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Methods of Cycling

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  • Methods of Cycling

    So, you've just got this shiny new fish tank for you birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc. and you wanna put some fish in it. You go out to the pet store and buy a couple fish that look "cute" and throw them in the tank and within a couple days they are dead. How can this be? I put clean water in? I fed them? But wait... I DIDN"T CYCLE THE TANK!

    When setting up a fish tank, one of the most important steps is cycling the tank. What does this mean? When you add all your fish into your tank, they may seem all happy and healthy for a while, but as they eat and release waste, toxic ammonia begins to build up in the water. This ammonia is very harmful to the fish and can and will lead to death if it is allowed to build up too high. To prevent this, we need to establish the nitrogen cycle in the tank.

    By establishing the nitrogen cycle, nitrifying bacteria colonies are built up on various porous surfaces throughout the tank. These surfaces include the filter, gravel, decorations, and just about everything else. The filter houses the most bacteria out of everything in the tank. When the colony of bacteria is established, it will take that toxic ammonia and convert it to nitrite. Nitrite is a little less toxic, but still very bad for your fish. It then takes that nitrite and converts it to nitrate. Nitrate is far less harmful to the fish. If allowed to build up though, it can be just as harmful as the ammonia and nitrite. To prevent nitrates from building up, weekly water changes of at least 25% must be performed.

    Methods of cycling:

    Fish-in cycle - This is the least favorable method of cycling as it still exposes the fish to toxins. If you just went out and bought your fish and just can't take them back for some reason, this is the cycling method for you. First, you want to take some readings with your test kit (class, I hope you all brought your test kits today ). You want to measure ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate every couple days until there is no more ammonia or nitrite. In between measuring these parameters, you should also be doing daily 50% water changes with some kind of ammonia detoxifying water conditioner like Seachem Prime. This will lower the amount of toxins for the fish to survive. Once you start to get readings of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5-10 nitrates, your tank is cycled. At this point you can change your water change schedule to about one a week 30% changes.

    Cycling with ammonia - This is a preferred method by a lot of people including myself because it is done BEFORE fish go in the tank. What you do is fill your tank and turn on your heater and filter. Now you want to add a source of ammonia. This can be from either pure ammonia from a hardware store, a raw shrimp, or some fish food. Whatever your choice is, just throw it in the tank and wait... Check your parameters every couple days. When you see the ammonia level go up and then drop, add some more. Once the ammonia and nitrite levels drop to 0 and nitrates are present, your tank is cycled and ready for fish. Just be sure to do your 30% or more weekly water changes.

    Seeded media - This is another good and fast method for cycling. Just get some filter media from a filter on an established tank, put it in your filter with some new media, done! Instant cycle! Just keep an eye on your parameters to make sure there are no ammonia spikes. Again, keep up with weekly 30% or more water changes.

    I think that covers just about everything. If there is anything else to add, please let me know!

  • #2
    Re: Methods of Cycling

    Thanks for the great introduction writeup to cycling an aquarium. Very nicely done!

    Going to make this a sticky
    - Dena

    All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
    Walt Disney

    The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
    Socrates

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    • #3
      Re: Methods of Cycling

      Great write-up! Will be very helpful for beginners!

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      • #4
        Re: Methods of Cycling

        Can we sticky this?
        Information about Duplicate Posts

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        • #5
          Re: Methods of Cycling

          Originally posted by Cichlidnut
          Can we sticky this?
          It already is...LOL
          - Dena

          All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
          Walt Disney

          The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
          Socrates

          Comment


          • #6
            Moved into the CMS Library. Thanks again for the wonderful writeup Dillon!
            - Dena

            All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
            Walt Disney

            The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
            Socrates

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            • #7
              No problem Dena. Thanks for posting it in the CMS!

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              • #8
                Thank you! I know the tank has to be cycled before you add fish and I do it using media from another tank, but for me to read about it and actually comprehend it is another story entirely. I just do it because I know I have to. That is one of the most easily understood explanations I have read and now I feel I have a firmer grasp on the process.
                __________________________________________________ __________
                Lori

                30G, 5G

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                • #9
                  Thanks for this! This is a great description for all beginners. I had to use the fish-in method with my betta, but I received some pre-established media which aided me in the process.
                  I'm a piphilologist; are you?

                  ?(Click on the photo!)

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                  • #10
                    Excuse me being a bit of a 'johny come lately' to here but wanted to share an awesome method of fishless cycle that myself and other half 'discovered.' (Not that I'm suggesting I'm the only person to have ever thought of it that is. Lol.) This works if you have fry in a trap/big substrate that you can get a turkey baster inside/no substrate. Basically get your turkey baster (every fish keeper should have one ;-) and suck out a good portion of waste (i think you Americans call it poop, us Brits tend to call it something else usually beginning with 's' ) from the bottom then transfer it straight into the new tank. (We put it directly into the filter.) Repeat every day and our cycle was complete in only 2 and half weeks! :-) Works a treat if you have a fry trap which would need turkey basting every day anyway; instant access to good fresh ammonia producing poop :-D
                    sigpic
                    "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Woody Allen
                    28 US G planted community, 8G 1 betta, 6.5G shrimp nano, 5G temporary baby tank

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                    • #11
                      Obviously my method only works if you already have an established tank so not so great for first tanks..... Doh!
                      sigpic
                      "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Woody Allen
                      28 US G planted community, 8G 1 betta, 6.5G shrimp nano, 5G temporary baby tank

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                      • #12
                        So how do you measure ammonia?

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                        • #13
                          With a test kit. Oh, if it's not on your list, you should add the API Master Test Kit. It tests pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

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                          • #14
                            With one of these: http://www.amazon.com/API-Freshwater.../dp/B000255NCI Also measures nitrite, nitrate, and pH. A must have for your list!



                            Man, totally ninja-ed Oh well, I posted a link

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