How Long to Cycle A tank with Quick Start (Tested)

To cycle a tank with Quick Start made by API, it usually takes around 7-14 days. Quick Start contains beneficial bacteria that help establish the nitrogen cycle in a new aquarium, reducing the time required to cycle the tank.

During this process, the bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite and then into less harmful nitrate, creating a stable and healthy environment for fish and other aquatic organisms.

It is important to monitor water parameters regularly during the cycling process to ensure a safe environment for the tank inhabitants.

Once the tank is fully cycled, it is ready to accommodate fish. Remember to perform regular maintenance and water changes to maintain the water quality in the tank.

The most important two chemicals for fish tank
The most important two chemicals for fish tank

Understanding The Basics Of Tank Cycling

If you’re new to fishkeeping or planning to set up a new aquarium, understanding tank cycling is crucial. Tank cycling refers to establishing a well-balanced and healthy environment for your aquatic pets to thrive in.

This process allows beneficial bacteria to colonize your tank and effectively convert harmful ammonia into less toxic compounds.

But what exactly is tank cycling, and why is it necessary?

The Nitrogen Cycle And Its Role In A Tank

Let’s take a closer look at the key points related to the nitrogen cycle:

  • Ammonia: Fish waste, uneaten food, and decomposing plants release ammonia into the water. It is highly toxic to fish.
  • Nitrifying bacteria: Beneficial bacteria known as nitrifying bacteria (Nitrosomonas) convert ammonia into nitrite through a process called nitrification.
  • Nitrite: Nitrite is also harmful to fish and can cause severe health issues in high concentrations.
  • More nitrifying bacteria: Another group of beneficial bacteria called Nitrobacter bacteria convert nitrite into a less harmful compound called nitrate.
  • Nitrate: Nitrate is a less toxic compound that can be safely tolerated by fish at low to moderate levels. However, excessive nitrate can lead to health problems.
  • Aquatic plants and water changes: Aquatic plants utilize nitrate as a nutrient source for growth. Regular water changes help to remove accumulated nitrate and maintain a healthy balance.
  • Completing the cycle: The continuous presence of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in safe levels indicates the completion of the nitrogen cycle, which signifies a well-established and matured aquarium ready for fish or other inhabitants.

Now that you have a basic understanding of tank cycling and the nitrogen cycle’s role, you can ensure a smooth and safe transition for your aquatic pets.

Remember, patience is key during the cycling process, as it can take several weeks for the beneficial bacteria to colonize and establish a stable ecosystem.

Quick Start Aquarium Cycle [Solution For Speeding Up Tank Cycling Time]

If you’re eager to speed up the cycling time and get your tank ready for fish more quickly, using a beneficial bacteria supplement like API Quick Start can be a game-changer.

Here’s everything you need to know about introducing beneficial bacteria supplements, choosing the right one, and accelerating the tank cycling process.

Introducing Beneficial Bacteria Supplements

  • Beneficial bacteria supplements, such as Quick Start, contain live bacteria cultures (both Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter) that help jumpstart the nitrogen cycle in your aquarium.
  • These supplements are designed to provide a boost of beneficial bacteria, which are responsible for converting harmful ammonia into less toxic substances like nitrite and nitrate.
  • By introducing these bacteria into your tank, you can accelerate the cycling process and establish a healthy, stable environment more quickly.

Choosing The Right Beneficial Bacteria Supplement

When it comes to selecting a beneficial bacteria supplement, it’s essential to choose one that suits your specific needs and tank conditions. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the supplement is compatible with your specific aquarium setup, including freshwater, saltwater, or reef tanks.
  • Bacterial strains: Look for a supplement that contains a diverse range of beneficial bacteria strains. This can enhance the overall efficiency and resilience of the bacteria culture.
  • Shelf life and packaging: Check the expiration date and packaging to ensure that the bacteria cultures are still viable and fresh.
API Quick Start
API Quick Start

How To Properly Introduce Beneficial Bacteria To The Tank

To maximize the effectiveness of the beneficial bacteria supplement and accelerate the tank cycling process, follow these steps:

  • Prepare the tank: Ensure that the tank is properly set up with the appropriate filtration system and water parameters.
  • Shake the supplement bottle: Before adding the beneficial bacteria, give the supplement bottle a good shake to mix the live cultures evenly.
  • Follow the dosage instructions: Every supplement may have different dosage recommendations, so carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Add the bacteria: Pour the recommended amount of beneficial bacteria supplement directly into the tank or into the filter system, as per the product instructions.
  • Ammonia Source: Now you need an ammonia source to feed bacteria, otherwise bacteria will die off. For fishless cycling, an external ammonia source is needed, and for fish-in cycling, fish will provide the ammonia source through its waste.
  • Monitor water parameters: Keep an eye on the water parameters, especially ammonia and nitrite levels, to ensure that the cycling process progresses smoothly. In a properly cycled tank, ammonia and nitrite levels should be zero (0) ppm.

How Long Does It Take To Cycle A Tank With API Quick Start?

The time it takes to cycle a tank with Quick Start depends on several factors, including tank size, water quality, and the number of fish.

Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for the nitrogen cycle to complete and establish a healthy environment for your fish.

This timeframe is for the tank with the new aquarium filter. However, this process can further be sped up if you have established a tank with cycled filter.

  • If you have an already cycled sponge filter, use that filter in the new tank, and that will add healthy bacteria to the tank.
  • If possible run the old filter in parallel with the new filter to expedite the bacteria colonization in the new filter media.
  • Alternatively, use some of the old filter media (if you have a canister filter) in your new filter. This will speed up the process.
  • You can use some of the substrates from the old established tank to the new tank, as the substrate contains bacteria. You can also use some of the plants from the old tank, plants’ roots, stem, and leaves carry beneficial bacteria.

If you do any of the above from the bullet point list, and use bacteria supplement in parallel, you may able to cycle the tank a lot faster, probably in 24 hours!

Test your water
Test your water

Cycling Without Fish: Fishless Cycling

Fishless cycling is a method used to establish the beneficial bacteria necessary to maintain a healthy aquarium environment, without subjecting any fish to potentially harmful conditions. This process involves mimicking the natural nitrogen cycle in a tank by introducing ammonia as a food source for the bacteria.

Advantages Of Fishless Cycling

Fishless cycling offers several advantages over traditional cycling with live fish. Here are the key advantages to consider:

  • Fish safety: By avoiding the use of live fish during the cycling process, you eliminate the risk of subjecting them to harmful ammonia and nitrite levels. This ensures the well-being of your finned friends.
  • Time efficiency: Fishless cycling can be significantly quicker than cycling with live fish. With the use of Quick Start (bacteria supplements), the nitrogen cycle can be established in a shorter period, allowing you to introduce fish to your tank sooner.
  • Control over conditions: Since you are not risking the health of any fish, you have the freedom to manipulate the cycling conditions to establish the ideal environment for your specific aquarium setup.
  • Reduced stress: For beginner aquarium enthusiasts, fishless cycling can be less stressful. It allows you to familiarize yourself with water parameters and test the efficiency of your filtration system before adding any delicate fish to the tank.

Step-By-Step Guide To Fishless Cycling

Follow these steps to successfully cycle your tank using the quick start method:

  • Prepare your tank: Set up your aquarium with the desired substrate, decorations, and equipment such as a filter and heater.
  • Add Quick Start: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to add the appropriate amount of Quick Start to your tank. This product contains live beneficial bacteria that will kickstart the cycling process.
  • Introduce ammonia: Without fish, you need to add a source of ammonia to feed the beneficial bacteria. Add a small amount of pure ammonia or fish food to the tank every day equivalent to 1 ppm.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels using a reliable aquarium test kit. Monitor these levels throughout the cycling process to track the progress.
  • Monitor bacterial growth: As the cycle progresses, you may notice cloudy water or a slimy film forming on surfaces. This is a sign of bacterial growth, indicating that the beneficial bacteria are establishing themselves.
  • Maintain cycling conditions: Continue to dose ammonia as needed to keep levels consistent. Additionally, perform partial water changes to prevent excessive toxin buildup and maintain stable conditions.
  • Nitrite spike: After a few weeks, you may experience a spike in nitrite levels. This indicates that the second stage of the nitrogen cycle is occurring, where ammonia is converted into nitrite.
  • Nitrate conversion: Eventually, you will notice a decrease in nitrite levels and an increase in nitrate. This indicates that the beneficial bacteria have successfully converted nitrite into the less harmful nitrate.
  • Complete the cycle: If after adding 2 ppm of ammonia in the tank, ammonia and nitrite levels consistently read zero within 24 hours and nitrate levels are present, your tank has completed the cycling process. At this point, you can safely introduce fish to your tank.
Cycling a new fish tank

Cycling With Fish: Fish-In Cycling

Fish-in cycling is often a popular choice for some aquarium enthusiasts. However, it’s important to consider the pros and cons before deciding whether this method is right for you and your fish.


  • No external Ammonia Source required: By introducing fish into the tank right away, their waste starts to produce ammonia, which then triggers the growth of beneficial bacteria needed to establish the nitrogen cycle.
  • Immediate fish presence: If you can’t wait to introduce fish into your tank, fish-in cycling allows you to have fish in the tank from the beginning. This can be especially appealing if you’ve already chosen your desired fish and don’t want to wait for a longer cycling period.
  • Building resilience: Fish-in cycling can help build hardier fish species that are better able to cope with environmental stressors. By gradually acclimating them to changing water conditions and maintaining water quality throughout the cycling process, fish can develop a stronger immune system.


  • Risk of stress and harm to fish: The main drawback of fish-in cycling is the potential stress and harm it can cause to the fish. Fish are exposed to toxic ammonia and nitrites during the cycling process, which can lead to health issues and even death if not carefully monitored.
  • Constant monitoring and upkeep: During fish-in cycling, it’s crucial to regularly test water parameters and perform water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels in check. This requires frequent monitoring and dedication to maintaining optimal water conditions for the fish.
  • Limited fish options: Certain fish species are more sensitive to water fluctuations and may not be suitable for fish-in cycling. It is important to choose hardy fish species that are known to be more tolerant of changing water conditions.
A new tank is undergoing the cycling process (Fishless cycling)

How To Safely Cycle A Tank With Fish

If you decide to proceed with fish-in cycling, it’s essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of your fish. Follow these steps to ensure a smoother and safer cycling process for your aquatic pets:

  • Choose hardy fish species: Opt for fish that are known to tolerate fluctuating water conditions and are less sensitive to ammonia and nitrite levels. Hardy fish species such as zebrafish, danios, or mollies are good options for fish-in cycling.
  • Start with a small number of fish: Begin with only a few fish to minimize the overall ammonia load in the tank. Adding too many fish at once can overload the system and increase the risk of toxic ammonia levels.
  • Add beneficial bacteria: Consider using a cycling aid such as API Quick Start or other beneficial bacteria supplements. These products can help accelerate the growth of beneficial bacteria and aid in ammonia and nitrite conversion.
  • Perform partial water changes: If ammonia or nitrite levels become too high, perform partial water changes to reduce their concentration. Aim to keep ammonia and nitrite levels as close to zero as possible.
  • Monitor water parameters regularly: Test the water parameters frequently using a reliable aquarium test kit. Keep a close eye on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Ammonia and nitrite should ideally be undetectable, while nitrate levels may gradually rise. When ammonia and nitrate become zero, and nitrate level shows up which indicates your tank is cycled

Frequently Asked Questions On How Long To Cycle A Tank With Quick Start

Can Quick Start Shorten The Tank Cycling Process?

Yes, Quick Start can help shorten the tank cycling process. It contains beneficial bacteria that accelerate the growth of nitrifying bacteria, which convert harmful ammonia and nitrite into less toxic nitrate. Using the Quick Start in combination with regular monitoring of water parameters can help establish a balanced and healthy aquarium faster.

How Does Quick Start Work To Cycle A Tank?

Quick Start contains live nitrifying bacteria that jumpstart the nitrogen cycle in your aquarium. These bacteria convert toxic ammonia into nitrite, and then nitrite into nitrate. By adding the Quick Start to your tank, you introduce these beneficial bacteria, which help establish a healthy biological filter and create a stable environment for your fish.

How Long Should I Cycle My Tank Before Adding Fish?

You’ll find the answer is four to eight weeks all over the internet. However, I’ll say you can add fish as soon as your fish is cycled. With the API Quick Start, and using ingredients from an old established tank you can speed up the cycling process. It takes 7-14 days to fully cycle your aquarium, so after that, you can add fish to the tank.


To ensure the successful cycling of your tank, Quick Start can be a valuable tool. It kickstarts the nitrogen cycle by adding beneficial bacteria, reducing the wait time for your tank to establish and become safe for fish.

While the time it takes to cycle a tank can vary, using Quick Start can significantly shorten the process, typically taking around 1 to 2 weeks.

Remember, patience is key, as rushing the cycling process can be detrimental to the health of your fish. By monitoring water parameters and conducting regular water changes, you can maintain a healthy environment for your aquatic pets.

Additionally, introducing hardy fish such as zebra danios or guppies can aid in the cycling process through their waste production.

Using Quick Start along with proper tank maintenance ensures a successful and enjoyable aquarium experience.

Sujit Modak

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