Understanding nitrogen cycle Help

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by image_image, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. image_imageValued MemberMember

    Hi there,

    I wanted to make sure that I am doing every thing properly to get my 2 balloon mollies living in a safe environment. As of right now, they are living in a 2 gallon tank. I understand that this is not ideal living conditions for them, but I bought them before I completely understood what kind of home they needed. I live in an apartment that doesn't allow any pets whatsoever, so getting the 20 gal. tank is out of the question until I move back home in May.

    Through this forum I was told that I should use prime water conditioner and do 50% water changes daily. (Also to purchase the API mater test kit to test the water.) The way I understood it was that by using Prime and doing the 50% water changes daily was a way to start the nitrogen cycle. Please correct me if I am wrong!!

    As of last night every thing has been on the chart, except the ammonia, which was .25ppm. Should I be using any products to adjust the pH and whatnot, to get my levels where they need to be?

    Also, I am using a penn-plax small world filter. I replaced the filter on the 4th, and the white sponge is almost completely brown. It is recommended on the box to change the filter every 2-4 weeks. Should I be changing the filter more often since their tank is too small for the fish?
  2. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    The daily water changes will help keep the fish safe while the tank cycles (but it will be hard to cycle such a small tank).

    Don't use products to adjust the pH, as they can be unsteady and crash the tank. Most fish will adjust to your pH.

    don't change the filter, just rinse it in discarded tank water. It holds most of your beneficial bacteria, and you don't want to throw that away.
  3. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    This isn't going to start the cycle.
    It helps protect your fish from toxic water levels during the cycling process.

    Ammonia starts the cycle.
    It took me forever to understand the nitrogen cycle, it's super confusing at first, but you'll get it. :)

    Here's a basic explanation:

    First your ammonia (from fish waste and left over food) will rise.

    In a few weeks bacteria will start to develop and you'll see the nitrite levels rise and the ammonia levels start to drop.

    After a few more weeks a different kind of bacteria begins to develop and you'll see the nitrate levels rise and the nitrite levels drop.

    When you having readings of 0 on both ammonia and nitrites with some nitrates showing, your cycle is done.
  4. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    +1 to the above posts, in short, prime and water changes are for the health and well being of the fish.
  5. Prince PowderWell Known MemberMember

    Hello and if I haven't said so already, welcome to Fishlore! I understand apartment living. However with a 2 gallon tank stocked with 2 fish who generally require 20 gallon tanks or more achieving a proper cycle will be extremely difficult. Since the 20 gallon is out of the question, how about going for something at least a little bigger like a 5 gallon? That would be large enough to have a more normal filter which could hold greater amounts of bio media. It is also large enough to safely use a heater which your fish will need.

    As the others mentioned the ammonia the fish produce starts the cycle, the Prime and water changes will help your fish survive it.

    Adjusting your pH is definitely not recommended. The majority of fish can adapt to a pH outside their recommended range. However, most fish will go into shock if there is a sudden and rapid change in pH. When a tank is cycling the pH will swing on it's own anyways so you won't really know what your tank's pH is until your cycle is done and your tank has stabilized. Using chemical products leaves the pH unstable and subject to crashes so those products are better left unused.

    The sponge is the media that your beneficial bacteria will be colonizing on the most so you never really want to throw it out or you'll be throwing out the strongest part of your cycle. Just rinse it in used tank water from a water change when it starts to get really gunky then put it back in. The Small World filter will have a hard time allowing for enough space to house a large enough colony of bacteria to properly cycle your tank. Yet another reason to upgrade to at least a 5 gallon and a larger filter.

    Good luck!
  6. image_imageValued MemberMember

    I've considered buying a 5gal. But money is another issue - being a student I would feel really guilty putting more money into these fish.

    Oh, they do have a heater in their 2 gallon. :)