Our Guide on How to Cycle your Freshwater Aquarium

At Shauna’s Petshop we believe that fish deserve the right environment to live a happy and healthy life. Goldfish bowls do not provide this and therefore we do not sell them. Goldfish can live up to twenty years or more and grow to even 4 times their size when living in the right conditions. Goldfish and other species need to live in a tank with a filter and ornaments to hide in or investigate as they are intelligent! They also need plants to help keep the oxygen levels in the water high. Fish extract oxygen from the water around them, and if there is no filter to filter out waste, then there is no oxygen. Fish don’t want to live in their own toilet. Be kind, be safe, and buy a proper tank and filter for your new pet.

The Nitrogen Cycle – an essential process

 

Many people ask us why they need to wait a few weeks before adding fish to a new aquarium. The answer is – because your aquarium needs to establish a nitrogen cycle to break down waste in the aquarium. If there is no nitrogen cycle, the water will build up ammonia which will poison your fish. Some fish may survive in water without a filter / without this process; but they are surviving, not living.

 

 

Steps on cycling your aquarium:

 

Step 1: Ensure you have a suitable filter for your aquarium and that it is completely clean before using. EVERY aquarium should have a filter, no matter what size or amount of fish or plants you plan on keeping. If you are going to have live plants, put about2-3 inches of aquarium soil on the bottom of your aquarium. Fill aquarium to the top, leaving about 1 inch of room at the top. Fully submerge your filter while keeping it as close to the surface as possible. Keep it plugged in and running 24/7, never turn your filter off.

 

*for planted aquariums, the soil will make the water very cloudy. This will clear up in a couple of weeks and is not damaging to your water quality. Never turn your filter off.

 

Step 2: Add your water conditioner (API Stress Coat) and biological enhancer (API Stress Zyme) to your water. Leave completely alone for 1 week. During this time, the good bacteria in the biological enhancer will start to grow in the filter media. This is the beginning of the nitrogen cycle.

 

Step 3: After one week, it is time to do a water change! *(see below in bold if you have a planted aquarium) Two very important points to remember are 1) NEVER empty all the water from your aquarium and 2) do not take your fish out of the aquarium for any reason. To perform a water change, use your gravel cleaner to syphon out 25-30% of your water into a clean bucket. While doing this, suck up as much waste and debris from the water as possible by using it to rummage around the gravel at the bottom. When the water is removed, remove the sponge from your filter and rinse the sponge in the water in the bucket. Do not rinse the sponge under tap water as this will kill the good bacteria. Place the sponge back into the filter when rinsed. Fill your aquarium again with new water (from the tap or otherwise) and add your water conditioner and biological enhancer. And that’s all there is to it!

*for planted aquariums please follow these guidelines below instead:

 

After one week, it is time to do a water change! Two very important points to remember are 1) NEVER empty all the water from your aquarium and 2) do not take your fish out of the aquarium for any reason. You are not going to be using a gravel cleaner to syphon out your water. Instead, use a container / cup to take out 25-30% of water into a clean bucket. IMPORTANT – remember to remove any dead plant matter or any dead oragnic matter from your aquarium with a tongs or clean hands etc. When the water is removed, remove the sponge from your filter and rinse the sponge in the water in the bucket. Do not rinse the sponge under tap water as this will kill the good bacteria. Place the sponge back into the filter when rinsed. Fill your aquarium again with new water (from the tap or otherwise) and add your water conditioner and biological enhancer. And that’s all there is to it!

 

Step 4: Wait another week and repeat this process. We then welcome you to bring a sample of your water (roughly 200ml) to our store where we can test it and see whether your water is ready for some fish and plants. Depending on the results of your water test, you may need to continue to cycle your water for a longer period. This is a result of a number of factors, including water quality in your area. Please be patient as this is to ensure your fish will be happy and healthy in their new home!

 

My water is ready! What next?

 

Adding fish and/or plants to your aquarium: Now is the exciting part – adding the fish! *(see below for plants). When taking home fish from our store, they will be in a special fish bag with lots of oxygen. This oxygen will last up to 90 minutes, so aim to go home right after collecting your fish! When you get home, pop the closed bag into your aquarium and allow it to float for about 15 minutes. This is to acclimate your fish to your water temperature. Next, while keeping the bag floating in your water, open the bag and add two cups of your own aquarium water. This will help the fish acclimate to your water parameters. Leave for approximately 30 minutes then add the whole contents of the bag into your aquarium. Ideally, leave any lights off until the next day to minimise stress on your new friends.

 

*when adding plants to your aquarium, simply follow the instructions on the packaging. Every plant is different so if there are no instructions, contact us and we’ll talk you through the process.

 

Maintenance: The most common cause of health issues in fish is overfeeding. Only feed your fish ONCE a day, with roughly one flake / granule per fish (depending on size & species).* Alternatively, feed what they will eat in under 30 seconds; i.e. you do not want to see leftover food in the aquarium. This will lead to an ammonia spike which can be lethal. Continue to carry out water changes once a week by following Step 3 above.

 

*plants need to be fed too! We recommend feeding your plants with liquid Co2 (EasyCarbo) and a fertilizer (Tropica Premium Nutrition). Plants will also feed on the nitrates produced by your fish’s waste.

 

 

We hope you enjoy your new scaly friends! No question is a silly question so please contact us through social media @shaunaspetshop if you have any questions or would like any advice! 

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