Fishless cycle with fish food stalled

  1. R

    RosiePickles New Member Member

    I've been trying to cycle my 5g desktop tank for 3 weeks. I have relatively fine sand, two marimo moss/algae balls and two plants that my lfs said were appropriate for the led light the tank came with. I don't have a heater (will get one if needed) so temp is about 22 Celsius. Week 1 I had 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates. Ph was 8. Water has been conditioned with api conditioner. Weeks 2 and 3 Ph was 8.2, ammonia was 0.25, and 0 nitrites and 0 nitrates. I have been adding a pinch of ground beta flake food every other day for 3 weeks. I know patience is needed for a cycle but it seems that my ammonia levels are not increasing enough to create nitrates. Do I need to dose with pure ammonia? Could anything else be stalling the cycle? I have not done any water changes or cleaning, but have topped up with conditioned water twice when the level fell to the minimum line on the tank. I also don't know anyone with an established tank to borrow from.
    Finally, I'm planning to put just one betta in the tank. Do I need to worry about the pH being around 8.2 or will the fish acclimatize?
    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
  2. o

    oldsalt777 Well Known Member Member

    Hello Ros...

    Small tanks are no place for a fish or anything else that needs pure water conditions to be healthy. Your 5 gallon cube isn't going to cycle, because for water to cycle you need a steady source of ammonia and enough water to help dilute the ammonia to the point that a fish can live in it.

    If you want to keep a small tank, then keep some aquatic plants in it like Hornwort, Anubias or Java fern and change half the water every week to maintain the plants. Plants will tolerate unstable water conditions, fish won't.

    If you're really serious about keeping fish, then go with a 30 gallon long tank at least.

  3. Aquaphobia

    Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Hi RosiePickles and welcome to the forum!

    You most certainly can cycle a 5 gallon tank! Fish food can work but you'll need a lot more than a pinch every three days. Generally pure ammonia is recommended because you can more precisely control your dosing.

    If you want to speed up the cycling process there are some good products out there, including Tetra Safe Start and Seachem Stability. There are a couple more that work but the names escape me at the moment!
  4. leftswerve

    leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    Fish food takes a long time. Be patient or change to pure ammonia.
  5. OP

    RosiePickles New Member Member

    Thanks. I will try your suggestions!