cycling a fish tank

How To Cycle a Fish Tank

Cycling a Fish Tank” means, establishing a bacteria bed or colonies to control the nitrogen cycle, the cycling converts ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. Cycling removes the toxins from the filter created by the metabolism of the fish.  You cannot create a stable nitrogen cycle instantly in a new aquarium. But, if you could set up your filtration properly, then your pet fish will survive in their new dwell or tank.

cycling a fish tank

However, one should consider several things when cycling the tank, and there are two key steps to cycling, first, filter in the fish tank grows a bacteria that resumes ammonia and converts it into Nitrite, which is considered more toxic compared to ammonia in the high pH level water or hard water.

The filter further produces bacteria that resumes Nitrite and converts into a bit less harmful Nitrate.

Nitrite Levels

But, high Nitrite levels will cause stress and loss of appetite to your fish, even hardy fish, and also contribute to algae growth. That is why it is very vital to do standard small water changes to keep your fish tank in better condition.

How To Cycle Fish Tank

Use Test Kits Consistently

You can also utilize a liquid-based test kit to make sure to get expected levels.  It is important, to begin with, 10% to 20% of the final fish load to protect the pet fish from an unexpected crash.

This process allows the filters to starts without placing your fish at risk, and you can add fish slowly after a few weeks to months, and ensure to check the water quality as you add fish to your tank.

You can find several ways to cycle fish tanks, and some of these methods are easier than others.  Here you can find some methods that can help you cycle your fish tank without harming your fish.

Aquarium Fish-In Cycling:

Fish-in Cycling is the most standard approach that can be used by both veteran and beginner fish keepers.  Generally, many individuals do not like to see the empty aquarium in their home for several months or weeks hoping that a helpful bacterium is growing.

how to cycle a fish tank

Add Fish Slowly

When setting up your fish tank or aquarium, add only a few fish in the beginning. Check the stocking list of your fish, and then select the most durable and hardiest species that you want to add to your fish tank.

In the beginning, feed your fish lightly and then slowly increase the quantity in about 4 to 6 weeks. The useful bacteria feed on fish waste, but, initially, there will not be a lot of bacteria, however, avoid overfeeding your fish until there are enough bacteria grown in the tank that can handle the waste load of the fish.

how to clean a fish tank

Add Useful Bacteria to the Fish Tank

You can accelerate the aquarium cycling process significantly by adding useful bacteria from the onset. If you have several aquariums, then just transfer some recycled filter substrate or media from an established fish tank to the new one. Also, you can buy live nitrifying bacteria to start the cycle. Accelerate the aquarium cycling process by including helpful bacteria from additives like Fritz Zyme 7 or used filter media.

Using the aquarium water test kit measures the quality of the fish tank water. Check-in every two days in the beginning to test the water chemistry in your aquarium.  Whenever you notice a removable amount of nitrite or ammonia and change some water to take out the toxic compounds and provide clean, new water for your fish. A water change is important for the removal of harmful bacteria colony build-up.

Staying on top of water chemistry will also help keep your tank clean and your filtration system running at its best efficiency. Using the water test kit, you can observe the water quality of your tank to make sure your pet fish are healthy and safe.

Safe Ammonia Levels

When Nitrite and ammonia levels are at 0 ppm and nitrate levels are above 0 ppm, and if you can feed your pet fish food normally for a week, then that means the cycle for your aquarium is complete and further cycling is not necessary.

After cycling your tank, you can slowly add more fish to your fish tank, with some wait time between each fish.  However, make sure not to add more because useful bacteria growth should not get increased more due to waste load. If your fish pets are betta fish, it is best to have a single betta fish for your tank setup.

Cycling a fish tank takes some patients but gets easier the more times you perform this procedure in your aquarium.

Nitrate Increases

For fish, nitrate is a safer compound, but it increases by more than 40 ppm, then you need to change the water to reduce the nitrate levels with a new cycle. Nitrogen waste can wreak havoc on everything from s saltwater tank to a freshwater tank, even if you do not use tap water.

It is important to keep toxin levels low through an aquarium tank cycle. Be sure to start the cycle after you add all of your fish tank decorations.

Using Pre-Established Media:

Pre-established media is also called seeding an aquarium, where you have to use pre-established media from another structure. It is an old method that helps you begin the fish colonies in a new fish tank or aquarium. Use a part of filter media from another established system or take a cup of gravel from another stable tank in a bag and place it into the new filter.  Relocating fish to a new aquarium should be done quickly before the bacteria dry out or die.  This method will reduce your cycling process if you have a lot of filter means.

Using Old Filters To Speed Up Water Cycling

Another process to accelerate the nitrogen cycling method is keeping the used filter in a new tank and run side by side. This process will need more unconventional planning before considering because this process makes your new tank contains similar water parameters and chemistry.

You can remove the used filter from the new fish tank after 4-6 weeks, and ensure that the new tank is ready to handover the new filter. Also, add some fish to the new tank so that they can eat the ammonia stuck on the new filter.

An Aquarium water test kit helps you find nitrogen toxic levels in the aquarium and helps eliminate any errors in your water cycle.

Cycling with Plants:

The cycling with plants method is a very popular method as it converts your fish tank into a natural and biological ecosystem.  To your fish tank add some live aquarium plants along with fish and let them grow healthily by providing good lighting, fertilizers, and substrate.

Use Live Plants That Improve Your Aquatic Environment

According to experts and microbiologists, aquatic plants can easily reduce nitrogen levels in the tank by consuming waste and their consumption is more efficient than bacteria. The live plants’ roots and leaves also contribute some useful bacteria. This can speed up your cycle considerably.

Completion of Tank Cycling

The cycle is considered complete when the plants have new growth. This proves that the live plants in your fish tank are consuming nitrates and ammonia successfully and converting the toxins into new roots and leaves.

Add More Fish After Cycle Completes

The cycle is complete without an error. Now, you can add a few new fish, and use the aquarium water test kit to make sure that ammonia & nitrites levels are at 0 ppm and nitrates level at below 40 ppm.

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