As good as it's going to get? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-07-2010, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
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As good as it's going to get?

I have a 2.5 gallon mino bow tank for about 6 or 7 weeks now. Being naive, I put fish in right away (I've done a lot of reading and know better now). Early on I wasn't seeing much in the way of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate levels. Over time I saw my ammonia levels spike, then eventually drop as my nitrates and nitrates rose.

For the past week or so, I've had readings of 0.5 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 15 nitrates. My ammonia and nitrite levels have been at 0.5 and 0 for a while now. A few weeks back, my nitrates were at 80, but eventually dropped to 20, then 15 where it has stayed now for about a week.

Is it safe to assume my tank is now cycled? I assume there is some ammonia in my tap water, which is why it's never dropping to 0. I will test my tap water when I get home tonight. I know in a perfect scenario nitrites and ammonia should be at 0, but in the real world, I suspect it doesn't always work out that way.
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-07-2010, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by squilky View Post
I have a 2.5 gallon mino bow tank for about 6 or 7 weeks now. Being naive, I put fish in right away (I've done a lot of reading and know better now). Early on I wasn't seeing much in the way of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate levels. Over time I saw my ammonia levels spike, then eventually drop as my nitrates and nitrates rose.

For the past week or so, I've had readings of 0.5 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 15 nitrates. My ammonia and nitrite levels have been at 0.5 and 0 for a while now. A few weeks back, my nitrates were at 80, but eventually dropped to 20, then 15 where it has stayed now for about a week.

Is it safe to assume my tank is now cycled? I assume there is some ammonia in my tap water, which is why it's never dropping to 0. I will test my tap water when I get home tonight. I know in a perfect scenario nitrites and ammonia should be at 0, but in the real world, I suspect it doesn't always work out that way.
What's your stocking level? Even if your tap has a trace of ammonia, it will still usually get converted to nitrate... If it doesn't, it stays ammonia, your nitrite should still be zero.

What kind of fish, what size, and how many?
Perhaps you're overstocked, and or your biological filter isn't powerful enough (not power per se, but not enough space for bacteria to grow.)

Might help to add some additional biological media to your tank, or get some live plants....(many plants will do fine in a low-light mini setup. Java fern, anarchis, java moss, anubias, there are several. I'd definately reccomend some anarchis and fast-growers if you decide to go that route.)

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post #3 of 12 Old 06-07-2010, 12:26 PM
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It has been my experience that the small tanks are highly sensitive to stocking changes. I also am curious as to what you have in it.

My tap water is high in ammonia (.5-1) but after even a 50% water change the ammonia level reads 0 after an hour or so. how often are you doing water changes? how much? and what are you using to condition the new water?

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post #4 of 12 Old 06-07-2010, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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It has been my experience that the small tanks are highly sensitive to stocking changes. I also am curious as to what you have in it.

My tap water is high in ammonia (.5-1) but after even a 50% water change the ammonia level reads 0 after an hour or so. how often are you doing water changes? how much? and what are you using to condition the new water?
I have a male betta, 2 false Julii Corey's and a inca gold mystery snail in my tank. I have 5 pounds of gravel, as well as a small Terra cota pot and a small rock. I also have a single live plant. I forget the exact name, but I believe it's some sort of sword plant. I recently added the rock; the plant and pot have been in for 3 or 4 weeks. I was hoping by adding the rock, there would be something else for the bacteria to grow.

I have an Aqueon power filter that came with the tank. It uses small filters that is carbon between two layers off floss. I just purchased a rectangular piece of bio filter. It kind of looks like synthetic sponge material. I think it's intent is to add a layer of biological filter to a canister filter, but my plan was to cut it down and replace the Aqueon filter with that material.

As far as water changes, I've been doing a gallon water change, so about 30-40% change twice a week. I don't notice a huge difference in the numbers. I use API tap water conditioner and about 2 ml of Cycle to the water before adding it to the tank.

Is my tank too stocked? Do you think the added synthetic sponge material will help build a better bio filter environment?

Last edited by squilky; 06-07-2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Forgot to answer one of th qustions asked as a follow up.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-07-2010, 02:23 PM
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Yes it is over stocked and the cory are probably a bad bet for this tank anyway. They get to about 2 inches each (minimum 10 gallon tank) and it is strongly recommended that you get at least 4 because they are schoaling fish. If you take it down to the betta and the snail, that is about as much as you can put in this size tank.

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post #6 of 12 Old 06-08-2010, 03:59 AM
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I agree. A tank of this size is too small to keep an appropriate number of corydoras, and moving the two to a bigger tank will reduce the bioload on the tank and hopefully will result in a consistent reading of zero ammonia.

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post #7 of 12 Old 06-08-2010, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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I agree. A tank of this size is too small to keep an appropriate number of corydoras, and moving the two to a bigger tank will reduce the bioload on the tank and hopefully will result in a consistent reading of zero ammonia.

Hmmm this is disappointing to hear. I really like the Cory's, and when I had one it didn't seem happy alone. When I added the second one, they immediately bonded and started swimming. Last night I dropped in some bloodworms for the betta, and they devoured the leftovers as a team. How many Cory's could I have in a 10 gallon tank with a betta and a single snail?

So with 3 fish and a snail in a 2.5 gallon tank, I shouldn't expect my ammonia and nitrates to ever completely drop to 0?

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post #8 of 12 Old 06-08-2010, 09:18 AM
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Yeah, no. The whole bio filter thing works based on stocking levels. Overstock and the bio filter fails. Yes, they would do fine in a ten gallon tank.

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post #9 of 12 Old 06-08-2010, 09:37 AM
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In smaller volumes of water waste becomes much more of an issue with respect to ammonia levels and nitrites. Just isn't the dilution cpabilities that larger tanks provide between water changes.
Even with proper filtration ammonia and nitrites will always be much more of a problem without careful feedings and frequent water changes.
More fish =more food fed,=more waste,=frequent water changes.
Let's be clear, a 2.5 gal is bare minimum for one Betta and even then temperatures and more importantly,,water parameters ,,,can fluctuate wildly and quite quickly ,depending on numbers of fish , frequency and amounts of food offered,and waste created by fish or uneaten portions of food.
Save your money and buy a 20 gal tank. This will provide way more options for a community type set up.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-08-2010, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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In smaller volumes of water waste becomes much more of an issue with respect to ammonia levels and nitrites. Just isn't the dilution cpabilities that larger tanks provide between water changes.
Even with proper filtration ammonia and nitrites will always be much more of a problem without careful feedings and frequent water changes.
More fish =more food fed,=more waste,=frequent water changes.
Let's be clear, a 2.5 gal is bare minimum for one Betta and even then temperatures and more importantly,,water parameters ,,,can fluctuate wildly and quite quickly ,depending on numbers of fish , frequency and amounts of food offered,and waste created by fish or uneaten portions of food.
Save your money and buy a 20 gal tank. This will provide way more options for a community type set up.

Understood. Problem is, we have the little 2.5 gallon mini bow in the kitchen on the counter. I don't see my wife agreeing to get a tank almost 10X's the size of the original. Hmmmm, now I need to figure out how to sell this idea to her .
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