New Tank Syndrome

New Tank Syndrome

New Tank Syndrome
New tank syndrome is the ‘problem time’ where you have an aquarium/pond with fish, an excess of fish waste, and not enough bacteria to breakdown this waste. When we first set-up our aquarium/pond, it is a clean and sterile environment (very low bacteria levels). When we add fish, we get fish waste. The most important fish waste we have to worry about is ammonia (NH3). Ammonia is very poisonous to fish and other aquatic life. Therefore, we must not allow the ammonia to build up to a concentration that is high enough to kill our fish. In nature, the ammonia is consumed by bacteria (nitrosomas). We need the same bacteria in our tanks to control the ammonia, this bacteria will occur naturally over time but is best to be added when fish are added. When the ammonia is consumed, it becomes nitrite (NO2–). The nitrite is still poisonous to the fish but requires a higher concentration. We also need a second group of bacteria (nitrobacter & nitrospiras) to convert the nitrite to harmless nitrate. This also will occur naturally but it is best to add concentrations when adding fish. The time needed for both bacteria to grow and rid the tank of toxic waste is about 6 weeks. When the bacteria have grown, the toxic fish waste (ammonia & nitrate) have been consumed by the bacteria then the tank is cycled.

New Tank Syndrome

Helping New Tank Syndrome & Preventing fish deaths?
The best help for new tank syndrome is to introduce bacteria to the new tank. There are many ways to accomplish this. Adding the bacteria in a concentrated bottle/jar is the easiest way. There are various bottled bacteria on the market, but a few are stand outs, ‘API Quickstart’, ‘Biotec Amtrite Down’ and ‘Biotec Super Concentrate’. Also helping speed up the cycle of your tank, is to use a dirty filter pad or sponge in your filter from an aquarium that has already cycled. This will serve as a seed bed for the bacteria to spread to the rest of your tank. Make sure you keep the dirty filter pad wet with aquarium water to make sure it doesn’t dry out, or the bacteria will die off. Do not rinse the pad with chlorinated tap water, as the chlorine will kill the bacteria.

Adding bacteria to your tank when there is no fish or ammonia will not cycle your tank. You must remember that the bacteria uses the ammonia as a “food” source; thus, if there is no “food” for the bacteria, they can’t grow. Add the bacteria only if there is fish and ammonia in the tank first.

Another helpful hint is to heavily aerate your tank while it is going through its cycle. The bacteria must have enough oxygen to convert the ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate. When there is a lack of oxygen, the time required to cycle your tank goes up. Adding an air pump or another aerating device will help shorten the time needed to cycle your tank.

The bacteria can only grow if the pH of your tank is 5.5 or higher. Below a pH of 5.5, the bacteria are incapable of growing, and thus, your tank will not cycle.

The temperature of the tank’s water can also play a role in the time needed to cycle your tank. The optimal temperature for bacterial growth is between 20°C and 29°C. But always adjust the temperature for the species of fish you are keeping.

This Graph represents a typical Aquarium traveling thru the Nitrogen Cycle (New Tank Syndrome). Water Changes and adding Bacterial products will lower waste and speed the cycle up.

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