fish, and how can you be sure you have good bacteria in your tank?

Good Bacteria: The Aquarium Water Gold Standard
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The downside to this is that high concentrations of antimicrobial drugs can seriously stress or kill the “good” bacteria in your system, such as those responsible for biological filtration. If this happens, the inevitably spike in ammonia concentration will further stress your already sick fish.
For this reason, it is not advisable to treat fish in your main display tank. Instead, antimicrobial medicines should be used in a separate treatment or quarantine tank, where the option to use chemical filtration (e.g., by using zeolite) is an option if the biological filter crashes.

Apr 15, 2013 - Nitrifying bacteria occur naturally in the aquarium. This beneficial bacteria breaks down waste in the fish tank.
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What does good aquarium bacteria do? Here is the non-technical explanation: , , , and any other inhabitants produce waste. Waste builds up in a tank as fish excrete. Waste also builds up as a result of uneaten food, dead and decaying , a very dirty filter pad, a dead fish and the like. As waste builds up, a good bacteria grows that converts waste to Ammonia. Even at low levels, Ammonia is very toxic to fish. As Ammonia levels rise, another good bacteria grows that converts Ammonia to Nitrite. Although Nitrite is not as toxic as Ammonia, it is still harmful to fish. As Nitrite levels rise, another good bacteria grows that converts Nitrite to Nitrate. This process is called aquarium cycling or the aquarium nitrogen cycle. To cycle a fish tank basically means to establish, cultivate or grow a bacteria colony inside your filter
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Photo provided by FlickrManage your aquarium bacteria with ease and create a healthy home for your fish. Shop PetSmart for the latest in fish tank bacteria control.
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Known as "New Tank Syndrome" these fish are poisoned by high levels of ammonia (NH3) that is produced by the bacterial mineralization of fish wastes, excess food, and the decomposition of animal and plant tissues. Additional ammonia is excreted directly into the water by the fish themselves. The effects of ammonia poisoning in fish are well documented. These effects include: extensive damage to tissues, especially the gills and kidney; physiological imbalances; impaired growth; decreased resistance to disease, and; death.Traditionally, there are two ways to cycle a fish tank. Both methods will involve introducing ammonia into the tank which will be the food the bacteria need to survive. The most common method of cycling an aquarium is to use small community fish that produce the ammonia themselves. A kinder, more acceptable way to cycle a fish tank is to use a method called the "fishless" cycle. This also involves adding ammonia to the aquarium, but as a name suggests you do not use live fish. In this article, we are going to use fish as it's probably easier for a beginner to undertake, and we wouldn't be happy with youngsters handling pure ammonia as it can be dangerous. If you would prefer not to use live fish then read this article on how to carry out a fishless cycle.I would encourage all fish keepers to gain an understanding of the nitrogen cycle as this will help you understand exactly what is going on inside your tank and how you can deal with water quality problems should they arise.The simple answer is yes, an aquarium must be cycled properly before you can safely add your fish. It doesn't matter whether the tank is 15 gallons or 500 gallons, it's still got to be cycled. If you were to simply fill your tank with water and then add all your fish at once then there would be such a massive buildup of ammonia, the chances are your fish would be dead within a few days.Traditionally, there are two ways to cycle a fish tank. Both methods will involve introducing ammonia into the tank which will be the food the bacteria need to survive. The most common method of cycling an aquarium is to use small community fish that produce the ammonia themselves. A kinder, more acceptable way to cycle a fish tank is to use a method called the "fishless" cycle. This also involves adding ammonia to the aquarium, but as a name suggests you do not use live fish. In this article, we are going to use fish as it's probably easier for a beginner to undertake, and we wouldn't be happy with youngsters handling pure ammonia as it can be dangerous. If you would prefer not to use live fish then read this article on how to carry out a fishless cycle.We would recommend that you use small community fish like the Barb. The Tiger and Cherry Barb are absolutely ideal as they are quite a hardy species of freshwater fish and unlike some more sensitive species, won't turn belly up as soon as they are exposed to ammonia. If you are cycling a very small tank less than 20 gallons then you are probably better off using much smaller fish like guppies or neon tetra. Your fish store should be able to give you advice based on what fish they sell.It's important not to add too many fish as this will create a large ammonia spike very quickly which will probably just kill the fish within a few days. For a 55 gallon tank, 10 barbs would be appropriate. For a 75 gallon tank, you could go up to 15, for 100 gallons plus, you're looking around 20 upwards.It's become quite popular to kick start the cycling process by seeding your new aquarium with biological media that already contains live nitrifying bacteria.It is critical to remember that the media involved house billions of living bacteria, and the presence of these bacteria is what keeps your fish healthy and thus the absence of these bacteria can result in the loss of all other living organisms in the aquarium. When it becomes necessary to clean the filter media, usage of the aquarium water to rinse the media is essential. If the media is instead rinsed with chlorinated tap water, these important bacteria will be killed and the fish’s toxic waste will not be removed. Ideally, the rest of the tank is left untouched when cleaning biological media, for it too houses bacteria, and they will help pick up the slack when the main component of bacteria are under stress from cleaning.