Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is cycling in a fish tank and how do I do it?

Getting a new fish tank and thank you for all you others who answered my other questions. Anyways, someone said I had to cycle the aquarium and I looked on the website, yet it's confusing me on how to cycle. In short terms or in steps, how do I do it? Do I just do a 25% water change and then check the pH and stuff?What is cycling in a fish tank and how do I do it?
Most people, myself included, find the whole ';cycling'; thing confusing at first. However, once you get it, it's actually very simple. I found this article the most helpful when I was in my confused stage, as it includes a week-by-week look at what to do: http://www.fishtankforums.com/frontpage/

Also, I'm a visual learner, so the graph on this page helped me. Just scroll down to the graph, don't read the article: http://www.drtimsaquatics.com/fishless/f

Keep in mind that the time frame will vary from tank to tank. The number of weeks in the above articles are just an average time period. It's okay if your's doesn't match up exactly.What is cycling in a fish tank and how do I do it?
I agree, it is very confusing. Basically your fish produce amonia, u need certain beneficial bacteria in your tank to turn that amonia into Nitrite. Then u need a different kind of bacteria to turn that nitrite into nitrate! Amonia and nitrite will kill your fish.

To get this bacteria into your new tank u can either do it naturally and add 1 fish at at time for months to let the bacteria develop on it own. If you do it this way u will probably loose your starter fish. OR you can add chemicals to your water that supposidly does it for u. (I was advised not to do this, apparently it can take months and months to get right, again, u will loose fish)

Or u can do what I was advised....

I set up a new tank and left it a week, then got water tested and nitrite was extremely high, I had no fish in it at this point. I was sent home from the fish store with a full bag of mucky water to add to my tank, 3 days later I had the water tested again and it was fine.

I now have 6 fresh water tanks that all started with a bag of mucky water. Basically I shove my shiphon into the mucky gravel at the bottom of my fully cycled tank, this takes a lot of both kinds of bacteria. If u use this method it's a good idea to rinse your new filter sponge in this water to get the bacteria in that too.

Still only add a couple of fish at a time, like I said I've done this 6 times and lost no fish due to cycling my tanks, about once a week do a 10% water change and remember to de-chlorinate new tap water.

Also live plants eat fish waste, oxygen the water and take amonia directly out the water, so if u can it's a good idea to get some of them too.

Hope this helps.
pH doesn't really matter too much to most fish. Try not to mess with it unless it is very low or very high.

Basically cycling is establishing good bacteria in your filter/tank.

You start with ammonia (from pure ammonia, rotting shrimp, fish waste, fish food). The ammonia is converted by bacteria into nitrite.

Nitrite will be converted by another type of bacteria into nitrate. Nitrate is the least toxic and is removed by water changes.

So basically when your tank is cycled, you should get a nitrate reading but NO ammonia and NO nitrite.

You can start by ';feeding'; the tank with fish food or putting in some cocktail shrimp to rot. This is fishless cycling.

Doing a fish cycle (using live fish as your ammonia source) is considered cruel by some because you are putting your fish in danger of death and ammonia poisoning.

Good luck with your tank.
Just do the water changes. There is little point in checking pH as it is difficult to maintain any change without a good chemistry background. Chances are very good the fish in the tank have different preferences by species. If they are happy with the water you are using do not change anything. Drastic changes will tend to kill the fish. They need water chemistry stability. Testing chemicals can be miss leading, unstable and inaccurate. They change with age and humidity and temperature.
First set up your tank completely remembering to condition the water and let it run with out fish for at least 24 hrs before adding fish. Then get a couple hardy fish and put them in your tank still in the bag so they aren't shocked by the temperature change leave them there for at least 30 min. Take them out of the bag with a net don't pour the water in the tank. Don't feed them right away let them get used to everything first. When you feed them only give them what they can eat in 2 minutes. Check the parameters regularly and do water changes to keep the nitrite levels under control. When the nitrite levels drop and nitrate rise you are good to go get more fish basically.

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