Nitrogen Cycle

kayla20johnson

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Hey guys! One more question. I’ve been doing research but I have seen a million and one things about the nitrogen cycle. What is the best thing to do? I have a 55 gallon high tank.
Thank you!
 

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The nitrogen cycle is simply the beneficial bacteria that grows in your filter media that converts ammonia to nitrite, nitrite to nitrate.

First, when ammonia is present a type of bacteria starts to grow to eat the ammonia. That bacteria produces nitrite. Then another type grows to eat the nitrites. Those produce nitrate. Having your tank "cycled" simply means there is the correct amount of beneficial bacteria to eat all the ammonia your tank is producing, THEN all the nitrites that bacteria is producing. Nitrates are the byproduct, and depending on your bioload you have to do regular water changes to lower nitrates.

There is no best way to "do" the cycle. In a 55 gallon, if I was starting 100% from scratch, Id toss in between 1 and 12 fish (depending on the fish species) check water parameters and do water changes. Then slowly add in the rest of my fish. Thats me personally. Thats how I cycle a new tank if I have to start from scratch.

Others use bottled bacteria, do fishless cycles with fish food and liquid ammonia, etc. Its all up to the individual. HOWEVER, whatever method you DO use, it WILL take time. Its not going to happen in a week. And ESPECIALLY in a larger tank. It will be an ongoing process every time you add new fish. It will take anywhere from a couple months to a year depending on what your end goal is for the tank and the species you want to keep.
 

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Its not actually as complicated as people make it. All you need is some pure ammonia, and a test kit that test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You can get pure ammonia at a hardware store. Make sure it doesn't contain surfectants.

Start your tank, fill it up with dechlorniated water, all that jazz. Get your filter running, and get biomedia in, something like seachem matrix, ceramic rings, anything like that. You can use floss but only for mechanical filtration, basically just pulling out fish poop.

Dose ammonia to 2 ppm. Test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate after 24 hours. If no nitrite or nitrate just leave it. Test everyday, and soon you'll start seeing nitrites. Then ammonia will start going down fast and nitrites will sky rocket. That's normal. Keep ammonia at 2 ppm, unless nitrites get above 4 ppm. If they do, stop dosing ammonia, until they go down. After the nitrite spike, in a few days nitrites wills start going down and nitrates will appear. This means your close. Keep ammonia dosed to 2 ppm, until in 24 hours 2 ppm of ammonia is completely pushed through all the way to nitrates. This means if you dose 2 ppm ammonia at 8 am, by 8 am the next day when you test you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and some nitrates.

API master test kit is a really good test kit to have for beginners. It has ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

To get a kickstart on the cycle you can either buy some bottled bacteria, I've had really good luck with Tetra Safe Start +, or go to the fish store and ask for some cycled biomedia. You don't need much, just a little handful.
 
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kayla20johnson

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DuaneV said:
The nitrogen cycle is simply the beneficial bacteria that grows in your filter media that converts ammonia to nitrite, nitrite to nitrate.

First, when ammonia is present a type of bacteria starts to grow to eat the ammonia. That bacteria produces nitrite. Then another type grows to eat the nitrites. Those produce nitrate. Having your tank "cycled" simply means there is the correct amount of beneficial bacteria to eat all the ammonia your tank is producing, THEN all the nitrites that bacteria is producing. Nitrates are the byproduct, and depending on your bioload you have to do regular water changes to lower nitrates.

There is no best way to "do" the cycle. In a 55 gallon, if I was starting 100% from scratch, Id toss in between 1 and 12 fish (depending on the fish species) check water parameters and do water changes. Then slowly add in the rest of my fish. Thats me personally. Thats how I cycle a new tank if I have to start from scratch.

Others use bottled bacteria, do fishless cycles with fish food and liquid ammonia, etc. Its all up to the individual. HOWEVER, whatever method you DO use, it WILL take time. Its not going to happen in a week. And ESPECIALLY in a larger tank. It will be an ongoing process every time you add new fish. It will take anywhere from a couple months to a year depending on what your end goal is for the tank and the species you want to keep.
So are you saying ammonia is bad but nitrite/nitrate is good?
 

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kayla20johnson said:
So are you saying ammonia is bad but nitrite/nitrate is good?
no. ammonia & nitrite are bad. nitrate is a good sign that your bacteria are doing their job but above 40ppm even nitrate can be bad.

edit. when I say bad I mean "toxic for fish"
 
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kayla20johnson

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Jenoli42 said:
no. ammonia & nitrite are bad. nitrate is a good sign that your bacteria are doing their job but above 40ppm even nitrate can be bad.

edit. when I say bad I mean "toxic for fish"
Thank you very much!! This is very helpful
 

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Yes, ammonia and nitrite is harmful, and nitrate in high quantities is toxic too. I try to keep my tank at around
0/0/10-20 (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate)
 

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kayla20johnson said:
Thank you very much!! This is very helpful
no worries. others have explained this cycle stuff above in reply to your thread but I found that explaining everything in terms of poo helped me. so here's my version...it is exactly the same as others above only using poo lolz

put simply, your fish poo. that poo breaks down into ammonia which is toxic to fish. imagine breathing your own poo.

one type of bacteria eat the ammonia. those bacteria then poo and create nitrite. nitrite is also very toxic to fish.

a second type of bacteria (nitrobacter) start growing. these guys grow more slowly but they eat nitrite. when nitrobacter poo, they produce nitrate. nitrate is less toxic & perfectly safe for fish until it gets higher than 20-40 ppm. you remove nitrates when you do weekly water changes. most of us keep nitrates below 20ppm.
 
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kayla20johnson

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Culprit said:
Its not actually as complicated as people make it. All you need is some pure ammonia, and a test kit that test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You can get pure ammonia at a hardware store. Make sure it doesn't contain surfectants.

Start your tank, fill it up with dechlorniated water, all that jazz. Get your filter running, and get biomedia in, something like seachem matrix, ceramic rings, anything like that. You can use floss but only for mechanical filtration, basically just pulling out fish poop.

Dose ammonia to 2 ppm. Test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate after 24 hours. If no nitrite or nitrate just leave it. Test everyday, and soon you'll start seeing nitrites. Then ammonia will start going down fast and nitrites will sky rocket. That's normal. Keep ammonia at 2 ppm, unless nitrites get above 4 ppm. If they do, stop dosing ammonia, until they go down. After the nitrite spike, in a few days nitrites wills start going down and nitrates will appear. This means your close. Keep ammonia dosed to 2 ppm, until in 24 hours 2 ppm of ammonia is completely pushed through all the way to nitrates. This means if you dose 2 ppm ammonia at 8 am, by 8 am the next day when you test you should have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and some nitrates.

API master test kit is a really good test kit to have for beginners. It has ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

To get a kickstart on the cycle you can either buy some bottled bacteria, I've had really good luck with Tetra Safe Start +, or go to the fish store and ask for some cycled biomedia. You don't need much, just a little handful.
Another question! When I do my water changes, do I need to remove the fish and recondition with my Seachem prime?
 

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kayla20johnson said:
Another question! When I do my water changes, do I need to remove the fish and recondition with my Seachem prime?
No. That will be more harmful to your fish. If you have decent stocking, a good water change schedule is 25-50% once a week. Siphon out the water, then, if you usually put the water back in with a hose, condition the whole tank with seachem prime, like since you have a 55 treat for the whole 55 gallons, and then fill it up with the hose. Buckets, just treat each bucket with the right amoutn. Make sure the water is close to the same temp
 
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kayla20johnson

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Culprit said:
No. That will be more harmful to your fish. If you have decent stocking, a good water change schedule is 25-50% once a week. Siphon out the water, then, if you usually put the water back in with a hose, condition the whole tank with seachem prime, like since you have a 55 treat for the whole 55 gallons, and then fill it up with the hose. Buckets, just treat each bucket with the right amoutn. Make sure the water is close to the same temp
I have not yet had to do a water change, that is why I am asking. I want to do it right the first time. I have 10 fish and 1 snail in my tank.

So I guess my question is: during a water change can I put tap water directly in the tank with my fish without it harming them? Do I need to condition it before hand? And do I need to let it sit to become a decent temp?
 
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kayla20johnson

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Jenoli42 said:
no worries. others have explained this cycle stuff above in reply to your thread but I found that explaining everything in terms of poo helped me. so here's my version...it is exactly the same as others above only using poo lolz

put simply, your fish poo. that poo breaks down into ammonia which is toxic to fish. imagine breathing your own poo.

one type of bacteria eat the ammonia. those bacteria then poo and create nitrite. nitrite is also very toxic to fish.

a second type of bacteria (nitrobacter) start growing. these guys grow more slowly but they eat nitrite. when nitrobacter poo, they produce nitrate. nitrate is less toxic & perfectly safe for fish until it gets higher than 20-40 ppm. you remove nitrates when you do weekly water changes. most of us keep nitrates below 20ppm.
I have not yet had to do a water change, that is why I am asking. I want to do it right the first time. I have 10 fish and 1 snail in my tank.

So I guess my question is: during a water change can I put tap water directly in the tank with my fish without it harming them? Do I need to condition it before hand? Or do I put the tap water right into the tank and then my conditioner? (I use Seachem Prime). And do I need to let it sit to become a decent temp?

So many questions...
 

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You need to know if your tap water is okay to put in the tank. Test it. And yes, it has to be the same temp as the tank water (or as close as you can get it). Ive been doing it for years on this property (20 with this current well, 14 before that on the previous one) and I know exactly what the parameters of the water are. I do check it every so often just in case, but I am lucky to have an amazing well with the best water for general fish keeping. I also know where on the sink to set the handle to get 78 degree water. If you need to add any kind of conditioner, etc, to the water, do it before you put it into the tank. Much easier that way as it gets mixed before going in, then again after its in.
 
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kayla20johnson

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DuaneV said:
You need to know if your tap water is okay to put in the tank. Test it. And yes, it has to be the same temp as the tank water (or as close as you can get it). Ive been doing it for years on this property (20 with this current well, 14 before that on the previous one) and I know exactly what the parameters of the water are. I do check it every so often just in case, but I am lucky to have an amazing well with the best water for general fish keeping. I also know where on the sink to set the handle to get 78 degree water. If you need to add any kind of conditioner, etc, to the water, do it before you put it into the tank. Much easier that way as it gets mixed before going in, then again after its in.
What is the best tap water? Do I only test for Ammonia and Nitrites?
 

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kayla20johnson said:
I have not yet had to do a water change, that is why I am asking. I want to do it right the first time. I have 10 fish and 1 snail in my tank.

So I guess my question is: during a water change can I put tap water directly in the tank with my fish without it harming them? Do I need to condition it before hand? Or do I put the tap water right into the tank and then my conditioner? (I use Seachem Prime). And do I need to let it sit to become a decent temp?

So many questions...
Ah so you'll be doing a fish in cycle. In that case knowing how to do a water change is critical.

First, don't be afraid to ask! No dumb questions.

What fish are in the tank?

Yes, you can put plain tap water directly in the tank without harming anything. You can put water back in two ways. One, after you've taken the water out, condition the whole tank, or what the whole tanks water volume would be with the water in it. So for you condition 55 gallons. Pour that straight in the tank and mix it around with your hand some. Then you can pour the tap water straight in the tank as long as its the same temp. I just use the hot and cold water handles on the faucet until I get the right combo, I just feel it with my hand to see if it feels the same temp as the tank, and then pour it in.

Or, you can get the tap water into buckets, and condition each bucket seperately. After you pour the conditioner in the bucket, 5 gallons worth of conditioner, mix it around with your hand, then pour it in.
 
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kayla20johnson

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Culprit said:
Ah so you'll be doing a fish in cycle. In that case knowing how to do a water change is critical.

First, don't be afraid to ask! No dumb questions.

What fish are in the tank?

Yes, you can put plain tap water directly in the tank without harming anything. You can put water back in two ways. One, after you've taken the water out, condition the whole tank, or what the whole tanks water volume would be with the water in it. So for you condition 55 gallons. Pour that straight in the tank and mix it around with your hand some. Then you can pour the tap water straight in the tank as long as its the same temp. I just use the hot and cold water handles on the faucet until I get the right combo, I just feel it with my hand to see if it feels the same temp as the tank, and then pour it in.

Or, you can get the tap water into buckets, and condition each bucket seperately. After you pour the conditioner in the bucket, 5 gallons worth of conditioner, mix it around with your hand, then pour it in.
So what you are saying is that it is completely safe to put my Seachem Prime in there with the fish in there too?

And also: Take the needed amount of water out, put enough conditioner in my tank that would be appropriate for the whole 55 gallons even with water missing, and then add two water that is at the right temperature?

I currently have 3 Glass Tetras (it was after I bought them that I learned they are injected with the dye and now I am sad for them), 2 silver Mollie, 2 Cory Catfish, 2 female Bettas, 1 Bristle-nose Pleco, and 1 snail.
I will be adding a couple of frogs and shrimp this week, and MAYBE a make Betta

Thank you so much for answering things for me, by the way! I greatly appreciate it.
 

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The best tap water is one you dont have to do anything to.

Test your tap for EVERYTHING so you know EXACTLY what's going into your tank. PH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, chlorine, hardness, etc., are all things that should be tested for before you put fish in it. You may need to add all kinds of chemicals, you may not. Like I said, Im super lucky to have an incredible well with virtually perfect water for most fish.

As far as water changes go, a 55 is a HUGE tank to be using the "bucket brigade" method. Spend the money and get a python as long as your tap water is okay to use. If its not, don't bother with this as you'll have to haul water from an outside source. I mean, you CAN use bucket, but 23 gallons in 5 gallon buckets..... you'll want to fill the buckets 4 gallons at a time, carry the 25lbs to the tank, get it from the bucket to the tank and repeat roughly 6 times. It'll get old fast, trust me. I did it this way for YEARS with a 125 gallon and on tank cleaning day my wife absolutely HATED me and the fish. And actually, for years she wanted me to get rid of the fish altogether. But, when I figured out how to Jerry-rig a hose to the faucet, it because MUCH easier.
 

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kayla20johnson said:
So what you are saying is that it is completely safe to put my Seachem Prime in there with the fish in there too?

And also: Take the needed amount of water out, put enough conditioner in my tank that would be appropriate for the whole 55 gallons even with water missing, and then add two water that is at the right temperature?

I currently have 3 Glass Tetras (it was after I bought them that I learned they are injected with the dye and now I am sad for them), 2 silver Mollie, 2 Cory Catfish, 2 female Bettas, 1 Bristle-nose Pleco, and 1 snail.
I will be adding a couple of frogs and shrimp this week, and MAYBE a make Betta

Thank you so much for answering things for me, by the way! I greatly appreciate it.
Yes. Completely safe.

That's actually not too bad for a beginner. I would get some more glass tetras if you can, and either not get many more fish or rehome the bettas. Definitely do not get a male betta. I would start a stocking thread, and we can fill your tank full of beautiful compatible fish. Right now you have some small stocking issues, but they cna easily be worked out.

No problem! Its my pleasure.
 
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kayla20johnson

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Culprit said:
Yes. Completely safe.

That's actually not too bad for a beginner. I would get some more glass tetras if you can, and either not get many more fish or rehome the bettas. Definitely do not get a male betta. I would start a stocking thread, and we can fill your tank full of beautiful compatible fish. Right now you have some small stocking issues, but they cna easily be worked out.

No problem! Its my pleasure.
I made sure to check and see what tank mates were best for Bettas and all of these were good matches. Right now they are doing amazing and actually get along really well! I’ll have to post a picture! The Molly’s I have are actually the ones I worry about because they are selfish (haha) when it comes to food, but not aggressive!. Would you be able to tell me what my stocking issues are? I would definitely love to know! I am learning so many things
 

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kayla20johnson said:
I made sure to check and see what tank mates were best for Bettas and all of these were good matches. Right now they are doing amazing and actually get along really well! I’ll have to post a picture! The Molly’s I have are actually the ones I worry about because they are selfish (haha) when it comes to food, but not aggressive!. Would you be able to tell me what my stocking issues are? I would definitely love to know! I am learning so many things
Wanting to get more knowledge is great in this hobby!

Tetras need at least 6 to be happy, as they're schooling fish. I'd get at lest 3 more. Its really cool when you get a big school of them.

What type of corydoras are they? Bronze, Albino, sterbai, panda, pygmy, ect. If you don't know google common corydoras types and pick the one they look like, or just take a pic. Corydoras are also schooling fish and need at least 6, so I'd get at lest 4 more.

I would not add the male betta as females can sometimes get along with other fish but males are generally very aggressive, and he might get beaten up/tail eaten by the tetras. @TexasDomer is the stocking expert.
 
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