03-15-2011, 12:09 PM
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Mikaila is correct to go slow. Until you are experienced with this matter, caution is wise. Jackiebabie, I'll expand on it a bit for you.
Two weeks ago I set up 3 new tanks with no discernible "cycling." In all 3 I had new substrate (in one it was old but I thoroughly washed it in hot tap water) and new/thoroughly washed filter media. I set up a new 29g from scratch, moved the wood, plants and fish from the existing 33g the same morning. Next day I completely tore down my then-existing 70g [moved the fish, plants and wood to the now-empty and cleaned 33g], new substrate/media, moved wood and plants from the existing 90g to the 70g and then all the fish (around 70). A day later, the old 90g was torn down, substrate and filter media thoroughly washed under the tap. Moved the wood and some plants from the temp 33g, then the fish. In all cases, ammonia and nitrite were undetectable.
Nitrifying bacteria colonize all hard surfaces covered by water. In most aquaria, especially with plants, there is far more bacteria in the aquarium (on plant leaves, wood, rock, substrate, walls) than in the filter media. Then there is the effect of live plants; they assimilate copious amounts of ammonium from ammonia. You can even set up a brand new tank using no existing stuff and add fish immediately--provided there are sufficient plants for the fish added. There will be no "cycle" to speak of--or more accurately, the fish will not be subjected to levels of ammonia or nitrite that are at all harmful.
But until you are experienced and comfortable doing something like this, take it slow. Remember to have some fish in the "new" tank when you move over wood, rock, filter media, etc, since the bacteria need "food" and if there are no fish there will be insufficient ammonia to sustain the bacteria, and then nitrite the same. Both types of bacteria exist at the level needed to handle the available ammonia/nitrite. If this level increases, the bacteria increase by multiplying through binary division; if the level decreases, the bacteria die off accordingly.