Simple Tips on Cycling Your Fish Tank
A new fish tank is as clean is it could get. For beginner hobbyists or aquarists, this may seem like a perfect condition for fish. For experts, it is a place to kill as many fish as you want within days. A tank that has not completed its nitrogen cycle does not have beneficial bacteria that are essential for removing wastes that come from your fish.
The best (but not the easiest) way to cycle a tank is through a method called fishless cycle. You complete the process without adding in fish to start the cycle. It is relatively safe for you will know that your tank is free from disease that can come from other fish. Aside from that, you don’t have to put in sacrificial fish just to promote the cycle for another, of put up with fish that you don’t want. To initiate the cycle, you may want to use the filter material from an established and disease-free tank. Plants are also ideal for starting the nitrogen cycle. You may also use some gravel from a disease-free tank. If you are concerned over the cleanliness of the material, don’t fret. Put it inside a piece of stocking and put it inside the tank. This type of fishless cycling will take about 4 to 6 weeks to complete.
If you wish not to wait longer, or if this tank will be your very first tank and you do not have access to other disease-free tanks there is another way. Spare the time and effort to find ACS quality ammonia. This is ammonia that is 100% pure without any substrate that can harm the fish. To test for substrate, shake the bottle. Good quality ammonia does not have bubbles or foaming. The general rule here is to add ammonia until it reaches 5 mg/L or 5ppm. Let the water cycle around before you test to get an adequate reading. Do this everyday until the ammonia level peaks to 6 mg/L or 6ppm. Once it reaches this reading, stop adding ammonia to the water or reduce the amount of ammonia you add to the tank up to a 3rd of the usual amount. Be very, very, very patient for this would now be a test of endurance. Do not change the water of the tank. You may also start testing for the nitrogen level. Your nitrates will start to develop, then spike, then drop back down to zero along with your ammonia levels. Change the 50%-80% of the water in your tank. Let the water stay overnight before you test it again, leaving the other parts and set up of the aquarium alone. If it still remains at zero level, congratulations, your tank is now cycled and ready for your new fish. Usually this type of fishless cycle takes about 10 days to 3 weeks.
It may be hard and tedious to do cycle your tank. However, once the whole process is done and you see your fish healthy and stress-free when you put it inside the tank, all your efforts will be well worth it. It is better to sweat it for several weeks than have your highly expensive fish die on you within weeks of bringing it home.