Will My Fish Die If I Don’t Do The Nitrogen Cycle?

gilbertsmom
  • #1
I’ve read the site’s description of it but I’m still not entirely sure what it is/how to do it? I don’t think I have the time to do it anyway
 
penguin02
  • #2
What do you mean by "do the nitrogen cycle"? Cycling your tank is a necessary component of keeping your fish healthy. They might not DIE (there's lots of stories of people keeping bettas alive for years in tiny cups) but they won't THRIVE. You shouldn't be keeping fish if you don't want to provide the best life possible for them.
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
What do you mean by "do the nitrogen cycle"? Cycling your tank is a necessary component of keeping your fish healthy. They might not DIE (there's lots of stories of people keeping bettas alive for years in tiny cups) but they won't THRIVE. You shouldn't be keeping fish if you don't want to provide the best life possible for them.
I’m not sure what the cycle is & the site’s description doesn’t help me understand
 
JLeeM
  • #4
Long story short, yes your fish will more than likely eventually die from living in a non cycled tank. Read the information again when you have plenty of time to read, study, and understand the literature. Once you grasp it, it's super easy. There's plenty of people on here to help you with it too.
 
penguin02
  • #5
Dalmation Molly Laying On Bottom Of Tank

Here is my very first post on the forum, back when I had my 6 gallon (was a disaster ) Read the long post about the nitrogen cycle near the bottom. That was my wake up call that I needed a bigger tank, and now 1.5 years later I'm a happy fishkeeper!
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Dalmation Molly Laying On Bottom Of Tank

Here is my very first post on the forum, back when I had my 6 gallon (was a disaster ) Read the long post about the nitrogen cycle near the bottom. That was my wake up call that I needed a bigger tank, and now 1.5 years later I'm a happy fishkeeper!
I’m just really confused about everything because my tank is 10 gallons. I don’t have a testing kit & my mother won’t buy me one so I’m not sure what to do
 
GuppyGuy007
  • #7
So,
Three main components of your fish tank are ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.
Ammonia- Very Dangerous
Nitrite- Not as dangerous, but still dangerous
Nitrate- Safe up to 30 PPM.
Basically what will happen is eventually the Ammonia will turn into nitrites, and eventually the nitrites to nitrates. This is just an extremely simplified version of it. Read up on it for more details.

If you have a fish store near you, most will test your water for you. You are really better off with your own test kit. If it is properly cycled, it will have 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrites, and some nitrates.
 
penguin02
  • #8
I used to be in the same situation as you, and there are ways to work around it (ex. most stores will test your water for you) Cycling is a necessary step whether your parents will pay for a test kit or not, and if there's one thing this hobby taught me it's that I need to find ways to make money on my own to support my interests. Why not ask to do some extra chores around the house for a few bucks here and there? Fishkeeping is expensive, ESPECIALLY for teens who don't have jobs.
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I used to be in the same situation as you, and there are ways to work around it (ex. most stores will test your water for you) Cycling is a necessary step whether your parents will pay for a test kit or not, and if there's one thing this hobby taught me it's that I need to find ways to make money on my own to support my interests. Why not ask to do some extra chores around the house for a few bucks here and there? Fishkeeping is expensive, ESPECIALLY for teens who don't have jobs.
My mom won’t give me money for chores as she’s a single mother who doesn’t bring in too much money. But I’m kind of stuck on what to do because currently, my fish is in a 1/2 gallon tank & I’ve set up a 10 gallon tank for him, I’m just not quite sure how to transition him to the 10 gallon. I’ve put water conditioner in & there’s a filter, so I don’t know how to cycle it
 
AquaticJ
  • #10
Let me try to simplify it for you. The fish poops, that poop breaks down into ammonia. The first kind of bacteria lives off of ammonia, so they eat the ammonia. When that bacteria poops, that breaks down into nitrite (that's where you are). The second kind of bacteria lives off of nitrite, so they eat it. When they poop, it breaks down into nitrates, which you take out with water changes. The bacteria doesn't actually poop like a fish, but that's an easier way to think about it lol!
 
Why me
  • #11
If she won’t buy you one. Here’s my advice. Let your take run for at least a week and a half. When you see cloudy water the next day or so. You’ll know the bacteria is sorting itself out. And when the second week comes. Put a fish you want and is compatible with size. For the lowest cost
 
Lorekeeper
  • #12
From someone who maintained a reef before they were legally allowed to have a job (talk about expensive!), look for ways to earn cash around the house, and around town, if you're allowed.

I used to mow lawns, do chores around the house, and do dirty work at my LFS for some in-store credit. You never know what opportunities you may have till you look!
 
Why me
  • #13
Still. Attempt to get a kit. They have them at Walmart for like 2-3 bucks
 
Mike1995
  • #14
My mom won’t give me money for chores as she’s a single mother who doesn’t bring in too much money. But I’m kind of stuck on what to do because currently, my fish is in a 1/2 gallon tank & I’ve set up a 10 gallon tank for him, I’m just not quite sure how to transition him to the 10 gallon. I’ve put water conditioner in & there’s a filter, so I don’t know how to cycle it

it's pretty much a matter of waiting. it may take a month or two to cycle.
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
it's pretty much a matter of waiting. it may take a month or two to cycle.
Is it possible for it to naturally cycle without me putting my fish in it?
 
AquaticJ
  • #16
You can also just take water samples to the fish stores and theyll test it for free. You need an ammonia source for it to cycle, which doesn't technically have to be a fish.
 
Mike1995
  • #17
Is it possible for it to naturally cycle without me putting my fish in it?

yes. An uncycled tank is actually bad for fish as ammonia, nitrites and high level of nitrates are existing and no bacteria to consume it.
 
Piaelliott
  • #17
What kind of fish do you have, a betta?
Just add lots of fast growing plants like hornwort, water lettuce, frogbit, even duckweed (messy).

With one fish in a 10 gal you'll be okay with plants and water changes. I would rather invest in plants than in a test kit.
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
You can also just take water samples to the fish stores and theyll test it for free. You need an ammonia source for it to cycle, which doesn't technically have to be a fish.
What else could be an ammonia source?
 
mattgirl
  • #19
Most folks don't recommend this but If you are willing to do the work you can cycle your tank without anything other than a dechlorinator for your tap water and fish in there to produce the ammonia.

You have to be willing to keep up on the water changes though. Since you don't have a test kit to see what is happening with your water then you just have to assume the water needs to be changed at least every other day for the first 6 weeks and then do it. It takes a lot of commitment to do this but if you are willing to do it your fish should be fine.

Cycling a tank just means allowing it to grow the bacteria it needs to keep it healthy. That bacteria grows on all the surfaces in the tank but the majority of it grows on and lives in your filter.

Fish poop...That poop turn into ammonia...in time that ammonia forms nitrites and then those nitrites form nitrates. Simply put. That is what a cycle is.
 
GuppyGuy007
  • #20
You could use fish food or bottled ammonia.(like from the dollar store)
 
AquaticJ
  • #21
I feel like you're getting a lot of contradicting information thrown at you by a lot of people right now. Let me tell you what I would do (and have done). Cycling a tank with fish is very very doable and can be completely safe if you're cautious. I'll give you a detailed walk through of what to do, your Betta will be much happier in a cycling 10 gallon than an uncycled 1/2g. I've done it plenty of times. Condition the water, turn your filter on, and add your Betta. If you don't have access to a test kit, and can't get it tested at the store, don't panic. Every 3 days, replace 25% of the water. Always put the conditioner in the new water before adding it. Just wait it out. Don't mess with the filter for now. It should take about a month, give or take, to fully cycle.
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
I feel like you're getting a lot of contradicting information thrown at you by a lot of people right now. Let me tell you what I would do (and have done). Cycling a tank with fish is very very doable and can be completely safe if you're cautious. I'll give you a detailed walk through of what to do, your Betta will be much happier in a cycling 10 gallon than an uncycled 1/2g. I've done it plenty of times. Condition the water, turn your filter on, and add your Betta. If you don't have access to a test kit, and can't get it tested at the store, don't panic. Every 3 days, replace 25% of the water. Always put the conditioner in the new water before adding it. Just wait it out. Don't mess with the filter for now. It should take about a month, give or take, to fully cycle.
Thank you
 
InsanityShard
  • #23
What kind of fish do you have? Also, to cycle it, just add in some food every 3 days (Only a small amount!) for the bacteria to start feeding on. Eventually, a colony will start developing in the filter. Without the cycle, fish can get nasty conditions which can be deadly such as ammonia burns and nitrite poisoning. Plants help a lot wiht the cycle, but if you're really strapped for cash and want something easy to take care of to help the cycle, try an apple snail. They're usually cheap and don't breed like ramshorns and pond snails, they need very specific often unmet conditons (At least 15cm of air above the water line on the tank wall and a mate) so you'll be able to cycle the tank with one of those, while introducing something to help keep on top of any algae or overfeeding issues. To cycle a tank, you need to wash the filter media (sponges, any charcoal bags and pretty much everything in the filter itself) in actual tank water, not allowing it to dry out. When removing tank water during a water change, put some aside in a bucket for cleaning the filter. Don't rinse it in tap water whatever you do, as the chlorine will kill the bacteria. Ornaments and substrate also hold the beneficial bacteria colonies, but nowhere near as much as the filter, as they rely on the water flow. If you have those hard white circular things, don't scrub them. They are only for bacteria colnonys to live on. As the filter is the most important thing in a nitrogen cycle, it must be very well cared for, and the more surface area on the sponges and stuff inside the better. Cycling can take up to 3 months, though you can get away with sticking fish in after a single month using some bottled bacteria, though those will cost you money. Tetra Safe Start is the most popular. Live plants help the cycle a lot on their own, though I can't remember the exact how and why off the top of my head... But I do know you can speed the cycling of a tank by adding a few plants. Both my tanks have second filters kept only for the cycle rather than cleaning the water. If money is hard to come by in your house, and you have little time, you could try something as simple as finding a skill like making personalised bookmarks and selling them for $5 each to your friends. Fish keeping is unfortunately an expensive hobby to set up, as with most pets, but cheap in the long run when it comes to maintence and feeding. $50 got me 3 years worth of fish food! But it's also the same price as my testing kit on its own...
My main advice, is to add a little water from your current tank during each water change to your new tank, get some plants for it, and do research on every little thing before you get it to add to the tank, even plants. Some pet shops are nasty and will sell forest plants for tanks, which don't survive very long, and many try to sell you fish that don't go together or are too big for your tank. Make sure the new filter in the new tank is always on, so the water is always flowing. Unless you get the tetra safe start or some other bottled bacteria, be wary of adding your fish to the new tank for at least a month. As people have said above, pet shops will test water samples you bring them, so you don't have to stress about buying a kit or anything, just take time and save up as needed. If you do get plants, you can make an easy salt dip if the plant is salt tolerant to help get rid of any snails. Just look them over carefully for eggs and prune any dead leaves or branches before adding them to the tank. Good luck!
 
Why me
  • #24
What kind of fish are you planning to put in it
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
What kind of fish are you planning to put in it
My betta


584C5537-3433-4D00-B6B6-84F0A28F664E.jpeg So I’ve decided to follow AquaticJ ’s advice & cycle while he’s in it. Gilbert’s currently having fun exploring his new 10 gallon tank, which is a huge upgrade from his previous 1/2 gallon home If you guys still have any advice/questions, please leave it for me, as I’m still new to the whole betta/fish thing.
 
AquaticJ
  • #26
I assure you cycling the tank with him is much better than having him sit in a 1/2g bowl of ammonia water! Nice fish by the way, you've got a male veiltailed!
 
gilbertsmom
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
I assure you cycling the tank with him is much better than having him sit in a 1/2g bowl of ammonia water! Nice fish by the way, you've got a male veiltailed!
Thank you!
 
devan221
  • #28
Do what AquaticJ told you. Get this tank cycled, then we will help you with understanding it more.
 
Hanzo Watanabe
  • #29
Most folks don't recommend this but If you are willing to do the work you can cycle your tank without anything other than a dechlorinator for your tap water and fish in there to produce the ammonia.

You have to be willing to keep up on the water changes though. Since you don't have a test kit to see what is happening with your water then you just have to assume the water needs to be changed at least every other day for the first 6 weeks and then do it. It takes a lot of commitment to do this but if you are willing to do it your fish should be fine.

Cycling a tank just means allowing it to grow the bacteria it needs to keep it healthy. That bacteria grows on all the surfaces in the tank but the majority of it grows on and lives in your filter.

Fish poop...That poop turn into ammonia...in time that ammonia forms nitrites and then those nitrites form nitrates. Simply put. That is what a cycle is.
I like your process. I'm sort of doing that right now with a couple of Platies and cories. How much water should I change tho? I change my water 20-30% almost daily (if I can).
 
Rigelian417
  • #30
I’m just really confused about everything because my tank is 10 gallons. I don’t have a testing kit & my mother won’t buy me one so I’m not sure what to do

A good testing kit costs $30. Save up if you need to. You can start the fishless cycle without a kit if need be (you just won’t be able to track the progress until you have the kit)

I recently cycled a 10 gallon myself. That said you can dose the tank with 1.5ml of household ammonia (get a dosing syringe from a pharmacy, they’re free if you just ask) every 4 days to keep the cycle going while you wait for the kit.
 

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