Whether you have been in the hobby for awhile or just starting out, it is important to know the basics of aquarium keeping. In this hobby, there are many ways to get from A to Z and some will tell you one way is better than another but you'll never know until you try! In this blog we are going to explain two ways to cycle a new tank (freshwater or saltwater!)
Alright now what's this "cycling a tank" business?? Cycling your tank or The Nitrogen Cycle is when the introduction of ammonia can be broken down into nitrites and then into nitrates by beneficial bacteria in your tank. This bacteria usually forms in your substrate and filter system.
Ammonia is present when a fish gives off waste(pees or poos) or when ammonia is directly added to the tank. We are getting close to explaining two different ways you can cycle your tank BUT we need to tell you why all this mumbo jumbo is important for you to know!!
High ammonia in a tank causes great stress to the fish and can lead to ammonia burn or death. While some fish can pull through this "spike" some simply cannot handle it. When the bacteria is available to break down the ammonia it then turns to nitrites. This in turn is just as harmful at ammonia but we are almost done cycling!! Nitrites are then turned into nitrates and you're tank has cycled(yay!). This doesn't mean run to your local fish store and stock your tank! Pump the brakes!! This is a patience game....a few fish at a time or your tank will recycle! You don't want to go through all that again....trust us.
Let's talk about the two ways we recommend cycling the tank:
With Fish: we know we know--you just read all of the terrible things that happen when cycling a tank and now we want you to put some in there. This is why we suggest to purchase a fish you don't love. Fish cycle the water in the wild so we feel this is the most natural way to do so. If he pulls through he will be your trooper for a long while. Depending on the size of your tank we suggest 1-4 fish to start cycling. You will feed them like normal and ONLY top off the water in your tank(no water changes yet!). Check your water weekly and when there is no ammonia or nitrites present you can start adding fish...a few at a time...we know it's hard.
Fish-less: Cycling your tank with no fish is possible! Dr. Tim's One and Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria can be used with or without the addition of ammonia. Regular water tests should be done because this process can take up to 30 days or longer for the bacteria to colonize and reproduce on its own.
No matter how you cycle your tank know that it can take 1-6weeks for the cycle to be complete. Now, what size tank are we starting with?!