Aquarium Set Up: Cycling
Once you have aquascaped your saltwater aquarium, the next step in saltwater aquarium set up would be allowing the aquarium to cycle. You have to be very patient when your tank is in cycle.
New aquariums don’t have the necessary bacteria for your inhabitants to thrive and survive. This is why your new aquarium must be cycled.
Cycling is the process of establishing and maturing the biological filtration. Typically, new aquariums can be cycled in 3 to 6 weeks. But for fully cycling your saltwater aquarium, it will really depend on factors like:
1 – The amount of ammonia being produced during the cycling period
2 – The efficiency of the biological filtration and
3 – Whether liverocks or live plants are used in the process.
First you need to establish a source of ammonia to establish the system. The usual method is adding one or two hardy fish, such as damselfishes. The waste products they produce are the initial source of ammonia. Most of these hardy fish can tolerate ammonia but some don’t.This method is cruel in the extreme! It will be easier and less cruel to use on the commercially available maturation fluids. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Add the maturation compound to start nitrification. Ammonia level will rise and reach its peak then declines, while bacteria continues to multiply until they are undetectable during testing.
The by-product of ammonia is nitrite. Nitrite levels will rise until the number of bacteria has increased to the point at which they break down the nitrites faster than it is being produced. Measure the nitrite levels with a nitrite test kit after a period of time. The end product of this process is nitrate.
You can check out some of the nitrite test kit over at Salty Supply here. They have a couple of selection that are currently on sale.
Nitrate is not toxic to the fish but high levels of it can produce problem to your aquarium. You can recognize the increase of nitrate when there is an algae outbreak to your saltwater aquarium. You can then control algae reproduction by constant water changes and chemical filtration. It will also help you in managing your cycle without losing any of your fish.
Testing your water parameters regularly during this time will prevent problems in your saltwater aquarium.