Salty Q&A: How Long Before My Tank Is Cycled?

Saltwater SmartsBy Saltwater Smarts 3 years agoNo Comments
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Cycling a new saltwater aquarium isn’t simply a matter of waiting a certain amount of time

Question:  The fish store dealer who’s helping me through the setup of my first saltwater aquarium told me I need to give the tank time to cycle before I put any fish or corals in it. As of right now, the tank has been operating for about a month. Is that long enough for it to get cycled completely? Is it safe to add live rock yet? My kids are anxious to see some critters in there! – Submitted by Josh P.

Answer:  While cycling takes time and is carried out by certain strains of bacteria, it’s not an entirely passive process from the hobbyist’s standpoint. In other words, you can let your tank run from now until there’s ice hockey in Hades, and it still won’t be suitable for supporting marine life unless you take certain steps to ensure appropriate conditions are present.

Remember, for cycling to occur (and, thus, for an aquarium system to have an adequate biological filter in place), the following elements must be present: colonies of aerobic nitrifying bacteria, oxygenated water, substrate for the bacteria to colonize, and a source of ammonia. MORE

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 Saltwater Smarts

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Saltwater Smarts is a unique online resource created by long-time aquarists Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz to inspire and entertain a new generation of marine aquarium hobbyists while helping them acquire the reliable, authoritative knowledge base they need to succeed with a saltwater system. By clarifying key concepts, techniques, and terminology, as well as sharing expert insights from fellow enthusiasts and industry professionals, Chris and Jeff hope to promote a more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable marine aquarium hobby. Read more about our mission and the contributors who are part of our team.

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