10-14-2011, 07:44 AM
| || | Water Quality Reference
this is a link to our reference section and there are a number of great articles here at TFK that will answer a lot of your questions..
but to put a short answer here for you the cycle is the process in which the tank develops all the needed bacteria to process wait into a form that can be easily removed by water changes or growing macro algae or a combination of the two. in salt water we are often more referring to a tanks "maturity" rather than the traditional cycle that a Fresh water tank will go through. in a fresh system once the tank cycles its pretty much over with .. with salt water the maturing process is not only longer but continues through out the life of the tank.. with regualr care and caution on stocking the tank will run better and better over time..
using this as a guideline once you have your saltwater, live sand, base rock/live rock (or what ever combo you use) the main thing to do is wait... if you want to process to happen faster there are some steps you can take one is to have more or all live rock, another is to add a piece of uncooked raw shrimp to the tank and as it breaks down the tank will process it faster, another option is to add bottled bacteria (i have not tried this but i hear it works well) .. no matter how you start up the tank waiting is still key typically the tank will develop a diatom bloom (algae break out brown rusty color) that is your cue to add a clean up crew (snails, crabs etc) and after a few more weeks SLOWLY increase the bio load by adding fish and or corals one or two at a time with a few weeks minimum in between so the tank can keep up with waist production.. typical time between start and diatom bloom is 4-8 weeks...