I recently checked out a few books on tropical freshwater fish and aquariums.
In one of the books, it says that it would take around 36 days for a tank with filtration, heating, lighting, decor, and live plants to mature.
But what about cycling the tank? Doesn't that help with ammonia and nitrite levels in the aquarium?
This particular book also day's that 14-20 days into the tank maturation, nitrite-tolerant fish can be added, like platy, Mollies, and Three-spot Gourami.
I'd like to know what your guy's opinion is about this.
The book I'm reading is Aquarium Owner's Guide by Gina Sandford.
It looks like this book was published in 1999, so not the most current material.
These days, we know about fishless cycling, consider fish-in cycling cruel, and we know that completing the cycle is different than tank maturation.
So, yeah. I think you just have some outdated material.
Also, I disagree with the author that the Common Molly and the Blue Gourami are nitrogen-tolerant fish. :)
Cycling and maturation are two different things, and each depends upon the specific aquarium. We are dealing with nature here--and in a closed system which is somewhat "unnatural" in a sense--so various factors impact.
Taking cycling first, since it has to occur first. All fish tanks have to cycle, a process that takes from 2 to 8 weeks depending upon the factors. This is the establishment of the nitrification bacteria. The benefit of live plants is that fish can go in on day one with sufficient live plants and the "cycle" will still occur but be so minimal in its impact that you cannot detect ammonia or nitrite as it establishes. The reason is simply because the plants grab most of the ammonia (as ammonium, their preferred source of nitrogen) and use it. What little gets past them will be used by the establishing nitrosomonas bacteria. Nitrite is the by-product of the bacteria but not of the plants, and being minimal it will get taken up by Nitrospira bacteria and changed into nitrate. This is why nitrate levels are normally very low, even zero using our test kits, in planted tanks.
The maturation of an aquarium will occur regardless of and in addition to the above. Most sources suggest this is likely to occur sometime during the first few months. Much more than just the nitrification cycle is involved, and it is difficult and even impossible for us to measure much of this. The aquarium will--if it is biologically balanced between fish load, plant load, and water volume--stabilize to the point where pH remains stable (taking into account the natural diurnal pH fluctuation of several decimal points), nitrates are stable, and the substrate bacteria colony is established. There is a lot more activity going on down there than many aquarists may realize. Cloudy water due to a bacterial bloom is a sign that the system is not yet established, or if it occurs subsequently it indicates that something significant has gone out of balance. When I replaced the substrate in my 115g tank last year, it took about 3 months before the water cleared; this was the length of time it took for the substrate bacteria and biological system to establish and settle.
Some fish will not survive being introduced to an aquarium that is not established biologically, or at best they may be negatively affected internally. This again is distinct from the cycle aspect; all fish are affected by that, regardless. The benefit of live plants is that this does not occur, assuming the fish load is balanced with the plant load and the water volume. As Mina very correctly mentioned, the molly is highly intolerant of any form of nitrogen, and is one of the worst fish to introduce to an aquarium that is not fully cycled.
Great information! Thanks for this post!
Thank you so much for the responses!
So, from what I understand, the "Tank Maturation" will occur first. So would I let my tank "Mature" before cycling it with say, frozen shrimp? Or is cycling just something that has to be done every once in a while to keep the tank healthy?
OK. So I add water, decor, etc and then cycle the tank using the frozen shrimp? Then the water will mature after that?
I think I'm understanding this a bit more now.
If you want to go the shrimp method, here's an article by another member on cycling:
I've never done this, and never would; I always have plants.
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