06-03-2009, 09:27 AM
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Reading this thread I think there might be some misunderstanding khanha3.
First, plants do not "cycle" a new tank, and having plants or not having plants in the tank has no effect on cycling. The cycling still has to occur. If you intend to have plants, put them in at the start; they perform other functions that are good, so might as well get them started.
Cycling will only start when ammonia appears in the tank, and ammonia comes from fish, decaying plant or animal matter, decaying fish food (not being eaten) or adding pure ammonia. If you intend to cycle with fish, you have to put in one or two small hardy fish. As you want guppies, get one or two guppies to start the cycling. Remember the advice from others, guppies breed rapidly and you will have more fish that your tank can accomodate in no time if you get a male and female (or a female that has already been impregnated).
Once you add a fish, the ammonia starts to appear and the nitrosomonas bacteria that feeds on it will start to appear. Nitrite is produced by the nitrosomonas bacteria, and this is also toxic to fish. It takes 5-9 days for this part of the cycle to work through, and before the end the second stage begins, when the nitrobacter bacteria appear to consume the nitrite. That part takes another 5-8 days. Nitrate is the resulting product of the second stage, and nitrate is relatively harmless to fish, provided you do your regular weekly partial water change of 30-50%.
You need a test kit for ammonia and nitrite, and should have one for nitrate as well. API makes a good test kit that includes these three plus pH which is also useful down the road. It takes anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for a new tank to cycle. When you have readings of "0" for both ammonia and nitrite for several consecutive days, the tank is cycled for the number of fish in it. At that point, you can begin slowly adding new fish, a couple at a time. The bacteria will multiply to handle the additional ammonia and nitrite, but only if you add fish slowly and wait a few days in between each addition.
Hope this helps a bit. Ask us if you have any questions along the way, we're all here to assist each other.