No ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate in new tank?

shealegris

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Hi everyone!

I’m doing a fish-in cycle with my betta in a 20L (7.2g) tank. I have driftwood with live moss, an almond leaf, and a few live ambulia plants with natural gravel. I use prime and stability and occasionally stress coat. I’ve been going for about a month, but moved about two weeks ago and had to set up the tank again but used some of the old tank water. My tank also has a little bit of brown algae and there’s biofilm growing on the driftwood.

Ever since I started my ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels have read as zero. My understanding is that ammonia levels are meant to spike early on, then nitrites and then nitrates (correct me if I’m wrong there) but they haven’t budged from zero! Am I missing something or doing something wrong? My betta seems perfectly fine but I want to make sure his home is healthy and cycled. Thank you!
 

Jerome O'Neil

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A single Beta in a larger tank isn't going to generate a whole lot of bio-load. I'd keep an eye on it, but I wouldn't worry about it.
 

mattgirl

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Instead of doing something wrong I have to think you are doing everything just right. As long as you are doing water changes to remove his waste there is no reason to ever see a spike in either ammonia or nitrites.

I truly think there is too much stress put on the importance of fully cycling a tank when there is just one little betta in a tank this size. A fully cycled tank is more for us than it is for them. As long as we do our weekly water changes it won't matter if this tank never goes through the cycling process.
 
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shealegris

shealegris

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mattgirl said:
Instead of doing something wrong I have to think you are doing everything just right. As long as you are doing water changes to remove his waste there is no reason to ever see a spike in either ammonia or nitrites.

I truly think there is too much stress put on the importance of fully cycling a tank when there is just one little betta in a tank this size. A fully cycled tank is more for us than it is for them. As long as we do our weekly water changes it won't matter if this tank never goes through the cycling process.
That’s so relieving to hear, I do 20% changes once a week so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing :)
 

mattgirl

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shealegris said:
That’s so relieving to hear, I do 20% changes once a week so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing :)
I will suggest you up the amount of water you are changing each week to at the very least 30% and then once a month change out at least 50%. If you will do this for the life of the tank there is very little chance of your little guy ever having any problems.
 

jdhef

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Welcome to FishLore!

A single betta isn't going to produce a whole lot of ammonia, and with a 20l tank, you ppm would be rather low (since ppm is really a ratio of ammonia to water). Also, your ambulia plants and moss, will also consume ammonia, so what little ammonia is in the water is probably being used up by the plants.

With the almond leaves and driftwood, I would be willing to bet that your pH level is below 7.0. At a pH below 7.0 ammonia starts converting into ammonium and by the time your pH gets down to 6.0, all the ammonia in the tank has turned into ammonium. The good thing about ammonium is that it is far less toxic to fish than ammonia is (some claim ammonium is non-toxic). The bad thing about ammonium is that it's a poor food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and a pH too close to 6.0 can make it impossible to cycle a tank.

So basically...you're good. So long as your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates stay at 0ppm, it doesn't matter if your cycled or not. In fact there is a fish keeping method developed by Dana Walstad called the Walstad Method (clever namer that Dana Walsatd huh?) where there is no filtartaion, just a lightly stocked, heavily planted tank. The plants consume all the ammonia eliminating the need for a filter.
 
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shealegris

shealegris

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mattgirl said:
I will suggest you up the amount of water you are changing each week to at the very least 30% and then once a month change out at least 50%. If you will do this for the life of the tank there is very little chance of your little guy ever having any problems.
Awesome, I’ll up to 30%. Thanks so much for your help

jdhef said:
Welcome to FishLore!

A single betta isn't going to produce a whole lot of ammonia, and with a 20l tank, you ppm would be rather low (since ppm is really a ratio of ammonia to water). Also, your ambulia plants and moss, will also consume ammonia, so what little ammonia is in the water is probably being used up by the plants.

With the almond leaves and driftwood, I would be willing to bet that your pH level is below 7.0. At a pH below 7.0 ammonia starts converting into ammonium and by the time your pH gets down to 6.0, all the ammonia in the tank has turned into ammonium. The good thing about ammonium is that it is far less toxic to fish than ammonia is (some claim ammonium is non-toxic). The bad thing about ammonium is that it's a poor food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and a pH too close to 6.0 can make it impossible to cycle a tank.

So basically...you're good. So long as your ammonia, nitrites and nitrates stay at 0ppm, it doesn't matter if your cycled or not. In fact there is a fish keeping method developed by Dana Walstad called the Walstad Method (clever namer that Dana Walsatd huh?) where there is no filtartaion, just a lightly stocked, heavily planted tank. The plants consume all the ammonia eliminating the need for a filter.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about the fact one betta wasn’t going to do a lot, haha. I joined a few fishkeeping groups on Facebook and did heaps of Google searches about proper fish care and it’s all about the importance of cycling and ammonia and freaked myself out, so thank you for the reassurance!

I’ve also been testing my pH regularly and it lingers around 7.0, it’s gone down to 6.8 and has gone up to 7.2 but nothing too extreme so far.


I love all natural tanks and want mine to be, so my plan has been to slowly introduce more and more plants (especially since I’m still learning - went to the pet store and bought what were sold as aquatic plants and turned out to be houseplants, ugh) so thanks for the info.
 

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