Can I cycle water before putting the decorations in?
I am fairly new to having fish! In the next day or so I'm going to be getting some fish (not exactly sure which kind yet).:-) I have a 5 gallon tank I've been setting up this evening and I was wondering- Can I go ahead and put the water in the tank now and start cycling it by itself without any decorations? I wont have gravel or really any decorations till tomorrow.
Have you read about cycling a new tank? It can take several weeks for a tank to be cycled and "ready" for fish. If you are going to be adding fish early in the cycling process (it's hard to wait, I know), just plan on doing frequent water changes as the toxin levels (ammonia and nitrite) go up. Sometimes these water changes will have to happen daily depending on the fish. You might also post on this forum a request for stocking suggestions...it's a pretty small tank so your options will be limited to species that will thrive in a smaller set up.
I would add fish VERY slowly, one at a time even, while you are cycling. If you overload your tank with fish all at once, there is not enough bacteria to process the waste that the sudden onslaught of fish will produce. Adding slowly will allow bb to build up in your tank to accomodate the bioload. You can also do a fishless cycle to make sure your tank is ready before adding the fish. This will increase the survival rate of your fish as well. They will thank you for having a healthy and established (ie. cycled) tank by being healthier.
Check out these links:
Aquatic Eden: Benefits of Plants in the Aquarium - Freshwater Planted Aquarium Blog
Also remember that the beneficial bacteria build up on gravel and aquarium decor (especially porous surfaces) so the sooner you add these to your aquarium the faster the bb can multiply.
So would I still need to cycle it for a few weeks because it hasn't been inhabited for awhile? I did have it up and running for a couple months when I first got it.
Thank you for the links and the stocking idea! I'm going to go start a thread on that now!!:-D
Yes, you will need to cycle the tank all over again because any beneficial bacteria will have long died off. You need to have an ammonia source to start the cycle as this is what feeds the bacteria. You can cycle with fish (fish produce ammonia) or go fishless and use pure ammonia (with no dyes or suffecants) or fish food. Be sure to read up on cycling a tank so you can get an idea of the process. You'll need a test kit (liquid drops kind, not the dip strips) to test for ammonia, nitrites, Ph and eventually nitrates so you can tell where you are in the cycle.
I would put the gravel and decorations in at the beginning of the cycle because the bacteria will also colonize on these surfaces as well as in your filter.
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