What is Nitrite Cycle? How to Speed Up Nitrite Cycle?

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Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

The Nitrite Cycle is the natural process of the cycle of Nitrogen from air to plant to animal to bacteria and alas back to air. This is a process that does not require any kind of human interference in the natural ecosystem. But when it comes to an aquarium, the Nitrite cycle is a process that includes the continuous chemical degradation of nitrogenous compounds from ammonia to nitrite to nitrate.

The end product nitrate is either taken by the plants or released into the air somehow. These chemicals are produced through our fishes’ wastes. They turn into ammonia and then nitrite and nitrates. These are hazardous chemicals for our fishes so it is essential to have microorganisms or plants that can consume the end products of this cycle.

This cycle is essential as it processes the natural waste products in the water in the natural ecosystem. It is equally essential in an aquarium and it is the job of the aquarium enthusiast to start and manage this cycle in an aquarium. The chemical compounds generate in this process are rather harmful to the fish.

Let’s take a deep look into the processes of the Nitrite Cycle:

The Nitrite Cycle

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Production of Ammonia NH3

The waste products that your fish secretes and the untouched food are the sources of ammonia. They generate ammonia and it is very toxic for fish. Ammonia is a colorless and pungent gas that is very harmful. Even a little amount can prove to be fatal to your fish.

The amount of ammonia that is generated becomes high if there are too many fishes in an aquarium or if you are feeding them more than what they require. You must keep the aquarium in balance for the bacteria known as “nitrogen-fixing bacteria” to oxidize the ammonia and then convert it to nitrite.

Broken Down by Nitrosomonas into Nitrite

Nitrite is produced as a result of partial oxidization of ammonia. This is also harmful to the fish but not as much as ammonia. Although a huge amount of nitrite can prove to be fatal. So, you need to keep your aquarium in balance to reduce the nitrite build-up.

Do not feed the fishes more than what they require. You should also carry out partial water changes regularly of about 20% of the total volume of the tank with well-aged water and not tap water. Also, keep in mind the population of the tank, don’t keep too many fishes in a tank, and don’t think that the “cleaner fishes” will clean out everything, they produce wastes too.

Broken down by Nitrobacter into Nitrate

Nitrates are the final product of the Nitrite Cycle as a result of the oxidation of nitrogen compounds. Nitrates are the least harmful compounds and some of the fish species can withstand high amounts of nitrate but that doesn’t mean you should let it accumulate. It forms the final product of the whole process that is generated through the series of a breakdown of animal protein and ammonium compounds.

Managing the amount of Nitrate

As the level of nitrate increases the toxicity of your aquarium also increases and will eventually harm your fish. So, you need to manage the levels of nitrate. You can do this by changing the portion of the water daily and keep testing the aquarium’s water.

You can also use ammonia neutralizers or water conditioners and by adding or replacing activated carbon. You should also keep aquatic plants in your tank as they constantly use nitrates to produce new leaves and can bring down the levels of nitrate in your aquarium.

How to speed up the Nitrite cycle?

Speeding up the Nitrite cycle in your aquarium proves to be beneficial as it will reduce a lot of risks that your fishes can face.

Here are the ways that you can resort to speed up the Nitrite cycle in your aquarium.

Using Filter Media from a previous tank

This is an effective method of speeding the Nitrite Cycle. If you happen to have a tank previously add the filter media, rocks, or substrate from it and add it to your new tank. As it takes time to build up the bacteria that will oxidize the nitrogen compounds and keep your fish away from harm.

Adding filter media from a previously established tank is very beneficial as the bacteria needed for oxidization starts building up faster and it will take about 2 weeks or so less than the usual time it takes.

Increase the level of Oxygen

The bacteria that perform the oxidization of nitrogen compounds will prosper when there is a high level of oxygen in the Aquarium water hence accelerating the Nitrite Cycle. So, it proves to be beneficial to increase the level of dissolved oxygen in your aquarium as it will elevate the level of growth of bacteria.

To increase the levels of oxygen in your tank you can add an effective air pump or air stone. Keep the air pump or air stone constantly on for effectiveness. You can also increase oxygen levels by increasing the water flow. Purchase a set of powerheads or wavemakers and install them in a way that creates turbulence in the surface.

Increase temperature

Another way that you can avail yourself of is by increasing the temperature of the water. The bacteria that perform oxidization can reproduce quickly in warm temperatures. The more bacteria that you have in your tank the better it is for you. The perfect for this would be around 83 to 87℉, neither high nor low from this range. While using this method of speeding up the cycle don’t keep any fish in the tank.

Keep the lights low

Try to keep the lights low as bacteria tend to grow effectively in low lights or no light at all. Turn off or lower the lightings while the cycle is going and avoid keeping the aquarium near windows as sunlight will hamper its growth and elevate the growth of algae instead.

Utilizing Filters

Constantly keeping your filter on is very favorable to the bacteria. The bacteria will undergo constant water flow and less light as possible. Just keep it on as the cycle is going on, it will accelerate it by great amounts. As you change your water don’t rinse the filter with tap water that has chlorine in it as it will kill the bacteria. Use the tank water to rinse the filter as it will not harm the bacteria at all.

Keeping fast-growing plants

You can also keep a lot of fast-growing plants in your aquarium for example water sprite. The plants will not increase the levels of bacteria but will absorb the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates and protect your fish from dangers.

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