Cycling Aquarium Water – Keeping Betta Diseases at Bay
By Elizabeth Christopher
Cycling aquarium water is the easiest and most effective way to keep betta diseases at bay. Often called the nitrification process, the tank set-up process, or water change process, cycling aquarium water refers to the process of building up good bacteria in your tank water, substrate and filter. This good bacteria then turns harmful ammonia into beneficial nitrates for your fish.
The vast majority of ammonia in your tank comes from the waste of your fish. If the right types of bacteria are not established when cycling aquarium water, these higher levels of waste and ammonia deteriorate the water quality, causing bad bacteria to weaken your fish, leaving them susceptible to many betta diseases.
Cycling aquarium water is a process that takes two to eight weeks, and should be attempted BEFORE you add your fish. It involves some simple steps, and a few necessary items.
1 – Test, Test, Test!
You need an aquarium test kit that checks for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH. Test the water at the same time of day for several days and write down your readings. The test kit will have instructions as to how to use it. Betta diseases are very easy to avoid, and testing your fish’s water condition is a major first step when cycling aquarium water.
2 – Add Nitrogen – Really!
Nitrogen is bad for your fish at high levels, but is necessary to cycle your tank. Add fish food to your fishless tank twice a day just as you would if you had fish. You can alternately drop a piece of fish one inch by two inches in instead. A commercial way to do this is to purchase liquid ammonia and add 5 drops per ten gallons of water. Add three drops per ten gallons of water daily after.
3 – Continue Testing – Where are the Nitrites?
After you notice ammonia present in your water, you will begin to get nitrite readings. This is just what you need to wipe out any betta diseases caused by bad bacteria. Soon after the intial nitrite readings, you will get nitrates showing up. At this stage, you need to do a 30% water change in your tank, and you are ready to add your fish.
Cycling aquarium water properly is a must if you are going to raise healthy, long-lasting bettas. By eradicating betta diseases before they get a foothold in your tank, you can extend your betta’s lifespan to three to five years. Always consult a comprehensive betta care guide when cycling your tank.
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