Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cycling your tank

If you've ever had a goldfish as a kid, and woke up a few days later to find him belly up, your goldfish most likely fell victim to the ammonia cycle. Fish waste, and decaying uneaten food produces ammonia, which is toxic to the fish. When starting an aquarium, the first thing you need to do is cycle the tank.

Start off by filling your tank with distilled water, or treated tap water (there are many products that will remove the harmful chlorine from tap water.) Run your filter for 24-48 hours with no fish. After you've done this, you can put in a few fish to start the ammonia cycle. Goldfish or Danios are good to start with, as they're very tolerant of poor conditions, and they're cheap.

After 8-10 days, ammonia levels will peak, and at this point the bacteria in the tank will start converting the ammonia to nitrites, which are also toxic to the fish. Keeping live plants can be very beneficial to the tank, as they absorb nitrites, and also introduce oxygen to the tank.

After another 10 days, the nitrites will start to convert to nitrates. Although nitrates are mostly harmless to fish (except in very high levels), nitrates can contribute to unwanted algae growth in the tank.

Once you have ammonia and nitrite levels in check, you can start adding more fish. Here are a few more ways you can help prevent toxic ammonia and nitrate buildup in the tank:

- Don't overfeed your fish. Overfeeding will cause them to produce more waste, and any uneaten food that collects on the bottom of the tank will rot, and contribute waste to the tank.

- Ensure you have good coverage of gravel on the bottom of the tank. Bacteria growth on the gravel will help remove waste products. Be sure to use a gravel vacuum to clean up fish waste and uneaten food from the bottom of the tank weekly.

- Don't overstock your tank. Having too many fish will mean more waste is being produced than your plants and good bacteria can remove, eventually leading to toxic ammonia and nitrite buildup. A good rule is one inch of fish for every gallon of water.

- Do partial water changes weekly. Refreshing 10-20% of your water every week will help reduce waste buildup in the tank.

- Clean your filters often, and replace them as needed.

43 comments:

  1. Great tips here. I used to keep some fish, maybe your blog will inspire me to get some again!

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  2. i had 2 feeder fish for over year. those bitches are tough

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  3. Hey, that's great, I want some fish someday! Didn't really know how it worked! Great tips!

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  4. Good tips on tanks, I used to have a few fish also

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  5. thank you. im thinking about getting some gold fish for my daughter.

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  6. Is it weird if I feel dogs are easier to keep than fish?

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  7. Aw thank you for sharing! Actually i overfed my fish :( big mistake, thank u for sharing! take care :D

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  8. Never had so many useful tips on fish tanks. Thanks a lot!

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  9. Good tips, haven't had fish in a few years. I really wanna buy some again.

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  10. a basic tipe but 1 many owners forget

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  11. thanks for the post, I've never kept fish before, so I didn't know any of this!

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  12. Brought home fish from the state fair one year-- when they died I never forgave myself ;_;

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  13. That's probably why my fish kept dying. Either that or because I never fed them.

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  14. i stopped having fish as pets when i had to flush the first one down the toilet D:

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  15. I like to eat fish, not pet them.

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  16. Had a fish, called him Harvey, I fed him hot dogs. He lived for a year, but I moved and had to give him to a friend. The friend fed him actual fish food -- he died a week after.

    Lesson learned? Hot dogs = life-blood for fish.

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  17. Man, I haven't been fishing in so long

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  18. Your linking yoh blog rrong newfriend
    moderate this or else

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  19. nice, i have an aquarium at home that my sis maintains.

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  20. Maybe now my fish won't die :(

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  21. great tips! now my fish wont' die

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  22. I've never had fish, but I was thinking about it....now maybe not, if it's this much work! LOL

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  23. The sad thing is my fish always died when I was young. We had them in a plastic tub from walmart and I paid a bunch for medicine.. Ugh if only this blog was around 10 years ago!

    Good to know now though :) Even though I have a cat.. if I ever get a fish at least it may survive over a week!

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  24. I wish I knew about this 3 years ago...it would have saved the lives of many...

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  25. Going on vacation and not changing the water killed my fish =[ , my idiot neighbor only remembered to feed him once a day and never changed the water

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  26. Hey man :D i might get a fish this week, thanks again for the tips, take care!

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  27. thanks man. I have a couple of fish and snails i take care of

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  28. Great blog! Keep the posts coming, i enjoy reading them!

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  29. Oh, I had few goldfish when I was kid! These were great tips, thanks for the blog.

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  30. A fishtank or an aquarium is a bio-chemical wonder, I've always been fascinated by them. When I get my fish, I'll check back =) In the meantime, more learning 4 me.

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  31. is it okay if i overfeed my fish?

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  32. Good advice for helping our fish friend.

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  33. Just had one of my fish die - he was at the bottom of the tank on his side - Neon Tetra. Good post man, very informative!

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  34. super informative-some great tips. thanks a lot. definitely following

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  35. Keep updating! Go Go go we miss you.!

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