It is always very a good thing when you get a new tropical fish tank, so much that some people feel like using the tank straight away. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good idea, as before you can use a tank, there are some of the things that need to be put in place first – to help reduce the chances of your fish dying.
Cycling your fish tank is one of them. This process can take up to 5 weeks and is very important.
Also, a new tank should be left powered on, for a few days before putting it to use. This is to make sure it is working correctly and has no manufacturing defect.
So basically, there are three main things that need to be done to your fish tank which takes time, before adding a new tropical fish to a fish tank. Below are the necessities:
- Cycling the tank
- Make sure it is properly cycled, by testing it.
- Acclimatise the fishes to their new environment.
These steps listed above are important and so should be keenly followed, to help ensure the survival of your fish. Now let’s drill down and look at them in a bit more detail.
Cycling the Tank
This is all the more important if you had previously had fish in your fish tank. While some may not find it appealing, it’s goes without saying that fish poop in the same water they breathe, eat and swim in. Their waste is then broken down to produce ammonia. If the ammonia content is left in the water for long, it becomes toxic and can kill the fish.
In order to prevent the buildup of ammonia to dangerous concentrations, a nitrogen cycle is needed. This cycle helps to eliminate this harmful compound by making use of the good bacteria colonies within the tank. These bacterial colonies process the toxic waste in the tank and turn it into a non-toxic one. This process takes a long time; it could take up to six weeks to be fully completed.
In summary, a nitrogen cycle involves your fish depositing their waste in the water and good bacterial converting the ammonia waste into less harmful products (nitrates).
These nitrates are relatively less harmful to the inhabitants of the fish tank when it is at lower concentration levels. With regular water changes, they are kept from accumulating and so remain at healthy levels.
To begin cycling, your aquarium first needs to be set up. Setting up your fish tank is not just about buying a tank and adding water into it. It also involves making sure that there is the right amount of gravel in the tank and the tank filter is switched on. The good news is that the good bacteria will already be present within the water as it is their natural habitat.
There are some things are needed to accelerate the cycling process. So, if your wish is for your fish to begin swimming in your tank safely in no time, then getting them will help you along in the process. Good aquarium plants help accelerate the process and are more decent and humane than using a live fish to cycle your tank. If you like, you can add the plants to your aquarium at this stage, as they aid in the cycling process.
During this cycling process, you need to exercise some patience before adding any new fish into the tank.
Testing the Water
This is the next step after cycling.
You should get an aquarium nitrate test kit as, within this period, it is important to continue testing the water and monitor the ammonia and nitrate levels. If you notice a sharp increase in the nitrite level, followed by a slow increase in nitrate, then the cycle is almost complete.
When you notice a fluctuation in the nitrite level, followed by an increase in nitrates, the cycle is completed.
To test the water, you need the right kit. The right testing kit for your fish tank water contains testing strips and a manual to help you better understand the results. If the tester shows that the ammonia level is zero, then the cycling process is complete.
Make sure the nitrate level is also below 40 ppm. If you get the above results don’t remove the tester just yet. Leave it for a few days and if it continues to give roughly the same results, you can conclude that the cycle has worked, and it is safe to begin adding fishes.
Acclimatising the Fish
Unfortunately, it is very common for fishes to die shortly after being added into a new tank. In some cases, it could be because the fish were unwell prior to purchase. It may also be due to the fish not being properly acclimatised to the aquarium water. The introduction of new fish into a tank could be really difficult, it is a process many people get wrong.
There are some people that leave the fish in its bag, and place it in the new fish tank, leave it for a few hours and then introduce it to the water.
When you bring your new tropical fish home, the intensity of the light in your aquarium is something you should keep an eye on, as very bright lights can damage fish eyes.
How to Properly Introduce for to an Aquarium
To properly introduce fish to an aquarium, keep the fish in the plastic bag but roll the edges down and place it in the tank water to float. This way, it will balance safely on the water and some of the water already in the tank will splash into the bag.
The next thing to consider is the pH levels; even a small difference in the pH level could be fatal to the fish. If the pH levels are close, it will even out very quickly. If they aren’t close it will take a longer time.
Acclimatisation is a slow process. It is about trying to get the fish to adapt properly to their new environment. Try to equalise the pH of your tank to a level that the fish are already used to.
While you are waiting on the pH levels to equalise, you can focus on the water temperature and making sure you get it right.
Tropical fish do well at temperatures between 24° and 30°C. It’s very important to get your tank to this temperature.
To do so, a precise thermometer can be used and get a stick-on digital thermometer, if possible. Remember that all fish species need different temperatures to survive in fish tanks.
So keeping an eye on the temperature in your aquarium is important to the safe and healthy existence of your fish to avoid killing them.