Gah, how could I be so stupid? I'm a bio major; I need to pull my act together. I thought the bacteria would settle in the gravel, but I didn't even consider the fact that it wouldn't have any O2 supply to keep them alive. I have a filter; instead of using the carbon bags, could I get some filter foam and use it to baffle the intake as well as filter the water and provide a growing ground for the bacteria? I think I might do that, the filter doesn't have a heavy flow and with some modification I think it could work. Thank you for pointing that out! I feel so silly.