Originally Posted by swisha0928
as i mentioned in another thread i am starting out a 55g planted tank but am having some trouble. is there any chemicals i can use to kick start the process. i alot of people are against using them but i dont want to loose my plants and fish i already have. thanks in advance.
Live plants is safest, as others have mentioned.
Without plants, seeding the tank with bacteria will shorten the cycling but not usually eliminate it. This depends upon the volume, fish load (species and numbers), and bacteria volume.
Live bacteria can come from other tanks or bacterial supplements. While others may have no issues with using gravel/filter media from a store or another aquarist, I would certainly not advise this. None of the stores around me are disease free. In my view, this is no different than quarantining new fish. It can be problem-free to not quarantine, but it only takes once to kill off fish. The risk is up to you.
Bacterial supplements that are 100% live bacteria do work. Seachem's Stability, Tetra's SafeStart, and Dr. Tim's One and Only are three I know that work. These are not instant cycle, although Dr. Hovanec does make that claim for his product, but they speed up the establishment of bacteria. Ammonia and nitrite can still be present, and this will harm fish if there are more than what the bacteria can handle in the water volume.