Cycling the tank!

tankman2

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Ok, recently I set up my 35 gallon tank. I plan on putting African Cichlids in here and I have the fish part all sorted out. My question is about cycling the tank. I am fairly familiar with the whole process and whatnot but I could still appreciate some insight. The guys down at the fish shop told me that they cycle their tanks with their Africans all the time without any problems. I am a little skeptical about cycling my tank with these fish but I'm not totally sure. Has anyone used that chemical to speed up the cycling process? Is this recommended? Any response will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Brian
 

Isabella

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HI Brian, and welcome to Fish Lore

I've never had African Cichlids so I can't tell you whether they're as hardy as the fish store people have suggested to you (since they "cycle" their tanks with these fish, they're implying that these fish are hardy). But I am personally rather skeptical too. I personally would not cycle any tank with any fish. I'd cycle the tank first, and then start stocking the tank GRADUALLY, adding only few fish at a time so that I don't get a sudden ammonia or nitrite spike (adding too many fish at once can cause ammonia or nitrite spikes even though a tank is cycled).

There are products to speed up the cycle, but I personally would not use any. I have always cycled my tanks naturally, and no fish ever died when I cycled my tanks this way. It takes me on average 3 - 4 weeks when I cycle my tank naturally and without fish. Then I start stocking a tank gradually, and all is well. When you cycle a tank with fish, the cycle may take significantly longer to complete.
 
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tankman2

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Hey Isabella, thanks for responding. I agreee with you. My tank has been running for almost a week now. I have nothing in it except for rocks and whatnot. Ill ill just let the water run for another 3 weeks and then you think the fish should be good in the tank? Thanks.
 

Isabella

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Well, you'll need to monitor your water in order to know when it's ready for fish. If you haven't yet read about the cycle, please do. Information about it can be found in the Beginner's Articles at the top of the Freshwater Beginners board. If you don't have tests for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (as well as pH), you should get them. There are test strips and liquid tests. If you want accurate and reliable results, get the liquid tests. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals makes great liquid tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, and you can buy their tests online or at your local fish store.

The cycle may take on avergage 4 - 6 weeks, but that's just an average, meaning it may take longer or shorter than that. You don't measure the cycle by weeks, but by water parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. When a tank is cycled, its ammonia and nitrite both equal 0. Nitrate is at some number, though it can be removed from the tank with a larger water change at the end of the cycle. Once the tank is cycled, you shouldn't have any ammonia and nitrite. The only compound you'll have from that point on will be nitrate. Nitrate can generally accumulate up to 40 ppm and be "safe", but I'd personally not let nitrate accumulate above 20 ppm. You remove nitrate from water by regular weekly water changes of 15 - 30%, depending on your fish load.

But that's all for now. Read up on the cycle first Then ask if you have any more questions.

P.S. One last thing: As I have said above, even when your tank is cycled, you can still get an ammonia or nitrite spike IF you add too many fish at once. Which is why it's important to stock a tank GRADUALLY, adding only few fish at a time.
 

not4you

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tankman2 said:
Hey Isabella, thanks for responding. I agreee with you. My tank has been running for almost a week now. I have nothing in it except for rocks and whatnot. Ill ill just let the water run for another 3 weeks and then you think the fish should be good in the tank? Thanks.
tankman2, don't forget that you'll still need an ammonia source to cycle your tank without fish, just leaving the tank running with the rocks and what not won't cycle the tank. You'll need to add ammonia; people have used fish food or shrimp or even clear ammonia. I used clear ammonia that I found at Walmart. Be careful using ammonia from stores, you'll want the kind that does not foam or fizz when you shake the bottle.
 

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