Cycling tank for Betta

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by Sarameow, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. SarameowNew MemberMember

    Hi! My four year old wants his first pet and we have agreed to get him a Betta.

    We had a lot tanking experience- mostly saltwater- in the past but it has been a long time! When we moved we kept our 55 gallon freshwater tank due to minimal maintenance. That tank is.... gosh... 8 or so years old. I can't even remember. Needless to say- it's been a LONG time since I had to cycle a freshwater tank... I don't recall what we did as it was our first tank- I think we might have killed a couple fish in the process back then.

    Anyhow---- taking my son to pick out a tank/decor etc today. We will probably get a 3 gallon set up. What is the quickest way to make it acceptable for a Betta to move in?. I've never fishless cycled a tank before and I'm reading that can take up to 2 weeks. I don't want to wait that long ( I know, I Know) I would love live plants but um... plants aren't really my thing as far as not killing and I don't want to worry about purchasing a light appropriate for them. I want to do this as cost effectively as possible.

    I could move water from our existing tank? (if so-it's past it's time for a water change--- better to move water after change?)

    I could just let the tank run a couple of days to make sure everything is working well, buy new betta this weekend and make sure to do frequent mini water changes for the first while?

    Thank you!
  2. bettamarsValued MemberMember

    Sorry to say, but fishless cycling (without bacteria additive) takes a lot longer than 2 weeks. Although using Tetra Safe Start can cycle it in 2 weeks. If you absolutely cannot wait to get the betta, you could cycle your tank with the betta along with the tetra safe start. Just get the smallest bottle of tetra safe start and add the entire bottle when you add the betta to the tank. Then don't do water changes for 2 weeks, but keep checking parameters (if you don't have one already, you should get an API freshwater master test kit or like liquid test kit as test strips are inaccurate and more expensive in the long run) often and if the ammonia or nitrites get out of hand, do an emergency water change. If you didn't understand what I meant by ammonia and nitrites, please read up on the nitrogen cycle. Also make sure not to add the Tetra safe start and betta until 24 hours after you add any water conditioner as it can mess up the tetra safe start. So you could get the tank, decorations, substrate, water conditioner, test kit, etc. today and fill up the tank and water condition and let it run and then add the betta and TSS tomorrow.

    Adding tank water from your 55 wouldn't work because most of the beneficial bacteria that turns ammonia into nitrites and nitrites into nitrates live in the filter and are stuck on surfaces in the tank (walls, decorations, substrate, etc.) but very few (if any) of the beneficial bacteria live in the water. However, you could use some of the filter media with BB on it and put it into the betta tank for a few weeks to seed the filter and create an insta cycle, but if you don't have a lot of filter media in your tank, then you could potentially remove a lot of the BB from your 55 causing an ammonia or nitrite spike and a hard time for you and your fish.

    Hope I didn't confuse you too much, but good luck with your new betta! :)
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  3. SarameowNew MemberMember

    I'm sure we still have our master test kit hanging out underneath our tank although it's been years since we tested it so I'm not sure. I'll take a look. I definitely want to teach little dude patience and proper care but don't think he could quite understand 2 weeks! Could I buy safestart today and feed the tank for a couple of days to get it going prior to adding betta? What would be the best thing to feed the tank if so? I have frozen bloodworms and emerald entree and for my other fish... would either of those work? I'll pick up some Hikari pellets today too. Would that be better? Thank you!
  4. CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

    If you take some of the cycled media from the filter in the 55 & put it in the new Betta tank filter you'd pretty much have an instant cycle & could add the Betta straight away, you'd need monitor the water for a while in case of any spikes.
  5. bettamarsValued MemberMember

    Yes, you could go with what Coradee said also, but be careful of taking all of your filter media out and leaving no BB to keep the 55 stable.

    I would get the tank and everything today and get it up and running with water conditioner and then add the safe start with the betta at the same time (I would add the safe start while you're acclimating the betta so it has time to settle before you add the betta in you just need to add the betta within 2 hours of adding the safe start). You could feed the tank using pure ammonia, but I wouldn't do that unless you're going the whole two weeks of fishless with the TSS.
  6. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Since it's a betta the way I see it you have 3 options for cycling (in order of preference):
    1) Put some of the used media from the 55g's filter into the betta tanks filter. Since the betta should have a low bioload, you'd probably get an instant cycle.
    2) Add the betta and a bottle of SafeStart at the same time, and do nothing but feed your betta for the next 14 days
    3) Do a fish-in cycle doing daily partial water changes with Prime (Prime will detox up to 1ppm ammonia & nitrite for 24 hours). This could take 6 weeks.

    Normally I recommend against fish-in cycles without SafeStart, but in the case of a betta, since they are kept in those death cups at the store, they actually have better water quality in a tank that is getting a fish-in cycle.
  7. happyfins14Valued MemberMember

    Just be patient :) It's better to go through the cycle process thoroughly and slowly then rush. Your son probably won't like waiting, but waiting's better than a dead betta, right?

    I also agree with getting the API master freshwater test kit. I actually just got it very recently and am glad I did. It's a little pricey but worth it because it will last years.

    Also, if you have trouble with plants, there are some pretty invincible species out there that are pretty cheap, like anacharis, Marimo moss balls, and java moss.

    Good luck and I hope your son like the fishy!
  8. SarameowNew MemberMember

    Thanks all. I pulled some gravel from the 55 in a net (don't want this gravel in the betta tank permanently ) and slung it in there. I'll do the safestart and the betta at the same time probably Sunday evening. I hate rushing it but ... as mentioned.. I think little Betta will be better off in here than in the fish cup at the store. I did find out master test kit. I don't see an expiration date anywhere so I assume it's all good.

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