How to Cycle a Tank With Old Filter Media
Cycling is the process of starting up an aquarium. In a traditional fish tank, fish use waste as food and water quality degrades over time. Because of this, water changes are necessary to maintain good water quality in a fish tank.
Cycling a tank is the same process except that instead of adding livestock that will eventually eat waste, you initially add ammonia to trick your bacteria into thinking they are in bad conditions and thus multiplying and eating harmful toxins that may be present. IN this article, I will discuss how to cycle a tank with old filter media. So let us get started.
What are Old Filter Media?
As time passes, filter media will begin to clog up with organic waste and products from the breakdown of organics. The purpose of old filter media is to serve as a spot for bacterial colonies (the black stuff) to develop inside; this leads to eventual bio-filtration breakdowns.
In most cases, when dealing with biological filtration tanks, it is recommended that old filter media not be reused to avoid potentially introducing disease into new setups or reestablishing pathogens and diseases which quarantine procedures have removed.
As well as pathogen issues, the bacteria on old filter media also slowly die off over time due to lack of food – they need fresh organic material every day!
Step-wise Guide on How to Cycle a Tank With Old Filter Media
This method involves using a 10% bleach solution to wipe down the tank’s surface, substrate, and decorations. This should be done during water changes so that there is little risk of contact with fish or people.
It has been suggested that this step can be skipped if you are starting from fresh media. But I still recommend that it be done at least once if there are unappreciated hitchhikers on your used aquaria equipment.
- Mix 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water (10% solution)
- Thoroughly clean off the gravel, rocks, and other decoration with the bleach solution (it is always best to rinse these items after they have been exposed to the bleach). If new rocks were used for the substrate, rinse with larger volumes of water to try and remove all traces of bleach.
- Wipe the bottom of the tank with a cloth soaked in the 10% bleach solution (to expose any hitchhiking life that may have been transferred from another aquarium)
In this method, you add aquarium de-chlorinator to the tank instead of plain old tap water, thereby removing chloramines from your new cycling process water.
This step should be used when starting a new cycle or if you’ve purchased an already cycled tank that was previously treated with chloramine (this step can still help prevent extra ammonia spikes and is worth doing even if you don’t suspect chloramine). The amount of time to wait before adding fish can be achieved by using the following formula:
Several days to wait before adding fish = (10 x Number of de-chlorinator dropper-fulls added) + 2 days.
- If you are cycling a tank with an already established biofilter, substitute tap water for the dechlorinated water and add some aquarium salt during your regular water change.
Tap Water Method:
Add tap water to the tank at about a quarter of the tank’s total volume (use only if you are cycling a new tank or have purchased a new filter with no fish). Don’t add tap water if you are adding already established filter media.
This is because salt can build up in an aquarium much faster than the typical 20% evaporation rate. Therefore, when starting from scratch, it’s best to stick with using just dechlorinated/salt-free water until your bio-filters become fully established.
- With this method, there should be almost zero risks of ammonia spikes as long as your new biofilters start working right away (i.e., as long as you don’t overdose on fish).
This step is not really a “method” but rather a “test” that can be performed to accurately measure the ammonia level in your tank. For example, when you add new fish or equipment, there will likely be a brief spike in ammonia levels, and this test should help determine when those levels have dropped back down again.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) of aquarium salt for every 2 gallons (7 liters) of water. This raises the specific gravity of the water, making its chemical properties more similar to seawater, making it unlikely that harmful bacteria will multiply at all. Having some salt present also helps prevent wastes from becoming too acidic, which can be fatal to the fish.
- Add enough ammonia until your tank has a specific gravity of 1.020 (this is 10 ppm). Do this by mixing ¼ teaspoon of NH4CL (ammonium chloride) into 10 gallons (37 liters) or water, and then add that solution to your tank. Using ammonium chloride instead of ordinary household ammonia is that there are no additives in NH4CL, and it stores better between uses.
I hope his article has been beneficial for learning how to cycle a tank with old filter media. Thank you, and have a nice day!
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