Step# 6 - I will let the aquarium tank run for 24 hours before performing 100% water change with de-chlorinated water to continue with the cycling. This helps to clear up some of the debris (if any) in the water.
Some aquarium shops will try to promote soil gravel that do not contain ammonia so that you could introduce shrimps into the tank just after three days. Without proper tank cycling, you will run into problem sooner or later. Always remember the importance of the Nitrogen Cycle that I have mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Tip# However, you can shorten the cycling time by using the following tips, but do not attempt to ignore the cycling process.
- Aerating the water
- Maintaining water temperature at 28-32 degree Celsius
- Keeping pH around 7 (Typically the pH is lower when using soil gravel, you can buffer with coral chips to increase the pH.)
- Using age filter media from another tank
- Introducing commercial live bacteria, example Fritz-Zyme #7
Patience, Patience, Patience
As most of us do not have the equipment to measure the numbers of bacteria at home, we can only base our assumptions on other water parameters and judgments to know if the tank is ready.
Check for Ammonia every alternate days using a commercial ammonia test kit, you will notice that Ammonia will start to reduce on the first 7-14 days. Nitrite level will rise.
If you can recall what I mentioned in the Nitrogen Cycle, with the Ammonia gone, Nitrobacter will thrive and starts to convert harmful Nitrite to Nitrate. It will takes another 14-21 days to reduce the levels of Nitrite. Constantly check the presence of Ammonia and Nitrite, sometimes there will be a certain surge in Ammonia level. This is normal, you just have to wait for the tank to get cycled. There is no way we can measure bacteria at home without the sophisticated equipment. So do we know when the tank is ready?
Tip# Check for at least three consecutive days of zero Ammonia and Nitrite.
Once the tank is fully cycled, there will be a large amount of Nitrate presence in the water for the first occurrence. Perform a 100% water change with de-chlorinated water. After the first water change, make sure that Ammonia and Nitrite level remains at zero. Biologically, the tank is now ready. The rest is just water parameters that you need to control. For those living in the warmer climates, I suggest you use a chiller to control the water temperature. Since soil gravel is used, you will need to buffer the pH to prevent it from falling below pH 6.2.