Originally Posted by Matt68005
So you don't know about the nitrogen cycle? Its pretty basic fishkeeping. You HAVE to change the water in a fishtank, or ammonia builds up in a new "uncycled" aquarium and it will kill your fish quickly. Read up about the nitrogen cycle.
what Matt is saying is, your water conditions will deteriorate very fast if you did not cycle the tank prior to getting fish.
I typed this guide up for social media and keep it handy for people why don't know about the Nitrogen Cycle.
It covers about everything in cycling a tank:
Good evening everyone! This afternoon I'm going to tell everyone everything you need to know about cycling in the simplest way possible so everyone can understand! Still got a question? Leave a comment! This is likely to be very long and run into the comments so please bear with me it took a long time to make this. You can refer to the picture above for reference as well. If you know someone who doesn't know about or understand cycling please tag them!
What is cycling? Cycling is short the Nitrogen Cycle. Basically, bacteria live in your tank, they are what consumes waste so it doesn't become toxic and harm your fish. But your filter does not just "come with bacteria" right out of the box! This is where cycling comes in.
Why is cycling important? Many people have said "well I didn't cycle and my fish are just fine!" Well that's because most of those people have very hardy fish like bettas, guppies, etc, they can rough it through a cycle without issue.
Where does bacteria live? Let's make this really simple: 97%=filter 2%=substrate 1% water, decor, and plants. Basically, your filter is the home of all the bacteria you care about.
Where does bacteria come from and how do I grow it? This is the miracle of nature and science. I can't tell you specifically "where" bacteria comes from, only because I don't know. What I do now is how to grow bacteria, otherwise known is cycling a tank.
What you need to cycle a tank:
1. LIQUID test kit- I will stress this till the day I die. Test strips are junk. Liquid looks expensive but in reality you save a bunch of money because it can do 200+ tests for $10 more than a 25 pack of strips. I mean who wouldn't snag that deal?? You MUST have a test kit that you can get actual numbers from or else cycling will be near impossible without trips to the store for them to do it.
2. An ammonia source. This can be produced in a variety of ways. Fish obviously is the first method, this is the path of FISH-IN cycling. Simple right? Other sources include 10% grade ammonia from the hardware store, this is only a couple bucks. You can use uncooked shrimp from the grocery store and put it in a pantyhose so it doesn't make a mess. Or plain fish food is fine too but not as effective sometimes. These sources are used for a FISHLESS cycle.
Why do we need an ammonia source? This is what begins cycling. Ammonia is what feeds your bacteria to where they can reproduce and allows you to continue through the nitrogen cycle.
Enough questions let's get on with it:
Fishless cycling: this is really easy method, but you have an empty tank. On the flip side, you can do whatever adjustments you want to it so when you get fish it's perfect. If you are dosing ammonia by the bottle: shoot for 3ppm-4ppm. Google can provide a dosing calculator so you can know just how much to dose for your tank size. If you are using a table shrimp, just throw it in, it will naturally boost the ammonia and you just add a new shrimp when the other has decomposed. Now you want to use your test kit to measure how much ammonia you need to dose, it's simple math once you know how much makes 3ppm.
Fish-in cycling: This is where it can get tricky. Because you have fish you need to keep them safe. During a cycle, this will require daily testing and quite possibly daily water changes. You want to keep ammonia under 1ppm and nitrite under 0.50ppm if possible as both are highly toxic to fish.
Both cycles: in the beginning you will see ammonia start to rise, over time, the bacteria will overcome this and in a fishless you will need to start dosing daily(bottled ammonia) as time goes on. From there you will move to nitrites. Once you hit nitrites this is the longest phase. One day you will wake up and nitrites will be gone and you will be left with nitrAtes. Nitrates is the final product of the nitrogen cycle and is non toxic in lower levels. This is then removed through your weekly water changes.
Once the cycle is completed you should not see any signs on ammonia and nitrites, because now your tank is cycled.
Bacterial supplements: please understand these are a game of chance. They don't always work, sometimes they do nothing. Just know, I have NEVER seen one of these fully complete a cycle, only give a jump start. Please keep that in mind that just because you dump a bottle in doesn't mean your tank cycled..