Stress coat is not a conditioner. A conditioner will remove the chlorine, etc. A stress coat is.... stress coat. The words mean what they are in this case.
You dont need to put stress coat in while your cycling until you're ready for fish.
Gravel doesn't seed the tank, gravel is gravel. There are special types of gravel you can buy that already have bacteria in them, is that what you mean? I use ecocomplete in all my tanks. It's usually 2 pounds for every gallon. I prefer to have at least 2 inches of substrate in my tanks. I probably have 3 inches of substrate in my 16 gallon tank. It made it easier to plant plants.
If you're doing an old fashioned cycle you'll also need some safe household ammonia. The bacteria feed on that and multiply, this is what a cycle is.
In all honesty since I use real plants I just pour ecocomplete in, pour my water in, condition it with Prime, plant the plants, and after a good chemical test, add my fish immediately. The plants will keep the ammonia in check. It's also preferable to not fully stock a tank like that as even though the bad stuff in the water can be kept in check with the plants - the bacteria isn't in sufficient numbers and your plants may not keep up with too many fish.
Some conditioners also have stress coat chemicals. Seachem Prime for example has all you need, it's what I use, a very popular brand.
Last edited by Xeek; 04-26-2013 at 04:40 PM.