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FishLore.com's Freshwater Aquarium Book


THE AQUARIUM NITROGE N CYCLE
The aquarium nitrogen cycle information presented below may be rather boring to most people,
but it is absolutely essential to understand this process if you want to be successful at keeping
fish!
Steps in the Process:
1. Fish Waste & other biological processes
remove nitrates and DOC
Some call it the biological cycle, the nitrification process, new tank syndrome or even the start-
up cycle. They all are referring to the same cycle - The Nitrogen Cycle. The aquarium nitrogen
cycle is a very important process for the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium
and in the filter media that will help in the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and then the
conversion of nitrite to nitrates. Check out the aquarium water chemistry page (on the left) for
more information on these terms.
This process can take from 2 weeks to 2 months or longer to complete. It is vital for anyone
planning on keeping aquarium fish to understand this process. Learning about this process will
help you to be successful in keeping fish and it should definitely improve your chances when
keeping tropical fish. The best way to monitor the nitrogen cycle is to purchase an aquarium
test kit that will test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and ph.
Test your aquarium water every other day and write down your readings. You will first see
ammonia levels rising. A few weeks or so later you should see the nitrite levels rising and the
ammonia levels dropping. Finally, after a few more weeks you should see the nitrate levels
rising and the nitrite levels dropping. When you no longer detect ammonia or nitrites but you
can detect nitrates you can assume that it is safe to add your tropical fish.
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