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Old 01-01-2003, 05:08 PM   #1
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I bought my first tank (55 gallon) and have no idea what to do. All I know for now is I have the ph @7.0 and the water temp @ 78 degrees. Whats all this talk about cycles? all advice would be very helpful

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Old 01-01-2003, 06:42 PM   #2
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Hi Gary_W,

Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com.

IMO, your pH and temperature is pretty average, meaning that it will accomodate most species of fish. (But that really depends on the type of fish you want to keep, some fish require different water parameters).

CRaZeee*****isHeRe wrote a great description of the Nitrogen cycle, you can read it here;

There is also lots of information available to you in the Freshwater/Brackish - Getting Started Forum.

I hope this helps.
"Life is not like a box of chocolates... it's more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today... might burn your a$$ tomorrow."
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Old 01-02-2003, 05:04 AM   #3
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When you first set up an aquarium the water will not have a lot of beneficial bacteria you need in the tank. There are two kinds of these and I don't remember their names right now.

The first kind converts Ammonia (toxic to fish) into Nitrite (also toxic to fish). The second kind converts Nitrite into Nitrate (less toxic). Fish create a lot of Ammonia in the tank. If you were to put 30 fish in your tank today, you would expect to see the Ammonia increase so much that your fish could die without your intervention (massive water changes).
This is because there is not enough beneficial bacteria converting Ammonia into Nitrite, but for these bacteria colonies to grow you have to have more Ammonia than is naturally found in water (which is almost none). Once the Ammonia level goes down you would expect the Nitrite level to increase and not go down until the bacteria that convert Nitrite to Nitrate have multiplied sufficiently to handle the Nitrite (any fish that survived the Ammonia spike could die during the Nitrite spike).

So cycling is the process of encouraging these two groups of helpful bacteria to grow to handle the waist produced by fish. This process has been explained better in other posts on this site. To start the process you have to introduce Ammonia into your tank. I think you can buy Ammonia and cycle the tank without fish or you can buy 3 to 5 fish that can handle the Ammonia and Nitrite spikes and then gradually (over a two or three month period) add more fish until you reach the number of fish your tank can handle.
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Old 01-02-2003, 11:45 AM   #4
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Hi Gary - welcome to the site!

I just started about a month and a half ago with my first 55 gallon - I didn't know anything! I basically read through the entire Freshwater - Getting Started section for basic knowledge. Once I knew a little, I started asking questions for clarification.

Here's a link to my thread of questions:

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2003, 11:52 AM   #5
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The biggest piece of advise you can get us to be patient. Introduce new fish to the aquarium slowly only once it has stabilized. If you have questions, ask then act. The biggest mistake first time hobbiest commit is to stock their tank with a lot of fish in a short period of time, then not knowing how much food they require, and wondering why they cannot stabilize their Nitrates and such.

Also, invest in a test kit that tests the basics (PH, Ammonia, Nitrates, GH, KH). I use Dr. Wellfish's test kit and have been very happy with it so far. It's not that pricy and is very revealing.
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