01-25-2009, 07:29 AM
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well welcome to the forums.
glad you want to do things right but slow down just a bit. fishless cycling IMO is the best way to go. it doesnt harm any fish and is actually faster because you dont have to perform water changes throughout the cycle. regardless your cycle is going to take anywhere from a few weeks to even a month or so, everyones tank cycles at a different rate. i suggest buying a good liquid test kit, API makes a decent one thats called "master freshwater kit" or something along those lines. they sell for $25-40 in stores but you can find them online for about $20.
a quick google search or search on these forums will lead to great results on "fishless cycling" to sum it up it basically requires you to feed the tank ( w/ pure ammonia or fish food ) for the good bacteria to grow. your going to want the substrate and filter running on the tank will you do this as these are places where the bacteria establishes. using your test kit your going to see ammonia levels first, then nitrite levels, then nitrate. you can even add some gravel from a healthy already established tank (put inside a pantyhose) and set it in your tank to "seed" it. this isnt required but wouldnt hurt.
your going to want a heater on the tank while it cycles too, do you have any general idea of the fish you want to stock? while the tank cycles its a good idea to take that time to research compatibility, max growth size and eating habbits of the fish you like, you can also post what you like here and someone will be glad to answer their opinion if they think it will work or not, hope that helps
doing research before making decisions always yeilds the best results, glad you found the forums, please dont hesitate to ask any questions