Smaller Tanks Are Harder To Cycle

AquaticJ

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I see this statement all over, but am I the only one who finds this to be nonsense? Smaller tank=smaller fish=smaller bioload (in general). So am I missing something or should it be proportional to whats in it? You overstock anything it’ll be harder or even impossible to cycle. Our 300 gal pond at my old store had way too many fish and even with 5 canisters it wouldn’t cycle. My manager at the time wouldn’t get rid of any fish, it was a whole thing, but my point is why would a smaller tank be harder to cycle?
 

Dch48

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I don't agree that they are harder, If anything, I think the opposite is true. My first 3.5 gallon took about 5 weeks from scratch (with a Betta and Mystery snail in it) and my second one about 5 days. In the second one I used some water (about 1/3) and filter media from the first tank along with a good dose of Tetra Safe Start. That tank has never shown a trace of nitrite. It's like that step got skipped. It went from 0.5 ammonia straight to 0 ammonia and 5 nitrate after 5 days.

I think it's true that a small tank requires closer attention and monitoring after things are up and running but I don't think they are harder to get going.
 

david1978

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In theory at least a quart jar should cycle in the same time as a 55 gallon tank and if bio load is similar it shouldn't be any harder.
 

Zka17

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Smaller tanks cycle the same way as the bigger ones - the difference is in maintaining the cycle... larger tanks are more stable, because they need a longer time to destabilize, they have a larger buffering capacity.

For example, if you accidentally overfeed in an 3.5 gallon (and don't clean up immediately) you may have an ammonia spike next day. The same amount of overfeeding in a 55 gallon may not cause any noticeable changes.
 

AquaticJ

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Smaller tanks cycle the same way as the bigger ones - the difference is in maintaining the cycle... larger tanks are more stable, because they need a longer time to destabilize, they have a larger buffering capacity.

For example, if you accidentally overfeed in an 3.5 gallon (and don't clean up immediately) you may have an ammonia spike next day. The same amount of overfeeding in a 55 gallon may not cause any noticeable changes.
Think about it this way, you have 10 Cherry Shrimp in a 5.5 gallon and accidentally feed too much, maybe you normally feed 3 pellets but this time you fed 6. On a larger scale you have an Oscar in a 75 gallon and lets say you normally feed 15 carnivore pellets a day, but this time you fed 30. Proportionally speaking, this shouldn’t make a difference. Now if someone dumped a whole bag of food in both of these sizes, obviously it’d be worse in the 5.5, but that kind of thing shouldn’t be of concern if you are responsible about kids, pet sitters, etc.
 

nikm128

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Where have you heard that? lol, I agree that there's absolutely no reason a smaller tank should be harder or take longer to cycle
 

ystrout

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I've heard that once or twice. The chemistry didn't make sense so I brushed it off.

I'd actually say the opposite is true: smaller tanks are easier to cycle. It's a lot easier to do a 50% water change on a 10 gallon tank than a 75 gallon tank!

That said, I've noticed keeping healthy, clean tanks is much easier on larger tanks when compared to smaller ones mainly because it's so easy to understock a large tank. Water changes just take a little longer.
 

scarface

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I used to hear this all the time, which I also think is utter nonsense. They can be, in fact, easier to maintain, if properly stocked.
 

MrBryan723

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It isn't really a cycle issue as much as it is a stability issue. 5 goldfish in a 10 gallon tank is much more of a challenge than the same 5 fish in a 55 gallon tank. The larger the volume of water the more forgiving it is to any oopses. I use it as more of a guideline for people with very little to no experience in the hobby. But once you know what you're doing it is no different. Over stocking is the bane of many newcomers.
 

DoubleDutch

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Who states so?

Maybe the mean the smaller amount of pollution due to less fish but on the other hand the filter is smaller too, so needs a smaller population of bacteria.

Overstocking won't prevent cycling the filter, only the available population of bacteria won't be able to handle the overpollution. So the filter will be cycled but not able to cope with the waste produced.
 

david1978

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But now your venturing off course with overstocking and over feeding. With everything being equal they should be equal.
 

scarface

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It isn't really a cycle issue as much as it is a stability issue. 5 goldfish in a 10 gallon tank is much more of a challenge than the same 5 fish in a 55 gallon tank. The larger the volume of water the more forgiving it is to any oopses. I use it as more of a guideline for people with very little to no experience in the hobby. But once you know what you're doing it is no different. Over stocking is the bane of many newcomers.
Not disagreeing here, but in my post above, I did say if properly stocked. Replace the 5 goldfish with a betta, and I'd say that 10g would be very easy to maintain.
 
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