Thanks guys! I don't have the filter yet, but in anticipation of getting it within the next week or so and starting the cycle, I'm doing stir and scoop(?) to clean the gravel and I'm not wiping down/rinsing the tank walls, though I am rinsing the decorations still (though I should probably not?)
Sandybottom, I will, I'm just going to wait to stop rinsing them until I'm closer to getting the actual filter and starting the nitrogen cycle (which at some point after that's stable I will get the nerite). But if you think I should go in a different order of doing things I am all ears, since I've never done this before in my life :P
i would clean under them,especially if they are hollow.possibly swish them in some old tank water,but i would let the slimy biofilm grow.i do not clean any of the glass on my tanks,except the outside of course.nor do i clean any hardscape.i leave it up to my nerite crew.
I agree with 2muttz suggestion to cycle your tank. I think any tank over2g should be cycled. It provides better water quality for your fish and, less important, it makes less work for you.
The Tetra 3i is worthless both as a filter and as a place for the bacteria colony. Lil's recommendation is excellent.
When cycling a small tank---or any tank for thay matter--- the operation can be made less stressful for you both if you keep close track of your water parameters (ammonia, nitite). Most of us use one of these.
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/API-Freshwater-Master-Test-Kit/dp/B000255NCI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379756505&sr=8-1&keywords=API+freshwater"]Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies[/ame]
They last a long time and are always nice to have around.
It's also good to have Prime or some ammonia-detoxifying conditioner.
You've read the cycling stickies? So you have an idea how it works. Here's my one-sentence cycling tutorial:
Change half the water whenever the ammonia or nitrite rises to 0.25ppm, or weekly, whichever comes first, using Prime @2-drops/gal of tank capacity and 1-drop/gal daily during the cycle.