Anyone who is interested in aquaristics will undoubtedly hear about the nitrification process. Is it challenging to fully understand? It might seem so, especially if we wished to comprehend nitrification in an aquarium in great detail. I can guarantee you, though, that you don’t need advanced academic expertise to take care of the tank properly. But it’s crucial to understand that nitrification is what gives fish and plants in a home aquarium the chance to survive.

What follows the aquarium’s setup?

Fish cannot live in a newly constructed aquarium with brand-new substrate, tap water, and a brand-new filter with clean filter material. It must be colonized by bacteria and other microbes for it to become a secure home for them. When a tank is colonized with desirable bacteria, especially nitrifying bacteria, which are thought to be the most important, the aquarium has reached its mature stage.

Nitrification (nitrogen cycle in the aquarium)

Because a fresh aquarium lacks a developed bacterial flora, introducing fish at this point frequently results in tragedy for the fish. Why? Like all living things, fish emit feces into the water. They become a source of nitrogenous chemicals due to the breakdown that bacteria perform. In the aquarium, ammonium ions (NH4+) can be seen. The more ammonium ions (NH4+) are transformed into ammonia (NH3), which is extremely harmful to fish, the more alkaline the water is.

These substances won’t be present in an established aquarium since the Nitrosomonas group of nitrifying bacteria will soon convert them to nitrite (NO2-). which, incidentally, are also highly poisonous to fish. However, in an established aquarium, a different variety of nitrifying bacteria will transform them into rather secure nitrates (NO3-). Unfortunately, the new aquarium lacks nitrifying bacteria. The substrate and filter still need to be filled. Due to the high demands placed on these microorganisms, this occurs gradually. They are slow to multiply and require specific circumstances. As a result, researchers predict that the aquarium matures in around 4 weeks.

When can fish be introduced to a new aquarium?

One of the most frequent queries from novice aquarists is this one. A lot of individuals want to buy an aquarium, fill it with water, connect the equipment, and then release the fish inside. Don’t forget: never do it. This will cause a lot of issues, including frequent fish deaths.

Never stock a growing aquarium with a complete, intended population of fish. The aquarium will have more elements that produce hazardous nitrogen compounds the more fish it has.

As I’ve already said, nitrifying bacteria progressively increase in number in the aquarium. As a result, if you introduce fish to the aquarium within the first few weeks, you will notice significant concentrations of the fish-toxic ammonium/ammonia ions (NH4+/NH3) and nitrite (NO2-). The new creatures that live in your aquarium will therefore be in grave risk. Fish are the primary source of nitrogenous chemicals, hence a growing aquarium should never contain a full, planned fish population. The aquarium will have more elements that produce hazardous nitrogen compounds the more fish it has.

These techniques will aid aquarium development.

Fish and microorganisms in an aquarium that has matured

Use water conditioners like Antychlor + Esklarin with aloe vera or Supreme after adding water to the tank and turning on the machinery. They will bind heavy metals and eliminate chlorine. They will also make fresh water more hospitable to potential aquarium residents. To speed up the colonization of the aquarium by nitrifying bacteria, you can add Nitri-Active with nitrifying bacteria or a combination of several bacteria strains after 24 hours (Bacto Active).

The first fish (two or three) from the intended stock can be added to the aquarium after an additional one to two days. Guppies are frequently chosen by aquarists to be the first fish to “colonize” a tank because of their strong resistance and adaptability to changing water conditions. Track changes in nitrite (NO2-) and ammonium ion (NH4+) concentrations as the aquarium ages if you have aquarium tests. Additionally, pay close attention to how fish behave. Don’t forget to perform minor (20–25%) water changes. even two times weekly. After every water change, treat the water, and 24 hours later, after the water change and treatment, add the bacteria product. You can introduce the following batch of fish if the fish act normally and the tests come back negative for ammonia and nitrite. Keep in mind to take your time. Aquarium maintaining is a patience-testing activity. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with fish quarantine.

aquarium maturation with bacterial product

You will notice in many older literature that the aquarium matures in around 4 weeks, and that is how long you should wait to introduce the fish. It does take roughly that long for nitrifying bacteria to start growing in a new tank. The issue is that you need a lot of them in order to keep the biological balance in the tank. They also require energy to survive, which they obtain from nitrogen molecules, as you are already aware. But in a brand-new aquarium, they are essentially nonexistent. But they can also get their protein from plants. Usually, plants shed their leaves before they begin to grow roots. In general, if you don’t expressly remove the debris, something will always die, break off, and eventually decay.

Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to hold off on introducing the fish to a planted and bacteria-fed aquarium for four weeks. If you allow the entire stock in after this period, though, keep an eye on the water’s nitrogen levels. Use bacteria-containing items and change your water frequently. Considering that the system might not be prepared for such a load of feces and urea yet.

Using a mature tank to help an aquarium mature

Inoculating a new aquarium with mature aquarium bacteria is another way to get good results. There is only one restriction, though. A mature tank’s inhabitants must be healthy fish. How do you do it? Clean the filter cartridges, gather the water, and then transfer it to a fresh tank. Additionally, you can set up a filter to develop in an active tank first. The filter will then be transferred to the new tank. However, since you are reading this text, I’m assuming that you are in the process of setting up your first tank, so this strategy won’t be helpful right now.

maturation of an aquarium with active substrate

Particularly challenging are tanks where active substrate for plant culture was used. When flooded, these kinds of substrates discharge micro- and macro-elements into the water. This causes the aquarium’s water quality to decline and huge algae growth. A novice aquarist might wish to give up at this point, in general. Since the active substrate is intended for planting plants, it is crucial to plant as many as you can right once. They don’t have to immediately be a target species. Additionally, provide them fertilization with CO2 and lighting that is suitably intense. Perform routine daily major water changes (30–50%) at the same time. Shrimp tanks, which are typically not highly planted, voluntarily use these surfaces. You can flood the tank with RO filter water during aquarium maturation to flush away extra nutrients. But this has previously been covered in a different article.


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