Cycling my Tank?
What does cycling a tank really mean? How do I know when my tank has cycled?
Cycling is the process of growing a colony of bacteria in your tank that will consume the ammonia produced by your fish and convert it into nitrates. Ammonia, and the by product of the conversion process, nitrites, are both poisonous to fish. Nitrates not so much, and they can be dealt with by regular water changes.
Cycling can be done one of two ways. Fishless and fish in. Fishless is easier as you don't have to be constantly changing water and trying to keep the fish alive. Fish in is much more work and will injure the fish. In a fishless cycle you add ammonia yourself to feed the fish and grow the bacteria, in fish in cycling they provide it themselves.
You can tell when your tank is cycled by using a test kit and after adding ammonia you check the water and it is removed. Your test kit will read 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrites, and some Nitrates (want those below 40ppm).
Read these for a more in depth discussion:
to add to that and a correction. you go from ammonia to nitrite and then nitrate. you can't go from ammonia straight to nitrate. also you'd know when your tank is cycled when the supplied ammonia that you added for example 2ppm along with nitrites is depleted within 8-12 hours. it usually thanks 3-6 weeks to cycle and sometimes longer. good aeration at the water surface and mid to high 80s in temperature aids in the process. fishless is best for the fish and the plants. don't waste your money on specimens that you invested money into. you just may end up replacing them.
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