A List Of Cycling Methods You Can Use In Your System


This is probably going to sound ridiculous but it’s true and in reality, some people actually include urine into their systems. There are people who get their system started and cycled by adding urine to it. This is because urine has urea and urea when broken down turns into ammonia. You need ammonia because it is a helpful source of food for your beneficial bacteria populations.


A lot of people who have tried peeponics suggest that you age your urine for a couple of days up to a week in an open and fully ventilated area before you incorporate it into the system. But this isn’t completely necessary. You can simply add the urine source immediately whenever you want. However, if you are currently taking any medications then this technique is not recommended for you.


Urea Fertilizers

Another popular technique aside from peeponics in adding an ammonia source to help build beneficial bacteria is to utilize urea fertilizer. Urea fertilizers are usually sold in nurseries, hardware stores, and agriculture suppliers.

Urea Fertilizers

It’s safe to say that this is a very straightforward technique in cycling a system. But you have to be extra careful when it comes to your dosing. We recommend you do regular water testing if you add urea fertilizers into your systems.



Household ammonia can be obtained from a number of different sources. Just like your urea, if you intend to add ammonia you need to be extra careful not to overdose your system. It’s also worth mentioning that whenever you source ammonia always make certain that you exclusively use food grade ammonia.

Food Grade Ammonia

There are a lot of industrial and cleaning ammonia sources available but more often these ammonia sources contain additives and perfumes.


The Dead Prawn or Fish

Yes, this is a method we use in some aquarium circles for quite some time now. You do it by putting some rotting crustacean or fish into your system.

Dead Prawn and Fish in Aquaponics System

This induces the release of ammonia so that your bacteria will have something to feed on.


Fish Feed

As your fish feed begins to break down at the bottom of your fish tank and into the grow beds it will begin to discharge ammonia in which the bacteria will feed on.

Fish feed begins to break down at the bottom

You can also start a cycling system through a technique called fish feed.


Feeder fish and/or Fingerling

This is the simplest method of all when it comes to starting a system. This is also the method we highly recommend as long as you are willing to follow a few very important rules. Your current system can be cycled by introducing feeder fish. Usually, you add a couple of inexpensive bronze comets or perhaps some goldfish to jumpstart the system before you incorporate your main fish species.


Another suggestion is you can also stock your system with fingerling or any kind of fish you intend to grow in your system. This is the kind of system we use and follow and the method we usually recommend people to start theirs with. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you feed your fish you have to keep it at a strict minimum for the first sixty days or for the first two months. This has to be not more than one tablespoon of feed in a day for every five hundred liters of media. If ever you’ll encounter an algal bloom stop the feeding until all the algae clears out. At the end of two-month, you can start increasing your feed levels little by little because your bacteria by then would have already been established. You can monitor this easily by using a basic freshwater master test kit. (Click here to learn about Things You Must Consider When Locating Your System)