Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle – How to Speeding Up

aquarium nitrogen cycle
(Last Updated On: April 26, 2021)

The aquarium nitrogen cycle is very important to keep well. The commonest mistake that many starting tropical fish maintaining enthusiasts make is to inventory a brand new tank with as many fish as possible without first establishing a wholesome, stable, ecosystem within the aquarium. This is completed via a natural process known as the Aquarium Nitrogen cycle.

What is Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

All fish launch poisonous wastes that in enclosed surroundings will finally contaminate the water within the aquarium. Uneaten meals and fish waste in an enclosed system will break down and launch poisonous ammonia into the tank water.

In a river, lake, or stream, the quantity of ammonia created by the fish is negligible however in an aquarium, it will probably rapidly turn deadly.

The aquarium Nitrogen cycle is a natural two-step process that establishes colonies of useful nitrifying bacteria (Nitrosomonas) within the aquarium that metabolizes poisonous compounds and renders them innocent to fish.

The useful nitrifying bacteria as soon as established within the aquarium will convert poisonous ammonia into Nitrites, which are much less dangerous to fish. Although Nitrites aren’t as dangerous to the fish as ammonia, they’re nonetheless poisonous.

After a sufficient variety of Nitrites seem within the tank, a distinct kind of bacteria, (Nitrobacter) will start to develop that may convert the Nitrites into Nitrates that are usually protected for many species of fish.



Excessive Nitrate buildups also can trigger issues in an aquarium however are simply managed with regular tank water modifications. Floating and submerged vegetation use Nitrates as fertilizer and are used to control buildups.

The whole aquarium Nitrogen cycle process can normally be completed inside a month, however can take as long as two months to finish.

An aquarium is taken into account utterly cycled when it incorporates zero traces of ammonia or Nitrites; and a minimal quantity of Nitrates.

Speeding Up The aquarium Nitrogen Cycle:

Because most tropical fish-holding enthusiasts are impatient and need a beautiful tankful of fish as quickly as possible, they naturally wish to know if the aquarium Nitrogen cycle process may be accelerated. The reply is YES. There are a number of methods to securely pace up the Nitrogen Cycle process.

The most secure option to speed up the growth of the useful bacteria and pace up the Nitrogen cycle process in a brand new aquarium setup is so as to add water, gravel, and aged filter media from an aged, already established aquarium.

Transferring some gravel and/or as much as 100% of the water from a longtime aquarium will considerably scale back the period of time it takes to cycle a brand new system.

Adding “seeded” filter media from a longtime tank will dramatically lower the period of time it takes to finish the aquarium Nitrogen cycle process from a number of weeks to only some days.

When utilizing the “seeding” technique, it will be important that solely HEALTHY established tanks are used for the switch of useful bacteria. There is all the time the opportunity of introducing undesirable microorganisms, parasites, and even illness into a brand new system when water from a “sick” or beforehand handled tank is used.



Aquarium starters of stay useful micro organism are offered in most pet outlets as a way to “jump start” and scale back the time it takes to finish the aquarium Nitrogen cycle process.

Live bacteria assist enhance the organic filter in new programs, destroy sludge buildup within the gravel bed, and assist to maintain vegetation and aquarium glass clear.

The effectiveness of utilizing this technique depends fully on the freshness, high quality, and quantity of stay micro organism within the bottle. Some tropical fish-keeping enthusiasts swear by this technique, whereas others want the natural biking technique.

API StressZyme, API QuickStart, Fluval Biological Enhancer, and Aqueon Pure Bacteria complement are a number of products that are out there.

We have discovered from a few years of experience that permitting the nitrogen cycle to happen naturally leads to a more stable aquarium. Using useful micro organism to “quick start” the aquarium Nitrogen cycle is efficient however can result in an excessively imbalanced aquarium.

Fishless biking:

Instead of introducing stay fish into a brand new aquarium set up and ready for them to create ammonia within the tank; some tropical fish-keeping enthusiasts select to cycle their new programs utilizing ammonia chloride or ammonium hydroxide. The thought is to mitigate stress and the potential lack of fish in the course of the biking process.

Although this technique leads to a really stable colony of useful bacteria, it requires lots of patience and water testing.

To cycle a brand new tank without utilizing fish, you’ll need a source for ammonia, water testing equipment, a de-chlorinator, a heater, and a filter that you may be utilized within the new tank.

First, fill the tank with de-chlorinated water and set the water temperature to about 85 degrees F.

Next, slowly add ammonia chloride or ammonium hydroxide a few drops at a time till the ammonia level take a look at reaches 3ppm to 4ppm. Add solely 2 or 3 drops at a time over intervals of a half hour or so to permit ample dilution.

Do NOT use ammonia merchandise for dwelling use that will produce other chemical components. The different chemical substances are sometimes lethal to fish.

Make each day water exams till the ammonia ranges within the tank drop all the way down to around 0.5ppm – 1ppm; then add more ammonia to deliver ranges back as much as 3ppm to 4ppm. Continue doing this each day till the nitrite ranges start going up. This ought to take only some days.

Continue each day testing for ammonia and nitrites. After a number of weeks, the nitrite ranges will start to drop. When the ammonia and nitrite levels each present 0 ppm, the nitrate ranges ought to be going via the roof.

When the Nitrate takes a look at readings to rise up to 30 ppm, make a 70 to 80% water change to deliver them down. At this level, the useful micro organism ought to already “seeded” into the aquarium filter, aquarium gravel, and decor.

Next, add a last dose of ammonia to deliver the test a level as much as around 4 ppm and wait 24 hours before making one other take a look at. The readings ought to then take a look at 0 for each ammonia and nitrites.

At this point, the tank is absolutely cycled and fish may be slowly added to the system. Be certain to proceed to test after new fish are launched to make sure that no sudden spikes happen.

aquarium nitrogen cycle

Cycling with fish:

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use hardy fish like Zebra Danios to cycle their aquariums. This technique requires fixed water modifications and each day testing of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH ranges.

First, fill the tank with de-chlorinated water and ensure to make use of each mechanical and organic filter. These maintain the biggest quantity of useful bacteria.

Start the Nitrification process by including one or two hardy fish per 10 gallons of water into the aquarium till the aquarium Nitrogen cycle is accomplished.

The fish waste, uneaten meals, and nu-noticed useless corpses will create the ammonia necessary to start the Nitrogen cycle. Additional fish may be steadily added when the tank is absolutely cycled.

Test the water each day for ammonia. Ideally, the ammonia ranges ought to be maintained beneath .25 ppm. If you see that the ammonia ranges go previous .5 ppm, carry out a 50% water change with de-chlorinated water. Chlorinated faucet water will kill the useful micro organism you are attempting to domesticate within the tank.

When the ammonia level within the aquarium goes down, start testing for nitrites and conduct water modifications when necessary to maintain the degrees beneath .25 ppm.

When the ammonia and nitrite readings attain 0, the aquarium nitrogen cycle has accomplished and new fish may be steadily added to the aquarium. Don’t add too many fish at one time or ammonia ranges will start to spike.

After including any new fish, it’s a good suggestion to check the water for a number of weeks to make sure that there aren’t any sudden ammonia spikes.

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