New to cycling - am I doing something wrong?

chonkyguppy

I'm sorry if this is on the wrong thread, I'm very new to fishkeeping and also new to this forum, so please go easy on me. :( When I first got my male betta from the local pet store, I was misinformed and told they were able to live in a small 1 gallon tank without filtration, so I had that set-up for about 2 days before I realised through youtube videos that they definitely need at least 5 gallons and a filter to thrive, so I immediately went to buy a 5 gallon tank (it was what I could afford at that moment), plus white gravel and some rocks from another store. After I've added my betta to the new tank... I found out about nitrogen cycling and I realised I messed up because I didn't let my tank cycle before adding my betta.

I felt so stressed and ashamed about neglecting this part... I went to purchase an API test kit plus seachem stability, and have been doing 25% water changes daily - last week the readings were ph: 7.6, a: 0.5ppm, no2: 0ppm, no3: 0ppm and I just did a test reading today after dosing seachem stability daily for 8 days, and it read ph: 7.6, a: 1ppm, no2: 0.25ppm, no3: 0ppm. I immediately did a 50% water change and dosed with seachem stability and a bit more seachem prime than what I usually dose with when I do water changes.

A few hours later, I noticed some very small fur-like things on the tank walls which I suspect are detritus worms but I'm not sure? And it seems like it's a lot too, though I think they're all babies thus are smaller than the images I get when I google about them. I have been rapidly researching on what to do but I'm overloaded with articles and I'm not sure which information is right and which isn't... Was this supposed to happen? Is this normal or is there something I need to urgently do to make sure my fish isn't harmed?

All throughout this very messy process of learning how to fishkeep, my betta has been active and eating. I'm not sure if I have been overfeeding him as a lot of online advice talk about how much pellets to feed and he just refuses to eat pellets and only flakes, so I've been giving him what I feel would be enough for him..

Sorry... I know it's upsetting that I didn't do my research before I got my betta. :( Help is greatly appreciated.

more info: my water temperature fluctuates between 28 - 30 degrees celsius and I have one live plant (hydrophila difformis). I have biomedia in the built-in filter section as well
 

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Frank the Fish guy

Cycling is very simple. The bacteria will accumulate on your filter media. This takes a weeks to months.

In the mean time, your fish will be fine. Fish can tolerate ammonia an nitrites up to a certain level with no problem. So all you have to do is keep the levels below that level by changing the water to dilute as you go.

The toxic level for ammonia and nitrites is very dependent on the pH of the water. You have a great pH for cycling (pH= 7.6). At 7.6 pH ammonia and nitrite are starting to be harmful at 2 ppm.

So just keep the ammonia levels and nitrite levels below 2 ppm by diluting with fresh water as your tank cycles. At some point, the tank will become clear and you will have 0 ammonia and nitrites.

Make sure your fresh water has no chlorine and should be aerated (to give it oxygen) before adding to your tank.

Don't 'clean' your filter. The filter should flow water through while building up the bacteria colony. You don't want to wash off the bacteria colony. The filter IS you bio-filter.
 
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mattgirl

Welcome to Fishlore :)

Please don't beat yourself up too badly for jumping in this hobby and following fish store advice. Sadly information we get there isn't the best for our water pets. You're not the first nor will you be the last to get started this way.

Getting the bigger tank was a step in the right direction and coming here was the best thing you could have done. We will help you.

It's good that you already have Prime. It is going to help protect your little guy. The first thing I would do is change out enough water to get the ammonia as low as possible. Be sure you add prime to the fresh water before pouring it in the tank. I also recommend you temp match the fresh water. We don't want to shock the little gut with too cool or too warm water. Keep in mind, the bacteria we are growing isn't free floating in the water so doing water changes isn't removing any.

Keep an eye on the ammonia. Each time you get a reading of more than .25 change out half the water. By doing this your little guy should never be in any danger.

I am thinking you may be overfeeding the tank since the ammonia is going up quicker that I would expect from just the waste from this one little fish. If you don't already have it I will recommend you get a turkey baster. It is perfect for pulling out left over food. You don't want to leave it in the tank because it will produce ammonia.
 
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awilkinson871

Detrius worms are totally normal and live in the substrate. They very much look like white worms- your pictures are a bit fuzzy so I cant tell if that is what it is or if you just have some growth starting on the glass. If it is worms make sure you are using a syphon or a turkey baster to pick up uneaten food within a few hours of feeding. Removing uneaten food will control an overpopulation of detrius worms and help keep your ammonia under control. I personally have never used stability and cant say whether it helps or not. I can tell you cycling is time consuming, exhausting, and well worth the wait. Test often and do 30-50% water change whenever ammonia or nitrite levels get high. Do not clean the filter media, decor, or glass. Try to clean up extra food and poo and avoid overfeeding. All of this will help to keep your betta healthy and happy. Many have done fish-in cycling and it takes extra testing and water changes.
 
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chonkyguppy

Cycling is very simple. The bacteria will accumulate on your filter media. This takes a weeks to months.

In the mean time, your fish will be fine. Fish can tolerate ammonia an nitrites up to a certain level with no problem. So all you have to do is keep the levels below that level by changing the water to dilute as you go.

The toxic level for ammonia and nitrites is very dependent on the pH of the water. You have a great pH for cycling (pH= 7.6). At 7.6 pH ammonia and nitrite are starting to be harmful at 2 ppm.

So just keep the ammonia levels and nitrite levels below 2 ppm by diluting with fresh water as your tank cycles. At some point, the tank will become clear and you will have 0 ammonia and nitrites.

Make sure your fresh water has no chlorine and should be aerated (to give it oxygen) before adding to your tank.

Don't 'clean' your filter. The filter should flow water through while building up the bacteria colony. You don't want to wash off the bacteria colony. The filter IS you bio-filter.

Just knowing my fish will be fine is comforting to me, thank you :) I've just done another water change and of course made sure that the new water is properly dechlorinated and aerated before adding it. Ammonia and nitrite level has reduced so I'll continue to do this till my tank completes the cycle. Appreciate the advice!
Welcome to Fishlore :)

Please don't beat yourself up too badly for jumping in this hobby and following fish store advice. Sadly information we get there isn't the best for our water pets. You're not the first nor will you be the last to get started this way.

Getting the bigger tank was a step in the right direction and coming here was the best thing you could have done. We will help you.

It's good that you already have Prime. It is going to help protect your little guy. The first thing I would do is change out enough water to get the ammonia as low as possible. Be sure you add prime to the fresh water before pouring it in the tank. I also recommend you temp match the fresh water. We don't want to shock the little gut with too cool or too warm water. Keep in mind, the bacteria we are growing isn't free floating in the water so doing water changes isn't removing any.

Keep an eye on the ammonia. Each time you get a reading of more than .25 change out half the water. By doing this your little guy should never be in any danger.

I am thinking you may be overfeeding the tank since the ammonia is going up quicker that I would expect from just the waste from this one little fish. If you don't already have it I will recommend you get a turkey baster. It is perfect for pulling out left over food. You don't want to leave it in the tank because it will produce ammonia.

I had the misconception that doing daily 25% water changes would disturb the good bacteria so I was a little worried, but thanks for clearing that up for me! I've just done another water change again today and tested the ammonia and nitrite to be 0ppm! :D I found during the change that there were tight corners in between rocks where food waste had landed and I missed out those areas during vacuuming previously, so yes that could have contributed to the ammonia spike. Thank you for the advice, it helps a lot!
Detrius worms are totally normal and live in the substrate. They very much look like white worms- your pictures are a bit fuzzy so I cant tell if that is what it is or if you just have some growth starting on the glass. If it is worms make sure you are using a syphon or a turkey baster to pick up uneaten food within a few hours of feeding. Removing uneaten food will control an overpopulation of detrius worms and help keep your ammonia under control. I personally have never used stability and cant say whether it helps or not. I can tell you cycling is time consuming, exhausting, and well worth the wait. Test often and do 30-50% water change whenever ammonia or nitrite levels get high. Do not clean the filter media, decor, or glass. Try to clean up extra food and poo and avoid overfeeding. All of this will help to keep your betta healthy and happy. Many have done fish-in cycling and it takes extra testing and water changes.

OKAY that's comforting to hear, I honestly freaked out a lot when I saw them. Sorry it was the best photo I could get of them though, hahaha. I have a syphon and I went more thoroughly into the nooks and crannies of the different decors I have in the tank and I cleaned up a lot of extra food waste I missed out in previous water changes. I also did a light scraping and wiping of the sides of the tank glass so now I don't see the worms anymore (or if they're still there then they aren't visible anymore). I'll continue to do testing, water changes and be more thorough in my cleaning. :) Thank you for the advice!
 
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Strider1520

I was in the same boat as you two months ago and then found this forum. I had so much conflicting information and everyday realized what I didn’t know….I was confused and making every mistake in the book.

The people on this fantastic forum helped me with all my newbie questions and I was able to get through my “fish in” cycle without issues or harm to my fish.

Mattgirl and others were lifesavers .

Every tank is different, and I used stability as well, but my tank still went through a natural cycle after a month for two weeks. The wait for the cycle seems like forever but as stated before is worth the wait.

Just follow recommendations given by the folks here.

I am a firm believer that the only dumb question is the one not asked. People here realize we are new to this wonderful hobby and have been solo helpful as I gained experience and I think I made every newbie mistake possible. In my humble opinion, you have come to the right place!!!!

Do your tests and water changes (with Prime) and your Beta will be fine. All of mine made it through with less stress than I did during my cycle. Oh, and Prime is super concentrated. Be sure to dose for your tank volume.

I found out the hard way to not rush with removing things in tank and excessive cleaning until the cycle finishes. Nothing drastic, it just extended my cycle time. This first month or so is going to require patience-but what a great feeling when the cycle is finished!

During your initial cycle you may get bacterial bloom, diatoms, fuuzy things, algae bloom - all kind of things (at least I did) as the tank settles in. Just ask here and people will quickly give you answers. Most things I freaked out over were totally harmless and just went away in a short period of time but it lowered my stress by knowing that would happen from the experience and advice I gained here.

You have found the right place. Your fish will be fine through a cycle-just be diligent and patient.

Welcome!
 
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barbiespoodle

First, WELCOME!!!

You have come to a great place for advice. Even though I've had fish since I was a kid, which means I've had fish for over 50 years now, I still need advice and the fine folks here have been an invaluable source of info.

Second, I'm going to echo mattgirl, DO NOT beat yourself up about this. You are realizing that you made some mistakes, been there, done that, and are doing what you can to correct those mistakes. Believe me, that is a huge plus on your side. It shows me that you actually care and are not treating your fish as a disposable pet, which sadly is an all too common occurrence, especially with betta's.

LOL, I freaked when I saw my first detritus worms as well because I had no idea what they were. But once I found out they are harmless, I actually got to like them, considered them and the seed shrimp a part of the tanks where they reside.

You are on the right track, keep up with the water changes to keep the ammonia levels down but still leaving enough of the old water to start cultivating the beneficial bacteria that will make a stable tank in the end. Adding some sort of hardscape, rocks, plants, wood, that kind of thing will help with the bb since they tend to cling to those surfaces rather than in the water.

Oh yea, I'm a brand new betta mama. So glad you did your research and gave him a bigger tank. You are one up on me since I had to make do with the spare tank I had, a 3 1/2 gallon. I do want a larger tank for him but just couldn't swing it right now, maybe in the near future. Even so, Oy seems to be happy and healthy and actively exploring his new home, he's even starting to react to me. I can tell already that he's going to be a brat fish.
 
Upvote 0

chonkyguppy

I was in the same boat as you two months ago and then found this forum. I had so much conflicting information and everyday realized what I didn’t know….I was confused and making every mistake in the book.

The people on this fantastic forum helped me with all my newbie questions and I was able to get through my “fish in” cycle without issues or harm to my fish.

Mattgirl and others were lifesavers .

Every tank is different, and I used stability as well, but my tank still went through a natural cycle after a month for two weeks. The wait for the cycle seems like forever but as stated before is worth the wait.

Just follow recommendations given by the folks here.

I am a firm believer that the only dumb question is the one not asked. People here realize we are new to this wonderful hobby and have been solo helpful as I gained experience and I think I made every newbie mistake possible. In my humble opinion, you have come to the right place!!!!

Do your tests and water changes (with Prime) and your Beta will be fine. All of mine made it through with less stress than I did during my cycle. Oh, and Prime is super concentrated. Be sure to dose for your tank volume.

I found out the hard way to not rush with removing things in tank and excessive cleaning until the cycle finishes. Nothing drastic, it just extended my cycle time. This first month or so is going to require patience-but what a great feeling when the cycle is finished!

During your initial cycle you may get bacterial bloom, diatoms, fuuzy things, algae bloom - all kind of things (at least I did) as the tank settles in. Just ask here and people will quickly give you answers. Most things I freaked out over were totally harmless and just went away in a short period of time but it lowered my stress by knowing that would happen from the experience and advice I gained here.

You have found the right place. Your fish will be fine through a cycle-just be diligent and patient.

Welcome!

I'm glad everything worked out for you in the end! I don't usually have the habit of asking for help and this is the first time I've ever posted in a forum at all, but I'm glad I did. :) I feel better reading what you wrote- it'll help me to freak out less if I do encounter them in the future. Thank you!
First, WELCOME!!!

You have come to a great place for advice. Even though I've had fish since I was a kid, which means I've had fish for over 50 years now, I still need advice and the fine folks here have been an invaluable source of info.

Second, I'm going to echo mattgirl, DO NOT beat yourself up about this. You are realizing that you made some mistakes, been there, done that, and are doing what you can to correct those mistakes. Believe me, that is a huge plus on your side. It shows me that you actually care and are not treating your fish as a disposable pet, which sadly is an all too common occurrence, especially with betta's.

LOL, I freaked when I saw my first detritus worms as well because I had no idea what they were. But once I found out they are harmless, I actually got to like them, considered them and the seed shrimp a part of the tanks where they reside.

You are on the right track, keep up with the water changes to keep the ammonia levels down but still leaving enough of the old water to start cultivating the beneficial bacteria that will make a stable tank in the end. Adding some sort of hardscape, rocks, plants, wood, that kind of thing will help with the bb since they tend to cling to those surfaces rather than in the water.

Oh yea, I'm a brand new betta mama. So glad you did your research and gave him a bigger tank. You are one up on me since I had to make do with the spare tank I had, a 3 1/2 gallon. I do want a larger tank for him but just couldn't swing it right now, maybe in the near future. Even so, Oy seems to be happy and healthy and actively exploring his new home, he's even starting to react to me. I can tell already that he's going to be a brat fish.

Congrats on your new betta, he sounds lovely and I'm happy that he already likes you so much! I'm still trying to get used to the idea that these worms are part of the mini ecosystem of the tank, especially since I'm kinda afraid of insects and worms in general haha. I have two big rocks in the tank so hopefully that's enough, I don't want to take too much of my betta's space too! I'll patiently continue to monitor as my tank completes its cycle. :) thank you!
 
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mattgirl

. I also did a light scraping and wiping of the sides of the tank glass so now I don't see the worms anymore (or if they're still there then they aren't visible anymore). I'll continue to do testing, water changes and be more thorough in my cleaning. :) Thank you for the advice!
I just read back through this thread and noticed this. While cycling you don't want to be too thorough in cleaning. Bacteria is trying to grow on everything in the tank. We don't want to deep clean until the tank is well established. Siphoning excess food is a good thing but cleaning surfaces will be removing bacteria.

If the front of the glass starts looking bad you can use an expired credit card to scrape it. I wouldn't clean all 4 sides at the same time. To be perfectly honest I never clean the back glass in my tanks. I have a background on it. Since I can't see through it the fact that it has bio-film on it doesn't bother me.
 
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chonkyguppy

I just read back through this thread and noticed this. While cycling you don't want to be too thorough in cleaning. Bacteria is trying to grow on everything in the tank. We don't want to deep clean until the tank is well established. Siphoning excess food is a good thing but cleaning surfaces will be removing bacteria.

If the front of the glass starts looking bad you can use an expired credit card to scrape it. I wouldn't clean all 4 sides at the same time. To be perfectly honest I never clean the back glass in my tanks. I have a background on it. Since I can't see through it the fact that it has bio-film on it doesn't bother me.

Ahh I see! Okay that makes sense, I'll definitely do that!
 
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barbiespoodle

I just read back through this thread and noticed this. While cycling you don't want to be too thorough in cleaning. Bacteria is trying to grow on everything in the tank. We don't want to deep clean until the tank is well established. Siphoning excess food is a good thing but cleaning surfaces will be removing bacteria.

If the front of the glass starts looking bad you can use an expired credit card to scrape it. I wouldn't clean all 4 sides at the same time. To be perfectly honest I never clean the back glass in my tanks. I have a background on it. Since I can't see through it the fact that it has bio-film on it doesn't bother me.

I'm in the same camp, I clean the glass in my tanks only on the sides I watch. And since 3 of my tanks are dedicated to shrimp and all have snails, that not only helps with the bb, but also gives the shrimp and snails food.

And once your tank is stable, you might even want to add a few shrimp to aid in the cleaning. Right now I'm trying it with Oy, using shrimp from my cull shrimp tank. Some bettas are perfectly fine with shrimp, some are brat fish that will not tolerate any tank mate. Oy is interested in them, even chased a few at first, but seems to be settling down, I am seeing more and more of them coming out in the open, but it's still up in the air at this point.

The only other thing I want to add to mattgirls post is that an old credit card is great to clean the sides if you have straight sides. My betta tank is a bow front and I use a Mr. Clean magic eraser on it. Since it's an acrylic tank, it doesn't scratch the sides.
 
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mattgirl

The only other thing I want to add to mattgirls post is that an old credit card is great to clean the sides if you have straight sides. My betta tank is a bow front and I use a Mr. Clean magic eraser on it. Since it's an acrylic tank, it doesn't scratch the sides.
That is how I clean the inside of my shrimp bowl too. Thank you for mentioning it. :)
 
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StarGirl

That is how I clean the inside of my shrimp bowl too. Thank you for mentioning it. :)
My grocery stores only sells the ones with soap in them. Where do you guys get these mythical creatures? lol
 
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barbiespoodle

My grocery stores only sells the ones with soap in them. Where do you guys get these mythical creatures? lol

I found out the hard way to look before I buy. I did buy some that have detergent in them and fortunately discovered this before I used them in a tank so now use those for kitchen/bathroom duty.

But right next to them, the store I shop at also keeps the plain ones. I've never had a problem finding the plain ones, either Mr. Clean or store brand. I've even seen generic ones at the dollar store.
 
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