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Fishless Cycling: best way to escape new tank syndrome



In the previous the focus was on tackling new tank syndrome and the ways of fastening the nitrification process and ensuring lesser loss of fish during the initial period of tank set up. Some who are reluctant to lose any fish and completely pass over the new tank syndrome from causing any fish damage have another option to consider. Fishless cycling is the process that is practiced for completing the nitrogen cycle without putting risking the lives of fishes. Though adding a few tougher fish like Zebra Danios can also prevent you from damage and their wastes could be used for cycling the tank yet there are some measures that require no fish wastes for new tank syndrome to set in and let the good bacteria grow.

Fishless cycling is the growing trend which involves no loss of fish and setting up the tank in all ready condition with good bacterial growth. Most people have reported fishes cycling to be faster than the traditional method. Here is a step by step guide to fishless cycling:

Required: A fishless tank, aquarium filter system, a heater if you plan to get tropical fish, water conditioner, air pump and air stones/live rocks, an ammonia test kit, a nitrite test kit and a source of ammonia. It is very important to use a good source of ammonia. Those used in households usually are perfumed. Ammonia used should be free of surfactants, perfumes, and colorants. Use pure form of ammonia in the form of ammonium hydroxide or ammonium chloride. Do not purchase those that do not have ingredients labeled on the bottle. For a check you can shake the bottle to see if it foams. Ammonia with surfactants will foam, whereas pure and usable ammonia will not. Here we found one that can be used:

Ammonium Hydroxide (ACS)

Some people use fish food as a source of ammonia but the problem with them is that they leave behind phosphates as byproducts. And also the quantity of ammonia is lesser for the bacteria to consume. These problems are avoided with the above mentioned source of ammonia.

Set up the aquarium with all the equipments and check if all of them are working fine. A raise in temperature to approximately 80 °F will work fine.

Add enough ammonia to raise the ammonia level to 4-5ppm. Use test kits to keep in check ammonia level. You must begin with lesser quantity of ammonia and proceed after testing its concentration. Remember too much amount of ammonia is not going to speed up the process.

In a week or two bacteria will grow to convert ammonia into nitrite. Check with nitrite kits to see the level of nitrite present. Constantly add ammonia at a stable amount to speed up the process. In a few weeks the other set of bacteria which is the good one should grow and convert the nitrite into nitrate. On a daily basis keep checking for both ammonia and nitrite levels. When both the tests read 0, you can be assured that the tank is free of nitrites and has been cycled.

Do a large water change, around 50% to 80% before live stocking. While water changing do not use dechlorinators as they seize ammonia. It is advised not to change any filter media, and do not vacuum the gravel during this water change as that is the hub for good bacteria. Refill with fresh, conditioned water, and lower your heater to the temperature that is best for the fish you plan to keep. Allow everything set for several hours or overnight. Do a test for ammonia and nitrite once again. If both the readings still show zero, your tank is ready for fishes.

Fishless cycling is more beneficial and fish friendly. There is no risk of losing or stressing fishes and you can add in a large stock of fishes if you prefer. However, it is always better to start slow with a few fishes. When quarantine tanks are not in use you can maintain a small dose of ammonia in them to keep the tank cycled for an urgent usage. Stop adding ammonia the day before you want a fish to be shifted in and do test for ammonia and nitrites to be zero.