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After you setup your aquarium and add water the next most important step is to cycle your aquarium.

A lot of people feel intimidated by this process but it’s really not that difficult and the infographic below does a great job simplifying the nitrogen cycle in a visual way and breaking it down into 5 super simple steps.



How To: Fish Tank Nitrogen Cycle

Here are the key takeaways from the infograhic;

Step 1) Set up your aquarium

Just add your gravel, set up your equipment, add your decor and fill your tank with water.

Step 2) Start the cycle

This can be done one of two ways.

First you can start a fishless cycle which is done by adding ammonia, bacteria additive, food or maybe some filter media from an established tank.

The second way to start a cycle is to add some hardy fish (not recommended), but this can be harmful to the fish and you may lose a few.

In either case the waste produced will start to production of ammonia, which is the fist stage of the nitrogen cycle.

Step 3) Test the water for ammonia

Test the water regularily and look for the following

  • Ammonia will spike, then fall to 0 ppm
  • Nitrites will spike, then fall to 0 ppm
  • Nitrates will start to rise

Step 4) Wait until nitrates rise 

Once the nitrates rise they will continue to rise until you complete a water change.

Read: Water Changes The Easy Way to learn more about doing a water change.

Step 5) Add fish slowly

After you have completed your water change your safe to start adding fish slowly.