06-13-2011, 04:08 PM
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Emkbass PM'd me and I offered my advice, which I will summarize here just for the record as it may help others too.
When setting up a new tank, seeding it with bacteria can be achieved by moving objects from an established tank. Rock, wood, plants, decor, and substrate will all work. Transfer them immediately without any rinsing or washing, or if running the two tanks simultaneously is not possible, keep them wet in water from the established tank. Filters and filter media can also be used. Personally, when I set up a new tank, I always use new media, or thoroughly washed (under the tap) media. I like a new or at least clean filter on a new tank; and I have no reason to transfer filter or media due to all the other bacteria-laden "stuff" and especially with live plants, but in other situations transferring filter/media is perfectly workable.
New tanks can also be seeded with bacterial supplements provided they are 100% live bacteria. Seachem's Stability is one, Tetra's SafeStart is another. I believe there are one or two others. I only use those mentioned because I know what they are and how they work and I know they do what they claim. I can't say that for the others.
In the new tank, a source of ammonia should be present from the start. There is varying opinion on how long the bacteria can live without ammonia and nitrite; some advocate that the bacteria dies off within a day, others maintain it simply goes into a state of suspended animation until ammonia/nitrite is again present. Since the fish are already acquired and it can't hurt, I move some over. If sufficient seeding has occurred, a few fish can be moved over, number depending upon the tank size. I have never had problems doing this. With live plants, more fish can be moved at once.
On the cleaning. I would not use bleach with rock or wood as it is too porous and not worth the risk. Nor would I bleach substrate gravel/sand. Depending upon the medications used, if they are normally safe for fish, washing with multiple rinses should handle it for rock and substrate gravel/sand. There is unlikely to be sufficient residue to cause problems. Wood I might discard, depending upon the amount and the medication.