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first off hi now to aswer your question you really don't need to add a pinch of food just taking the cartrige out of the other tank and exposeing it to air will kill some bacteria and will start your cycle adding the pinch of food will only add to the waiting time, and thats not cool, and its okay to add plants during your cycle it will spead it up and doesn't really bother the plants much, as for how long it will take to cycle it all depends on the size of the tank............. the amonia should spike then nitrite then finally nitrate, look out for amonia first
 
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