How do you cycle?
Say you have established tanks.... how do you cycle a new tank?
I would move some used media over to the new tank and maybe an ornament or piece of wood also, add a couple fish then test daily and do water changes as needed. Could also put a couple handfuls of gravel in a stocking and hang it near the filter in the new tank.
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Def. transfer media from the established tank. Since I have no room for "new" tanks, I just have to set up a QT tank every now and then or if I have to break down one of the smaller betta tanks, I'll still do the same.
I usually transfers media. I also always add fast growing plants. A floater is a must for me. Then stock very lightly! Check parameters daily and address as necessary.
It's media and plants for me. If I know ahead of hand, I'll just put a filter (often times a sponge filter) in an established tank and let that gather BB and junk for a month. But plants. Plants all the way. Floaters and stems galore.
I just add a lot of plants
I did it for my shrimp tank and never got ammonia or nitrite
Filter sponge squeezings and plants are how I do it now.
Transfer media.. and if I plan to add a good amount of fish then add fast growing plants as well. Always worked for me.
I hate to throw a hammer(head shark) in here. And I really appreciate Jaycee asking this question. But the harder question, and the one most faced by new keepers is....
When you don't have an established tank, do you---
--- beg or borrow bacteria from your LFS
--- snaffle some from your fishkeeper brother-in-law
--- wait for it to fall out of the sky into your tank
--- use bottled bacteria
Having 2-3 dozen tanks running at any given time with plenty of spare sponge filters running & mature I just take one from a tank, and set up another. No gravel, no plants, go from 10 fish to 100 on a regular basis. I'll get in anywhere from 100-500 angels on occasion, with minimal losses.
A mature colony of nitrifying bacteria is capable of doubling every 20 hours, easy math says ballpark it at 24 hours, a bit of cushion there as well. 50% water changes every other day for a week, 2x-3x dose of Prime depending on the stocking, no tests, no muss, no fuss.
As far as new fishkeepers, contact a local club, they're full of folks like me. I'll change out the floss I use for mechanical filtration every 2-4 weeks, depending on the stocking. This has more than enough nitrifying bacteria to start up your average hobbyist's tank, and ships easier than fish due to a larger window of temperature & time. I toss out way more than I ship, shipping costs the same as some magic bottle of goop, if you're local & pick it up it costs nothing.
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