Before adding Jellyfish to your tank, it’s important to first go through what’s called a “Nitrogen Cycle” – sounds complicated! But follow a few simple steps, and all becomes clear!
This process is often something people try to hurry through, which is never advisable! The cycle process is setting up the “home” for your jellyfish, introducing important friendly bacteria, and making the water suitable for the keeping of jellyfish.
Getting it right, therefore, ensures a good home for your jellyfish for a long while!
The full process typically takes 4-8 weeks, but this can vary depending on your method.
What is a Nitrogen Cycle?
It’s also worth knowing the science behind this process, so you can understand what you’re looking for, and how to know when your tank is properly cycled!
Ammonia is a harmful byproduct of uneaten food in a jellyfish tank, effectively being poisonous to a jellyfish, so it’s removal is important to the health of your jellies.
Luckily, ammonia can be converted by friendly bacteria, into nitrite, and eventually into nitrates – which will remain in your tank.
What we are achieving with the Nitrogen Cycle is therefore to allow these friendly bacteria to make a home in the jellyfish tank, before the jellyfish can make it their own home too.
Over time as you do weekly water changes, these friendly bacteria will need to be replaced, in the form of a top-up product called JellyBio Maintain (our Starter Kits contain a bottle of this)
Invest in a Test Kit
Before you start, it’s wise to invest in a saltwater test kit – like the API Master Saltwater Test Kit that we sell.
Otherwise, without a test kit, you’re going in blind, and won’t be able to tell when the cycle period is over!
These test kits will be able to show you how your water is progressing, and so are a vital part of the cycle process.
The tank is fully cycled when the below parameters have been met:
Adding a “Friendly Bacteria” Source
Before we choose a method, it’s important to add our “friendly bacteria” to the water, in order for the process to be kicked off! Remember the friendly bacteria are going to “eat” the ammonia produced by the source of ammonia we chose above.
Our Jellyfish Art Cylinder Nano tanks are sold with a bottle of JellyBio Starter – this is what we’d always recommend for new tank owners.
Add 3 cap-fuls of JellyBio Starter to a 2 Gallon (8 litre) tank, which is that the Cylinder Nano is.
It can also be beneficial to add 1 cap-ful of JellyBio Maintain to give a boost in friendly bacteria and help through the cycle process, however this is not a necessity.
Add the Ammonia Source (Baby Brine Shrimp)
Note: There are many choices available when it comes to adding an ammonia source, but for simplicity’s sake, we are only going to look at the Baby Brine Shrimp method.
For this process, we recommend investing in a Hatch Your Own Brine Shrimp Kit – note that some of our starter kits come with this included (great!).
To start this process, start by hatching 3-4 scoops of Artemia Shrimp into the Brine Shrimp Hatchery. This can take 24-48 hours for them to start hatching.
As soon as they start hatching, you can start putting brine shrimp into the jellyfish tank. It will take about 3-5 days for all of the shrimp to have hatched.
Try not to move the Brine Shrimp Hatchery, or you can end up introducing brine shrimp eggs into the tank as well as live shrimp – not ideal.
Check your water’s ammonia levels, and repeat the hatchery process if ammonia is not yet at the 2ppm level.
Remember: Jellies love Baby Brine Shrimp as their food too! So one of these kits not only works great for the nitrogen cycle, but also provides a long-term source of food for your jellies as well!
Alternative Ammonia Sources
If you’d rather not use live baby brine shrimp as your source of ammonia, there are alternatives, depending on your preference. Most commonly these are:
- Blue Hermit Crabs (with Fish Food)
- Small piece of Raw Shrimp Tail
- Dr Tim’s Ammonia Chloride Drops
Check for Water Flow
Now that you have the source of ammonia and your friendly bacteria set up, one of the final (and most overlooked) steps, is to ensure your tank has adequate water flow.
If using a Jellyfish Art Cylinder Nano tank, there should be bubbles in the back of the tank just above the black filter sponge.
For other tanks, check your instructions to determine how to check for proper water flow.
Other Tips and Advice
- Water Changes: During the cycle process, do not perform any water changes. Water changes only start once the nitrogen cycle has been completed.
- Monitor your Progress: During the cycle process, take photos of your water tests, to allow you to successfully monitor the progress your water is making.
- Join the Jelly Care Club: Jellyfish Art have a useful club on Facebook to allow you to discuss with other jellyfish keepers. This can be a useful place to ask questions on your cycle process, and get quick responses from people who have gone through the same processes before: Jelly Care Club
Ready for your Jellies?
Your tank is fully cycled when it meets the below parameters:
It typically takes 4-8 weeks for these figures to be achieved.
Typically you will see ammonia levels rise over the first few weeks, followed by nitrites rising also. As the weeks pass and the cycle begins to work, ammonia will fall eventually to zero. Nitrites should follow by reducing to zero also, while Nitrates will gradually increase.
All looking good? If yes then congratulations!
Nitrates should be kept between 20ppm and 40ppm, so if you’re looking a bit on the high side, consider a 10% water change, and test again the following day. Repeat this process until your nitrates are at an appropriate level. It’s entirely possible that after a cycle process, your Nitrates could be at 80ppm or even higher.
If you have ordered a Starter Kit, it most likely comes with Moon Jellyfish bundled in. Contact Us to arrange delivery of your jellies – normal delivery days are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays for a small fee.