5 Gallon Tank New betta owner with a messed up cycle


Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
Hello, as the title says, I'm new to the hobby. I actually posted about this situation on the new member thread, so I'll try to keep it brief:

I got a betta after my mom got it as a prize from work (I don't know who thought this was a good idea but anyway). I upgraded my betta, Pastel, to a 5.5 gal after realizing a 1 gal tank is too small for a betta. I was still not too familiar with cycling -- I kind of assumed the old tank was cycled based off the fact that I had bacterial bloom/new tank syndrome for about 4 weeks, but it went away after I stopped changing the filter media every 2 weeks -- but figured a week of running the new tank with a pinch of fish food would "cycle" it. Either way, I added the polyfilter and water from the old tank, and things seemed to be going great! Until, I added marimo moss balls to the tank about 3 weeks back

I put Pastel in a 3.75 gal basin with a heater and a filter sponge. I then bleached the tank, ruining any possibly cycling I may have had due to having to throw away my filter media and poly filter. I followed protocol for disposing of the plants/water, and then I ran diluted bleach through my tank for 15 mins, rinsed, ran heavily dechlorinated water overnight, and rinsed. This included my gravel and decor (I read online this would be okay, but now I'm unsure. I am pretty strapped for cash so I really didn't want to throw things away/buy more). By then, I figured the bleach would be removed from my tank, so I added normally dechlorinated water in to begin cycling. However, I noticed the water was abnormally cloudy and it stayed like that for two days, so I figured the bleach was still inside, but after a week, it cleared up, so I thought the bleach had evaporated. At this point, I finally researched cycling and decided to splurge and purchased a water test kit. I also purchased Seachem stability. However, after about another week of pouring capfuls of fish flakes into the tank, my readings were still pretty much 0. At this point, I figured the bleach must be killing off the bacteria. At the same time, I had Pastel in the common area (I live in a dorm) for two weeks now and didn't want to continue to inconvenience my roommate, so I decided I would just have to do fish-in cycling.

So, yesterday, I drained the tank again, put in fresh dechlorinated water + the water from the basin, and added my fish back into the tank. At first, things seemed fine, but a couple hours later, I see Pastel, while still active, breathing heavily with his mouth open. I immediately remove him and put him into a bucket with fresh water. He is breathing normally in the bucket. I check the parameters (see below) and everything seems fine, so what could be going on? Looking at the tank again today, it is still kind of cloudy.

What is the water volume of the tank? 5 gal
How long has the tank been running? about 7-8 weeks
Does it have a filter? yes
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 78
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 veiltail betta

How often do you change the water? weekly
How much of the water do you change? 25-50%
What do you use to treat your water? prime, start right (dechlorinator) aquarium salt
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? gravel + water (if necessary)

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? no
What do you use to test the water? api freshwater master test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 6.6

How often do you feed your fish? 1-2x daily
How much do you feed your fish? a few flakes or 2-3 freeze dried bloodworms/mysis
What brand of food do you feed your fish?
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? freeze dried

How long have you had this fish? 4.5 months
oops forgot the pictures

tank front shot.jpg
tank side shot.jpg


It doesn't look cloudy to me tho
Did you use warm water first? Because warm water is white and cloudy
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darkcat thanks for the reply! I did use warm water to fill it like 80 degrees? I guess looking a little more closely it doesn't look cloudy like before, but then that confuses me more. What could cause my fish to breathe heavily?
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Did you add the declorinator/water conditioner? Maybe your betta is a little bit shocked from transporting. You did acclimate it right? Is he still eating?
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I would put him in his forever home. All this moving from place to place is bound to be stressing him out. As long as you keep up with his water changes as needed with temp matched and dechlorinated water he should be safe in the 5.5 gallon tank. Keep a close eye on the ammonia and/or nitrite levels. Try to keep the ammonia down to no more than .25 with water changes. Even less would be better but is often difficult to do.

I know as fish parents we get concerned when we see them doing anything different than normal but if you are using the same water in the 5.5 as you were in the smaller container he shouldn't have a problem in the bigger tank.

Just keep an eye on the parameters and do water changes as needed and he should be fine. Don't change out the filter media. That is where most of your bacteria is going to grow. Each time you replace it you are removing a lot of the bacteria needed to protect your little guy. Rinse it off in water you have pulled from the tank during a water change if needed but as long as water is running through it freely don't replace it.

If the ammonia level never goes any higher than .25 I still highly recommend you change out half his water each week. Fresh clean water is the very best thing we can give our water pets.
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darkcat yes to dechlorinator and yes to acclimation! He also still eating. You're right; maybe he was just stressed. I will try again, thank you

mattgirl thank you for your advice! You're probably right I may just be psyching myself out haha I will put him back and try to be consistent with the water changes.
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Hi, I just wanted to update that I put him in his tank on Monday, and he's doing just fine! ^^ thank you for your help!

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