THE PROCESS OF CYCLING A FISH TANK
Cycling your fish tank is not difficult, but it does take some time – there are also several different methods you can use. In this section, you will learn what cycling is, how you do it, how long it will take, the number of fish needed, and much more!
Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle by Eliasch via Wikimedia Commons
- The goal of cycling a fish tank is to establish a bed or colony of bacteria in your biological filter to help eliminate toxins made by the fish's metabolism.
- The bacteria grown will then digest the ammonia from waste, turning it into Nitrite. Although Nitrite in hard water or water with a high pH level is actually more toxic than ammonia, the bacteria in your tank eventually turn the Nitrite into Nitrate which is relatively less harmful to the fish.
- If the water in your fish tank is not changed on a regular basis, the Nitrate accumulates and becomes harmful, causing fish to stop eating and becoming stressed. Additionally, the growth of algae is accelerated. Therefore, it is imperative that you follow the cycling process and maintain a clean tank (which regularly removes nitrates) for the health of your fish.
- A tank that is in the process of cycling is often referred to as having “New Tank Syndrome.” If the tank hasn’t properly cycled by the time you add your fish, it could be a toxic environment resulting in the death of your fish.
To cycle your fish tank, start with the following steps:
- Begin with the smallest number of fish possible – generally two to three small fish per 10 gallons. Choose the hardiest fish you can find – examples may include guppies and mollies, among others.
- Goldfish are not ideal fish for tank cycling. One reason is that goldfish kept in a tropical fish tank are much more susceptible to disease, meaning the tank can easily become diseased (Goldfish are cool water fish, and are not meant to be kept in tropical fish tanks that require warmer temperatures). Finally, the type of goldfish typically used for cycling are feeders. These fish are different from top quality goldfish and can carry diseases.
- In addition to the fish mentioned, other good species for a smaller tank would include Zebra Danios, White Clouds, and then Cherry or Tiger Barbs. If you have a fish tank that is 10 to 20 gallons, five fish would be adequate.
- One of the most important things is to remember to limit the number of fish with which you cycle your tank. If you cycle the fish tank with a large number of fish, you could have devastating results. For example:
- There would be a high production of excess waste, causing a great deal of stress to the fish. When this happens, chances are you will have fish die and the risk of disease rises significantly.
- Water problems would increase dramatically during the cycling process
- When you cycle with a large number of fish, the tank will develop a very unpleasant odor
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