days of filling a new aquarium up with tap water and slapping
a bunch of fish in it are over. What began as a practice among
aficionados quickly spread to the freshwater aquarium community.
aquarium is an essential factor in establishing the balanced ecosystem
to keep your fish alive and healthy. Cycling an aquarium is, in
duplicating the same aquatic nitrogen cycle that exists in nature.
are two types of beneficial bacteria involved in
starting your aquarium’s nitrogen cycle. The first is
referred to as a nitrifier. Nitrifiers ingest ammonia, a highly toxic
compound produced by fish waste. They then expel nitrite which is also
but not as lethal as ammonia. The second bacterium involved in the
cycle is Nitrospira. Nitrospira consume nitrites and excretes nitrates.
are much less toxic and easily manageable in a home aquarium. Nitrate
can be kept in check with the use of an aquarium filter and routine
methods of cycling involved the systematic
introduction of fish to a new aquarium. The initial fish is a tester
guinea pig of sorts. The waste they produce initiates the nitrogen
additional fish generates a higher bacteria count until you have
ecosystem capable of sustaining an entire population.
techniques center around “fishless cycling.” One
to do this is to borrow an existing bacteria culture from an
aquarium to jumpstart the nitrogen cycle in your new aquarium. Gravel
and aquarium filters are teaming with
bacteria and make an excellent donor for initiating a nitrogen cycle.
additives for jumpstarting an aquarium’s nitrogen cycle are
also available at
most fish stores.
Despite fishless cycling,
most saltwater and marine reef
aquarium owners still use a tester fish before adding more sensitive or
expensive specimens to their aquarium. While this may seem cruel in
theory, in practice it can mean saving the lives of an entire community
not to mention what could be a huge monetary investment.