Maturing and Curing - the two words sound like something out of wine terminology but are two very important stages that the aquarium and a particular component (in marine tanks anyway) need to go through, and also to be understood by the fishkeeper.

Strangely enough, the 'maturing' stage which sounds as though it should only happen after many years, is the first important process that should happen before anything else develops in the aquarium - freshwater or marine.

The aim when setting up an aquarium is to make the fishes' environment as stable as possible.
In this case, it means good water conditions and establishing the aquarium's ability to self-clean itself to a certain extent.

In the initial days following the furnishing and filling up of the aquarium, the water undergoes a drastic change. Using suitable test kits will reveal a big surge in ammonia levels, followed by an almost equal peak of nitrite before both levels settle down to a minimum (hopefully zero).

Should fish be introduced into the aquarium before this settlement occurs then it is likely that they will succumb to the 'New Tank Syndrome' and probably die. So what's involved in this maturation process?

Basically, the maturation period allows sufficient colonies of nitrifying bacteria to become established and it can take a few weeks to do so, certainly in freshwater aquariums where there is no 'Living Rock' to give things a quick start.
Things can be accelerated by using proprietary cultures of bacteria to 'seed' the system if you are the impatient type of person.

Speaking of 'Living Rock' we now come to the 'curing' part.
When collected, Living Rock is full of micro-organisms which are generally adversely affected by the travelling period from their collection point and their eventual destination at the aquatic dealership. This is due to the rock being shipped only damp rather than completely submerged in water.

It would not do to introduce this poor condition rock into the aquarium and so it undergoes a 'curing' process at the dealer's before being offered for sale. Curing entails the rock being kept in several changes of fresh, clean seawater until not only has all the the dead and dying animal life been flushed from it, but also that new, living organism can become established on the rock. Such organisms are those beneficial nitrifying bacteria, which help the newly set up marine aquarium get off to a more rapid start. Obviously, this curing process takes time and so 'cured' rock being of a far better quality than 'just arrived' rock commands a correspondingly higher price.

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