How to Cycle a Saltwater Fish Tank Without Using Fish
- 1). Turn on the tank. Turning on the tank simply means that you have already added all of the necessary equipment, decorations and salt water to the tank and are ready to power up the skimmer, filtration and heating systems. However, at this point it is best to keep the lights turned off. Allow all the equipment to run continuously for several days to one week before moving on to the next step.
- 2). Clean your live rock. Gently remove any white or slimy areas of decaying matter from your live rock as well as any parasites including bristle worms and plant material such as algae.
- 3). Add live rock to your tank. Arrange the rock so that there is minimal contact between each rock and the bottom of the tank. This promotes good water circulation. This process should run for approximately two to four weeks while you test the water for ammonia and nitrite levels daily. The system is considered cycled when nitrites are no longer detectable.
- 4). Add lights gradually. During the two to four week period when you are cycling your tank with live rock, you should begin to add lighting to your system. Begin by turning on the lights for six hours per day after the first few days the rock has been in your tank. Increase the time by an hour every few days until the light mimics a full day's duration.
- 5). Monitor the rock for signs of decay. Any formation of white spots should be removed immediately to ensure that the health of the tank is not compromised.