So you’ve bought a fish tank (Aquarium), put in your sand/pebbles (substrate), filled it with ornaments / plants etc.
Now you’re eager to get it up and running and get your first fishy friend.
Whoa there nelly, it may look amazing, but it isn’t ready for your aquatic pals to live in just yet, you have to cycle your tank (Aquarium), before you add your fish.
Cycling Your Fish Tank (Aquarium Cycling)
So what is Fish Tank Cycling?
The simplest way to explain it is, you’re the landlord of a really messy block of flats (apartment block), and you have to wait for the janitors to arrive.
The janitors in this scenario are microscopic bacteria, that will eventually be your tanks main clean up crew. These bacteria are important as they eat toxins created by your fishes waste and left over food.
How long does it take to Cycle a Fish Tank
There is no set time, but a month seems to be about the minimum; to cycle properly, you’ll want to pick up a Test Kit and / or Test Strips (Quick Tip with test strips! You can cut them length ways to get more tests for your money), these will allow you to monitor your tanks progress during the cycling process.
Different Tank Cycling Methods
Fish-less Cycling (Our Preferred Method)
Fish-less cycling, to start with make sure you’ve dechlorinated the water in your tank we recommend Interpet Bioactive Tapsafe, then simply turn on your heater, filter, bubbler even your lights if it’s a planted tank, (Quick Tip, plants WILL speed up cycling), and add a little fish food. Run your tank as if it had fish in adding a small amount of food every few days this will create the ammonia that the bacteria will feed on.
The goal is to build up as much bacteria as possible so when you do finally add fish the bacteria can cope with their waste.
Fish in Tank cycling (Hate this Method)
Fish in tank cycling usually uses an inexpensive fish, you simply plop the fish in after dechlorinating as above and run the tank as normal the fish may or may not survive this process but they WILL suffer which is why we do NOT recommend this process at all, but we included for your information.
Tank cycling with ammonia (Complicated can be expensive)
Start the process the same as above, then you’ll need some pure ammonia around four drops daily until you get the desired results. No quicker in most cases than using fish food and the results can be less stable.
UK Fishkeeping Cycling Tips
Patience – If you’re impatient and rush your tank WILL crash.
Plants – Plants greatly speed up the process but still see above. Easy Aquarium Plant to use is Hornwart.
Adding – Ornaments, Gravel, Filter media from an ESTABLISHED Fish Tank will add beneficial bacteria to your Aquarium. Bacteria live on surfaces. (Water from another Tank WONT add anything except waste)
Monitoring – Check your tank once the first week then every few days after and keep a log of results.
Oh and did we mention PATIENCE?
Check out our Fishkeeping Tips section for more Aquarium Advice