New tank setup (betta newbie)

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heatmisr

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Hi all!

I have been lurking for a while trying to read up on how to care for my betta, Lil Blue.  He is currently in a vase, no plant.  I purchased a 5 gal tank for him and am in the process of trying to cycle it.  I have been using the pellets that came free with the tank to start the cycle.  I set it up Monday night.  i was wondering how long it will take to cycle his tank with just the pellets?  I know he is not happy with me right now because i took his bush out of his vase to put it in his tank, since he likes it so much.  I am looking forward to getting him in his new tank because I know he will really enjoy it. 

Any advice, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

chickadee

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I am not familiar with any "pellets" that will help with a cycle process. In fact I believe you have the water conditioner that has been sent confused with a biological agent, most of which are a bunch of hooey. The only Biological agent that I am aware of that does anything to cycle a tank is Bio-spira and it comes in a pouch and is refrigerated to keep the living bacteria alive. I am afraid that you will wait a long time to cycle with whatever that is.

If you have not read the article on the Nitrogen Cycle and cycling fishless and the methods for doing so, I will enclose the link for it and heartily suggest that if you cannot afford the Bio-spira that gives an INSTANT cycle (shake pouch, add Bio-spira to tank, add betta to tank - took me longer to type than it does to do the cycle); then I do heartily recommend the Option #3 with the ammonia.
It leaves the tank clean and you skip the smell and time it takes to convert the other items to ammonia. I have cycled a 5 gallon tank with it in 7 days far enough into the cycle to add fish. Cycles can take 4 - 6 weeks so this is a tremendous savings in time and will save a lot of money. The cheapest place I have found for the Bio-spira and the fastest delivery (absolutely overnight delivery) is . The postage is $19.95 as opposed to as high as $30.00 elsewhere and the cost of the 1 ounce size that treats ANY tank up to 30 gallons (you cannot overdose so use the whole pouch - just do not forget to SHAKE it first) is also $19.99. If you decide to go with this product be sure to buy the Freshwater form of the product.

The link for the Nitrogen Cycle article is:

https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm The options of Fishless Cycling methods are about half way down the page and of the 4 I do believe that #3 is the best unless you know of a good friend with a big tank or another cycled one that will loan you a good sized piece of their used filter media which is as good as getting Bio-spira as the bacteria is already there and ready to work for you.

Good luck with your Lil Blue and remember that we do love betta stories and pictures here. We are a close knit community and we love to welcome new members.

Lil Blue, my betta boys Alexander and Blaze are welcoming you will wildly waving fins and happy faces. We want you to know you are welcome as well. Now please do not be upset at the loss of the bush, you will be getting it back soon and you will love your new home.

Rose
 
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heatmisr

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Thanks for the quick reply.

No, I definitely don't have the pellets confused with the water conditioner. The tank came with a sample packet of water conditioner, a sample packet of tropical fish food pellets and a sample packet of something that helps produce slime for the fish (can't remember what it is called right now, I'm at work) I was using the fish food pellets instead of the flakes. I did read the article about the nitrogen cycle, about 10 times...lol. I just wasn't sure which method was the fastest and easiest or how long each method takes. The book that came with the tank, it's an Eclipse Corner 5, said run it for 24 hours, then add the fish. I knew that couldn't be right. Can you buy the bio-spira in any of the lps or lfs? If not, I may just go with the Ammonia option since it will take about the same time to get the bio-spira through the mail.

Unfortunately, I don't have any friends that have an aquarium, so I have to start from scratch.

Lil Blue *waves wildly back* and says thank you.

I will try to get some pics of him when he is all set up in his new home.
 

LZ Floyd

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Welcome heatmisr and LiL Blue!

I don't know how many lfs would carry Bio-Spira.  It needs to be refrigerated until use and isn't something you'll find on an lfs rack.  You can check around, but if you order it from drsfostersmith, you'll have it in a couple of days.  After you recieve the Bio-Spira, the process of cycling is immediate (providing you add fish to keep the bacteria cycling process going).  The ammonia process will likely take you longer to get the tank cycled. 

Mike
 
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heatmisr

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Thanks, LZ.

I think I will go with the ammonia process. That way I won't have to worry about getting the delivery or not. My delivery guys act really funny sometimes. They like tp pretend they can't leave packages.
 

LZ Floyd

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Good luck with the cycling.  Lil Blue will really like his new aquarium.  Keep us posted on how it goes.

Mike
 
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heatmisr

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Will do.

Thanks, Mike.

Nicole
 

chickadee

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The Petsmart stores may carry Bio-spira in their stock now I do not know. Unfortunately, I have a disability and cannot go out to the LFS or petstores to shop so my exposure to shopping is over the internet almost entirely unless I happen to get someone to take me to the local store or Walmart in the good weather of spring and summer. Someone at one time said something about getting it at their petstore and I do believe that it was at Petsmart. Just be sure that wherever you find it if that is what you use, that they have had it refrigerated.

The ammonia method will take at least 7 days and you cannot put the fish in the tank until the water tests: ammonia 0 and nitrite 0 and the nitrates are less than 20 after a water change of 30%. Do not do a water change of any kind until the ammonia and nitrite are at 0 or you will lose all your progress. When I got to that point, I actually did more like a 50% water change and then tested the nitrates. They were low enough and I added the fish. Your tank will only support 1 or at the most 2 fish for at least a week after this type of cycle while it is settling in so please do not overload or it will be thrown into a minicycle and your bacteria will not be able to keep up.

The delivery on the Bio-spira is much faster - if you have the order in by phone or computer by 1:00pm EST the Bio-spira will arrive by FedEx Overnite Delivery the next day by noon. It is shipped in a tiny little styrofoam cooler with a cool pack so will stay cool for a while if you are not home to accept the box.

Rose
 

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I don't think cycling with fish pellets is the best way to go. They are more compact and seem like they wouldn't break down as well as flakes and therefore would take longer to produce ammonia. However if it's a sample packet there's probably not a lot and so I'd say that's smart to just use them for cycling (since they're tropical pellets not Betta pellets so they are useless). You will probably eventually need to get flakes to continue with the cycle though as it can take up to 6 weeks. Rose has cycled a tank in 7 days using pure ammonia, which you could do also if you can find it anywhere (it can't be scented or anything). As for bio-spira I have not seen it at Petsmart but maybe some carry it, idk. The easiest and cheapest way (though slowest fishless method) to cycle is to just keep doing what you are doing, throwing fish food in there, although you may want to switch to flakes if the pellets aren't breaking down.
Either way you need test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to monitor the cycling process (and one for pH too). I didn't catch if you have tests or not.
I have cycled several tanks this way so feel free to ask me if you have any questions about it (if you choose to continue cycling with fish food).
 

chickadee

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Ammonia is found in the grocery store in the cleaning supplies with the window cleaners. Just be sure the one you get is not Lemon Scented or Colored at all. The type I get does have surfactants but I have never had a problem since I do 50% water changes and the fish have not been affected by the stuff at all. The ammonia is at 0 so there is not any of the actual ammonia left in the tank after the cycle is over.

Rose
 

0morrokh

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I hope you do not mind my intruding on the post but what store do you get your ammonia in? I've never been able to find it.
 

chickadee

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Walmart in the cleaning supplies section with the the Windex and such.  It is just labeled "Ammonia" and is a generic brand.  It is one of the cheapest cleaning supplies you will find.  It is a kind of cloudy white fluid and the bottle I found was a half gallon, could not find a smaller one, but figured that I could indeed use some of it to clean windows .  (it is the best for it)  Be prepared and do NOT sniff it as it burns your nasal passages and smells TERRIBLE.  I also got a medicine dropper in their pharmacy section to put the drops in the aquarium as to put too much in the aquarium is just as bad as not enough. (no cycle) (temp of tank needs to be at least 80 but 82 is better)

Rose
 
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heatmisr

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Thanks all for the advice. I decided to switch to the ammonia method. I would have liked to order the bio-spira, but the UPS and FedEx guys always play games with my packages. They never leave them and I always have to call and complain to get them to do it. I don't want to take the chance that they will haul the package back and forth for 2 or 3 days. I picked up a half gallon jug of ammonia in Stop-n-Shop (grocery store) in the cleaning supply aisle. i put some ammonia in last night and i am getting an ammonia reading of .2. I haven't tested for nitrites or nitrates yet. I will do that when I go downstairs. I did stop into PetSmart. They had some cycling products, but nothing that was refrigerated. It all looked like over-hyped water conditioner to me. I only plan to have Lil Blue in the tank so overcrowding will not be a problem, although he thinks he's a "big fish"... :...lol.
 

0morrokh

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I'm glad you could find ammonia--it'll shorten your cycle a lot. I'll just have to look again next time I'm at Walmart...
 

chickadee

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Sounds like you are on your way...

Keep us informed if you don't mind, will you?

Rose
 
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heatmisr

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Well, this is day 4 of the cycling. The ammonia reading has gone up to .5, but I still have no nitrites or nitrates. I am starting to suspect that the test kit I am using might not be that great. (Maracel test strips) I also got one of those strip thermometers that sticks to the side of the tank. I don't think it is very accurate either. It gives a temp reading of 86F with the 25W heater on low and the light on. With the light off, it reads between 80-82.

Should I keep putting the ammonia in? How high can I expect the ammonia reading to go before it starts converting to nitrites?
 

chickadee

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Yes you will need to keep adding the ammonia until the whole process is complete or you will lose the progress you are making. The test strips are not accurate but will allow you to tell if there is ammonia in there.

If you have fish in the tank you are going to want a Freshwater Master Test Kit with test tubes and bottles of liquid testing agents rather than the strips as they are the most accurate.



You can expect the ammonia to get to above 1.0 or better before it starts down again.

The heater you have should be one that allows you to set a temperature, not a HI/Low setting. if you have a problem with the fish later and want to treat it with a temperature raise, you need to be able to set the temperature level and not depend on a manufacturer's preset temperature. I am sorry to be such a pest but I know that you are going to want to start out with the correct equipment so you do not get caught in a problem sometime in the middle of the night when the stores are closed and you need to get the tank to a certain temperature.

You may have an incandescent light bulb and they do put off heat but I am with you and wonder about the accuracy of the thermometer. The cheap kind with the plain old fashioned thermometer in them work the best. They are floating type usually or have a small suction cup to attach to the inside of the tank . They are a little harder to read but when I really needed something accurate and did not trust anything else I got a Rectal Fever Thermometer (new) and put it in a mesh bag in the tank for a bit and got the temperature within a 0.1 degree Fahrenheit. This may sound like a bit of overkill but I was testing a new heater and wanted to know exactly where I stood.

I will try to answer questions as they come up and there are others who may chime in here too, but keep up the good work. The cycle will happen and since you now have ammonia readings it is definitely on the way. Nitrites should start in the next couple of days and then you cut the ammonia down some but do not stop. (put in 3/5 of what you were after the nitrites appear) Then when your nitrites and ammonia are at 0 and the nitrates are all you have left then you do a water change and get your fish. You do not do the water change and quit until you are ready to put the fish in though as the cycle will need to be fed unless you have a fish in the tank and you want to stop feeding with the ammonia after the water change. Am I making any sense at all?

Keep us informed..

Good luck...

Rose
 
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heatmisr

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Ok, thanks for the feedback, Rose. It all makes perfect sense. I don't have Lil Blue in the tank yet. I want it to be completely cycled before I put him in. The heater does not have numerical temp settings, but there is a dial with about 10 positions between the high setting and the low setting. I think I will get a new thermometer, though. The water does not feel as hot as the thermometer says. I will continue adding the ammonia and hopefully I will start getting some nitrite readings soon.
 

chickadee

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Please do know the water is not going to feel "warm" until it is warmer than you are (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit/37 degrees Celsius) so you do not want the water to feel "warm". It should feel cool but not cold. I like to run it to be just at the place where you cannot tell if it is cool or lukewarm but you think you feel a little cool. (hard to describe but you will know it when you feel it)

Yes, just keep doing what you are doing and the cycle will happen. Depending on the type of filter you have, it may take a little longer but it will be very soon and you will be welcoming your little fish to his new home.

Rose
 
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heatmisr

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I thought about the body temp thing as I was typing it. I still don't trust that thermometer, though. i am definitely getting another one this evening. I have an Eclipse Corner 5 with the bio-wheel filter.

Nicole
 
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