Cycle your saltwater aquarium. Step 1: A new reefer’s guide to ammonia and the nitrogen cycle

Cycle your saltwater aquarium. Step 1: A new reefer’s guide to ammonia and the nitrogen cycle


– Today in the 5-Minute
Salt Water Aquarium Guide we’re going two steps further
than any other cycle video. Not just making the tank safe for fish, but showing you how to completely avoid a whole slew of challenges
new reefers run into. The easiest and most
stable path to success, all that’s coming up. (upbeat music) Hey I’m Ryan, your host at BRStv and the 5-Minute Saltwater Aquarium Guide. This is a clear, simplified,
and direct path to setting up that first successful reef tank. It’s time to talk about
cycling a reef tank. There are two challenges here. The first is fish release
toxic ammonia into the tank through their gills and waste. Ammonia also builds up from
uneaten food breaking down. So the first step of a reef
tank cycle is eliminating ammonia from the tank, and that’s today. The second challenge is reef tanks have super bright lighting,
which is prone to growing pests like algae in brand new tanks,
so the second step of cycling a salt water tank is setting
the tank up for success in avoiding many of those pests. That’s in the next episode,
but these two steps combined is a wholistic path to cycling a tank, where I strongly believe
initial success rates will double, if not triple. So let’s cycle these two tanks,
staring with that first part eliminating toxic ammonia. The reason it’s called the nitrogen cycle is because there’s a few
things happening here. The ammonia from the fish
is processed by bacteria into much safer nitrite. And then new bacteria
processes nitrite into nitrate, which in some instances
is processed by another new bacteria into nitrogen gas, and bubbles out of the
tank into the atmosphere, where the nitrogen is
used by new organisms. The nitrogen cycle or
this process feeds most of the life on the planet,
but we use it in our tanks to rapidly eliminate toxic ammonia. All this is based on
naturally-occurring bacteria and it’s going to populate
your tank on its own and do that for you. In fact, you really couldn’t
stop it if you wanted to. Most of today’s episode is just
about how fast that happens. There are a dozen ways
to get the cycle going, eliminate ammonia, and get
the tank ready for fish. If this is your first rodeo, simple paths with the least
frustration often have the highest success rates, and success is our primary goal here. In that spirit one of the
highest success rate paths that I’ve seen is add a hardy
fish, like a clown fish, and then protect it by adding
a bacterial booster product to immediately elevate
the bacteria populations that rapidly convert the
ammonia and cycle the tank. Doctor Tim’s One and
Only MicroBacter Seven, or MicroBacter Start are
all options for that. They’re all slightly different
but work in similar ways. Doctor Tim’s and MicroBacter
Start are the fastest ways because they’re all
live bacterial cultures. Doctor Tim’s One and Only
is the one that we’ve used around here the most, probably a hundred tanks over the years, and I don’t think we’ve ever lost a fish to the ammonia cycle but I could probably say that
about most of these boosters. These bacterial booster
products just work really well. We’re using Doctor Tim’s here, the four ounce treats up to 60 gallons. I wouldn’t under size, but
you really can’t use too much. Add your first clown fish and
pour in the entire bottle. The tank now has adequate
bacteria for the fish and will populate the rocks’ surface. The bacteria population will scale with the amount of fish you have. As to how long this will take and how to know when it’s done, good practice is pick
up an ammonia test kit and test once a week. The Red Sea Test Kit gets the best reviews and what I would use. Once the tank is reading
zero ammonia for a few weeks, it’s ready for the next fish. However rather than
just waiting a few weeks after ammonia hit zero, best practice is also
pick up a nitrite test kit and wait for that to hit zero as well. At the same time, safe
nitrate will start to show up on your nitrate test kit. You can be sure that your
cycle’s done at that point and ready for the next fish. If you want to test for all
this the Red Sea Marine Care Kit will give you all the
cycle-related kits you need. Just a note on this
process, it’s the only time that you’ll ever use
many of these test kits. After you’ve confirmed the cycle is done, the ammonia and nitrite test
kit will go into storage for the next tank. After the cycle is done it’s
safe to add another fish every few weeks. After you have a few in
there, it’s typically safe to add a couple at the same time, but with bigger fish, I’d
still go one at a time. Now that the tank is ready for more fish, it’s time to talk about the
second stage of that cycle. This is a stage where if applied right, you can dramatically reduce the chances that you run into algae or
other pests in that first year. All that’s coming up in the next episode. The entire Salt Water
Aquarium Guide’s always available here, but if you
want to know how to completely avoid all the challenges
most reefers run into, an ounce of prevention’s
worth a pound of cure, and it’s all right here.

5 thoughts on “Cycle your saltwater aquarium. Step 1: A new reefer’s guide to ammonia and the nitrogen cycle

  1. So the only mechanical filter on these tanks are the protein skimmers and the biological filter is the live rock? Great series so far guys 🙂

  2. I'm Loving the series. . Ya gonna add some coralline algae in a bottle ? What kind of Grande palys are those on the video title ? Be cool to put them in the tanks

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