Cycling a Fish Tank- the Nitrogen Cycle
What is “New Tank Syndrome”?
Every aquarium will naturally establish a full nitrogen cycle within 8 weeks. However, before fully cycling a fish tank, every aquarium has a “new tank syndrome”. This is a 4 to 6-week process whereby your aquarium suffer days of high ammonia and nitrite. Beware, because this process can be deadly to the fish! Today we will explain how to prevent disaster.
During this time it is important to only start with a small group of hardy fish. These are the “Marines” of your aquarium as they will endure the toughest living conditions, as the first fish will have to swim in their own bathroom waste!
What is the “Nitrogen Cycle”?
The aquarium nitrogen cycle is a process where good bacteria break down the bathroom waste into harmless byproducts. This invisible army of bacteria creates a slippery film on the surfaces of your aquarium. Furthermore, the gravel and filter have the most surface area. Therefore it is never a good idea to take apart your aquarium and clean it.
How Do We Ensure “Good Bacteria” thrive in the Fish Tank?
The good bacteria require oxygenation provided by your filter, and they grow slowly. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for this bacteria to cycle a fish tank. Doing monthly water changes will help the healthy bacteria and hinder the disease-causing bacteria.
Important Tips for Success
- Dechlorination is extremely important. Also, we recommend a dechlorinator that also removes ammonia and nitrite!
- Add a starter bacteria like Stress Zyme when you first set up your aquarium.
- Better yet, add plant gravel and/or a piece of cultured driftwood into your aquarium! These products already have established colonies of healthy bacteria growing on their surfaces!
- Acclimate carefully and choose hardy fish such as cichlids, large tetras, goldfish, or tiger barbs.
- Start your fish population with 1/4th to 1/3rd of your aquarium’s maximum capacity (the max capacity rule-of-thumb is one 1-inch fish per gallon.)
- Feed your starter fish only one flake per fish per day when you are cycling a fish tank.
- Do not add any more fish until your aquarium is cycled.
- Trust your sense of smell! Harmful nitrates produce a fishy odor during New Tank Syndrome, but good bacteria usually eliminate this odor in two weeks.
- Test your water with an API Master Test kit!
- If you live in Wichita Kansas, Call Living Waters to establish your new aquarium today!