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Understanding The Nitrogen Cycle

The article gives a detailed analysis of Understanding The Nitrogen Cycle. This cycle is something that you need to know in order to have a successful aquarium.  It is something that occurs in nature naturally and is essential for the well-being of your aquarium inhabitants.  As we have taken on the task of keeping a creature that was designed to live in its own wild habitat, we are responsible for creating a similar habitat in which it can survive.

Understanding The Nitrogen Cycle

The first thing you need to provide is oxygen.  This can be done through air stones, bubble walls and aerating ornaments.  The bacteria involved in this cycle depend on oxygen to perform their tasks.

Step One – AMMONIA forms in your tank from the fish waste and uneaten food which has floated to the bottom and decays.  Ammonia is deadly to your fish, so you need to test your water frequently to make sure your levels are at “0”.  In order to break down the ammonia in your tank, nature forms a bacteria called Nitrite.

Step Two – NITRITE is a good bacteria that feeds off of the ammonia.  These are also bad for your fish, but not quite as harmful as ammonia.  Another bacteria is now formed called Nitrates.

Step Three – Nitrates feed on the nitrites and removes them from the water.  Other organisms in your water will feed on these nitrates and if there are an excessive amount, algae will start to grow in your aquarium.  To control your nitrate level, it is important to do regular partial water changes.  This merely involves removing approximately one-third of the water in your aquarium and replacing it with clean water.  Never place water in your aquarium right from the faucet.  You need to allow water to set for three days to allow any chlorine to draw out of it.

Test your water often to make sure the levels of all the above are satisfactory.

Following is a time table that will give you an idea (after you have added fish to your aquarium) as to how long the Nitrogen Cycle takes to complete:

7 -10 Days – Ammonia level should be at its highest and quickly drops as Nitrites begin to show up.  Do not change any of the water yet.  Only add water (from the containers you have standing) to make up for any evaporation you may have had.

17-19 Days – Nitrites start working and your ammonia level will drop quickly.

21-28 Days – The ammonia and nitrite levels should both be at “0” and the nitrates are now present.  If all levels are good, you can go ahead and add more fish.  You should also do a 10% to 15% partial water change.

What you can’t see happening in your tank is that all of the surfaces (decorations, plants and equipment) are all covered with good bacteria that will continue the Nitrogen Cycle.  It is very important that you do not disturb this balance by cleaning any of those things.  Only wash off ornaments, plants and equipment, if they really need it, with water that you have taken out of your aquarium when doing a partial water change.

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