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Re: how soon to add fish...

I found an interesting article regarding an alternative to tank cycling at 
the following: http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquamag/cycling.html

The author recommends using actual ammonia (sans other detergents, perfumes 
etc.) to cycle the tank, and did this himself, as follows: (some relevant 
copy and paste)

<<In order to cycle a tank using ammonia, start everything up and add some 
gravel from an established tank or a few potted plants (their roots contain 
all of the necessary bacteria, and the plants themselves do not seem to be 
harmed by this process). Then simply add 4-5 drops of ammonia per 10 gallons 
per day until you get a nitrite spike. Once you have nitrites, cut the 
ammonia back to 2-3 drops per 10 gallons per day until the nitrites 
disappear. When you get a 0 ppm nitrites reading, you have a fully cycled 

<snip> . . . and this is of particular interest, the tank will cycle much 
faster by this method. I have used this method twice, the first time was on a 
45 G tank with a fluidized bed filter, the second was on a 10 G tank with a 
lowly sponge filter. The time for complete cycling of these tanks was 12 days 
and 14 days respectively. Compare that with the standard method which 
averages 4-6 weeks.

Finally, once the tank has been cycled, the bacterial colony created by this 
method can handle a large bioload immediately. The amount of ammonia added to 
the tank during the cycle is significantly higher than what would be 
contributed by a small number of hardy fish, therefore, a much larger, 
healthier bacterial colony exists at the end of the cycle using ammonia than 
would if you used fish.>>

Depending on how heavily planted, there may be excess ammonia (and nitrites) 
that can be harmful to the fish during cycling.


<< I have a question about when to add fish to a new tank.  I am setting up a
 50 gallon planted tank.  At my local fish store (BTW, when you refer to
 LFS, is this what you're referring to???), someone told me I *should* add a
 few hardy fish (tetras?) after just a couple of days in order to get the
 bacteria going, and then add a few more each week.  But I have read that
 some people wait as long as two weeks to add the first fish.