New Tank (for A Friend, Message From Him) Help Please. Cycling Tank

Marco Rodriguez
  • #1
HI guys,

Been a while since I was on here, Fish are all doing well and my dad's caring for them while I'm at college. My friend just bought a 5 Gallon Marineland tank here @ college and he's just following the LFS store's instructions but I don't trust them... this is him below..

So I went to the LFS and was just looking for a small tank for my dorm room. My friend and I talked with him and settled on the 5 gallon tank because it was the cheapest option for what we were looking for. He told us to just run the filter in the tank for a day and then we could come back to get fish (he gave us 10$ in store credit for free to buy fish). He also told us that we didn't need chemicals and that we needed to change our filter every month. Is there any advice you can give me on how I should proceed?
Lh 90 gallon
  • #2
Fish store employees (especially in places like Petco/Petsmart) either straight up lie to you or don't know what they are talking about. read up on fish less cycling or fish in cycling. If you just add fish and don't do anything else and don't monitor water quality doing water changes as need to keep ammonia and Nitrite levels below 1 the fish will die. He also needs to get a water conditioner to treat the water (assuming you have chlorine in water (most city water has chlorine). don't change filter media every month, you will be throwing away all of your bacteria that keeps the fish tank safe for fish.
Alex Clark
  • #3
Yes, Don’t listen to him!. Firstly, cycling a tank is takes a lot of time (1-2months) and hard work (water changes).

A TEST KIT WOULD REALLY HELP, but if the API test kit is above your budget then I will tell u what to do

It is absolutely nessasory to have a water conditioner , unless u want to keep your water out for 24 hours and then do a water change.

Now to cycling, do you know the nitrogen cycle?

There are two paths you can take for cycling your tank #1 Fish in cycle, #2 Fish less cycling.
For cycling a tank you need ammonia, ammonia is the single most valuable thing. Ammonia is consumed by the bacteria and converted to nitrite and then to nitrate.

You can get ammonia in two ways, #1 fish in cycle.
Fish produce ammonia when they digest food (simple), the waste that fish produce helps the bacteria (that’s what we want). So, u buy the cheapest fish and feed it. ( not recommended read below)

#2Fish less cycling, in this form we don’t have a fish to produce ammonia but we buy a bottle of ammonia from the store and add X number of drops, then it does that same thing. The ammonia feeds the bacteria....

I would suggest doing fish less cycling, because in it u don’t have to do many water changes, check water perimeter many times, and worry about your fish.

—>1ppm is anmonia is bad for the fish, it ruins there gills, so they don’t get a lot of oxygen. Which leads to air bladder problems as they gulp air from the surface, fish in cycle is one of the worst situation a fish can be... But if u still proceed to go this route then buy the cheapest fish (it’s probbly gonna die) lut it in a tank which is treated with WATER CONDITIONAR and feed it every single day. BUT FOR THIS METHOD YOU NEED A API TEST KIT AS U CANNOT LET YOUR AMMONIA ABOVE 2ppm, NITRITE ABOVE 3ppm and NITRATES ABOVE 40ppm. And then after your done cycling give the fish back, (if it’s still alive)

In fish less cycling u just add X amount of drops every X days with no water changes.

Suggestion, use bottled bacteria as this will speed up ur cycling from 2-3 months to 1-2 months many say it doesn’t work but the one I used worked.

AND please have a water conditionar...
  • #4
If your friend plans on getting his fish right away and is planning on a fish in cycle.......your tank is cycled you can share your cycle with him. If you share some of your filter media with him he can instantly cycle his tank.

That may be difficult since you are away from your tank for now though.

The Nitrogen Cycle simplified while doing a fish in cycle.

The cycle needs an ammonia source. In his case that ammonia source is his fish. They are in there eating, breathing and pooping. All those things produce ammonia. That ammonia is food for the cycle but can be deadly for the fish. You can't know how high the ammonia is without testing it. I highly recommend the API Master Freshwater Test Kit. With it he can know exactly what is happening with the tank water. Without it he needs to be doing water changes often to keep the ammonia level down.

A cycle is simply growing ammonia eating bacteria. That bacteria grows mostly on the filter media but also grows on every surface in the tank.

It takes time for the bacteria to start growing. The first bacteria is one that eats ammonia. The waste from the ammonia eating bacteria is nitrite. The second bacteria is one that eats nitrites. Then the waste from the nitrite eating bacteria is nitrate. There usually isn't another bacteria to eat the nitrates so they have to be removed with water changes. Nitrates are the final stage of the cycling process so unless you have them in your source water you probably won't see them for a while.

Right now the most important thing he can do to protect his fish is to keep the ammonia and nitrites (once they start showing up) as low as possible with water changes. Water changes will not hurt the fish nor slow the cycling process as long as he uses a water conditioner in the water he is replacing and making sure the temp is close to the same as what he took out.

Ammonia can build up pretty fast so it is possible he will have to do water changes every day or every other day to keep it as low as possible.

I can't over stress the importance of SeaChem Prime while doing a fish in cycle. It is first and foremost a water conditioner but it has the added benefit of neutralizing low amounts of ammonia thus protecting the fish from its damaging affects yet leaving some there to feed the growing bacteria..

Using seeded medaI from an established tank is the quickest way to cycle another tank but the above steps will get it done in time.
  • #5
Petsmarts (around me) offer free water testing. Here is a list of things he needs.
Bacteria starter (is nice)
Test kit
Live Plants (are nice)
Proper help with fish

Ask anyone on here for help. Btw....he really needs to read up himself petsmart people don't know diddly squat

Freshwater Aquarium Setup Guide - Fish Tank Setup

Have him read this

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