Jun 30 2010

Tropical Fish Tank Cycling

Tropical Fish Tank Bacteria
I put tropical fish in my tank after 2 days – are they going to die?

I am scared.

I treated the water for chlorine, got a filter, a heater, and added bacteria supplement (Top Fin). The next day, I added plants and fertilized them. Monday (yesterday) I went to the petstore with a water sample, they tested it, and I was given the OK to get 6 hardy fish (Tetras and Platys.) They told me the fish would be fine.

My fish seem great today, but I am very concerned because I keep reading that you’re meant to give the aquarium a whole week of cycling before adding fish.

Is the water getting toxic? Is there anything I can do to make sure the chemistry is still okay in the tank?

I don’t think your fish will die no, but you need to monitor them and watch them for signs of distress. Your tank is going to cycle and it will take more then a week to do that. I don’t think you’re even going to be clear of the ammonia part of the cycle in a week. This process will go on from about 4-6 weeks really depending on many things. Those fish you mentioned are hardy and known to be used by many for cycling a tank. To be honest though, it’s very probable it will shorten thier life span somewhat because they will be exposed to toxic chemical compounds for some extended periods of time, but I can tell you this much, they have a better chance of adapting to these conditions vs. say a neon tetra or an angel fish, and this is what they mean by hardy.

Your ammonia levels are going to rise and this is normal. To keep it from excessively running high, feed your fish once a day, and ONLY as much as they will eat entirely in two minutes. The fish you have are small, and a guesstimate of what they might eat, the stomach is generally the size of thier eyeballs is what I semi-figure in terms of how much flake to give them. As your ammonia rises you may or may not see them near the top of the water looking like they are gasping for air. This is an indicator there is high ammonia in your water and it happens. Resist the urge to go and change out all your water, keep in mind that this is part of the cycle, and water changes, you are reducing the amount of ammonia in the water to “feed” your good bacteria. If you want to water change, try not to do more then 25% of your water, and remember this is going to extend the period of time your cycle runs. “learned that one the hard way”

Once your ammonia levels drop you’ll see a rise, if not sooner, in your nitrite levels. This is not as lethal as ammonia to your fish, but it is not a good thing for them to be in either. Excess nitrite can cause stunted growth, lack of urge to eat, and very much is similar to what smokers experience. It blocks oxygen transfer in the blood, by adhering to the hemoglobin and it can damage gill function. Keep in mind that these effects are based on LONG term, high level exposure as well. You’re bacteria for oxydizing nitrite takes a little longer then the bacteria that oxydizes ammonia to grow but you’ll begin to see a rise in your nitrate readings in a few weeks time.

Nitrates are the final stages of your cycle. It is a compound that is oxydized from nitrites and the least harmful of the other two mentioned before. There can be some side effects to high nitrate level exposure, but I have not read up on this much. Basically once your ammonia and nitrite readings are 0 you maintain your tank at this point by regular water changes which keep your nitrate levels down. Once your tank is established, if you start reading levels in your nitrate going above 40 ppm (parts per million) you’ll want to get the water changed out soon. You’ll need to be patient with this process, and keep testing daily until you start reading your nitrates. I am sure others can bring some light on other topic ares I didn’t mention as well, and I wish you best of luck to the fish world 🙂

Pristine Tropical Aquarium Fish Tank Aquarium Environment with Happy Fish

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