An instant cycled aquarium. Is it possible? Yes! Is it safe for the fish? Yes! Do I need seeded media? No! In this article, we’ll show you, as a new fishkeeper, how you can instantly cycle your first aquarium.
We’ve all been there. You go to a fish store, get excited, and see all these beautiful fish. You buy your fish, a tank, and other basic tools and equipment. Now comes the setup and cycling. Oh… cycling. A new fishkeeper’s biggest headache – waiting for the aquarium to fully cycle.
The last thing you want to do is wait for your aquarium to cycle for weeks and possibly lose your fish! We don’t want you to give up on your fishkeeping hobby.
What is cycling?
Cycling is simply the process of growing a population of living bacteria in an aquarium. The bacteria will remove toxic waste and provide a healthy environment for your fish to thrive in. This is also referred to as the Nitrogen Cycle.
Here’s a simple breakdown of each stage in this cycle:
Stage 1: Ammonia is released into the water column by fish respiration, waste, uneaten fish food, decaying fish, and plants… Ammonia is toxic to fish!
Stage 2: Ammonia is converted to Nitrite by growing living bacteria (Nitrosomonas) in an aquarium. Nitrite is also toxic to fish.
Stage 3: Fortunately, another type of bacteria (Nitrobacter) will consume the Nitrites and convert them into Nitrates. Nitrates are… not toxic to fish (at low levels).
Stage 4: The Nitrates are then consumed by the aquarium’s live plants and converted into Oxygen which helps oxygenate the water. Plants are essential for limiting Nitrate build-up in low-maintenance aquariums (with long periods between water changes).
No Live Plants, No Problem
You can absolutely keep an aquarium without live plants if that’s your preference. Just be aware that this will increase the amount of water changes required to keep nitrate levels down. Water changing is a big part of this hobby that we all have to do. Plants or no plants.
Why is cycling crucial?
Fish in the wild do not have the same problem with high toxins in the water, such as Ammonia, because there is so much water around them. If fish are kept in an aquarium that hasn’t been cycled to remove toxins, they may become stressed.
As a result, cycling your tank is essential for keeping your fish alive and well by removing their waste.
Traditional cycling methods
The old-fashioned way that we’re all familiar with: set up your tank, fill it with water and your chosen décor, wait for weeks to pass by so that it can fully cycle, and then you can add your fish… You need a decent amount of patience.
Some other traditional methods include adding a dither fish (to sacrifice) in order to create Ammonia in your tank. After a while, the cycle will start.
Don’t want to sacrifice a fish? Neither do we. There’s also a method known as fishless cycles where you drop fish food into a fishless tank. This is known as ghost feeding. After some time, the food will deteriorate and start creating Ammonia.
Another method is by directly adding Ammonia (in a bottle) into the tank to get the cycle started. But you can’t add your fish immediately as Ammonia is toxic to your fish. So some form of patience is also needed for this method.
If you don’t want to use fish or fish food to create Ammonia, or simply don’t have the patience or time to wait for a cycle to complete, an instant cycled aquarium is the way to go.
Instant cycled aquarium method
Do you have your fish? Tank? Tools? Water? Is it all setup? Great! Here’s what you do:
Begin adding Seachem Prime to your water. This product will not only dechlorinate your water but also detoxify the Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. The detoxification makes the water safe for your fish from day one!
So this product does not remove Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate but makes them into a less toxic form. If we were to remove all these, then what will the beneficial bacteria live off of?
Next, add Seachem Stability to your water. In its most basic form, Stability is bacteria in a bottle. By adding this product, you will boost the growth and production of bacteria in your tank. This will result in the cycle going faster.
We recommend that you dose your tank with both products daily to keep the process simple.
After your tank is cycled, do you want to learn how to get crystal clear water? We’ve got your back with our Crystal Clear Aquarium Water e-book. If you’re curious about my own experience with an instant cycled aquarium, check out this video.