How to Cycle a New Aquarium

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Cycling a new aquarium refers to transforming an aquarium devoid of any microbial life into an actual ecosystem. Learn about cycling an aquarium to be a proper environment for fish and plants with instructions from a koi breeder and aquarium specialist in this free video on fish care.

Part of the Video Series: Aquariums, Ponds & Fish Care
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Jim Newman from Making Waves and this is how to properly cycle a freshwater aquarium. When we're talking about cycling or cycle, we're talking about the fact that you are taking an aquarium that is completely devoid of any kind of life or any kind of microbial life and transferring it into an actual ecosystem. To do that, one needs to go right ahead and cycle the aquarium which is typically referred to as first the ammonia cycle. The ammonia cycle is when fish are inhabiting the aquarium and through their defecation are raising the urea levels inside the water itself. This will go right ahead and kick in the bacteria which can be airborne and to seeding the aquarium and starting to actually go right ahead and colonize the fist two inches of the gravel and or the bio wheel for the biological filtration. This right here will take anywhere between one to two weeks for the ammonia cycle. Then nitrosomonas or nitrobacter will actually go right ahead and kick in and will actually start doing what is commonly referred to as the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle will take another 2 to 3 weeks to completely and properly seed the aquarium. Once it has been seeded and cycled, you can test for both the ammonia and nitrate. Once those levels are at a non-detectable level, you know that you have fully cycled your aquarium at which point you can slowly start adding the fish that you do want to keep in the aquarium. First what we have to do is we already have our setup aquarium right here. Now what we need to do is wait 24 hours for it to completely level out on the temperature and to make sure that any and all debris that might be in there from rocks or from the gravel has been filtered out as well. Now what we will do is go right ahead and add in a few starter fish so that we can go right ahead and start the seeding of the tank of the biological bacteria that are necessary to keep the tank functioning properly. That bacteria takes anywhere from between 3 to 4 weeks to properly seed the aquarium both in the first 2 inches of the gravel and also on the biological bi wheels on a bio wheel filter such as this one right. This bacteria feeds off of the urea and the defecation of the fish themselves and will actually go right ahead and make the toxic ammonia and nitrite into a least toxic form nitrate and then hopefully eventually with a full nitrogen cycle into nitrogen gas.


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