6.2. Biofiltration

The most important part of an aquarium’s filtration is what goes on at the microscopic level. This is so called biofiltration. It is the world of bacteria and micro-organisms that can’t be seen with the naked eye. This biofiltration is the key to good water chemistry, good fish health and crystal-clear water.

The Mature Aquarium

2.14. The Mature Aquarium

A “mature aquarium”  (sometimes called a “seasoned aquarium” or a “balanced aquarium”) is an aquarium with a lot of diversity in the brown gunk in its filter, tank, and substrate.

Cycling Test

2.13. Cycling Test

Cycling Test: A series of tests were run in buckets to see what feeding regimes produced the fastest cycles. The second series of tests were run in the buckets to see what water parameters give the best cycling times.

Beneficial Bacteria

2.12. Beneficial Bacteria

There are several general types of beneficial bacteria involved in oxidizing ammonia to relatively safe nitrate in the freshwater aquarium. Scientists call these organisms “nitrifying” bacteria and archaea. We will use the term “beneficial bacteria”

Nitrogen Cycle

2.10. Nitrogen Cycle

An understanding of the nitrogen cycle is NOT REQUIRED to have a good aquarium. This idea that every hobbyist needs to understand the nitrogen cycle is a myth promulgated by well meaning but ill-informed individuals on social media.

Inoculate for Cycling

2.11. Inoculate for Cycling

Inoculate for Cycling. To jumpstart the cycling of an aquarium, you can inoculate the aquarium with “seeding” material.

Instant Cycling Chemicals for the Aquarium

2.9. Instant Cycling Chemicals for the Aquarium

There are a whole series of products that claim to “detoxify” ammonia and nitrite during cycling. They claim these products give an “instant cycle”. These claims are simply false marketing hype.

Not Cycling an Aquarium at all

2.6. Not Cycling an Aquarium at All

Understand, I recommend fish-less cycling for all aquarium hobbyists setting up a tank. This is simply the best way to cycle an aquarium with the least risk to the fish. But contrary to many fervent people on social media, one does not HAVE to formally cycle a tank

Aquarium Fish-in Cycling

2.5. Aquarium Fish-in Cycling

If one has fish in the aquarium during cycling the tank, this is called “fish-in cycling”. I don’t recommend fish-in cycling. There is simply no reason to do it.

Cycling an Aquarium with Ammonia

2.4. Cycling an Aquarium with Ammonia

There are a huge number of beginner hobbyists that have Googled aquarium cycling and come up with ammonia as being the perfect feed for fishless (no fish in the tank) cycling. Most experienced hobbyists, including the author, don’t do cycling with ONLY ammonia!