or somewhere like that first and then linked here
Can't be springtails if it's underwater. They are too light and only sit on the water surface (I have a culture of them in my paludarium) just based on their description, perhaps copepods?
 
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mattgirl

Can't be springtails if it's underwater. They are too light and only sit on the water surface (I have a culture of them in my paludarium) just based on their description, perhaps copepods?
Thank you for the clarification. I've never seen them. I just went by the description of their jumping. Very possibly some type of "pod" a quick google search tells me Copepods and amphipods most often appear in closed aquarium systems after live sand and/or rock has been added. They will “bloom” in the tank when the temperature is slightly warmer and a food source is available.

and

The free-swimming copepods move through the water in jerky motions by moving their swimming legs. This kinda describes the jerky movement being described so I do believe you are right about them being copepods. Totally harmless and if they are still there once a fish is adding I suspect the fish will eat them.

I just read your other thread and see you already have your betta. It sounds like he isn't doing well where he is now. I highly recommend you do as I recommended above and get your betta out of the container that gets a water change every few days and put him in this tank. It makes absolutely no sense at all to me to keep a fish in an uncycled container while waiting for a tank to cycle.

In this case a fish in cycle is much much better than leaving him where he is right now.
 
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Fishstery

Thank you for the clarification. I've never seen them. I just went by the description of their jumping. Very possibly some type of "pod" a quick google search tells me Copepods and amphipods most often appear in closed aquarium systems after live sand and/or rock has been added. They will “bloom” in the tank when the temperature is slightly warmer and a food source is available.

and

The free-swimming copepods move through the water in jerky motions by moving their swimming legs. This kinda describes the jerky movement being described so I do believe you are right about them being copepods. Totally harmless and if they are still there once a fish is adding I suspect the fish will eat them.
I just read your other thread and see you already have your betta. It sounds like he isn't doing well where he is now. I highly recommend you do as I recommended above and get your betta out of the container that gets a water change every few days and put him in this tank. It makes absolutely no sense at all to me to keep a fish in an uncycled container while waiting for a tank to cycle.

In this case a fish in cycle is much much better than leaving him where he is right now.
I also forgot about scuds. Perhaps could be scuds although to me they swim more like shrimp than in a jumping manner.
 
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Semnmoz

Welcome to Fishlore :)

I know some folks aren't going to agree with me and that is alright. As you are seeing, the amount of fish food you are adding isn't producing much ammonia. What I would do is change out most of the water in this tank. While doing it i would siphon all the decomposing fish food out of there. Once don't I would go ahead and put my fish in this tank.

Cycling a tank is important but going through this long drawn out process isn't necessary when we are doing it for a single fish. The bio-load in the tank is going to be so low we should never have a high spike in either ammonia or nitrites. If either show up a water change will remove them.

The tank will eventually cycle. Cycling simply means we are growing bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite. This tank will eventually grow enough to handle the very low bio-load produced by the one little fish. .
Thanks for the advice. I did what you said and changed out most the water and cleaned up the food waste etc.

This betta fish is really difficult to understand. I previously use to have a King betta and he was such a happy and easy going guy compared to this one. This betta just seems frantic most the time while other times he’s calm.

When he has his calm moments I think he’s getting more relaxed and happy and then back to being frantic again with the glass surfing and quick swim darting and stopping. At first I thought maybe that’s how longer finned betta might need to swim as it’s more difficult. Whereas my king betta never had that problem with the shorter fins. Now I think okay let me look it up online and most of what I read is he’s unhappy or stressed. Could he also be bored? I don’t get it. Maybe some betta fish are prone to being stressed 24/7?? When I got him he was more relaxed then it started getting cold, looked less active, got a heater, became frantic and has never stopped and now I add him to a bigger cleaned filtered and heated tank and the restlessness continues. He has plenty of hides and everything.

I just did the water change/switching tanks so I’ll give it a few days and see how he’s doing.

P.S. I added a air stone to see if he’d like it but I have it off as I want him to get adjusted first to the water change/new tank.

posted a pic of him in his 5 gallon tank.
 

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mattgirl

Beautiful little tank but I think he would be happier if he didn't feel so exposed. I would block off at least 3 sides of the tank. By being so wide open he can see any kind of movement outside the tank and since he can I have to think he may be in constant fear of something coming after him. As he adjusts to his new home you can gradually remove the cover. More plants might not be a bad idea either.
 
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