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How long does a seeded tank take to cycle?


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I still have my betta in a hospital tank treating his fin rot (day 5 of his salt treatments and he is improving!) The problem with that hospital tank is that the sponge filter I have in it wasn't seeded it was brand new, so I am pulling water for an established tank everyday for his 25% water changes.

I bought and set up a Fluval Flex 9 on Saturday intending on putting him in there asap, and took ceramic balls and a piece of filter from my established tank and placed it in the Flex filter. My tap water ammonia is apparently really high (1.0-2.0) and Prime didn't help at all.

The water parameters in the new tank have not moved since Saturday ( I used tap water to fill it) so the ammonia has stayed high (1.0-ish), the Nitrites and Nitrates are still at 0.

I don't know if this just takes time, or if there is something I can/should do to help speed this up so I can get him into the tank asap. There are no fish in there, two plants, but because my tap water was already so high with ammonia, and I have seeded media in there, do I just need to be patient?

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When I setup my 29G in the living room to move a tank, I had the tank running for about 2ish weeks with nothing in it but an airstone for the sake of moving water around.  The tank was not cycled or cycling.  I had then needed to move it again, so I drained it, relocated it, and it sat our dry for a little bit of time.  I got things setup a week or two later and then I had to try to get the tank setup and cycled.

I added water, added the filters, added a ziss bubble bio and then I added a good pinch of food.  I checked with an ammonia test strip to see if anything was showing up and I checked it with a nitrates test kit to keep track of things.  After a few days of registering ammonia I added 3 small fish to the tank.  One fish from a 10G QT tank that had a LOT better water quality and a LOT better parameters in the new tank, but it clearly was not cycled.   The fish spent about 3-4 days in the tank and just swam around.  I added the filter media from the 10G QT tank after that, added the rest of the fish, and haven't had any issues.

In all, it was probably 2 weeks of slowly letting the tank transition from water to having "something" in terms of a bioload.  Adding the fish and the media was definitely a shock to the system, but it's something where the 10G tank had to be moved.  Two weeks after the fish were in the tank and doing fine, I had ordered from ACO and just got a bottle of the fritz zyme 7 to dump in.  This wasn't because of any issues, but just because I wanted to make sure there weren't any long term.  For all intensive purposes the tank had filtration, bacteria, seeded media, and a bioload to keep the tank going.  I monitored the parameters daily and then a few times a week to keep an eye on things.

In your case, the really difficult thing is needed to "condition" the water beforehand.  Having a good size container to hold water, lava rock, a pump head, and an airstone will mean that you can fill it with water, let it run, and then use that for WC.  I know this was something discussed before, but it just gives you an idea of how it works.  The flex tank is likely going to have a smaller bioload (one betta) but it will also likely have less often water changes to reduce shock to the fish.  Because Goldie Blue has had the issues you'd want to change the tank less often to keep the parameters stable longer term.

As a note, I've seen posts of chloramines showing up as ammonia on tap water.  It might not even be ammonia causing the high value.  It's something to note because you want to filter the tap water anyway for your own use aside from the hobby.

I don't know what the best method would be, but some hardware stores (lowes, home depot, etc.) would sell or have a method to test your water. That might be a way to go as well to understand what's really going on.

Edited by nabokovfan87
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Something like this might be a really interesting solution to give the tank a massive boost to handle the issues in the tap.

If it really is ammonia, the substrate would support a large load of bacteria and then when you do have WC days it should be able to handle that load.  It gives the tank the available capacity much moreso than just having other substrate.  Because it's a betta tank, you won't have issues with the fish laying on the substrate or something like corydoras scratching themselves on the potentially sharp substrate as well.

https://www.amazon.com/SubstrateSource-Natural-Black-Lava-Gravel/dp/B0046O2JJG

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In the short term I would buy 5 gallons of water maybe 10 in you are that worried about the ammonia and use that to do the water change.   You can’t rush bacterial growth, but adding sponge should help but the fluval has a filter in the back. There is a great set of videos from fluval on have to get it you and running and deal with tape water. https://fluvalaquatics.com/us/product/flex-9-us-gal-34-l-glass-aquarium/

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What is your pH? A low pH makes ammonia fairly safe for fish and a reading of 1.0 isn't all that bad in a low pH tank. If your betta is already in low pH water and tolerating it fine and the new tank has a low pH matching his hospital tank, you should be able to move him in without undue stress on him. If your pH is somewhere in the 6.1-6.5 range, odds are he'd be fine in the new tank. If you have a high pH, ammonia toxicity increases. It also increases with temperature. A cooler, lower pH tank can have much more ammonia than a warmer high pH tank without harming the fish. With a single betta in a nine-gallon tank his ammonia output will be minimal relative to the water volume. You don't need a massive bacterial colony to support a single smallish fish in a nine-gallon tank. Bettas are air breathers also using their labyrinth along with their gills, so if their gills become inflamed due to ammonia poisoning, they can rely on their labyrinth until the gills calm back down. And a note about Prime, it locks up ammonia so it's relatively harmless, but it still shows up on the tests. If you dose Prime every 48 hours, it should keep the ammonia locked up and relatively harmless. Plants and gunk from established tanks should provide more than enough bacteria to support a single betta in a nine-gallon tank.

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On 6/18/2022 at 12:17 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

Something like this might be a really interesting solution to give the tank a massive boost to handle the issues in the tap.

That is a good idea, I placed sand on the bottom, could I just place an inch or two of this over the sand or should I take it out?

On 6/18/2022 at 12:11 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

I've seen posts of chloramines showing up as ammonia on tap water.

I know when we talked about this last week, we were concerned about water changes in the 55g. I was very closely monitoring it after my weekly water change because I am using that tank water for the hospital tank. The ammonia in there is sitting at 0 ppm. I don't understand how this works at all, so I guess I need to take some time to read up about it lol.

On 6/18/2022 at 3:09 AM, Brandon p said:

I would buy 5 gallons of water maybe 10 in you are that worried about the ammonia and use that to do the water change.

Can you advise what kind of water?

On 6/18/2022 at 7:04 AM, gardenman said:

What is your pH?

Just tested the Flex, it's sitting at 8.0, which is what all three of my other tanks usually sit at. 

On 6/18/2022 at 7:04 AM, gardenman said:

a note about Prime, it locks up ammonia so it's relatively harmless, but it still shows up on the tests.

The Nitrites and Nitrates keep showing as 0 every day, and even with seeded media in there, does this mean eventually it will spike/cycle? That is what I am most worried about, is I put him in there and then it cycles and he gets stressed out. 

Goldie Blue is looking a little better each day, and I can keep him in the hospital tank a while longer, but he definitely cannot go back into that 55g, that is where all his stress and issues stemmed from, I am certain of that now. I just don't want to add any more stress to him by moving him into the Flex too soon. 

Thank you for the help and advice!

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On 6/18/2022 at 10:27 AM, Goldie Blue said:

That is a good idea, I placed sand on the bottom, could I just place an inch or two of this over the sand or should I take it out?

You can place it on top of the sand if you want. They also just sell larger lava rocks you can use as a scape. They are inert, black or red typically and not expensive at all.

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@Goldie Blue I have extra 5 gal water jugs that I can full at the local grocery store that go in the water dispenser. As long as you are not using ing distilled water it should be fine. C831E004-6A24-4080-956B-D6C7D269CB4D.jpeg.3a155a2f89372ddaadc3b399f03cea69.jpegI use water from these, if needed. I have well water and use that most of the time. I would only use it for water changes in the betta tank to help remove the  ammonia. You could do it all the time but it probably is not  necessary. I only posted the the spring water for the jug. You can use spring water but I would use filtered water. The Water machines work.My0FFF3B88-F853-4A37-A6E7-DB0C6F7E8570.jpeg.342e1eb02382079383d199c724d4c34c.jpegif should want you can buy the 5 gallon jugs and just refill them. These machines use RO filters just for information. This is probably a short term answer to get the chemistry corrected. I do have friends that have only one 10 gallon  tank and do use this method to do water changes because 5 gallons work for 2 25%water changes in 10 gallon tank.  
 

any substrate will help hold bacteria @nabokovfan87 is total irrigation about the lava rock holding more bacteria because it is porous. 
 

I would not add or change substrate just for this issue. If it’s for the hospital tank it won’t work fast enough. If it’s for the new tank the filter is more than enough to control things. 
 

There is not rushing things. The things you do at one time the of the chance you will know what the problem is. For now I would workin on getting the new tank going and if you can control the ammonia with water changes in the hospital tank do that. There is something said to keeping things simple. 

 

Edited by Brandon p
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On 6/18/2022 at 1:27 PM, Goldie Blue said:

That is a good idea, I placed sand on the bottom, could I just place an inch or two of this over the sand or should I take it out?

I know when we talked about this last week, we were concerned about water changes in the 55g. I was very closely monitoring it after my weekly water change because I am using that tank water for the hospital tank. The ammonia in there is sitting at 0 ppm. I don't understand how this works at all, so I guess I need to take some time to read up about it lol.

Can you advise what kind of water?

Just tested the Flex, it's sitting at 8.0, which is what all three of my other tanks usually sit at. 

The Nitrites and Nitrates keep showing as 0 every day, and even with seeded media in there, does this mean eventually it will spike/cycle? That is what I am most worried about, is I put him in there and then it cycles and he gets stressed out. 

Goldie Blue is looking a little better each day, and I can keep him in the hospital tank a while longer, but he definitely cannot go back into that 55g, that is where all his stress and issues stemmed from, I am certain of that now. I just don't want to add any more stress to him by moving him into the Flex too soon. 

Thank you for the help and advice!

With a pH of 8.0 you want ammonia at or close to zero. It's pretty toxic at that pH. Give the tank time and it will cycle. They all do eventually. It's hard to stop bacteria from being bacteria and doing what they do. 

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Okay fishy friends, I have another dilemma I need advice on lol. 

Flex tank ammonia has been at 0 two days in a row. I checked water twice a day, and I never saw a spike in Nitrites, and the Nitrates are sitting at about 5.0. Does this mean the cycle is done and the tank is ready? 

Issue I am having is now I am struggling to keep the hospital tank ammonia at 0. I am pulling water from my 55g every day for water changes (that tank is at 0 ammonia, I test every time before water change) but when I test a few hours later after putting it in hospital tank it's at 0.25ppm. 

Goldie Blue has been showing improvement everyday, and I'd like to move him into the new Flex tank if you guys think those numbers are cycled. Let me know your thoughts!

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On 6/21/2022 at 8:45 AM, Goldie Blue said:

Flex tank ammonia has been at 0 two days in a row. I checked water twice a day, and I never saw a spike in Nitrites, and the Nitrates are sitting at about 5.0. Does this mean the cycle is done and the tank is ready? 

It could be ready, but not necessarily. If you’re adding fertilizer then the Nitrates might be from that. 
If you have ammonia then you can add some of that. Test the next day and if you see zero Ammonia and a rise in Nitrates then you’re good to go. 

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