Fishkeeping is an exciting and entertaining hobby; it freshens your mind and is a sight for your eyes. Most people just buy a tank, fill it with water, and add in their favorite fish. Unfortunately, this way, it won’t last longer than a week or two, and your fish will eventually die.
Some terms like oxygen cycle, nitrogen cycle, and nutrient cycle must have crossed your mind sometimes, but understanding these terms is critical for fish keepers and aquarists.
As oxygen is essential for our survival, there are certain chemicals without which your fish can’t survive. Nitrogen is one of the most crucial elements for fish’s survival and growth.
In this article, we will be discussing the importance of the nitrogen cycle, and about “New Tank Syndrome,” and the treatment of this new tank syndrome.
We hope this article will help you make a better living space for your fish.
What is new tank syndrome?
The most common problem most beginners face and even most experienced persons sometimes underestimate is the new tank syndrome.
There are certain chemicals and nutrients present in fish tank water plus some processes are also going on in a fish tank. lets discuss about these chemical and water cycle who cause the new tank syndrome.
There are sets of different chemical cycles that maintain a balance between nutrient uptake and nutrient removal in a fish tank. Nitrogen is one of them as it is the main element responsible for waste removal in the aquatic world.
There is a wide variety of microorganisms responsible for keeping up a controlled natural habitat for water creatures. Nitrogenous bacteria are one of them. These special bacterial colonies are responsible for degrading the nitrogenous waste material into less toxic forms.
The fish, after consuming the food, excrete the waste product in toxic ammonia form. The nitrogenous bacteria called Nitrosomonas convert into less toxic nitrite form. Then another set of bacteria called nitrospira convert the nitrite to the least toxic form that is nitrates.
If your tank lacks proper colonies of these bacteria, then the waste will not be degraded, and it will accumulate and become harmful to your fish. Thus, before adding your fish to the aquarium, establishing colonies of these bacteria is necessary. Building up the nitrogenous bacteria is called the cycling process, and it must be done at least 2 weeks before adding the fish.
Lack of cycling process can prove fatal for your fish because of the build-up of harmful waste. this is known as new tank syndrome by most aquarists. But this phenomenon is not only limited to the newly made tank, but this can also occur in old tanks leading to retarded growth or even death of your fish.
Harmful Effect on Your Fish
The growing concentration of harmful waste can affect the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems of your fish. Moreover, it can be dangerous for plants as well as for other creatures in your aquarium. To understand the harmful effects of these compounds, we need to know in detail about waste production, degradation, and its nature.
- As a result of digestion, respiration, and other biological processes, the most harmful and toxic waste compound is ammonia.
- Responding to the outgrowing concentration of ammonia, our nitrogenous bacteria gets activated. Their purpose is to transform ammonia into a less harmful form.
- As a result, nitrites are produced. As we already know, most the fish require nearly 0ppm concentration of nitrite to survive and grow.
- Thus, to eliminate these nitrites, another set of beneficial bacteria come to play their part. Transforming the nitrites to harmless nitrates.
- Nitrates cannot be further converted; thus, they have to be removed as it is.
- Nitrates are useful for plants and can be served as food for insects and crustaceans.
Now that the whole cycle is quite clear thus, determining the possible disturbances is visible as well. If your tank lacks bacterial colonies, it can lead to a high concentration of ammonia.
How to determine the concentration of ammonia?
To determine the concentration of ammonia and other waste products at any time, special testing kits are available in pet stores and online. Moreover, there is another way to see the threat beforehand.
Due to a rising ammonia concentration, the watercolor changes to dark brown color with an ammonia-like odor. Furthermore, there are changes in the swimming pattern of your fish that is fairly visible and gives a clue to rising ammonia concentrations.
There are plenty of diseases that your fish might encounter because of increased waste concentration. Firstly, ammonia causes breathing difficulties as it can practically burn your fish’s gills. Your fish might face irritation while opening and closing the gills.
Additionally, this ammonia can increase the number of toxic chemicals in the blood leading to the decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of your fish. As oxygen is essential for survival; thus, lack of oxygen can really kill your fish.
How to Avoid new tank syndrome?
The following methods are best to establish a perfect nitrogen cycle in your new tank to prevent new tank syndrome.
One of the most commonly practiced methods to establish a perfect cycling process is fishless cycling. Most aquarists and fish experts recommend this process. In this process, the aquarium is developed at least 2-3 weeks before adding fish. This method is safe as it ensures no damage to fish.
how to fishless cycle a tank?
- Add Ammonia
Add 3-4 drops of ammonia per gallon are added in the tank.
- Development of Nitrifying bacteria.
This concentration of ammonia will automatically lead to the development of nitrifying bacteria.
- Monitor Nitrate, nitrite and Ammonia
Followed by checking the concentration of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia every day.
- Reach optimum Ammonia Level
Ammonia and nitrites must reach the recommended threshold of 0ppm.
- Add Your Fish
Once the concentration of ammonia drops to zero, it’s time to add your fish.
Seeding from An Old Tank
There is another common method to establish a perfect cycling process in your aquarium and get rid of new tank syndrome. Seeding basically means using an old well-managed tank to produce another perfectly cycled tank. We can also take a portion of bacterial cultures from the cycled tank to speed up the process.
By adding these bacterial cultures, we can easily establish a new tank. Leading to the development of bacterial colonies in the other tank as well. In this way, another perfectly cycling tank can be created easily.
Moreover, we can use old plants, rocks, and the substrate from the old tank as a seed for the new tank. Try to use a healthy culture media as the seed because an old culture can also be populated with harmful bacteria or parasites. That can prove harmful for your fish.
Store Made Cycling Bacteria
Some beginners prefer to use store-made cycling bacteria as reasonable, handy, and easy to use. Moreover, they provide a maximum success rate. This is so far the perfect method to prevent new tank syndrome.
Most of the fish experts and aquarists recommend this to beginners as an easy solution to this syndrome.
Mistakes Leading to Disturbed Nitrogen Cycle
There are some reasons for this to happen
one common reason for the disturbed nitrogen cycle is the use of antibiotics to treat fin rot or other diseases. Although the fish keeper might be using the antibiotic for treatment or other purposes, it poses another serious threat at the same time.
Excessive use of antibiotics can kill other beneficial bacteria as well. Despite providing any benefits, it can cause more damage. The death or elimination of useful nitrifying bacteria can cause a disturbance in the nitrogen cycle. Which can lead to the accumulation of harmful substances and ultimately sickness or death of your fish?
Complete water replacement
One of the most common mistakes made by most beginners is the complete water change, as it may eliminate useful bacteria and promote a new tank syndrome. Although you might be looking for a fresh, clean environment for your pet, you might end up putting your pet in danger.
Therefore, to avoid the removal of beneficial bacteria,
We must perform the following activities
- Change 10-25% of the water every week.
- Try to save as much of the old water as possible.
- Don’t change the water filter every time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
New Tank syndrome usually lasts between 8- 12 weeks, during that period constant monitoring of tank vitals is necessary, ammonia and nitrite test kits are compulsory for proper monitoring.
There are few necessary steps one can take to avoid New tank syndrome
Keep your fish in a quarantine tank after a water change and give time to tank for a complete cycle
Never clean filters and your aquarium decore at the same time
Reuse Old tank water as much as you can.
Keep checking ammonia and nitrite levels through recommended test kits.
The most important step in avoiding new tank syndrome is to cycle the fish tank before adding new fish. Plus must check the pH, ammonia, and nitrite level of the tank continuously.
An ideal balance between nutrient uptake and waste removal is essential for maintaining perfect living conditions for your fish.
We hope this article will help you provide a perfect habitat for your pet and prevent you from making this mistake.