Beneficial bacteria are an integral part of every fish tank since they help your fish stay alive.
To learn how to create good bacteria in your aquarium and how to speed up the nitrogen cycle, read ahead.
How to Add Beneficial Bacteria to Your Aquarium
Below are some simple tips to add more beneficial bacteria to your aquarium:
Increase the Water Temperature
Beneficial bacteria can reproduce faster in the tank when the water is warm.
During your nitrogen cycle, it is a good idea to keep the water temperature around 85 to 90 degrees.
If the water temperature is more than 90 degrees, it will affect not only the nitrogen cycle but also the fish.
If your aquarium has multiple types of fish, it is best to check what temperatures they prefer and remove them during the nitrogen cycle if this temperature is too high for them.
Increase Oxygen Levels
Just like your fish, beneficial bacteria need oxygen to survive in the fish tank.
This is why increasing the oxygen levels in your tank will help beneficial bacteria reproduce and grow.
Increasing the water temperature along with the oxygen level is guaranteed to increase beneficial bacteria in your fish aquarium.
You can increase the oxygen level by adding an air pump to your aquarium.
Air pumps will not make any distracting noises and can also help stabilize the pH in your aquarium.
They also last a long time and are made of high-quality materials, so you will never have to worry about your fish or plants.
Simply let your air pump run in your tank all day and oxygen levels will rise.
Another way to increase oxygen levels in your fish aquarium is by increasing the water flow.
You can do this by adding wavemakers to your tank and making sure they are aligned properly, which will allow them to create more water pressure and increase the water flow.
Turn Off the Lights
Beneficial bacteria grow fast in the dark, which is why turning off the lights.
However, it is not the best idea to keep the lights off all the time since light makes it easier to see what is going on inside your aquarium as you pass by, but make sure they are off during the cycle.
Lights also help with maintenance and cleaning and are an essential part of your fish tank.
You can turn the lights off at night before going to bed. It is also a smart idea to keep your fish tank away from sunlight since it can affect bacteria growth.
Let the Filter Run
Your aquarium filter is a great place for the bacteria to live in the fish tank. The filter has a stable water flow and very less light – two of the most important things beneficial bacteria need to thrive.
This is why it is a good idea to let your filter running during the nitrogen cycle. Your filter will keep the water clean and give a home to the bacteria in your water.
Since beneficial bacteria live inside the filter, it is essential to be careful when cleaning it.
If you remove the filter media and rinse it with sink water, you will kill all the bacteria growing inside it.
Tank water is a better option since it does not contain chlorine.
Add Filter Media
One of the most effective ways to make sure beneficial bacteria exist in your fish tank is by adding filter media.
This will speed up the nitrogen cycle, which will also help remove ammonia from the fish tank since beneficial bacteria feed on ammonia and turn it into harmless compounds in your tank.
Using filter media from a tank that already has beneficial bacteria will help increase the population in your tank drastically since it can take a very long time to repopulate your tank with bacteria otherwise.
Adding filter media might speed up the process, but make sure the established tank you use only has healthy fish.
Don’t Add More Fish
If you want “good” bacteria in your tank, try not to add more fish.
If you keep adding fish, bacteria will not have time to convert all the ammonia released from the waste and the excess food into harmless compounds.
As the fish population increases, it will get harder and harder for the bacteria, which will result in your fish dying, which can, in turn, affect bacterial growth and the nitrogen cycle.
Also read: How to Tell if Your Aquarium Has Too Many Fish?
Importance of Beneficial Bacteria
Beneficial bacteria play a huge role in your tank’s nitrogen cycle.
Your tank has animal waste and excess food, which can break down and produce harmful compounds like ammonia and nitrite.
Too much nitrite and ammonia in your tank can kill your fish in just a few days. Even if your water looks completely clear, ammonia may exist in high amounts.
Here is how beneficial bacteria help—a beneficial bacterium called Nitrosomonas can break ammonia into a compound called Nitrite.
Another beneficial bacterium called Nitrobacter then turns nitrite into harmless nitrates.
It is important to keep in mind that you need to clean your aquarium regularly to remove these nitrates since over time, they can harm the fish and the plants.
Beneficial bacteria help keep your fish alive until cleaning day, which means it is vital to have them in your fish tank.
It is essential to add bacteria in your aquarium before adding the fish or they will all die within a few days since the ammonia will only keep on increasing with nothing to combat it and break it down into harmless compounds.
Also read: How to Get Rid of Ammonia and Nitrates in an Aquarium?
More about Beneficial Bacteria and the Nitrogen Cycle
Sometimes, it can take a while for the nitrogen cycle in your tank to start but no need to worry – this only means that there are no nitrites or ammonia in your tank at the time.
If you want to speed up the nitrogen cycle, you can always use water, a sponge or gravel to move things along, but it is best to let it happen naturally.
It is also a good idea to avoid adding products that help neutralize pH and ammonia since they can lead to incorrect readings – the ammonia will still be in the water but it will not show.
It is always a better idea to get a reading when the nitrogen cycle has started.
During the nitrogen cycle, your tank water may get a little cloudy. No need to worry – this only means that the beneficial bacteria are blooming.
However, if the bacteria are still blooming after you add fish, you need to fix your nitrogen cycle. You can do this by testing the water in your fish tank. If you believe the water is dirty, immediately remove your fish and change the water.
One of the reasons why the bacteria may not be doing their job is overfeeding.
If your tank water has a lot of food, it will take time for the bacteria to convert all of the ammonia into nitrates.
Another reason why bacteria may not be doing its job is that you may have rinsed it out while cleaning the filter.
There are various ways to add good bacteria to your fish tank, but the most effective way to speed up the cycle is by adding filter media like gravel or stones to your aquarium.
Simply follow the tips mentioned above and you can easily start the nitrogen cycle of your fish tank.
Don’t forget to take care of beneficial bacteria in your tank since they are essential to the fish and plants in your aquarium.
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