Fish cycling is one of the most often overlooked tasks for anyone who buys a new fish tank. It is absolutely necessary to cycle your tank before adding a lot of fish. If done incorrectly, your fish may not have a healthy ecosystem and they will probably not survive.
What is fish tank cycling?
In the most simple terms, fish tank cycling is the process of establishing a bacteria layer in your fish tank that is able to remove the toxins released by fish after they eat. When you feed your fish, they consume the food and then produce waste. Their waste contains the toxin ammonia. When there is an adequate layer of bacteria and plants, they absorb this toxin which keeps your water at a healthy level. Thus, fish tank cycling is the process of growing these bacteria up so that it can consume all of the ammonia. The reason fish tank cycling takes so long is because bacteria grows very slowly.
Cycling a fish tank with Bacteria
There are two ways to cycle a tank. The first is to add bacteria that you can buy online. Or, if you have another fish tank that already has fish in it, you can use some of the plants or filter media from the old fish tank to the new one. There is also an option to buy nitrogen bacteria which can help speed up the process.
Cycling a fish tank with Plants
The most natural way to cycle a new fish tank is by adding aquarium plants that are already alive and growing. You should add these to a new fish tank and ensure that they have good lighting and fertilizer. This is actually the healthiest method for your fish because plants consume toxins faster than bacteria.
How long should I wait before adding fish?
You can add 1-3 fish after waiting 24 hours. You want to make sure that you add fish that are known for being strong and can withstand tougher conditions. You should only feed these fish a little bit, as too much food can make the water toxic. Every few days, you should change around 10% of the water in the fish tank to ensure there are healthy oxygen levels. Every week you should take samples of your water.
How long to cycle tank before adding fish?
Many people ask how long should I let my tank cycle before adding fish? The cycle of the fish tank is complete when ammonia levels reach 0 ppm and your nitrate levels are above 0ppm. The entire fish tank cycle usually takes around 6 weeks, and after which you can add more fish.