09-30-2011, 03:13 PM
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While cycling, you want to know what ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. The ammonia will spike and then go down; then nitrites will spike and go down. You should then get a nitrate reading. This is a cycle. The nitrate reading shows you that there are beneficial bacteria growing in your tank to handle the waste that is produced by your fish. After the cycling period, the tank is safe to add fish. The cycle takes 6-8 weeks.
Myself, my tank is established and I usually only check nitrate levels to determine when water changes are needed, but do 25-50% water changes weekly. My tank is planted and the plants take care of the ammonia/nitrite levels for the most part.