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I am cycling my tank, and was planning on borrowing some bacteria (gravel, filter muck, etc.) from a coworker's tank. How long do you think the bacteria can survive before they have to be settled into the new tank? The material will be sitting at work until I can go home at 5 pm to install it.
 

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As long as the media is kept wet and is not exposed to extreme temps (don't stick it in the fridge or microwave) it will be just fine until after work. You might get a microscopic die off, but it would just feed the rest of the colonies anyway. I have left canister filters accidentally unplugged for a couple of days and never experienced any sign of a mini cycle.
 

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When it comes time to return the bacteria how will you seperate out the your new bacteria from the borrowed :lol:
 

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The bacteria will only use up the amount of ammonia available. The more nitroneous material available the larger the colonies will get. When there's less, they will die back untill an equalibriam is reached.

To be on the safe side you could use more fish mass for cycling then what you eventually will be putting in the tank or after the cycle add your fish a few at a time every couple of weeks to allow time for your bio-filter to catch up.

For fish like Mbuna where it's advatageous to add them all at once, a fishless cycle seems the best option. Imo a front loaded filter has far less worries and most likely will not spike.
 

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I have had used dry media work just fine and have used it to seed a new filter.

Have you tested your tap water? It's possible that ammonia already exists in that water, but the load should go up once you add fish.

This will allow the media to seed the tank and any additional filters you may have.

Danios are hardy so they can survive any sudden spikes usually.
 

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I just did this on a friends tank with my media. Just put it in a small tuperware container w/tank water at about 8am and it got to his tank that night at 6pm. Just shake them every now and then to help exchange o2 at the surface. He noticed his ammonia drop then nitrite rise and fall all in about a 3-4 day period.
 
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