Is The Cycle Only About Ammonia?

No, the aquarium cycle is certainly more complex than testing your ammonia. We are now, more than ever, beginning to understand what is happening during an aquarium cycle and all of the various ways we can master the process. While testing your ammonia is a rudimentary way to monitor the cycle, there is more to the picture. The diversity of bacteria and microbes and the ratio of nitrate and phosphate are both examples of modern developments to way we understand cycling an aquarium.

How Do I Get Coralline Algae To Grow?

Coralline algae must be introduced into your aquarium and will help to reduce the growth of nuisance algae by taking up real estate on your tank's surfaces. Coralline algae require stable alkalinity and calcium levels in the tank and will thrive under lower lighting levels.  You can add Coralline Algae in a bottle or simply add frag plugs/snail shells from another tank that have live coralline algae on them.  It's pretty easy to seed the tank, the trickier part is keeping your chemistry stable and promoting Coralline over other nuisance algae. 

What's The Most Common Way To Ruin Your Cycle?

Turning your lights ON during the cycle is the #1 way to instigate nuisance algae and promote photosynthetic pests like dinoflagellates. Keep your lights OFF during the cycle.

Does Acclimation Mode Actually Help Prevent Pests?

Acclimation mode is a popular setting on modern LED lights that will automatically gradually ramp-up your light's output over a 2-4 week timeframe.  This does indeed help curb nuisance algae growth and we recommend that you spread that out even longer, extending the acclimation time to 4 - 8 weeks or more.  

What Are These Spots?

There is a variety of different algae and photosynthetic pests that will grow in your new aquarium.  99% of the time there is nothing you need to do as these things are perfectly normal and will resolve themselves.  Don't get caught up with the ugly phase, you just have to wait it out. 

What If I Hate The Ugly Phase?

If you really want to reduce the effects of the ugly phase, use dyed or colored rock instead of natural dry rock. The purple and pink man-made rocks look better and will look much better as your tank progresses through the ugly phase. 

Should I Cycle My Rock First?

If you are using dry rock, you do not need to cycle the rock first.  Just build your scape and cycle the rock directly in your display aquarium.  If you're using LIVE rock, only then should you cycle the rock in a separate container before placing it into your display aquarium. 

How Do I Add Biome To The Tank?

Biome is a comprehensive word that refers to the ALL of the life inside your tank which includes the tiny beneficial microorganisms, microbes, and bacteria that help sustain the aquarium.  During the cycle, we are establishing this biome. Using Ocean Direct live sand or live mud products like Aquaforest Life Source is one of our favorite approaches to adding a diverse biome to the tank.  Bacteria additives as well as introducing sand or rubble rock from an established aquarium are also effective ways to introduce biological diversity. 

Do Bacteria Additives Contain ALL The Biome My Tank Needs?

As mentioned above, there really is a variety of different approaches to creating a diverse biome in your new aquarium. The BRStv Investigates team is currently testing a variety of common bacteria supplements like Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter 7 and Dr. Tim's One & Only to find out just how well they work in terms of creating a diverse biome.  While we don't have a definitive answer yet, stay tuned because we hope to develop a better understanding of how these bacteria supplements work to help cycle our aquariums. 

What Is The Best Way To Cycle?

This is the golden question and the answer will change depending on who you ask.  Based on our experience here at BRS, we find that slowly ramping up your light output really helps curb the nuisance algae and ultimately reduce the effects of the ugly phase.  Start the cycle with NO light for the first four weeks, run low output light for the second month, and finally increase to your desired output level during the third month.