11-23-2009, 06:11 PM
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To answer your first of two questions, yes, you can set up the new filter on an established tank, let it run for several weeks, and then transfer the filter to the new tank (without rinsing or cleaning it). Bacteria will have colonized the media. However, ammonia must be present in the new tank to feed the bacteria or they will die off. A few fish in the new tank, added when the filter is added, will work. The important thing is that the bacteria must be sufficient to handle the levelof ammonia produced by the fish. If it is, there will be no stress on the fish.
Yes to your second question, just in practical terms. If you use pure ammonia or fish food in the new tank, the bacteria will colonize surfaces, and it might as well include the filter media to get it started. With a new tank, the filter and heater should always be connected from the start. I never cycle new tanks like this because they are always planted, so I suggest you read the sticky on fishless cycling for information. Click on the sticky "Important Topics" at the head of this forum section and part way down you will find cycling topics.
Plants do the cycling immediately, if you intend on having live plants. I can explain that if you do.