Fishless bucket cycling...?
aside from prime, ...
have a bucket for water to sit while building the bacteria to process nitrites.
this is going to be time consuming for obvious reasons, at least initially.
once your display tank has all of it's good bacteria established, i think that so long as your nitrites in the water your adding to the tank don't raise it to dangerous levels, ...
... keep prime on hand, a bit/lot of trial and error
find/pick a number you don't want your nitrites to rise above, only change enough water to keep your nitrite level below that number (max quantity for your water change)
if your 10%, or 20% or however much water you feel like changing is being met on your maintenance cycle and your still withing acceptable numbers for nitrites and such, then it not a concern, business as normal
if your finding you can only change 10% before your nitrites are what you would consider 'high' but not dangerous, then you can stick with that
changing more than whatever that number is is then going to require prime or whatever as a regular added part of your maintenance
from what i have heard in searchings on the net.
prime is good for establishing a cycle as it adds needed bacteria to the tank to help establish safe numbers before the real bacteria have established themselves
this is because the bacteria in prime can offset the ones (species) you have in your tank
the ones from the bottle are not as strong, not as efficient, ... but still compete with what you have in your tank for food (well what these beneficial bacteria call 'food')
doesn't mean this thinking is correct, but this "could" (not will, but could) have the effect of reversing the nitrogen cycle in your tank - otherwise don't pay attention to this fear mongering.
sticking with changing enough water that your nitrites dont' reach dangerous levels is good
i don't know what is dangerous for nitrites, i don't know what is high but not dangerous or if there is such a thing. i don't know if any amount of water change from your tap is going to be too much for your tank to handle.
then there is prime or leaving a bucket to cycle your tap water from
I don't understand what you mean by cycling water in a bucket.
like a tank cycle
bacteria cultures and builds that processes ammonia and nitrites (and if you have the additional parts, can process nitrates as well)
that same bacteria will grow and culture in a bucket just sitting there with water, you've already got nitrites in the water, so you don't have to worry about the stage that builds the bacteria that processes ammonia, it can immediately start to grow & culture the bacteria that will process nitrites, ... may take it a bit, may get results fast, not really sure
but that's where my thinking is for that, ... a bucket full of water, let it culture that bacteria that processes nitrites so what goes into your tank has little to no nitrites, ... more nitrates, but your plants will love you for nitrates
Bacteria lives on surfaces, not in the water itself.
The water will evaporate before any bacteria gets a foothold in there.
the water will not evaporate that fast unless your bucket is shallow & heated without a lid, just like the aquarium, it doesn't evaporate that fast unless your home and how you manage your tank is encouraging evaporation
if your worried, you can top off anything evaporated to keep it full
... and not all bacteria requires a surface to live on. what is called bacterioplankton, simular to phytoplankton, but not photosynthetic (among the most significant differences)
does not mean this bacteria is going to care about the nitrogen cycle going on in your tank or any bucket of water.
as for the bacteria that is desired for the nitrogen cycle in our tanks, ...
initially it's air-born, ends up in our tanks, settles on a surface, and grows and multiplies
there's a lot of what goes on in our tanks (including algae) that is gained by the air that happens to land in our tanks.
most algae & bacteria in our aquariums are gained this way. do i know why their airborn, ... not a clue, does it help our tanks culture with beneficial bacteria to eventually reduce ammonia to nitrates, ... yes.
so do i care why, ... not really, but if it helps our tanks, that's what counts
as far as i know, the nitrifying/denytrifying bacteria are present on surfaces for sure, i am less concerned "if" they're free-floating in the water.
how quickly, ... not sure
the typical 6 weeks for a cycle includes the entire process
-rising ammonia levels
-rising bacteria to process ammonia into nitrites
-rising nitrate levels
-rising bacteria to process nitrites into nitrates
-rising nitrate levels ...
from that, the op's water starts half way through that cycle with significant nitrites already.
for bacteria, bacterioplankton, air-born bacteria (and other) that ends up in our tanks, ... yes, we're talking about our aquariums.
my own interests on a search for self-sustaining tanks has provided findings with others pursuits of the same goal, ... namely most people consider only what they can see. and our eyes allow us to see fish fry as the smallest parts of what we are interested in to consider.
as zoo plankton (of any sort) are often not considered, and smaller is not considered, ... and bacteria (of any sort) falls into the SMALLER section, ... no one pays attention to what they can't see, and the bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle is an often considered 'taken-for-granted' given of what goes on in a tank cycle, ... after that, do you have any idea what you have growing in your tank on a microscopic level ?, what it's responsible for, or what does to your tank ?
yes, i'm talking about our aquariums
true can't spontaneously produce the beneficial bacteria in a bucket with a lid on it.
we can add a cup from the tank which will be full of the good bacteria we seek
-or my favorite, i love those foam pieces for HOB filters, for everything, and they support a significant surface area that will be filled with beneficial bacteria that would love to process any nitrites, ... speeding up the length of time to process nitrites considerably or faster.
as for concerns about the bucket, ... it's a place to hold water while doing whatever we have started to have it process & reduce the nitrites that the OP is having concerns about.
I've read about the bucket before I think in the betta fish forum it was saying something like if you can't wait to get your fish in there you can start cycling process in a bucket with a filter I didn't know about adding water but it was suggesting to add one of the cartdriges or a sponge or something cause that has the beneficial bacteria I'll give it a try I have some extra equipment
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I'm going to be honest and say that I am having a hard time following your thought process and so I don't know where to begin in response.
What is it, exactly, that you are talking about?
Taking some filter media from an already cycled tank and placing that in the filter running in the bucket can help speed up the process.
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