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Aquarium Cycling without fish

If you are new to the hobby.

Aquarium Cycling without fish

Postby malakye » Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:12 pm

you have gone to your LFS and bought your your tank, you have it decorated with substrate, plants, ornaments, the LFS has told you all you need to do is leave it over night or for a couple of days and its ready for fish..................Right?
Wrong.................Sadly some Petstores/ fish stockists are more interested in your cash than your fish and do not give the correct information about whats best for your fish.

Before you add fish you need to cycle your tank. There are several ways to do so but the best way is by far is to do it before fish are added to the tank.

Go to your local pharmacy or hardware store and buy a bottle of pure ammonia. Also purchase from you LFS a good quality water test kit. I personally swear by API test master kits. Liquid tests are always better than strips.

You should add enough ammonia to your tank so that it brings the Ammonia reading up to between 4 to 6 ppm. The only way to do this is add a drop of ammonia, swirl it around, wait a moment, test the water and repeat. Remember how much ammonia you've added. It will vary depending on what concentration of ammonia you've bought, keeping note is the only way you will know how much YOU need this is crucial.
Each day add the same amount of ammonia, and check your ammonia an hour later.
Test your water for Ammonia. When the ammonia reading drops to 0, start testing your water using your Nitrite test kit. This takes time, there’s no way to rush it, but believe me it is better for you and your fish.

Keep adding the ammonia, and checking the Nitrite every day. The nitrite level should climb and then drop down to 0. This spike will occur over a period of days, so again be patient. When your nitrites are at 0 an hour after you add the ammonia, your tank should be cycled.
It’s usually best to keep a diary or log of your water test results. This cannot be rushed and will take roughly 4 weeks sometimes longer, not often less unless you can bag yourself some mature media to help your filter along.

During this time you should keep your lights switched on for up to 10 hours a day, have your heater and filter running. Do not do any water changes at this stage.

Once your tank is fully cycled you can stop adding ammonia do a 50% water change and stock with fish. Then do a minimum of weekly 20% water changes and substrate vacs.

If you can get hold of used healthy filter media this will speed up the cycling process, but you still need to ensure the tank if fully cycled before adding any fish, again this will not happen over night.

You can also do fishless cycles using a raw prawn or by adding fish food to the tank and leaving it to rot, this will produce an ammonia spike and then a nitrite spike and cycle your tank also. Again take daily water samples and check the stats.

The most important thing is to Cycle your tank and a cycle without fish is the best way to go, it saves your fish a whole heap of stress, pain, shock, distress and also possible deaths. It also saves you a whole heap of work and the heartache you would no doubt encounter if you went the fish in tank cycle process.

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