Setting up a cycle in a 2.5 gallon? Absolutely new to tanks!

xenabax

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HI everyone!

Last Monday, my fiance and I made an impulse purchase of a lovely betta fish from Walmart. This male betta reminded me of one I had as a child and I was quite excited to get him! However, I had only ever kept bettas in a bowl or vase as a kid. I had absolutely no idea this was bad for the fish as they had always lived several years this way! This time I ended up buying a 2.5 gallon plastic tank with a filter and water conditioner. While researching a question about the filter and water conditioner, I realized just how much I do not know... wow.

So, I have already discovered that I need a heater. I have purchased one and successfully installed it. My tank is resting at about 78-79 degrees. I have also been using bottled spring water for the tank, because my city tap water is ridiculous. As in, doctors think it causes cancer and the chlorine is so high it smells when it comes out of the tap, and my dog won't drink it. I initially had the fish in distilled water as I thought this was best, but after reading I saw this was not true. I have been doing 25% water changes every other day with spring water (treated with conditioner, to be safe). I bought PH test strips and the PH is resting at about 6.5 but should rise as I replace the water with spring water (right? When I tested the spring water jug the PH was right at 7). I have a hiding space and a plastic plant for the betta. He seems very happy, is very active and showing off his fins. He is swimming up to my and my fiance when we approach and has a good appetite.


I noticed today that my water is getting cloudy. I read that this can be a bacteria bloom, related to setting up a cycle in my tank. So, my questions are as follows.

1. Can my tank (2.5 gallon) successfully cycle? I have read that smaller tanks are harder to cycle. Do all tanks cycle? If not, what happens?

2. HOW can I get my tank to cycle? Ideally I would like to do this with the betta in the tank as I don't have anywhere else to put him. I am looking specifically for information on how much and how frequently I need to change the water.

3. How long will it take for my tank to cycle?

4. Is this bacteria bloom a good sign or a bad sign?


I had been to petsmart earlier today to look for a testing kit and ended up buying test strips that don't test for ammonia (although they test just about everything else!). I am hoping I can take the strips to the store tomorrow and exchange them for a liquid testing kit as it really isn't much more expensive and is supposed to be more accurate. I am crossing my fingers they will allow this. I can tell you that from the one strip I used, my nitrites and nitrates are at 0.

5. If I am unable to get my hands on a new test kit for awhile, what can I do to check on the cycle of my tank? Is it absolutely necessary to have a test kit?


As I mentioned, I am a total newbie and feeling a bit in over my head. Any advice is much appreciated!
Thanks!
 

lifequitin

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Hi,

You have done very good thing to buy a tank for your betta. Regarding your cycle question; as long as there is a porous surface, ammonia, nitrite, and oxygen rich water flow,nitrifying bacteria will eventually colonise and do their thing. It may take time. Just keep your eye on your fish and test your water.
Keep Seachem Prime at your reach because if you have ammonia and nitrite reading up to 1 ppm, prime can detoxify it for 24 hours. Seachem Stability may also help to speed up your cycle. Bacterial bloom is harmless and will clear in a couple of days and it shows that you are on track.

Regards
 

BravetheBetta

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^poster has you absolutely on the right track.

I would go out and get a liquid test kit, imo only way to know how far along you are with cycling.

1) yes it can and will cycle. when I got Brave I did the same as you did and had to fish-in cycle after finding out what I was doing wrong. dosed Seachem Stability for it and kept up with water changes (to keep ammonia/nitrites under 0.5-1ppm).

2) ^again, Seachem Stability is your friend. Tetra SafeStart+ is another one you can look at, but you can only dose that 24h after a large water change, then not do any changes for 2 weeks.

3) anywhere from 2 weeks - 2 months, there is no set time frame. obviously you can help it along with bottled products, but otherwise it really depends on the filter and the filter media it comes with for the BBs to take hold.

4) LQ already answered that

because betta have tiny little poops and don't poop a lot, they have a real low bioload, which should prevent ammonia spikes (provided you do keep up with water changes and gravel vac). grab yourself a bottle of stability ASAP and dose as the bottle says (double dose even if you feel the need to) right into the filter media. follow the instructions to a T, test daily/once every two days, and do water changes as necessary (to keep ammonia/nitrites under 1ppm)

sorry if it's a mess, hope some information came through haha
 

justinmo

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IMO you should do 25% bI weekly water changes with a gravel vacuum. Yes you need a liquid test kit to check your cycle, there is no other way (and test strips are very unreliable) and I suggest you get tetra safe start+ or seachem stability because they are basically bottles of beneficial bacteria that help speed up your cycle and make the water safer for your fish. If you got decorations yet make sure there are no sharp edges and don't get any plastic plants unless they're really really soft. Good for treating the spring water because it can still be treated with chemicals. What kind of tank is it? What is the filter media? (If they're cartridges you should probably just replace that and use AC sponges, biomedia and filter floss. All tanks are able to cycle as long as they have a filter, or at least somewhere for the bacteria to colonize. And since you have the betta, use the products mentioned above ^^ to make the water safer and use him as the ammonia source.
 
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xenabax

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HI all,

Thank you for the quick replies! It has really helped clear things up.

So, 2x a week water changes should be good then? Unless my water ammonia spikes, in ehich case I can use chemicals and do another partial change? In a pinch, will simply changing the water work?

The tank kit I bought is this from Walmart:

I have absolutely no idea what kind of filter media is in it!
 
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xenabax

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HI all,

I just changed about 40% of my water and my ammonia levels are reading between .25 and .5. Do I need to use seechem to neutralize the ammonia? Will using the product slow the cycle down? Fish seems to be doing fine.
 

justinmo

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0.25-0.5 is pretty high, a 25% water change every 2-3 days will be ok (you can change more just make sure the temperature is close to the tanks temperature) Did you get seachem stability or Tetra safe start+ that'll keep the ammonia levels fairly low. Using prime will not stall the cycle but remember it's affects are temporary 24-48h, and it changes ammonia, nitrites to less toxic forms. You should use it for dosing the water and dechlorinating it during a water change.
 

justinmo

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justinmo said:
0.25-0.5 is pretty high, a 25% water change every 2-3 days will be ok (you can change more just make sure the temperature is close to the tanks temperature) Did you get seachem stability or Tetra safe start+ that'll keep the ammonia levels fairly low. Using prime will not stall the cycle but remember it's affects are temporary 24-48h, and it changes ammonia, nitrites to less toxic forms. You should use it for dosing the water and dechlorinating it during a water change.
*seachem stability will help cycle your tank and add beneficial bacteria to work to keep your nitrite and ammonia levels down
 
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xenabax

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HI all,

I visited an aquarium store today to get some advice and they set me up with the seachem that I need. I also discovered that the water I am using is high in ammonia before being put in the tank! They told me the best refill stations to get ammonia free watertl!

Thanks!
 

justinmo

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Wow your bottled water is high in ammonia? Anyways that's great!
 
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xenabax

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justinmo said:
Wow your bottled water is high in ammonia? Anyways that's great!
It was from one of those buildings where you can refill gallon jugs for 25 cents! But yes, I tested it out of curiosity and it was running somewhere between .25 and .5 before I even put it in the tank!
 

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