When you first fill up your aquarium – whether it is freshwater or saltwater – it will take some time for it to cycle. If you haven’t kept a fish tank before, you may not be familiar with this term. It is, however, something you definitely need to learn before you proceed. The term “cycling” refers to the nitrogen cycle – the process through which beneficial bacteria break down toxins in tank water and convert them into less harmful substances. If you do not give your tank time to establish this cycle completely before adding fish to your tank, it can be a very stressful environment for your fish.
Reducing Stress for Fish
The health and wellness of your fish depends on the water quality in your tank – the lower the water quality, the unhealthier your fish will become. This is largely due to the fact that low water quality stresses your fish and, once your fish become stressed, they become more susceptible to disease. Unfortunately, low water quality is a part of the nitrogen cycle – at least, it is when you first fill your tank. When you first fill up your tank, the population of beneficial bacteria is too low to support the biological load of even a few small fish. It takes time for the bacteria to multiply and to establish the cycle properly.
In an ideal situation, you would not actually add any fish to your tank until it has fully cycled. There are, however, times in which an accident might cause your tank to start cycling over – in this case, you may not be able to remove your fish and must simply make the best of it. In order to cycle your tank more quickly and to reduce the stress on your fish, one thing you can do is to add some substrate or filter media from an established tank. These are the two places which most commonly house beneficial bacteria and adding a dose of live bacteria to your tank will help to speed up the nitrogen cycle.
Another thing you can do to reduce the stress of cycling on your fish is to monitor the ammonia levels in your tank. As your fish excrete waste, that waste breaks down in a process that produces ammonia. Ammonia is extremely toxic for fish so you must keep the ammonia level as low as possible. During cycling, however, the ammonia levels in your tank will fluctuate until your beneficial bacteria get things under control. Monitoring ammonia levels through aquarium water tests will help you to keep an eye on things so you can step in if the ammonia levels get too high.
Additional Tips for Success
Another simple thing you can do to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle in your tank is to install an EcoBio-Stone. EcoBio-Stones come in a variety of sizes. They are made from natural stone and crushed volcanic stone. Each stone is infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive upon being introduced into your tank. Once introduced, the bacteria will multiply and work to establish and then maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank. With the help of an EcoBio-Stone, the water in your tank will remain clean and clear, the ideal environment for your fish and other tank inhabitants.