01-10-2012, 11:27 AM
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Cycling takes 2-8 weeks (4 or so is average).
You also need a source of ammonia to feed the bacteria, no ammonia and the bacteria will starve and you have to start over.
Byron linked an article about how to cycle a tank and the different methods available. I would strongly advice reading it over, and follow one of the methods described. If you want to cycle without fish you can use either decaying fish food (just put food in as if there were fish to eat it), or use pure ammonia. In all methods you need a test kit to know where in the cycle you are. The API Master Test Kit has all the ones you need, or you can get them individually (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate). Liquid tests seem to work better than strips.