Knowing how to cycle your aquarium is very important especially for new aquarium owners.
Patience and learning along the way is the best start so you can enjoy happy and healthy livestock.
What is Aquarium Cycling ?
Cycling means creating a filtration system built up of good bacteria to remove the toxic waste your fish create.
Setting up your first aquarium -
So you have purchased an aquarium and want to keep tropical fish, now whats next?
Firstly it is important to make sure you have these products available to hand
- a tap safe / water conditioner - this removes chlorine and heavy metals from our tap water, the chlorine found in our tap water is toxic to fish and can cause stress and sometimes fish loss.
You will need to fill your new aquarium with water and treat the water with a tap sawater conditioner. Once you have done this you can then add your heater, and decorations, your new aquarium must be at the correct temperature before you add your first fish.
Adding Fish to your Aquarium -
There are only a small selection of good cycling fish, these include some Barbs, Guppies, Danios, Rasbora’s and platys. These fish will be able to tolerate the high toxins for long enough to enable your good bacteria to grow, later once the bacteria have grown you will be able to add your next selection of fish. The good bacteria can take a few weeks to multiply anything between 6-8weeks.
It is recommended to add some beneficial bacteria the same day you purchase your new fish. You will need to float your new fish in their bag inside your aquarium to allow them to get used to the aquariums water temperature this takes approximately 20minutes. You can then add a small amount of your aquarium water to the fish bags to allow them to get used to the different levels of PH and so on.
What does the good bacteria do? And what is Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrates?
Your fish have to go to the toilet too, it is their waste that contains Ammonia.
Your good bacteria in your aquarium will then start to consume this Ammonia, they will then convert the Ammonia to something called Nitrite.
As your good bacteria continues to grow they will then consume the Nitrite converting them into something called Nitrate.
Once both the Ammonia and Nitrite have been removed from your aquarium your aquarium has now successfully finished its cycle.
You can then add some more fish to your aquarium. It is worth topping up your aquarium with some more good bacteria when you add more fish to eliminate something called an ammonia spike, this is when your good bacteria numbers fall short for the amount of fish you have in your aquarium. Ammonia and Nitrite are highly toxic to fish.
You will then be left with the next form of bacteria which is called Nitrate, this isn't highly toxic to fish but it is important to keep it as low as you can as it does cause algae and dirty water conditions. This will then mean a good maintenance routine will be needed to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
We will go through some simple aquarium maintenance in our next blog. Happy fish keeping.