04-17-2013, 05:57 PM
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Tory, fortunately I already had a 20 gallon high set up, so I used some of the used filter media to put in the new tank's filter. A good sized chunk will do, or several small chunks. That helps tremendously in the amount of time it takes to cycle. I also used some of the gravel from the 20 gallon, and even siphoned up some "gunk" from the gravel. My 55 was cycled in about 7-10 days! Normally it would have taken many weeks. I wouldn't want to cycle a 55 from scratch! It was hard enough with the 20 gallon. It seemed to take FOREVER, but I had no beneficial bacteria (like used filter media) to get a headstart.
I have both ghost shrimp and cherry shrimp, but they have a very small bio-load (they don't poop much) so I wouldn't use them for cycling. An algae eater does have a BIG bio-load, so that might be an idea. But I think you'd need more than one fish. A lot of people do fishless cycling, but I did my initial tank fish-in, with bettas. I had to watch my water parameters like a hawk though, to be sure the ammonia didn't get too high, or the nitrites or nitrates (later on). I did water changes whenever the numbers started to creep up. If you can get used filter media though, that'll help you so much.
Just remember, water changes are your friend. In the beginning, you might have to do partial water changes every 2-3 days until your tank starts cycling. And don't forget the Prime! Any more questions, please ask!