Newbie Cyclin' Woes

Loopy6588
  • #1
HI again,

I've posted a few times, but for context- I rescued a betta (from being eaten by a person) with no fish knowledge and ended up setting up a tank with betta... in the tank. Not ideal. Since then, this community has been a giant help in explaining the nitrogen cycle and giving specific advice. I'm SO grateful. So I'm back.

It's been one week of regular water changes (every other day at minimum, sometimes everyday if levels are off). I test for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. It's seems every time I get one level perfect, another level is off. Ammonia has been mostly low when it has popped up (usually .25ppm but .5 once), but tonight got my first non zero nitrite result (.25ppm). While I'm using prime and water changes have always solved the level issue (so I don't think tap water is an issue), I'm wondering when I can expect my tank to cycle. It's a smaller tank for now (2 gallons because I wasn't aware he needed more initially) and has a small plant and gentle filter.

Some have mentioned adding bacteria to speed the process along. Is this tricky or something that might go awry if not done correctly? I'm looking to help the tank along and reduce all the unpredictable test results I'm getting.

Also, if it helps, Sean-the-fish seems to be doing well, he's slimmed down due to the diet posters helped me devise, is making bubble nests, swimming happily and colors are good. I'm the one who's feeling a bit weary! Thanks in advance, I don't know what I would have done without this forum.
 
matt 63
  • #2
I recommend tetra safe start, it has worked really well for my tank, just make sure you wait 24 hours after using prime before you dose the tank and don't do any water changes for two weeks
 
david1978
  • #3
If you are starting to see nitrites then your tank is starting to cycle which is good. Bacteria will convert ammonia to nitrite then next bacteria will grow that convert nitrites to nitrates. So your half way there. Bottle bacteria I don't know never used it. You can try it or just stay on the course your on and it will cycle in time.
 
mabobo94
  • #4
From my limited experience, bacteria is never really a bad thing and would say to go ahead and add it. Freshwater salt is debated back and forth whether it's a good thing to keep in your tank regularly or just for medical purposes, but I've put it in my tanks and haven't had issues with it.
 
david1978
  • #5
Salt isn't even debatable anymore. Some fish it will outright kill even in small amounts. Snails aswell. Plants don't even like it. Salt for the largest part simply makes it easier for the fish to absorb medicines. Long term use causes it to lose that function so any disease will be harder to treat. Its been scientifically proven.
 
TexasGuppy
  • #6
I've also read however salt can help protect fish from nitrite posioning at low levels.. it binds to their gill tissue and prevents absorption..
Also, cycling can take many weeks, depends and can be slowed by low temps and low pH or low oxygen water.
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I recommend tetra safe start, it has worked really well for my tank, just make sure you wait 24 hours after using prime before you dose the tank and don't do any water changes for two weeks
Thanks for the recommendation. If I see nitrites or high levels of ammonia during those two weeks though, what would I do if not a water change? Can you use prime after you put in the safe start in those instances?

If you are starting to see nitrites then your tank is starting to cycle which is good. Bacteria will convert ammonia to nitrite then next bacteria will grow that convert nitrites to nitrates. So your half way there. Bottle bacteria I don't know never used it. You can try it or just stay on the course your on and it will cycle in time.
That's such a relief to know seeing the nitrites is a good thing in the sense at least! I'm on the fence on bottle bacteria but the allure of a cycled tank is strong...

From my limited experience, bacteria is never really a bad thing and would say to go ahead and add it. Freshwater salt is debated back and forth whether it's a good thing to keep in your tank regularly or just for medical purposes, but I've put it in my tanks and haven't had issues with it.
I haven't even thought of salt. Since I' so new to this, I tend to stay away from anything that's kind of debated back and forth since I have no experience. But I'll keep it in the back of my head for later when I'm feeling less cautious/green.

Salt isn't even debatable anymore. Some fish it will outright kill even in small amounts. Snails aswell. Plants don't even like it. Salt for the largest part simply makes it easier for the fish to absorb medicines. Long term use causes it to lose that function so any disease will be harder to treat. Its been scientifically proven.
For now I'm going to stay away from salt. I've seen both sides and have no idea where I'd fallen the debate!

I've also read however salt can help protect fish from nitrite posioning at low levels.. it binds to their gill tissue and prevents absorption..
Also, cycling can take many weeks, depends and can be slowed by low temps and low pH or low oxygen water.
Thanks for this context! I bet it is slightly lower temps! The tank is too small for a heater Everyone says it's much too easy to overheat in a 2 gallon. He's not in cold temps, but probably 75-78. With this set up maybe it dies make more sense to get bacteria?
 
TexasGuppy
  • #9
I'd skip the bacteria and just keep up on water changes and prime. Your already part way there with nitrites showing. Easier to keep healthy water with water changes and on a small tank, it's easy.
 
matt 63
  • #9
HI again,

I've posted a few times, but for context- I rescued a betta (from being eaten by a person) with no fish knowledge and ended up setting up a tank with betta... in the tank. Not ideal. Since then, this community has been a giant help in explaining the nitrogen cycle and giving specific advice. I'm SO grateful. So I'm back.

It's been one week of regular water changes (every other day at minimum, sometimes everyday if levels are off). I test for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. It's seems every time I get one level perfect, another level is off. Ammonia has been mostly low when it has popped up (usually .25ppm but .5 once), but tonight got my first non zero nitrite result (.25ppm). While I'm using prime and water changes have always solved the level issue (so I don't think tap water is an issue), I'm wondering when I can expect my tank to cycle. It's a smaller tank for now (2 gallons because I wasn't aware he needed more initially) and has a small plant and gentle filter.

Some have mentioned adding bacteria to speed the process along. Is this tricky or something that might go awry if not done correctly? I'm looking to help the tank along and reduce all the unpredictable test results I'm getting.

Also, if it helps, Sean-the-fish seems to be doing well, he's slimmed down due to the diet posters helped me devise, is making bubble nests, swimming happily and colors are good. I'm the one who's feeling a bit weary! Thanks in advance, I don't know what I would have done without this forum.
If you do use tetra safe start, I wouldn't add any prime until the two weeks is over, but if you do get high levels of ammonia or nitrite I would do a water change and dose again. If your already half way of your cycle, I would just stay on top of your water changes and let the tank cycle it self out. Good luck!!
 
FishGirl38
  • #10
So, I use bottled bacteria. On another thread I learned that there are only some specific products that actually house the necessary bacteria (the natural bacteria that grows in the tank), essentially allowing you to introduced a pre-established bacteria colony to the tank.

Then there are other products that only house hetrotrophic bacteria that basically act as an initial substitute for the 'real natural bacteria' until the 'real natural bacteria (nitrospira, nitrosomonas, and I think 1 other type)" begin to establish themselves.

Products that house the 'real stuff' are TSS (tetra safe start), marinelands biospira, dr. tims one and only, and 1 other that I can't remember the name of. All other products aren't actually supplying you with a pre-established bacteria colony. Apparently, those that are the real deal will actually say they add nitro-spira and the like, other products will use generic terms. (on the label)

In my opinion, Adding BB will cycle the tank a little faster. But it'll cycle anyways with time as well (as was previously mentioned, you're about half-way there). So it's optional but you may see higher nitrite and begin to see nitrate in the next week to 2 weeks if you were to use it. Max of 3 weeks if not.
 
penguin02
  • #11
TSS works for me, but you should just stay on track since you're halfway there.
 
FishGirl38
  • #12
I agree with Penguin02, If you were to add a BB product, It wouldn't hurt (Can't be harmful to the tank at all) BUT, you're almost halfway there, you could save the money and just wait the cycle out. .
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Thanks everyone. Sounds like I should just stay the course, even though adding bacteria is an option. I'll dig up my patience and hold out. So, tonight the nitrite levels were fine, but ammonia was higher than I used to see it, at a solid .5 ppm.

So when a tank is cycled, how often are water changes? Right now it's more often daily and I'm looking forward to really anything but. Still, I never asked what the routine is for a cycled tank! What can I look forward to??? If someone says daily water changes, I may cry (fair warning).
 
Lakemontfishlover
  • #14
Thanks everyone. Sounds like I should just stay the course, even though adding bacteria is an option. I'll dig up my patience and hold out. So, tonight the nitrite levels were fine, but ammonia was higher than I used to see it, at a solid .5 ppm.

So when a tank is cycled, how often are water changes? Right now it's more often daily and I'm looking forward to really anything but. Still, I never asked what the routine is for a cycled tank! What can I look forward to??? If someone says daily water changes, I may cry (fair warning).
Hello, I feel your pain! I’m having a minI cycle because I changed to a larger tank, adding fish from two other cycled tanks, BAM! I am adding Special Blend to my filter every other day (bacteria)15mms plus changing 15 % of water everyother day after I check my levels. Worried for my female guppies! It’s a process and would rather do a fishless cycle because it takes time and no worries the cycle will kill my fish. Hang in there we are all in the same boat more often then we would like to be! Oh once it’s cycled I only change and vacuum my tank once a week, if levels change at all!
 
matt 63
  • #15
Thanks everyone. Sounds like I should just stay the course, even though adding bacteria is an option. I'll dig up my patience and hold out. So, tonight the nitrite levels were fine, but ammonia was higher than I used to see it, at a solid .5 ppm.

So when a tank is cycled, how often are water changes? Right now it's more often daily and I'm looking forward to really anything but. Still, I never asked what the routine is for a cycled tank! What can I look forward to??? If someone says daily water changes, I may cry (fair warning).
When your tank is cycled just keep a eye on your levels, I do about 25 percent or more once a week on my tank and it does good for me. For now I would do a water change every other day until you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites
 
emmysjj
  • #16
I’d just like to revisit the whole ‘eating the betta’ situation for a second...
 
FishGirl38
  • #17
Right though, I mean, there are some s
I’d just like to revisit the whole ‘eating the betta’ situation for a second...
Right! There are stores that sell tilapia and such. Why were they going to eat the betta!? Lol.
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
I’d just like to revisit the whole ‘eating the betta’ situation for a second...
The story is here: I Have A Potentially Very Stressed Fish...

But honestly it was a bizarre situation of a prank gone really unexpectedly wrong (I was not part of the prank I just happened to be around when it was played).

Also thanks to the moderator who cleaned up my post and moved this thread to the correct section, will try and pay better attention in the future!! (Hope its okay to call that out, still a newbie and so often when I sign in here I'm fairly panicked....)
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Ohhhh no. Last night I checked water levels and nitrate was 5 ppm. So today I did at least a 60-65% water change and it stayed the exact SAME shade. How??? Water change was my solution to everything and now I'm a bit stumped and discouraged. Is 5 ppm really not a big deal to let go? I hate that it didn't change even a teeny bit. There's no plant in the tank anymore either....
 
emmysjj
  • #20
Ohhhh no. Last night I checked water levels and nitrate was 5 ppm. So today I did at least a 60-65% water change and it stayed the exact SAME shade. How??? Water change was my solution to everything and now I'm a bit stumped and discouraged. Is 5 ppm really not a big deal to let go? I hate that it didn't change even a teeny bit. There's no plant in the tank anymore either....
Dont worry, relax. You’re ok

Nothing to worry about, nitrates only start to get bad at 20-40 ppm.
 
TheeLadyG
  • #21
Ohhhh no. Last night I checked water levels and nitrate was 5 ppm. So today I did at least a 60-65% water change and it stayed the exact SAME shade. How??? Water change was my solution to everything and now I'm a bit stumped and discouraged. Is 5 ppm really not a big deal to let go? I hate that it didn't change even a teeny bit. There's no plant in the tank anymore either....
5ppm nitrAte is ok! 40ppm nitrAte is not! You probably saw the same level because your cycle is starting to work. Nitrate is the end of a 3-part process, when your cycle is completed, you should consistently read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and elevated nitrate. Water changes clear out detritus and excess nitrate levels. I've had my fish in for about a month now, I did a fishless cycle on my tank before I added them. Every time I test my water I have zeros on ammonia and nitrite, anywhere from 5 to 20 nitrate. My bioload is very small for my tank so far, so I don't have to change the water as often to keep the nitrates down. I've gone old school with an undergravel filter, it has a lot of surface area to grow good bacteria on. My cycle is going gangbusters, but keep in mind it took me a full month to get it before I added fish!
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Thanks so much everyone. I think reading somewhere early on that having 0 nitrate is what to aI'm for had me convinced any number was bad bad bad. It's really taking me a while to calm down because due to unforeseen circumstances I'm doing a fish-in cycle. I can't say enough about this community and your patience. I wish I knew enough to help others in return! Just not there quite yet!
 
TheeLadyG
  • #23
Thanks so much everyone. I think reading somewhere early on that having 0 nitrate is what to aI'm for had me convinced any number was bad bad bad. It's really taking me a while to calm down because due to unforeseen circumstances I'm doing a fish-in cycle. I can't say enough about this community and your patience. I wish I knew enough to help others in return! Just not there quite yet!
Zero nitrIte (NO2) is what you wanna see. You're gonna have nitrAtes (NO3) in a healthy cycle. I dunno what you are using to test with but I highly recommend the API Freshwater Master Kit.

I spent so long fussing over my water and testing every day until I got my cycle right, I'm almost confused that my tank is so easy to take care of now.
 
Loopy6588
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Zero nitrIte (NO2) is what you wanna see. You're gonna have nitrAtes (NO3) in a healthy cycle. I dunno what you are using to test with but I highly recommend the API Freshwater Master Kit.

I spent so long fussing over my water and testing every day until I got my cycle right, I'm almost confused that my tank is so easy to take care of now.
Thanks! I'm using API for testing but I didn't get it all in one kit, I bought them separately, and it's the water test kit, not the strips.

I feel like this is me now: if you look through my posts I'm definitely always fussing when my levels change. That's for everyone calming me about the nitrates. I was having guilt last night not doing a water change with 5 ppm but I'm slowly becoming more reasonable with everyone's experience here helping.

I have to admit though I am getting tired of such frequent testing and water changes, but my fish acts and looks so healthy that it's always worth it of course.
 

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