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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently setup a 72 gal 4ft bowfront aquarium with plans to add rift lake African cichlids. I assumed it would take 4-6 weeks to cycle the tank. I'm using a Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 cannister and a Marineland Magnum 250 H.O.T. (with micron filter for water polishing) for filtration. I would highly recommend both of these filters - good performance at a decent price. I read that I could reduce cycling time by adding filter medium from an established tank, so I place a well-used filter pad from my daughter's established 5-gal guppy tank in one of the Cascade baskets and surrounded it with biofilter media (porous rocks). Then I immediately added 6 large tiger barbs and 5 3-inch tinfoil barbs to start the cycling process - this is probably too many fish for cycling, but it worked. I fed these fish generously 3 times a day.

I tested daily for Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates. I expected to see an ammonia spike, followed by a nitrite spike, and finally a gradual rise in nitrates - that's not what happened. I never detected ANY ammonia or nitrites - NONE. After about 2 weeks, I finally detected a small amount of nitrates which confirmed to me that the tank was cycled.

Apparently, adding the filter pad from the established aquarium cycled the new tank almost instantly. I would never have thought that a filter pad from a 5 gal aquarium would carry enough bacteria to instantly cycle a 72 gal aquarium and handle the bioload of 11 barbs, but it did. Has anyone else experienced this? I have since removed the tinfoil barbs and added some rift cichlids and all is well. The tank has been running a little over a month now.
 

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That is exactly what im doing
 

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Thats lucky. I always use established filter media as well. I do however see a small spike or 'mini cycle' when I do this.

I would use caution when stocking the tank and still do it slowly. Your bacteria will reach a colony level appropriate for how much bioload is in there, so when you increase the bioload, you need to do it slowly (couple fish per week) to allow the bacteria to grow with the increasing bioload.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I agree with you that adding new fish slowly is wise - usually. However, it's good practice to introduce most or all fish at once with certain species such as many of the African rift lake fish, to minimize (or spread out) aggression. Starting with juveniles helps with the bioload issues. It also helps to "over filter" and use large amounts of bio-media. It's also a good idea to test water quality at least daily when adding a large number of new fish.
 
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