Do I Need to Cycle a Betta Tank? (How to CYCLE The TANK!)

Do I Need to Cycle a Betta Tank

Before buying a betta fish, you need to cycle your fish tank.

If you are wondering, do I need to cycle a betta tank? It is necessary to cycle the fish tank to remove all the toxic chemicals and have a long and healthy life for your betta. 

In this article, you will learn how to cycle a betta tank properly.

Do I Need to Cycle a Betta Tank?

To keep your Bettas alive, you should cycle your tank. The cycling process produces good bacteria in the tank’s filter that removes all the toxic chemicals from the betta fish tank. This permanent cycling will keep your betta fish safe and give them a long life.

If your tank is not cycled, it would be hard for your betta fish to survive.

Simple Steps to Set Up a Cycling Tank

Set up your cycling tank before adding any betta fish. Make sure to establish the nitrogen cycle before adding any fish. 

For cycling the tank, you need to provide fish food every day in the tank. As there are no fish to eat the food, ultimately, the food will decay and turn into ammonia. Thus, the cycling process just started.

For this process, you will need multiple setups, more time, and patience to create beneficial bacteria in the tank.

What you’ll need–

  • Tank
  • Gravel
  • Air pump
  • Water
  • Water conditioner
  • Ammonia 
  • Testing kit
  • Sponge filter
  • Quarantine tank

Cycling process–

Step 1: Choose a tank

fish tank
A Perfect Tank for Betta Fish

For a betta, you need to choose at least a 2.5-gallon tank as betta is a territorial fish. But if you want to cycle your betta fish tank that time, you must choose at least 5 gallons tank.

Step 2: Spread the gravel

Put the gravel on the tank to decorate the tank. The more area you will spread the gravel, the better result. The bacteria can grow at the substrate level as well.

Step 3: Add an air pump

Make sure to add an air pump inside the tank to ensure oxygen in the tank.

Step 4: Add the water

Add the tap water into the tank. Tap water contains a high amount of chlorine which is not a good chemical to mix with bacteria. Also, chlorine is not suitable for fish.

Step 5: Use a water conditioner

Add water conditioner into the water to dissolve the chlorine. 

Step 6: Add ammonia

Start adding ammonia to the tank. You can use fish food after decaying, which will turn into ammonia, or you can use direct aquarium ammonia. Slowly this ammonia will cultivate good bacteria in the tank.

During the cycling process, keep feeding your tank every day. Otherwise, the colony will stop growing, and eventually, the bacteria will die off.

Step 7: Collect a testing kit

Make sure to buy a testing kit to monitor the tank. Of course, you must follow the specific instructions of the testing kit, as it depends on the kit you are using. 

Test the water every day until your bacteria is established. After two weeks of adding ammonia, it will turn into nitrites, and this nitrite will turn into nitrate. Keep checking this through the test kit.

Make sure to have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and the nitrate level should be between 5-10. 

Step 8: Use a filter

Make sure to filter the water with a sponge filter. Airstone is inside the filter. You will predominantly cultivate the permanent bacteria inside the filter. So, having a filter is essential. 

Step 9: Collect a quarantine tank

As you are cycling your tank before adding any fish. Set up a quarantine tank to put your fish in the tank until the process is done. This is a long process, it needs almost six to eight weeks.

Keep the same temperature and oxygen of the cycled tank in the quarantine tank to acclimate the fish to the water. 

Watch the video to understand the cycling process clearly-

What Is Cycling? 

Cycling is a nitrogen cycle. If you put a fish in a cycled tank, eventually, it will poop in the tank. This poop and leftover foods of the fish will create ammonia. 

This ammonia will pollute the water as it is a toxic chemical and affect your fish badly to encounter death. If you don’t cycle your tank, this ammonia will stay in the tank and kill your fish. So, it’s better to cycle the tank.

It’s the best solution to perform the nitrogen cycle before adding any fish.

What Is the Importance of the Nitrogen Cycle?

  • This cycle will create a permanent bacteria which will take care of all the toxic chemicals in the water.  
  • The bacteria will take care of the fish in any adverse situation
  • Swimming in the poo is very harmful to betta fish, it will break down the toxic chemicals. 

What Does the Nitrogen Cycle Do?

When you put ammonia in the tank, the nitrogen cycle takes it in the filter and uses good bacteria. So after adding ammonia, the water will get cloudy and it’s a bacterial bloom.

There are two significant specific organisms, Nitrous Simonis and a nitro vector. This organism will do incredible jobs.

Nitrous Simonis

It will take the ammonia and oxidize it into nitrite. This nitrite is poisonous to the fish body and causes fish to gasp at the tank’s surface. It will take two weeks.

Nitro vector

It will consume the nitrite and turn it into nitrates. Nitrate is safer for fish but not good. So you need to perform a partial water change to remove the toxic nitrates every one or two weeks. 

After completing the cycle, change 70% to 80% water and remove the nitrates. Make sure to add the non-chlorinated water in the tank while maintaining the same temperature, or else it may kill the bacteria you have just produced. This bacteria is permanent in your fish tank unless you kill your bacteria. 

How Can You Understand Your Cycle Is Completed?

When you have only nitrate in the tank, it will tell you your cycle is completed and you have produced enough bacteria in the tank. 

  • Perform a partial water change
  • Safe to add your betta fish
  • Don’t use any gravel vacuum.
  • Add prime conditions to boost up your tank.

How Does the Test Kit Work?

You need to collect a testing kit to monitor and measure how much chemical is inside the cycle process. After adding ammonia, you need to start testing the ammonia level. It can take a month until your bacteria is entirely cultivated in the tank.

If your ammonia level goes down to zero, it will raise nitrites. So add more ammonia and check the level until it goes down to zero again. This process will take particularly 2 weeks. 

Keep it doing; when the nitrite levels go down, add more ammonia and it will raise the nitrate level. If the nitrate levels go down to around  5 to 10, bacteria are successfully cultivated inside the filter to manage any ammonia. 

How Many Ways Do You Have to Cycle Your Tank?

Cycling is necessary to provide your fish with a healthy life. There are precisely three ways to cycle your tank. 

Sponge Filter

It is the easiest way to cycle your tank. Collect a used sponge filter and put it in an established aquarium.  

This sponge filter will auto-cycle the tank and doesn’t need to mess up with any toxic chemicals.

Use ammonia

It is a technical way to cycle your tank. For example, you can use chemicals, food fish, or direct ammonia to produce bacteria in the tank. 

This bacteria will eliminate all the harmful elements from the tank.

This process takes time to establish the bacteria. You have to undergo this process without any fish. It’s the best process for ensuring a healthy life for your tank.

Cycle with the fish

Put your betta fish in the tank and see how your tank cycles itself. People call it a fish-in cycle. 

Collect brand new sponge filters and add them to the tank. Depend on the fish to create the cycling process. 

The fish will start cycling when it poops and with the leftover foods. Make sure to add a tiny fish to have less bio load.

This is the worst process and this process is not suitable for your betta fish as it can burn the gill of your betta fish and can cause its death.

What Will You Do if Your Tank Is Not Cycled After Buying the Betta Fish?

  • Buy a beneficial bacteria product and pour it into the water by following the instructions.
  • Use it every single day and wait for one week.
  • This bacteria will break all the toxic wastes in the tank.

What Will Happen to Betta Fish if Your Tank Is Not Cycled?

The poop of betta fish and leftover food will create ammonia in the fish tank. If your tank is not cycled, the ammonia will remain in the tank.

What Will You Do if Your Tank Is Not Cycled After Buying the Betta Fish
Two Betta Fish in One Aquarium

Betta fish is a hardy fish that can endure any pain. But it won’t tolerate ammonia for a long time. This ammonia will burn the betta fish and slowly kill your fish.


If you’re not clear, do I need to cycle a betta tank and set up the cycling tank! Then this article will help you to acquaint yourself with the facts–

  • It would be best if you cycled your betta tank to keep them alive. 
  • The cycling process produces good bacteria in the tank’s filter that removes all the toxic chemicals from the betta fish tank. 
  • This permanent cycling will keep your betta fish safe and give them a long life.

Therefore, now you know why you need to cycle your betta tank and how you can do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can You Put a Betta in an Uncycled Tank?

You can put a betta in an uncycled tank. But it is not safe for your betta. As the tank can’t fight against any ammonia and this ammonia can be dangerous for your betta.

Q2. Do Algae Mean Your Tank Is Cycled?

If you notice that algae are blooming in the tank, that means there is enough nitrate to support your algae and your cycling process is about to complete.

Q3. Is It Possible to Cycle an Empty Tank?

It is not possible to cycle an empty tank. Make sure to start cycling your tank after properly setting up your tank with the right equipment. It would help if you collected the equipment that is functioning well. Otherwise, you can’t cycle your tank.

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