Aquarium Cycling Options Featured

"Cycling" a new aquarium is basic to a successful hobby. This article gives you three different methods to create a healthy habitat for your fish.

aquarium cycle with EBB Aquarium Cycling Using EcoBio-Rock

Much of an aquarium’s success depends on the tank’s startup. Setting up a healthy freshwater fish habitat involves a complex process of bacterial growth and sustenance even before the tank’s intended inhabitants are introduced to their new home.

Aquarium cycling, or the process of cultivating beneficial bacteria that make the water quality ideal for the fishes, can be done in three different ways: fishless cycling using household ammonia, traditional cycling with “starter fish,” and infusion of “canned” live bacteria. The main objective is to grow large communities of two types of bacteria – one that converts toxic waste products or ammonia into less toxic nitrites, and one that converts nitrites into relatively non-toxic nitrates, which plants absorb as fertilizer. Sufficient beneficial bacteria ensure that the water quality remains ideal for healthy fishes.

In the fishless cycling method, initial bacteria are acquired from a healthy and stable aquarium. A small quantity of substrate, décor, filter media, or plants from long-established setups is introduced to a newly assembled tank, then a regimen of regular treatments of household ammonia feeds the bacteria until water testing results reach the desired stable level. This method normally takes several weeks depending on how quickly the bacteria multiply. Fish are introduced only after the tank has stabilized.

Traditional cycling involves the use of starter fish, which are usually hardy species like tetras, danios, and some livebearers. The waste products of the starter fishes feed and cultivate the beneficial bacteria. More fishes are added a few at a time until a growing community of bacteria is able to sustain a stable water quality for the intended inhabitants of the tank. Similar to fishless cycling, traditional cycling can take several weeks to stabilize, with some of the starter fishes failing to survive the stressful cycling period.

Cycling with “canned” bacteria is a method that relies on commercially prepared bacterial cultures. These cultures are marketed specifically for cycling aquariums, some claiming to make a tank ready for its intended inhabitants within several hours. As with other cycling methods, regular water testing must be conducted to monitor spikes in ammonia or nitrites, which are best addressed by partial water changes or additional infusion of the bacterial culture.

Undoubtedly, ideal water conditions depend on the community of beneficial bacteria in the tank. One type of beneficial bacteria that has been used extensively in water conditioning is bacillus subtilis natto. Uniquely cultured in Japan, the bacteria degrade ammonia and nitrites into safer nitrates, keeping the water clear and odor-free. Bacillus subtilis natto is currently used only in EcoBio-Block products, which are mineral-rich porous volcanic stones that disperse these fast-propagating bacteria regularly into the water, keeping the levels of beneficial bacteria consistently high. EcoBio-Block products aid in cycling and remain effective in maintaining ideal water conditions for approximately two years.

Whatever cycling option is preferred, as long as beneficial bacteria are prolific and actively breaking down toxic elements in the water, the aquarium will remain a healthy environment for the fish.

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