If you’re setting up an aquarium for the first time and you have read through the information provided and now it’s time to stock your tank, here are is one of the most important tips to make our first time cichlid adventure goes well.
Every new aquarium will need to be cycled which means that there must be a build up of natural bacteria in the fish tank that can consume nitrates and keep your water chemistry proper for the survival of your fish. It’s a complex biological function that is needed for every aquarium, big or small.
The only way to attain this perfect level of bacteria and micro organisms is to have a cycled tank which means that you can only add fish gradually over time ad the micro organisms grow to be able to support the load of fish and process the waste they create that prevents your aquarium water from becoming a toxic playground. The problem is that this goes against cichlid husbandry tips that say you should get all your cichlids at once. Here is more information on how to side step this issue that can easily plague first time aquarium hobbyists.
If you put a bunch of fish into your tank right away there will be such an ammonia spike that you fish will most likely die. It’s called “new tank syndrome”. Since you should not get a few cichlids now and then the rest later, it is recommended to cycle your tank with small cheap fish fist, like minnows. The reason you do this is that the minnows will add the nutrients that the bacteria need to thrive and live.
Once your tank is cycled, after about 1 month, then you can add all your cichlids at once and then they should live well in your tank and the filtration can handle the biological load that they place on the filter. Then the cichlids will eat the minnows but this is okay because your aquarium will be able handle the cichlids and you’ve got yourself a fully stocked cichlid tank and they even have a full belly!
That is how to prevent New Tank Syndrome when setting up a cichlid aquarium!