The Cardano delegation cycle

# Published 18 January 2021

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Each Cardano epoch is 5 days long, (120 hours in total).

When delegating to a stakepool your choice is only recorded at the very end of that epoch. This means we could keep redelegating to different stakepools as many times as we wanted before the end of the epoch and only the very last delegation choice we made would count, and this would be recorded in something called a snapshot, which is simply a record of where everybody’s stake was delegated at the very end of the epoch.

The Timing Explained:

To make this as easy to follow as possible lets assume you delegated to a stakepool at the very beginning of epoch 1. You would then have to wait almost 5 days until the snapshot we just talked about occurs at the end of epoch 1.

In epoch 2 your stake is in a queue to enter the stakepool’s block production process.

In epoch 3 your stake reaches the front of the queue and begins providing the stakepool with opportunities to make blocks during that epoch. For each block made a reward will be paid at a later point in time, but not in this epoch.

In epoch 4 the Cardano protocol works out how many blocks each stakepool made in the previous epoch and how many rewards each delegate will be paid at a later point in time.

At the beginning of epoch 5 these rewards are paid to delegates.

Will my rewards be automatically be compunded and staked to earn additional rewards?

Yes, this is all automatic; and as a delegate you do not need to do anything. When your first rewards are paid in epoch 5 they will automatically be included in the snapshot which happens at the very end of epoch 5. These rewards will then be eligible to make blocks in epoch 7 and any rewards due from those blocks will be paid for the first time in epoch 9.