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Basically, 'cycling' a tank is just jumpstarting the biological cycle: Ammonia -> Nitrite -> Nitrate

Bacteria will 'feed' on ammonia (which builds up from decomposing plant and food remains, dead animals and fish waste), releasing nitrites into the water. Other bacteria will absorb these nitrites, and release nitrates. These nitrates are the final product of the tank cycle, and even though they are not nearly as harmful as ammonia and nitrites, their levels should not become too high.
Performing water changes will lower the amount of nitrates in the water, and more or less brings the cycle to an end....

This way of filtering is called biological filtration (because it's done by bacteria), and most of the bacteria mentioned will colonize inside your filter (there are special filter media around with extra large surface for the bacteria to reside: Eheim is one of the brands that manufactures this stuff, amongst others)
Furthermore, there is mechanical filtration (ie. removing pieces of debris, crap, dead leafs etc. from the water), and chemical filtration (like filtering over active carbon to remove medicine traces or other harmful chemicals from the water).

I hope it's a little clearer now, and don't forget: the most stupid or idiotic question is the one never asked :
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ok heres another question.

when cycling a new tank do you have all your equipment turned on in the tank whiles its cycling or do you leave it all out? ie powerhead, filter, heater etc.

also when should you do a water change when cycling a tank? how many weeks after the cycling had begun?
 

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A couple of things are supposed to run when cycling a tank: the heater, to give the water the right temperature, and of course the filter(s), so the bacteria can colonize the bio-filter media. I don't think a powerhead will make much of a difference, if any...

About water changes: I wouln't do any water changes as long as the tank is cycling, because the tank needs to establish first (ie. biological balance). Water changes will make that period longer...
 

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Well as long as you have fish in the tank your gonna want to do water changes to keep the toxins at a less then lethal level, The only time i would say not to change the water is when doing a fishless cycle.

The water changes will not harm your cycleing process, bacteria is not present in the water its self but instead grows on the surfaces of the tank, such as gravel, decore, filter media.
 

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Corona said:
Well as long as you have fish in the tank your gonna want to do water changes to keep the toxins at a less then lethal level, The only time i would say not to change the water is when doing a fishless cycle.

The water changes will not harm your cycleing process, bacteria is not present in the water its self but instead grows on the surfaces of the tank, such as gravel, decore, filter media.
you should always have goldfish or other hardy fish instead of piranha's in the tank during the cycle for that reason. doing a water change just makes the whole process take longer.when you remove water your taking away ammonia, not the bacteria, but the ammonia is the food, it will take longer for the bacteria if it dosen't have the food to thrive. the toxins are going to get high, thats just part of the process.

basicly toss a couple goldfish in the water with heater and filters running. then test the water over the next couple weeks, like every other day for ammonia,and nitrite these will get really high on your test kit and first the ammonia will drop and then the nitrite will drop. eventually both will be at zero. now test the water for nitrate, it will be high, you do the first water change to lower nitrates and it all set for your expencive fish.

to find out how often you need to do a water change, test the nitrates, if its high do a water change to lower it to safe levels. after a while you will have an idea on how often it needs to be changed without testing the water all the time.
 

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nitrofish said:
you should always have goldfish or other hardy fish instead of piranha's in the tank during the cycle for that reason. doing a water change just makes the whole process take longer.when you remove water your taking away ammonia, not the bacteria, but the ammonia is the food, it will take longer for the bacteria if it dosen't have the food to thrive. the toxins are going to get high, thats just part of the process.

basicly toss a couple goldfish in the water with heater and filters running. then test the water over the next couple weeks, like every other day for ammonia,and nitrite these will get really high on your test kit and first the ammonia will drop and then the nitrite will drop. eventually both will be at zero. now test the water for nitrate, it will be high, you do the first water change to lower nitrates and it all set for your expencive fish.

to find out how often you need to do a water change, test the nitrates, if its high do a water change to lower it to safe levels. after a while you will have an idea on how often it needs to be changed without testing the water all the time.
Well said
 

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I Have No Fish but I Have Japanese Girls On My Ava
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Judazzz said:
nitrofish said:
you should always have goldfish or other hardy fish instead of piranha's in the tank during the cycle for that reason. doing a water change just makes the whole process take longer.when you remove water your taking away ammonia, not the bacteria, but the ammonia is the food, it will take longer for the bacteria if it dosen't have the food to thrive. the toxins are going to get high, thats just part of the process.

basicly toss a couple goldfish in the water with heater and filters running. then test the water over the next couple weeks, like every other day for ammonia,and nitrite these will get really high on your test kit and first the ammonia will drop and then the nitrite will drop. eventually both will be at zero. now test the water for nitrate, it will be high, you do the first water change to lower nitrates and it all set for your expencive fish.

to find out how often you need to do a water change, test the nitrates, if its high do a water change to lower it to safe levels. after a while you will have an idea on how often it needs to be changed without testing the water all the time.
Well said
I 2nd that!!
 

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thanks for the info guys! im going to be picking up a 55 acrylic sometime this weekend and hopefully will start the cycling beginning of next week.

i got an awesome deal also! 55 acrylic w/stand, titanium heater, filter, lights, gravel and misc parts all for $100.

but another question. should i clean the tank prior to cycling? and what should i clean it with also? and should i use the gravel or buy new gravel? also if i should use the old gravel should i clean it and how?

chris
 

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ok one more question. regarding the filter. im planning on picking up an ac 500. this is good for the 55 right? and what type of filter should i choose? so many choices..... better yet which would you guys recommend for a beginner?

chris
 

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I also agree with Nitro, I guess i was just assuming he was gonna cycle with the fish he planned on keeping.

an AC500 would work great for your 55G, But if ya got some money to spend id go with a canister filter, the do a much better polishing job on the water and have greater options as to what kinda media you would like to put in them.
 

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good lord the canister filters are expensive! im planning on just using an ac 500 filter with an ac powerhead 402 on the other side to maximize the filtration. hopefully this will be just fine for the 55.

chris
 

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s2k2sti said:
but another question. should i clean the tank prior to cycling? and what should i clean it with also? and should i use the gravel or buy new gravel? also if i should use the old gravel should i clean it and how?
When I got my new tank, I just cleaned with water (garden hose in the backyard), and scrubbed it clean. After that, I started setting it up.
About the gravel: you can use the old one, mix old and new, or use new gravel: depends on you, won't make a difference.
Just be sure to clean new gravel thoroughly with warm water, to avoid a cloudy tank. If you decide to use your old gravel, you can do the same, although it's not necessary.

btw: that's a nice deal you got there
 

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Judazzz said:
s2k2sti said:
but another question. should i clean the tank prior to cycling? and what should i clean it with also? and should i use the gravel or buy new gravel? also if i should use the old gravel should i clean it and how?
When I got my new tank, I just cleaned with water (garden hose in the backyard), and scrubbed it clean. After that, I started setting it up.
About the gravel: you can use the old one, mix old and new, or use new gravel: depends on you, won't make a difference.
Just be sure to clean new gravel thoroughly with warm water, to avoid a cloudy tank. If you decide to use your old gravel, you can do the same, although it's not necessary.

btw: that's a nice deal you got there
wow thanks for all that info! yep it looks like ill be using the old gravel then. dang i cant wait till i get this little project started. but it looks like im picking up the tank on monday. i dont have a truck and all my friends are unavailable until monday.


chris
 

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alright i picked up my tank finally! now its time for the cycling to begin. i just need to pick up some new equipment and keep the old stuff as backups and get some plants.

regarding the plants, im planning on getting some plastic ones. whats the pro/cons on getting a plastic or real ones? i just done want the hassle of having to clean plants( if you have to). also what plants are recommended?

chris
 
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