Originally Posted by isntanything
People make cycling seem a lot more complicated than it really is.
Let me try and do a simplified version which will hopefully explain things.
- Fish (and other creatures) produce ammonia. This is a bad thing, as it is poisonous to them.
- Luckily, there are bacteria which occur naturally that can feed on this ammonia and turn it into less harmful substances which we can then remove with water changes
- The bacteria need lots of places to live in the tank. A filter is ideal because it has a very large surface area and all of the water passes through it. If you want to grow enough bacteria to take care of the ammonia, you need a filter.
- Cycling is just the process of growing enough bacteria to deal with the ammonia in your tank. If you have a source of ammonia (a fish) and somewhere for lots of bacteria to live (a filter), then your tank will cycle naturally
- While your tank cycles, it is important to make sure the ammonia doesn't get too high while you wait for enough bacteria to grow. This is why we test and/or do more frequent water changes while we wait for the tank to cycle
- It is important not to kill the bacteria, which is why we don't clean or change the filter material, we just give it a swish in tank water to stop it getting clogged up
- The benefit of having a cycled tank is that it deals with its own ammonia. This means better living conditions for your fish and less work for you because you don't have to do so many water changes
Hope this helps.
Good job explaining. It isn't rocket science but it is important. Don't stress out on this stuff, Panther24. Just try it. Buy an ammonia kit and a nitrate kit. Both good for about 200 tests. Don't let them talk you into those test strips which are unreliable. Easy to do. I test once a week.
Siphoning is frustrating. It works by having water go from high to low. You gotta have water in the tube. If you're really brave, you can suck the water out til it starts running. I get water in the tubing at the sink, cover the end, stick siphon in tank and other end in bucket below the tank. Physics then work.