It takes weeks for a cycle to start and complete itself and you have to be careful to keep feeding it with an ammonia source.
I suggest getting a 1-2 gallon container/kritterkeepr/jar/vase/any kind of small plastic storage bin to keep him in till the cycle is finished. just remember if it's 1 gallon do daily 100% water changes, if it's 2 gallons do 2 50% changes and 1 100% water change each week. I'm unsure about the amount for a 3 gallon. =/
I also suggest the piece-of-fish/shrimp method. It does really well and you don't have to worry about dosing it with ammonia, although you might need to feed the tank with more bits of fish/fishfood near the end to keep the bacteria fed.
You just put 1 or 2 skinned and tailed shrimp into your tank in the cut off foot part of a pair of $2 dollar nylon pantyhose from walmart (this prevents the shrimp from making a mess in your tank), toss it in your tank, test your water with a master liquid test kit of some sort (http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...54&pcatid=4454
or you can find a master test kit on walmart.com for 2 dollars less) every few days and if the ammonia goes past .35 or 3.5ppm then do a partial water change (but not much!).
What your looking for is a burst of ammonia, a drop in ammonia, a burst of nitrites, a drop of nitrites, and a burst and drop in nitrates. Once the nitrates are stable and the ammonia and nitrates are at 0 your tank is cycled.
At least I think
I got that right. =/ I'm not starting my cycle till tomorrow.
There are ways that you could speed your fishless cycle up:
raise the temperature in the tank to around 85, bet an airstone and stick it in so that the tank is well aerated. Add a small live plant to take up any excess ammonia produced so that the bacteria don't die if the ammonia rises above 4.0 ppm.
Good luck on cycling! =] if you want more info you could talk to OldFishLady, dramaqueen, 1fish2fish, JKfish, or one of the other members with already cycled tanks. =] They're all really nice! =]