Originally Posted by MoneyMitch
Ok let me just give you a complete rundown of how to setup (Your) tank.
1. add gravel/sand/whatever your gonna use at least 2-3 inches deep
2. add water duh?!
3. fix all equipment where you want it, filters heaters etc etc
4. add dechlorinator
5. add as many plants as you like
6. add 1-6 fish
7. test water every other day or so for 1 month
8. once ammonia and nitrite stay at zero for AT LEAST a week then you are considerd to be "cycled"
9. add some more fish but no more than 5 at a time allowing a week to let the BB (beneficial bacteria) to stabilize to the new load
and presto there ya go and you can add plants all along the way in unlimiting quantity's, just remember plants need a good fert, nutrient and light balance in order to thrive.
Agree with above for the most part.
Should you decide to add fish during the (cycling) process ,for 65 gal tank? Small ,hardy,active fish would be best choice. They create little bioload and the ammonia levels will be easier to manage.
Also important to feed the fish sparingly ,perhaps once every other day ,again, this will help keep toxins such as ammonia and or nitrites from becoming lethal between water changes that may be needed on daily basis depending on the numbers of fish,and the feeding.
As Mitch said,testing the water daily will be needed with fish in the tank and depending on results from your test kit,,the water may need changed to prevent ammonia from killing the fish, This is why feeding sparingly is recommended and also why fish should be SMALL in size and numbers.
Also ,once the tank has matureed or (cycled) I would add fish slowly. Can't agree with Mitch with suggestion of adding five at a time. Two or three depending on size,with week in between new additions.
Would not buy new fish from tanks where dead fish were present and once your tank is (cycled) I would set up small quarantine tank using some of the filter material from your cycled tank to (cycle) the small quarantine tank (Takes way less time than first tank) In this way, you would greatly reduce the risk of introducing disease to your newly cycled tank. Using filter material from your newly cycled tank would allow you to add the one or two new fish to the quarantine tank immediately. A small cheap filter and heater is all that is needed on the quarantine tank . I can think of little that is more stressful than patiently waiting for a tank to (cycle) or mature,only to have disease introduced with addition of possible sick fish yet many do so . It's your tank your call.
Lots of plants will also help during the (cycling process) as others have stated for they will use ammonia that would otherwise might harm fish but testing the water regularly in my view,would still be needed. If plants begin to decay ,then rather than removing ammonia,they will contribute to the problem. Hope some of this helps.