03-05-2014, 04:13 PM
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welcome to the forum and to the wonderful world of fish-keeping!
Don't be intimidated by the technical-sounding terms and methods; to set up and maintain a freshwater aquarium is quite simple and fairly easy, especially if you have the help of experienced keepers like us at TFK! Knowing that you're on the right track is more than half the battle.
You're doing what is known in the hobby as "fish-in" cycling. I always recommend fishless cycling, where the aquarium is allowed to mature and develop bacteria colonies before fish are added, but since you already have fish in, you can proceed as is. With fish-in cycling it is very important to monitor you water quality readings with an accurate test kit to protect the lives and health of your fish. Frequent water changes will be necessary to avoid killing your fish especially in the early part of the cycle when ammonia and nitrite can be expected to spike. Ammonia and nitrite are very toxic to fish. Later in the cycle, when most ammonia and nitrite is being quickly converted to nitrAte, you can back off of the water changes a bit.
The test kit is a bit of an expense, but it will last for years, so get a good one.
First step in cycling is to produce ammonia, which, with fish-in cycling, is achieved simply by feeding the fish. Ammonia will spike to dangerous levels, so be ready to change plenty of water to get it down.
Next, bacteria colonies will develop that will convert the ammonia into nitrite. Nitrite will then spike to dangerous levels, so again, test daily and be ready to act to reduce your concentration of nitrite. Nitrite is very toxic to fish-DO NOT LET YOUR FISH LIVE IN HIGH NITRITE FOR LONG or they will most certainly die.
After nitrite spikes, your tank should become colonized by another type of bacteria that converts nitrite into nitrAte. I capitalize the "A" so that you will see the difference between nitrite and nitrate- one has an" i" and one has an "a". NitrAte is much less toxic to fish, but high levels are harmful and even deadly if left to accumulate.
The nitrogen cycle in a mature aquarium is a beautiful thing- the two most poisonous biologically produced substances( ammonia and nitrite) can be processed by naturally occurring bacteria to the point of being unmeasurable in your tank water... the less poisonous bio-product ( nitrAte) cannot be effectively processed by bacteria, but is easily removed from your tank with weekly or bi-weekly water changes. Plants can also help to control nitrAte.
Might sound really complicated and technical, but after your first month or two, everything becomes very simple and easy. Plus we will be here to guide you if you post your test results.
Please post test result of your tap water so that we can see what you'll be putting into the tank.Of primary concern for cycling is pH. If your water is too acidic you might have serious problems, but that's rare to see.Also test your tank water, but i doubt it will be too much different than the tap water this early in the cycle.
The person who tested your tank water after two days and told you that is was fine does not know very much about fish tanks. after two days i would expect all readings to be 0. That's because biological processes have not had enough time to affect the water chemistry, nothing has spiked YET, but it will- every new tank will experience spikes in water chemistry before it stabilizes.
Good luck, and best wishes for a swift and easy cycle!
Last edited by rsskylight04; 03-05-2014 at 04:17 PM..