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Tank cycling (new aqaurist here)


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13 minutes ago, Halloweenlove said:

This Saturday I will be 4 weeks into my fishless cycle (fresh water; 3 gallons). Just looking for some input. My ammonia is about .25ppm, nitrite is 5.0 and nitrates 20ppm. Should I consider a partial water change, or keep letting it do it's thing. Thanks in advance. 

Couple of questions . . . (1) Do you have any plants going in the tank yet? (2) Being a 3 Gal., what is you filtration method? Sponge Filter? Kit-designed HOB overflow? (3) What is your plan for stocking the tank? What fish? How many?

It seems like your cycle is going great. I'd probably just buy a bottle of Dr. Tim's beneficial bacteria, or something similar sold by Fritz, I'd change out 50%, use dechlorinator, add the beneficial bacteria after a couple hours, and go ahead and add fish.

But I'm also a bit reckless and impatient . . . so kudos to you for giving your fishes cycle a 4 week wait!!

I'd say this: whenever I set up a new tank, I almost always do the following steps (1) I use some substrate from another established aquarium (2) I transfer a chunk of wood from another aquarium -- or wood from _inside_ a tank at my LFS (provided the fish there look healthy) (3) I prefer to use a bio-activated substrate, like Eco Complete (4) I add lots of live plants (5) I use at least 50% water from another established tank (6) I use a sponge filter from an established tank (7) I dump in a bottle of Dr. Tim's beneficial bacteria, or Fritz starter Bio (I can never remember the exact product name).

These steps (even just a few of them) instantly cycles a new tank so that I can add my fish within just a few days. I do always test the water first to ensure that the parameters are good. I also often add a bunch of snails first (I know . . . some people dislike them) because they help to normalize the environment for other aquatic life.

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33 minutes ago, Halloweenlove said:

I recently add a anubias nana petite. Sponge filter, and tank will be for a betta. Unfortunately I don't have any fish friends to lend me used bio media, etc.

Just a word of caution. A 3g is a bit small for a Betta. 5g or more would be much more suitable.

Here are a couple of options that would fit more comfortably in your tank:

-All male Guppy tank

-Shrimp / snail tank


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7 minutes ago, Halloweenlove said:

I was planning for it to be a grow out tank. I want to save up for a heavily planted "fancy" 5gal. 

     Continue with the 1 gallon water change each week for a couple of more weeks and your sponge filter will cycle itself.

     A sponge filter is an excellent choice for a small tank.

     I have a 4 gallon tank that has a sponge filter rated for a 10 gallon tank, it's better to have too much filtration than not enough.

     I don't know if a 5 gallon tank could be called fancy, but if you want live plants, save up and go for a larger tank or use artificial plants.

    Live plants need to be trimmed from time to time and there is the real possibility of introducing snails into your tank each time you buy plants and snails can be a very big problem.

     I got a new 5 gallon bucket with a lid. I put 9 tablespoons of Alum in the bucket and added 3 gallons of dechlorinated water into the bucket, stirred it up to dissolve the Alum, and put the lid on it to avoid evaporation.

     If I choose to buy a new plant, I'll remove the lid from the bucket, stir it up, place the plant pot and all, and let it soak for 3 hours.

     The Alum will kill living snails just as soon as the plant is placed in the bucket, but it takes 3 hours for the Alum to penetrate the egg masses and kill the eggs.

     Rinse the plant in running water, remove the pot and rock wool, and plant in your aquarium.

     I have 7 tanks going, 5 with plants and not a single snail.

     Good luck, stick with it, mask up when you go out, dead fish and unwanted plants go in the trash, not the toilet or the nearest lake or river.

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1 hour ago, Gator said:

snails can be a very big problem.

You will find quite a variety of opinions about snails here. I personally don’t mind them at all, and find them a helpful partner in keeping algae down. In fact, I even use them to help me cycle my new tanks—they nom the inevitable new-tank algae while providing ammonia to feed the beneficial bacteria. But if you don’t want snails, doing an alum dip like @Gator described should do the trick.

I think the 5 gallon sounds great! And the 3 gal will be totally fine for the betta in the meantime.

Your cycle sounds like it’s coming along well. If you don’t want to spring for the cost of bottled bacteria, the cycle will still progress—just not as quickly. The good news is the anubias you just added will have brought beneficial bacteria along with it, and that will help as well.

Welcome to the hobby!

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     Thank you for your input, I sincerely do appreciate it.

     I've found that having 10 Otocinclus in a 29 gallon tank keeps the algae down, but they don't eat hair algae and neither do snails, so for hair algae I use Hydrogen peroxide.

     The reasons I do not like snails is 1) snails carry parasites with them that are then transferred over to fish, and 2) snails have a habit of making their way to the impellers of HOB and cannister filters where the impellers will destroy the snail shells and then the shards of snail shells will destroy the impeller magnets.

     Halloweenlove mentioned the use of a sponge filter so snail shells wouldn't destroy impeller magnets, but then there is that problem with parasites.

     Halloweenlove, I hope you'll be in this hobby for a very long time and to learn more about any fish you wish to keep and maybe breed, search the internet. Google is a great place to start, just enter the species of fish you wish to keep and you will get a goldmine of information from Wikipedia and other sites.

     Happy fishkeeping.


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I don't think parasites are a big problem with people having snails in their tanks.  Atleast, I don't think that's one of the usual complaints I've heard.

Most people get annoyed at them because they don't like the look, and if you over-feed, they can boom in population.  I gladly keep bladder and malaysian trumpet snails in my tank.  I think they look cool, and they definitely help with algae and other cleanup around the tank.  In my opinion, they are a good foundational part to making a miniature ecosystem, rather than just keeping a tub of water.

Now, even with sponge intake covers, I do get snails clogging the final intake into the powerhead.  That is just something I have to get into and clean out every so often.  It's more than worth it for the other positives snails bring.

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