How To: Cycle a fish tank

Cycle a fish tank

Getting a fish? The first thing you'll need to learn in order to keep it alive, is how to prepare your aquarium and its water. Ensure a healthy, balanced environment in your aquarium by following this simple process.

You Will Need:
• A fish tank
• A filter
• Hardy fish
• Water samples

Step 1: Set up fish tank
Set up your fish tank and filter system, then fill it with water.

Step 2: Stock with hardy fish
Stock your tank with hardy fish, such as mollies, tiger barbs, white clouds, or guppies.

Step 3: Limit the number
Put in just a few fish. Three 1-inch fish are sufficient if your tank is between 10 and 20 gallons.

Step 4: Change the water
Change 10 to 15 percent of the water every few days.

Step 5: Test a water sample
Test a sample of the water after a week. It should test high in ammonia with a trace of nitrate at this time.

Step 6: Continue the process
Continue moderate water changes every two weeks. Cycling a tank takes up to eight weeks. Your goal is to establish a healthy colony of bacteria that live in the filter, removing ammonia and other toxins from the water.

Step 7: Add more fish gradually
Add more fish gradually, and enjoy watching them thrive as a result of your diligence.

Trivia: The animals in the "Oceanarium" at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium consume over 650 pounds of seafood each day.

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