How to Cycle a Saltwater Tank: Tips To Help You Succeed with Your New Aquarium

How to Cycle a Saltwater Tank: Tips To Help You Succeed with Your New Aquarium

(upbeat music) – Hello, folks. Wayland from Marine Depot here, and thanks for joining us today. Setting up a new saltwater
aquarium is an exciting project. If you’re like us, you can’t wait to start building up a reef
by adding fish, corals, and other invertebrates,
but a newly set up aquarium is not biologically mature enough to handle a full load of reef livestock. New tanks need time to build a
stable biological foundation. Aquariors refer to this
maturation time as a cycle. When cycling a new tank,
you are essentially growing the bacteria that
are the driving force behind a nitrogen cycle. These bacteria process organic
waste in your aquarium, making it safe for fish
and other tank inhabitants. Without this bacterial foundation, your aquarium will not survive. These microscopic bacteria work to eliminate waste products like ammonia, break down organic matter,
and recycle nutrients. These micro-driven
processes are often referred to as a biological
filtration inside your tank. They can be comprised of wide variety of bacterial species based on
the conditions in your tank. Nitrosomonas, nitrobacter,
and nitrospira are all nitrifying bacteria
types that can be found in your aquarium,
alongside a ton of others. The important fact to understand here is that every tank is different,
and the bacteria types that exist and dominate your
aquarium will be unique. Fish excrete toxin ammonia
directly from their gills, although ammonia also
comes from organic matter breaking down inside the aquarium. When solid fish and invert waste or uneaten food discompose,
it releases toxin ammonia into the water. Thanks to the nitrogen cycle
and the bacteria that drive it, this toxin ammonia does not
build up in the aquarium. The nitrogen cycle is a two-step
process involving two types of nitrifying bacteria. In the first step, ammonia
is converted to nitrite by what scientists call
ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, or AOB for short. This is simply a classification we use to group together the
various species of bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite. Next, nitrite-oxidizing
bacteria, or NOB for short, converts nitrite to nitrate,
which is far less toxic to fish and other animals when compared to ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate is only harmful when it starts to stack up inside your aquarium. This reason is exactly why
some of us do water changes. Water changes remove nitrate that would otherwise
just keep accumulating. This is a simplified explanation of what happens in a
mature, or cycled, aquarium. This is why you must give it time before adding your livestock. New tanks need to go through
a period of maturation, then the development of
this nitrifying bacteria. To track the process, you
can utilize some test kits and test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and finally, nitrate. First, you will see an ammonia level rise and then start to fall when
nitrites become present. Finally, you’ll see a rise in nitrates, then ammonia and nitrite
levels begin to be zero. This means the cycle is completed and both types of bacteria
are present in your aquarium. There are a couple things you need to do in order to get the cycle
started inside a new tank. Seed the tank with bacteria
and provide a source of ammonia to feed that bacteria. There are several ways to
seed a brand new aquarium with bacteria. You can add a few pieces of live rock or live sand from an established aquarium. The downside here is that you run the risk of introducing pests,
but cycling an aquarium with seasoned live rock
is still widely practiced and a very common method. If using live rock or sand,
you only need a little bit to seed the aquarium with bacteria. It is perfect suitable to fill your tank with dry rock or dry sand,
and then add a small piece of live rock or a small scoop of live sand to introduce the bacteria. As long as you provide an ammonia source, this bacteria will soon grow and populate onto all
the surface of your tank, including the dry rock and sand. Another method of seeding the tank is using a liquid bacteria supplement. Not all liquid bacteria
products are made equal. Some formulations contain microbes and enzymes that will take time to grow and become abundant in an aquarium. One of our favorites is
the Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7. If you really wish to
jumpstart the cycle process, you might look at Dr. Tim’s One and Only or Fritz Aquatics Turbo Start because these contain
live nitrifying bacteria that will immediately
go to work in your tank. These products will work so
long as ammonia is present, and they can also help shorten the length of time it takes to make the aquarium safe for the addition of fish and corals. No matter which brand of
bio additive you choose, be sure to follow the
manufacturer’s instructions closely. Each of the instructions
are indeed unique, and will contain different concentrations and species of microbes. One thing to note is that
it’s not unusual for aquariors to use both liquid nitrifiers as well as live rock and live sand. This is because you really
wanna do everything possible to start with a diverse
and healthy population of bacteria in the aquarium
as quickly as possible. Getting bacteria from various sources and in large amounts will
only help the process. After you’ve added live
bacteria to the tank, you’ll need a source of ammonia. Some aquariors add a live fish and let it produce ammonia naturally. Feed the fish sparingly
and monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels. This can, however, put
that fish at the risk of ammonia or nitrite poisoning, which is why you wanna use a hardy fish during the cycling process. The fishless cycle is designed
to grow out the biofilter before marine life is added. This method relies on a
higher initial ammonia dose to force feed the bacteria
and develop a substantial biofilter before adding livestock. Some aquariors drop in a piece of shrimp or phantom feed fish food. As the food decays, ammonia is released. Another method involves adding
a prepared ammonia solution to the tank. Dr. Tim’s Ammonium Chloride
is designed specifically for this purpose of adding ammonia, and should be used alongside
a nitrifying bacteria product such as Dr. Tim’s One and Only. It can take around six
weeks for the aquarium to complete the cycle,
depending on the vitality of the seed bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria are
relatively slow growers. They respond to ammonia and nitrite by dividing and forming larger colonies, so plan on four to six weeks, especially if you’re going
with a fishless cycle. The key is to be patient. Just let the bacteria do their thing, and you can track the process
by looking at test kits. It is important to remember that when you add more livestock, the biofilter has to adjust and grow to meet the higher ammonia levels. I typically recommend one
or two fish every other week after a successful cycle. Staggering the livestock additions ensure that you do not overload
the aquarium with nutrients. This method gives it plenty of time for the bacteria to establish and keep up with the additional
waste in the aquarium. In the age of instant gratification, some hobbyists become worried
that the tank won’t cycle or just become impatient
and start adding animals too quickly. Take it from me and the thousands of people keeping aquariums
before me, don’t be that guy. It will only lead to killing
animals and getting frustrated. Just set up the tank, add your
bacteria and ammonia source, and then leave it alone for a couple weeks before testing your parameters. If you found this cycling video helpful, please hit that thumbs-up and share it with your reef keeping friends. We have a ton of exciting
content in the works, so be sure to hit that Subscribe button to stay on top of all the
latest Marine Depot videos. I appreciate you for watching. Until next time, take care
and happy reef keeping. (upbeat music)

32 thoughts on “How to Cycle a Saltwater Tank: Tips To Help You Succeed with Your New Aquarium

  1. I used Fritz and cycled my tank in five days. It's a really good jump starter. I it used ammonia chloride to start the cycle. My tank is 3 months old and has two fish, CUC, and 5 corals and is thus far super healthy.

  2. Give it 10 to 30 more years id bet everything changes like it has in the past 30 😉 thank you for the video this will help alot of people CHEERS yall 🙂

  3. Live rock, some live sand, instant ocean bio-spira and aquavitro alpha to keep the ammonia low enough for the fish(ammonia test every 2-3 days). 1-2 months until it is relatively stable and then in with the coral. Saltwater is easier than freshwater but not as plug and play as most consumers would like with their use it and get rid of it buying habits.

  4. Take the few weeks of cycling to read up and research up on this awesome hobby! You'll be happy you did rather than jump the gun and struggle.

  5. can i use biological media (ceramic rings) and substrate from 2 years old successful freshwater aquarium with new saltwater aquarium?

  6. Love your videos and the time you put into making them great. What do you guys think about making a new intro song? Something sophisticated, upbeat, and quick?

  7. I’m getting ready to give up this stupid hobby. I’m tired of tryna to figure out why my coral dies. Just a fucken waste of money . I’m done with this bullshit

  8. Needed some clarification. I recently was debating with my LFS, he mentioned that the cycling is complete only when the nitrates spike and drop near to Zero which u will need to wait patiencely. He only run a skimmer by the way. But I told him the cycling is over when ammonia and nitrite are Zero, with certain amount of nitrate with first water change. Please help

  9. Would it be beneficial to have water flowing/moving at this time? (Not filtration). I have live rock and sand. I see some hitchhikers including a crab.

  10. Tip: You can start the cycling process before you have a tank (it's ordered – backlog 1-2 months :/ ).
    Just buy the amount of dry rock you will need for your tank (+heater and power head) and start cycling it in water container (barrel/bucket/bin/tub – you will need water containers for RODI/saltwater mixing anyway)

  11. Euhm I have A question, I am going to buy A tank, and the shop wil give me already cylcled water, but I first want ot quarantine my fish, can i have A tank with just cycled water for 4 weeks without anything in it? Kind regards Tijs!

  12. I tried a different way to get my cycle to start. I pooped and peed in my tank. I was told us a poop decays it will start beneficial bacteria and the pee will bring the ammonia level up. I will keep you posted on how it works.

  13. I'm about 2 and a half weeks into a fishless cycle. I have seen the nitrite spike and drop and the nitrate build. Seems stalled at nitrate building though. I add some ammonia here and there to keep the bacteria alive, but the nitrate just keeps piling on.

  14. Not clear enough for new people. I feel you emphasize more on benefits of cycle tank than how to do it. Sorry I’m new

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