Waiting for your new saltwater tank to cycle can be a real P.I.T.A. For roughly a month when you first start your tank, you can’t put anything in your tank: no fish, certainly no corals, no invertebrates. So you get to stare at a dark, empty tank. Can you say BORING?
(Note: some people advocate adding damsel fish to help your tank cycle. Please don’t EVER do this as it is mean to the fish as they have to swim in toxic waste. Also, damsels get very aggressive and they are impossible to catch without tearing apart your tank. Additionally, using ANY fish to cycle your tank is cruel, don’t do it).
To solve the new tank cycling problem, there are several products such as Brightwell Aquatic’s MicroBacter7, or SeaChem’s Stability that contain the bacteria your tank needs to fully cycle. Lots of people claim these bacteria-in-a-bottle products are snake oil since “bacteria can’t live in a bottle” or “you can’t speed up mother nature”.
I’m here to tell you that these products work and here is a graph of my 90 gallon tank when I was cycling it to prove it. For 2 weeks, I didn’t add any bacteria products to the tank and my cycle trudged along…slowly. Week 3 started and I couldn’t take staring at an empty tank anymore so I added Stability to my tank and 7 days later, my tank was cycled and ready for livestock.
(In the graph above, Nh3 is ammonia, NO2 is nitrites)
For $8, I recommend using Stability to help your tank cycle. The product worked great for me and if it doesn’t pan out for you, you’re out $8 and your tank will continue to cycle anyways. Minimal risk, huge potential reward.
TIP: Buy Stability (or MacroBacter7) from the largest retailer you can find. Why? Since this product contains bacteria, the shorter time it’s been on the shelves, the better. A large retailer will turn these products over quickly, helping to ensure that they are fresh.Browse the Store! Questions?