Originally Posted by jasperandecho
So I would need to add fish immediately then? I can do that! Ill wait a week and let it filter and then ill ad quick start and fish. How long Fro you have to test the water daily. What's BB?
BB is beneficial bacteria. It's what you're adding when you put in the Quick Start. The BB's break down the ammonia (which your fish produce all the time) into nitrite, which is then further broken down by more BB's into nitrate. The ammonia is very bad for fish, the nitrite is bad, and the nitrate is neutral, not good or bad, so safe for fish.
You really need to have a Master liquid test kit before you do this. The strips are just NOT accurate. It's expensive, but it lasts a long time, and will really be worth it. :) I'm all for budgeting, but even I ended up with one of the liquid test kits. :)
It sounds like you have the same misconceptions I did when I first went to cycle a tank. Or maybe I've just misunderstood your question. So, here's a rundown of cycling and what the filter is actually doing. If I'm incorrect and you already know this stuff, then I apologize, and just skip to the end. :) No offense meant. :)
Running the filter in the empty tank won't do anything, it's just moving the water around. What the filter is doing when the tank is "cycled" is housing the BB that you need. The cycle is not a physical thing at all, it's the process of the fish producing ammonia, and then the BB's breaking down that ammonia into something that is no longer bad for the fish. :) Your filter will have a cartridge that contains carbon, and probably some black plastic meshy-looking stuff. Both the pad on the cartridge (that blue fuzzy stuff) and the black plastic mesh are both meant to provide places for the BB to live. Once you have cycled your tank, never, ever, ever wash the filter out with untreated tapwater, as you will kill your cycle. (The chlorine in your tapwater will kill your BB's) Your filter is also providing oxygen, which the BB's need to live as well. :) The BB's need ammonia (food) and oxygen to live. :) You can also take some aquarium sponges and shove them down into your filter behind the cartridge, this just gives the BB's more places to live.
Are you going to baffle your filter? If you use a sponge to baffle it, you'll get even *more* BB space. :) Plus it really makes the current still, which the fish enjoy. :) And if you haven't read already, make sure to baffle the intake tube as well, otherwise your fish could have some nasty injuries from the suction. :)
The filter will also help to suck up some larger physical debris, but mostly it just provides the oxygen and the space for the BB's. :) The BB's are doing the work that you need done. :)
This is why you need the liquid test kit, so that once you add your fish, you can test the water every couple of days until the ammonia reading gets to 0.25. Then you can add your Quick Start. After that, you'll need to test the water every day, or every other day for about a week. Then test it once a week or so for a few weeks to make sure that everything is stable.
Once you add the Quick Start, you *should* get these readings in this order if things are going correctly:
1. ammonia will go from 0.25 to 0
2. nitrite will go from 0 to a number (no telling what this will be, but some number more than 0)
3. nitrite will go from a number to 0
4. nitrATE will go from 0 to a number hopefully between 10 and 20.
5. when all your readings are like this:
ammonia: 0 nitrITE: 0 nitrATE: 10-20 and these numbers *stay the same* for a period of weeks, then your cycle is complete and you are stable. :) Yay, hard part is all over!! You can just do partial water changes once a week (or once every two weeks depending on who you ask).
It depends on a lot of different factors to know how long this will take, it can take days to weeks. With the Quick Start, mine always finished within a week, but it may be different with different tanks. :)
Does that make sense? I had this exact same question when I started here, and it took a few tries before I was able to put it all together. :)