Cycling a 10 gallon fish tank in 14 days (or so I think)
Hello to all, I am new to the community and a beginner with a chemistry background who started to enjoy this hobby about two weeks ago. I want to include below a narrative of my experience cycling a tank in two weeks; hoping this may help in some way to those struggling in cycling a tank. However, at the end I am posing a question that would really want people to give me their insight. Those that are beginners like me please say so when giving your opinion.
I decided to go with a fish cycle, since my daughter was still mourning the death of her Betta pet fish, ‘Bubbles’, and I wanted her to have some fishes right away. The betta fish was kept in an unfiltered aquarium and didn't last long.
I started cycling my 10 gallon fish tank with 5 guppies, 4 males and 1 female. In addition I planted a small anubia. The tank is using the internal power filter it came with.
After 24 hours of running the filter with the plant, the fish were placed in the aquarium. The same day the fishes were put in the aquarium I downloaded a very practical app from the Android store called Aquarium Logger (https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...umlogger&hl=en). This app lets you create a log with the parameters you are interested in logging in. It keeps a nice log, evaluates the parameters and also will present a line graph of the parameters. It is very helpful watching the values changing over time. Of course I needed a test kit which I obtained from my local pet shop, the brand name is API.
The morning of day 3, one male guppy fish was found dead. Ammonia levels were somewhere around 0.25 ppm, nitrites and nitrates were still at 0 ppm. The nitrifying bacteria was still absent. I kept recording the water parameters for the next week, doing 33% water changes every two or 3 days, whenever the ammonia was found to be 0.5 ppm.
At Day 4, I went to the local pet shop to buy a piece of driftwood and two other plants, one java fern and another anubia. I placed the driftwood in a bucket with water and was told to keep it saturated at least for 7 days. The plants were kept in their containers; my intention was to put them in the tank attached to the driftwood. The driftwood was kept in the water and every two to three days I changed the water thinking that the tannins would leach faster with clear water (thinking osmosis?).
By the 6th day ammonia levels spiked at 1.0 ppm. That same day nitrites were starting to appear with an estimated 0.1 ppm based on color interpolation from the color chart. I performed a 40% water change and was curious as to why after changing the water, the ammonia was still found at 0.50 ppm; the reason I found that my tap water contained around 0.50 ppm of ammonia! The fishes were fine so I wasn’t trouble by this, except for the fact that I read I should have made a lower partial change, in the range of 10-20% or the cycle could have been ‘reset’. I was planning to replace my dead guppy but instead resisted the temptation until everything was ok for adding more fishes. I want to mention as well, that reading the aquarium forums in the internet and 'googling' helped a lot.
At day 9 I noticed that the plants still in their containers were getting starting to wither so I decided to plant them in the aquarium and keep them with light overnight.
At day 11 I transplanted the plants from the gravel and attached them to the driftwood which was placed in the aquarium, it looked very nice, I also put a ‘mysterious blue snail’ to do some scavenging of the fish food-leftovers and tank bottom. Nitrites that night were estimated to be around 0.14 ppm.
The next day nitrites spiked at 0.25 ppm, the pH which was initially alkaline (7.6) turned to 6.8; in my opinion this was the result of tannins leaching from the driftwood giving the water a nice yellowish tinge as well. Ammonia readings were 0 ppm; this was great news because I confirmed that nitrifying bacteria was present. Nitrates were also found at 5 ppm, confirming the presence of other needed bacteria. This was increasing from an estimated 2.5 ppm three days before. To me this was great news as the presence of both nitrifying bacteria was finally confirmed.
At day 13th, the nitrates were starting to be reduced, this I found strange because I was expecting higher results. The nitrate reading was 3 ppm; nitrites were also decreased from 0.25 ppm to approximately 0.12 ppm.
Today, day 14th, I performed all 4 tests and found out the following: ammonia – 0 ppm, nitrite – 0 ppm, nitrate – 0 ppm, pH – 7.6. I understand that with these values my 10 gallon tank aquarium has been cycled!
I still wonder the reason of the 0 ppm reading in the nitrates. Are these due to the plants consuming nitrates? I think so. Also, why did the pH returned to 7.6 so fast? As I haven’t introduced any pH buffer in the tank, I could hardly think of any calcium carbonates in the gravel (other than the snail shell).
I want to have your opinion of what contributed to the quick cycle of this tank, as I bought it exactly two weeks ago, and now it seems I can introduce other fish in it. I have two theories in my mind. One is that because the tap water already contained 0.50 ppm of ammonia, this accelerated the bacteria formation. The other is that the snail could have brought some bacteria in its shell from the cycled aquarium from where it came from. What do you think?
P.S. If someone is interested I can post in a table the water test results throughout the 14 day period. Please let me know.
Thanks Strider, I starting adding 3 neon tetras, no ammonia registered, then yesterday night introduced 2 cherry shrimps and 1 amano shrimp. I will definitely check Prime as a water conditioner. So far everything is looking good.
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