Have you ever installed a new aquarium, put fresh water in it, and put colorful fish in it just to have everything break down over the course of two weeks? Like many new aquarists, you might have thought aquariums are just too difficult and given up for a while.
Did you know that fresh setups aren’t the only ones susceptible to new tank syndrome? The catastrophic repercussions of New Tank Syndrome can affect anyone. Commercial fish breeders, fish shops, specialists, and even the world’s largest public aquariums could all be in danger.
What is New Tank Syndrome?
So, what exactly is the new tank syndrome? Keep reading to understand why we typically face this issue:
The Nitrogen Cycle
The Nitrogen Cycle is essential to comprehending how New Tank Syndrome might result in dead fish. Any aquarist, whether they specialize in freshwater or saltwater aquariums, needs to understand the fundamentals of nitrogen cycling. Fortunately, understanding chemistry is extremely simple.
The aquatic environment is different from the environment that humans are accustomed to, making it challenging to breathe and move around underwater. As a result, compared to animals on land, fish and other aquatic animals depend on a different set of processes for survival. They are compelled to keep nutrient intake and natural waste elimination in balance. Nitrogen is one of the most crucial nutrients for fish since it is crucial for waste elimination.
Among other things, ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4+) is produced during the breakdown of fish waste, leftover food, and dead creatures. The Nitrogen Cycle is based on the emission of ammonia from fish’s gills and ammonium from their urine.
All across the world, nitrifying bacteria can be found in water. These species have the ability to use free ammonia and ammonium as nourishment. These are changed into nitrite (NO2) by a first group of bacteria called Nitrosomonas.
Even while nitrite is substantially less hazardous to animals than ammonia, issues can still arise in sufficiently high doses. Thankfully, there are also microbes called Nitrobacter that consume nitrite and change it into nitrate (NO3), which mammals can tolerate better in moderate doses.
Nitrates can be removed from water through weekly partial water changes, however, living plants can employ hazardous compounds as fertilizer. The bacteria you need to develop, meanwhile, might be depleted by excessive water changes and hasty tank cleaning.
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How do I Recognize New Tank Syndrome?
The nitrite level should always be examined to see if the water nitrite concentration rises during the initial phase (see sera NO2-Test). The same applies to the period after filter replacement, more thorough cleaning, or medical procedure. This enables the prompt reaction to elevated nitrate levels. The duration of the new tank sickness varies between aquariums. Once more, the ELISA NO2-Test makes it possible to determine whether the nitrite level has lowered and, thus, whether the new tank illness has ended.
Even slight modifications can cause nitrite levels in an aquarium with established biological chemistry to increase (e.g. overfeeding). Fish that are acutely nitrite-intoxicated gasp for air, stay at the water’s surface for longer periods of time, breathing heavily, and move their gills rapidly.
How to avoid New Tank Syndrome?
1. Slowly cycle your fish tank
Most pet stores will suggest slowly cycling any new tank. Cycling is the process of increasing the number of nitrifying bacteria in a healthy environment. They can be discovered growing colonies in the substrate and filter of an established (cycled) aquarium and floating throughout the water column.
Even though these bacteria don’t generate spores, they can still be found in non-chlorinated water, soil, dust, and even the water that your new fish is swimming in. They can also be transferred by wind and rain. We are surrounded by microbes like an unseen fog. They eventually will, and since they reproduce asexually, it only takes one to get them into your aquarium.
The maturation of your tank can take between one and three months, depending on the size of your tank and the amount of ammonia produced, but the process is quite slow.
Therefore, it’s always recommended to start with one or two sturdy fish before moving on to more delicate ones. Guppies, Bettas, and other hardy, cheap fish are typically used for freshwater slow cycling, whereas Damselfish are perfect for beginning saltwater aquariums.
2. Seeding new tank with bacteria
Another well-liked method of avoiding New Tank Syndrome is the practice of “seeding” an aquarium with bacteria from an already-existing tank. It significantly speeds up the process even though the numbers are not as concentrated as buying bacteria off the shelf.
Clipping a piece of gorgeously browned cotton filter media from a healthy aquarium and dropping it in or tying it to the new media is one way to feed bacteria to your new filter. Although we often perceive the brown sludge in our filter as “filthy,” it actually contains helpful microorganisms for our aquarium.
By adding plants, rocks, substrate, or even water from an existing aquarium, you can seed your new aquarium with wholesome microorganisms that are prepared to thrive in their new environment.
To avoid spreading aquatic parasites like Ich and fungus spores, make sure the aquarium you’re seeding from is genuinely healthy. Fish that have just been added are particularly vulnerable and prone to illnesses.
Utilizing pure ammonia is one method that is less common today for a fishless cycle. The benefits include the absence of fish mortality and the avoidance of feeding fish while the tank is being built.
Daily water testing of all three parameters and 3 to 5 drops of ammonia per 10 liters of water are the mainstays of most fishless cycling regimens (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate). If nitrite is discovered, you can reduce the ammonia input to 3 drops daily while continuing to monitor the surroundings.
When the concentrations of ammonia, nitrite, and detectable nitrate are nearly nil, your aquarium has cycled.
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How does New Tank Syndrome affect fish?
The fish, plants, and other animals in the tank may suffer from these water levels of dangerous chemical compounds that are spiking. However, in order to fully comprehend what is so harmful, we must briefly review the nitrogen cycle’s steps.
Your tank’s fish and other inhabitants naturally produce ammonia, which is an organic waste product. It is the end product of biological processes such as breathing, eating, and others. Inevitably, the ammonia makes its way to the surroundings, where it begins interacting with other elements.
The good bacteria in the water then become motivated by the increasing availability of ammonia and convert it into nitrites, which are less toxic substances. The compounds are then further converted into comparatively innocuous nitrates by an additional group of bacteria.
Given the discussion above, it is quite easy to imagine how things may go wrong. If these bacteria are unable to metabolize the ammonia as quickly as they should, the cycle is disrupted. Extra ammonia in the water is toxic to fish because they cannot tolerate it.
Now that we’ve gotten to that point, you might be asking how to tell if the ammonia levels in your tank are dangerous. The amount of ammonia contained in the water could be assessed using a testing kit after taking a sample.
Normally, though, it’s quite simple to discern when the levels reach dangerous levels for fish simply by taking a glance at the tank. In that situation, the water gets very muddy and takes on an unattractive brownish hue. If you don’t want your fish to become ill, this is a solid indication that you need to start acting up.
Disturbed fish swimming behavior is another sign that ammonia levels have risen dangerously. Fish ‘burn’ their lungs because the gills cannot absorb or filter the ammonia. Damaged patches on their gill openings and irritation in the vicinity might be used as indicators.
The Bottom Line on What is New Tank Syndrome?
Getting involved in fishkeeping is a lovely and very gratifying way to spend your time. You will enjoy watching the pretty fish swim about in the tank with your friends and family. But if you want this bliss to persist, you need to know how to handle the tank.
Aquarists regularly encounter “new tank syndrome,” regardless of their level of experience. Don’t be alarmed if something ever bothered you; dealing with it these days is a lot easier. The wealth of original solutions ensure that even beginners won’t encounter any difficulties.
Don’t forget to use the proper chemicals and give the tank ample time before adding your fish. Don’t forget to utilize the necessary equipment to prevent any cycle issues in your tank.