Cycling with fish...
Okay I am sure this has already been discussed... but help me.
I have a 5 gallon (future QT) that I am cycling. This morning I put 3 of my Zebra Danio's in it... Then thought better of it. They are still in there, but I am wondering if 3 is too many to start with??? The levels are perfect at the moment.. but I expect that is because it has not cycled. When I set it up, I put plants, gravel and a chunk of the filter material from my existing tank into it. However, I don't think it is cycling.
Do I take the fish out? I've never cycled a tank with fish in it before...
Why don't you just go fishless instead? You can dose pure ammonia, use fish food and "feed" the tank despite there being no fish, or use a shrimp (the eating kind). That way you've got a steady ammonia source to cycle the tank, and you don't have to harm any fish in the process.
To answer your question, Yes leave the fish in there. The biological material from your existing tank that was added to the cycling tank will need ammonia (fish poo) to work properly. You may not have much of an ammonia spike due to the bacteria you added it will feed on the waste from the fish. You will need to monitor the levels however just as you would otherwise. If ammonia gets lethal change out twenty to twenty five percent with dechlorinated water. The addition of material from your existing tank will speed the cycling. Keep an eye out for nitrites and nitrates. Like I said depending on how much material was added from existing tank you may not see a significant ammonia spike but nitrite and nitrate levels WILL occur. Patience! P.S. don't add too many fish too soon after you see nitrates. Best to stock slowly so bacteria can develop in proportion to the tank occupants. :)
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