How to Cycle a New Aquarium

Preparing a new aquarium isn’t as easy as simply filling it with water. New aquariums need to be cycled – which means that the water inside of them needs to be conditioned for fish life. Toxins need to be removed and the water’s temperature needs to adjust to the temperature in the room or to its heater settings.

To begin, fill your aquarium and remove toxins (found in regular tap water) with a little bit of water conditioner. Insert all your accessories (heater, thermometer, etc.) and turn on the aquarium’s filtering system. Leave the filtering system on for seventy two hours while you work to set the water’s temperature to a setting that’s appropriate for your fish. This is what starts the cycling process.

After seventy two hours have passed, you can introduce a set of test fish to your new tank by placing the fish in the aquarium while the fish is still in the original bag it came in. Don’t open the bag and don’t take the fish out of the bag. Just let the bagged fish float around in the aquarium for half an hour. This will change the temperature of the water in the fish’s bag to the same temperature of the water in the tank, which works to prevent shock.

To acclimate your fish to the water inside your aquarium, scoop up 1/4 cup of it and place it into the fish’s bag and watch to see how your fish reacts. Repeat this step a couple of more times and when you’re sure that your fish reacts to the tank’s water just fine, you can go ahead and place the fish into the aquarium with a net. Do NOT pour the fish into the tank because you might accidentally pour some of the bag water into the aquarium.

To welcome your new friends into their new home, sprinkle a little fish food into the aquarium but don’t overdo it. After 5-7 days have passed, test your aquarium’s nitrate and pH levels and make the appropriate adjustments if necessary.

If all is well, you can add the fish you’ve always wanted but you should add them in small numbers. Adding a large number of fish at one time will upset the balance of the cycle that’s begun and prolong its completion! Although your fish are already at home, the cycling process really doesn’t complete itself until weeks or months later.