I've been reading a lot about cycling new tanks and not everyone seems to agree on how to do it. Most seem to agree, run the tank for a month. Some throw in something to produce ammonia, then run the tank until tests prove it's cycled. Both tend to think bacteria in a bottle is a scam.
I haven't seen good accurate experiments to prove what's best. Yes, there are claimed to be "Biologists" with hobby tanks running experiments that you see on YouTube. None of them are following the scientific method (Should bioligists know this?). Also a lot of the experiments I see are videos promoting a product or by the company that sells one of the products to cycle with.
I'm already wanting a tank to try and breed dwarf crayfish and the tank I'm thinking of can be divided into 4 sections. I'm not sure how to divide it yet, but it needs to be temporary so I can use the tank later, water proof so each test doesn't contaminate the other, and each with their own small filter and maybe some gravel.
Section 1: Expensive Bacteria in a Bottle + Ammonia
Section 2: Cheap Bacteria (maybe topfin) + Ammonia
Section 3: Ammonia (Control #2)
Section 4: Just Tap Water (Control)
Or maybe I should change Section 2 with seeded water from my oldest tank? So which one do you think will cycle faster? Will take some time for me to get everything together and get all the stuff. I was thinking about the Petco Bookshelf Tank, it's long and I don't need a tall tank for my crayfish later. I can make my own dividers with some plastic or vinyl, glued to a frame, and some temporary waterproof adhesive for them to go into the tank. Maybe I can even make my own filters.
I haven't done any of the math yet so its possible I may need more water to get a good test, in that case I can just go to some plastic containers instead of using a tank.
Lastly, the reason for the ammonia. I'm really doubting I can get any water tests to show me the progress of the cycle unless I have an initial reading. My tap water would be 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 0 nitrates. If I add ammonia, I should see the ammonia, and over time the nitrite, and then when the cycle is done 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and a bit of nitrate. Without the ammonia how do you know it's cycled? You may not know the progress of your cycle until you add fish which is just doing it blindly (no wonder people wait a month or more sometimes). A fish-in cycle has too many disadvantages. You risk the fish unnecessarily and you're initial ammonia won't be in readable numbers for a period of time.
I'll let you guys know how it goes and when I get started. If you have any suggestions or ideas let me know. If I do this I will probably try to write up a good article.