What is Cycling?|
Cycling is the process by which man-made saltwater
is turned into 'seawater'. You must cultivate
the right bacteria in your filter system by allowing
nature to take it's course. Once your tank is fully
cycled, your system will have the right biological
and chemical balance for livestock.
1. Basically, a new system starts out with no
2. Bacteria eat waste.
3. To create bacteria, we have to create waste.
4. Do this by adding uncured live rock to your
aquarium. Live rock releases waste and provides a
place for good bacteria to grow. (Some people will
use small fish or inverts to cycle, but we highly
recommend uncured live rock. Do not use damsels.
Damsels are aggressive and you will limit what you
can add to your tank.)
5. Ammonia is a byproduct of waste. Ammonia is
deadly to livestock.
6. You will see a high ammonia spike. This is great!
That means cycling has begun.
7. As the bacteria multiply in your filter system,
they convert ammonia to nitrite. Nitrite is also
highly toxic but not as deadly.
8. Ammonia comes down, nitrite goes up.
9. Then bacteria convert nitrite to nitrate. Nitrate
is the least toxic.
10. Ammonia and nitrite comes down. Nitrate goes up.
11. To get rid of nitrate, you must do a water
change - no more than 20%.
12. The end goal is ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate <
30 ppm, pH between 8.1-8.4, specific gravity between
Once cycling is complete and live rock is cured,
there should be no more die-off or smell from your
live rock. Also, waste from your protein skimmer
should be greatly reduced. Cycling may take 1-8
Remember, add livestock slowly as livestock
creates waste which creates ammonia. You have to
allow bacteria to catch up and multiply to keep your