This process of starting the aquarium is often referred to as “cycling”, which is the introduction into an aquarium of various types of bacteria which utilize the ammonia and nitrite (both toxic to fish) produced by fish waste. This process is accomplished by reducing ammonia and nitrite to nitrate, which is not toxic to fish. This process (cycling) takes an average of 30 days after the introduction of the fish. It can take as little as 21 days, or as long as 60 days without any apparent reason for the differences. There are live bacterial cultures on the market, which can help “cycle” an aquarium faster. These products do work when the bacterial cultures are viable, but fish should still be added very slowly. The following steps are recommendations on how to start a new aquarium while minimizing the hassles and problems:
In the water section there is a sticky on cycling,so you can decide what type of cycling you want to do.
Decide on the size and type of aquarium you want to have.
Decide on the type of filtration you’re going to use. You can choose from under-gravel filters, hang-on-the-back filters, canister filters, overflow filters, or some combinations of these types of filtration. Ask your pet store associate to help you decide which type of filtration is most appropriate for your aquarium.
Set up the aquarium with all of the equipment and add the water. This will include rinsing the gravel, installing the filtration, and setting the heater to the appropriate temperature. Goldfish and other cold-water fish do well at room temperature, while tropical fish need temperatures around 74-80°F depending on the type of fish.
Run the aquarium for 2-4 days,7 being better before adding any fish.
Use starter fish to begin the “cycling” process. Some excellent starter fish include danios, black tetras, and white clouds. Some other recommendations could include platies, other tetras, or some barbs. Do not use too many fish during this “cycling” process. Invariably beginners ask if it’s all right to start with angelfish, catfish, plecostomus, or other inappropriate fish. Resist the temptation to do this, and you will save yourself a lot of grief and disappointment during the first few months of operation.
When you get your starter fish home, float the bag in the aquarium for 15-20 minutes to equalize the water temperature. This is very important, as fish are very sensitive to temperature changes. After equalizing the temperature, you can add about ¼ cup of water to the bag every 15 minutes for 1-2 hours. The fish can then be released into the aquarium. If at all possible, net the fish out of the bag into the aquarium, rather than dumping the water from the bag into your tank.
Be very cautious when feeding your fish, especially until the “cycling” is complete. Overfeeding is the most common mistake made with new aquariums. A fish’s stomach is probably about the size of its eye, so feed very sparingly. Your fish should eat everything you feed them within 3 minutes. If not, you probably fed too much. Just reduce the amount the next time you feed. Fish only need to be fed once a day.
After about 14 days, you can bring in a water sample to be tested for ammonia and nitrite. This will tell whether the tank has begun “cycling”. It can also tell you when it’s safe to start adding more fish. It is not a good idea to introduce additional fish once the aquarium has started to “cycle”. The ammonia and nitrite levels will typically rise to toxic levels during this process. Because you started with hardy fish, they will often survive these toxic levels. Because the increase happens so slowly, they are able to adapt with no adverse effects. To introduce new fish during this process can be very stressful to the new fish, since they haven’t had time to slowly acclimate to the elevated levels of ammonia and nitrite. Unfortunately, they often don’t survive this trauma.
Once the test on your aquarium water determines that your tank is safe, you can begin adding additional fish. Your pet store associate can help you determine which fish are compatible in terms of size and temperament for your aquarium. Add new fish in stages. It’s not a good idea to add a lot of new fish all at one time.1 or 2 fish then wait for 2 weeks then 1 or 2 fish each week after that test your water the same day after about 6 hrs
Do not be disturbed if your aquarium becomes cloudy of hazy during the first several months of operation. This is normal, and usually disappears naturally after 2-3 months.
Routine tank maintenance should begin after the “cycling” process has been successful. Water changes of 20-25% should be performed every week. Fish do not respond well to significant chemical changes in their water. They do much better with small water changes done more frequently, than with massive water changes done infrequently. Adding water to the aquarium to replace water that has evaporated is not a water change. Again, be very sensitive to water temperature when doing water changes.
Don't use any soaps or chemicals to clean your aquarium or anything that will be in it, as it can and will kill your fish.
Don't add tap water to your aquarium without treating it first with a water conditioner, to remove chlorine and harmful metals.
Don`t do more then 25% water changes and change your filter media at the same time,this can cause a sprite in your water.do a water change and then a few days later change your media
Don't make drastic changes to the pH of the water in your tank. This will cause damage to your fish and can kill them. Raise or lower the pH of the water no more than 0.2 within a 24 hour period.
Don't add new fish to your aquarium if they show any signs of disease. Quarantine the fish in a separate tank, and treat the infected fish before adding it to your own.You should quarantine you new fish for 3 weeks before adding then to your main tank.
Don't allow your aquarium to be "down" for longer than one hour. The necessary bacteria in your biological filter bed will begin to die off when left without oxygen for a lengthy period.
Don't add more than 2 small fish (depending on tank size) to a newly setup aquarium. It takes time for your new tank to "establish" and will easily become toxic if too many fish are added before this can happen.
Don't overfeed your fish. Uneaten food will accumulate in plants, filters and on the bottom of your aquarium; putting your tank at risk of excess ammonia and nitrite which can suffocate your fish.
Don't place your aquarium in a "sunny" area of your home. Algae will grow to extremes creating more work for you when it is time to clean your tank.
Don't put too many fish in your aquarium. Overcrowding is a major cause of excess toxins in your aquarium. Follow the rule of thumb...one inch of fish per gallon of water.
Don't spray any chemicals (ie,.air freshener, deoderants, paints, etc) around your aquarium without covering it first. Even small amounts that may get into the water can kill your fish.
Don't tap on the glass of the aquarium. This will frighten the fish causing stress.
Don't completely disassemble your aquarium for cleaning, this will destroy your biological filter bed leaving your tank at risk for ammonia and nitrite build up,and you will have to re-cycle your tank. Only clean your tank decorations a few at a time.
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