Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Falina 04-15-2007 06:37 AM

cycling a TINY "tank"
i am currently cycling a 3g "tank" for my 4 molly fry to grow up in. they will only be here for a few months until they get big enough not to get eaten and/or be taken to lfs for rehoming.

thing is i have never cycled a small tank like this before. i cycled my 35g withough any problems and my 10g, through not knowing at the time, i didnt cycle at all. but there is a queer difference between 35g and 3g

so my questions are:

how often should i do water changes? how much water should i change? when amonia and nitrite is 0, is it safe to add fish? i know small tanks are a lot more unstable so im not convinced that i can add the babies as soon as these conditions are met or if i should wait longer? also, since 4 molly fry is going to be such a small bio-load, should i stop panicking and just add them ocne amonia and nitrite = 0?


saint 04-15-2007 07:47 AM

rather than cycling a tank that small, why dont you take water out of the tank they are already in? this way they wouldnt have to deal with much water parameter difference

Mrmofo 04-15-2007 07:50 AM

should be to much of a spike due to the small fry not making much "mess"..but then again dont u have to feed the fry like 7 times a day or somthing?daily tests + a water change every 4-5 days id think can u get some type of filter and abit of the media from ur bigger tank in the new tanks filter?

Falina 04-15-2007 08:26 AM

i have used gravel from the larger tank, and an ornament and plant from another tank as well to hopefully speed up the process.

would using water from the other tank really matter though? i agree aboutt he parameters and think i will actually just use that water but in terms of cycling - doesnt most of it live in the filter and on ornaments/gravel etc? i didnt think there was much in the actual water. thoguh maybe because its so small this would be enough?

i set the tank up only today with a wee filter rated for 5g or less. its not much of a flter but its only for a 3g tank like ive said and itll only be getting used for fry while they grow up so not a full-time thing so i reckoned itd be fine. so far i have put some fish food in to start cycling. i think ill take out half of the water and fill it bak up again with water from the bigger tank. theyre currently in a floating breeding unit in the bigger tank because only 4 out of a lot survived. even in the plants they were getting ambushed and eaten so i had to do soemthing but hate to see them in the tny breeding unit.

thanks for your help

Andyandsue 04-16-2007 01:04 PM

I have cycled a 3 gallon. It's no different than any other tank, except the changes happen much faster. Keeping that in mind...

You are correct, the good bacteria live in/on items in the tank, not the water. If you are "fixing" your water so it is the same as you would do for any other water change in your larger tanks, I would say that water is ok to use in the 3 gallon. Using gravel and an ornament to cycle is perfect. The more gravel from that tank the better.

My only suggestion is to test the water daily until you get a reading that idicates the tank is fully cycled, and then you are good to go.

I do a 1/2 gallon water change/gravel vac in my 3 gallon once a week. I also use Algone (which is a "plant in a pouch" and has been a lifesaver) to keep the tank crystal clear, it even gets rid of diatoms.

Falina 04-16-2007 01:49 PM

thanks for your help

i have been putting fish food in and after 2 days still have no readings for amonia. hopefully i should see some soon since it is such a small tank

im a very impatient person, this is a hobby that requires a lot of patience, im hoping i will develop patience as time goes on :P

formyfish 04-16-2007 03:41 PM

35 gallon and 3 gallon
Spawning fry is a cool project. I have cycled many different sized tanks and i use the same method for all sizes and have never had an issue. Good luck and the patience will eventually come.

Andyandsue 04-16-2007 03:50 PM


Originally Posted by juliewiegand
thanks for your help

i have been putting fish food in and after 2 days still have no readings for amonia. hopefully i should see some soon since it is such a small tank

im a very impatient person, this is a hobby that requires a lot of patience, im hoping i will develop patience as time goes on :P

I'm also impatient, and I used to fish to cycle with bio-spira. My tanks cycled in 2 weeks flat with not one death. It was a very precise operation!

Falina 04-16-2007 05:31 PM

i always thoguht fishless was faster? even still im not willing to risk any fishes lives in case i made any mistakes or inaccurate readings or whatever.

im no expert but from what i have read a fish cycle is a bit hit and miss in therms of their long-time health

its good that you have a good method of doing it though :)

Andyandsue 04-16-2007 06:19 PM

I think that a fishless cycle will take longer (can anyone here confirm that?). With a fish cycle, the excrement is the ammonia, in addition to decaying food, to start the cycle immediately. Whereas if you are doing a fishless cycle you have to wait for the food to start it's process of becoming ammonia. I don't have any experience with a fishless cycle so I can't say for sure how much longer. It may only be a few days...

I know people here either love it or hate it, but I love BioSpira. In my 3 gallon I had 2 zebra danio and 2 golden white cloud to cycle. I added the water and the biospira and then the fish- never had an ammonia reading that made me worry. It goes up ever-so-slightly the first day and then overnight the nitrites appear. I did a small water change each time I saw the nitrites go up (ammonia naturally stayed at 0 after the first day) and then over the next 2 weeks the nitrates built up and the nitrites went down. And that was it for all my tanks, not one fatality!

The one thing that I think is huge though is where you actually buy the BioSpira. It needs to be kept refrigerated. I go to a LFS that is reputable and there is a high turn-over. They do aquarium maintenance, and specialize in reef set-ups.

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