My Easy Cycle Experience
After reading about so many folks' horrible experiences with cycling their tanks, I thought I'd share the way I did it. Now, this isn't going to be for everyone, but I promise you it's the easiest cycle you'll ever experience - unless mine was just a fluke, in which case, forget you ever read this. LOL
Step 1: Get aquarium kit, gravel, fake plants.
Step 2: Catch one small (2-3 inch) bream (sunfish, bluegill, etc) from local lake. (where legal)
Step 3. Put fish in tank and turn on filter/pump.
Step 4. Wait two days, until your fish is hungry and feed tropical fish pellets.
Step 5. Wait one month.
Step 6. Test tank, acknowledge cycle....there ya go.
Apparently, bream (as we call them here in the Deep South) are tolerant enough of PH, ammonia, temp and everything else that they'll keep right on ticking just fine until the tank is completely cycled. At least mine did.
A word of warning: bream are very aggressive toward other bream and other fish. I started with 4 and had bullying problems right away. Removed the bully, and the next biggest one then became the new bully. In the end, it was best to just have one single bluegill in the tank.
Now that it's cycled, we're going to remove the bluegill and test the water again before adding some tiger barbs, corys, tetras, etc.
If you have access to bream and don't mind having a native freshwater fish for a month, I highly recommend this method. What you do with him after the tank is cycled is your business. In my state it is legal to catch and hold (legally sized) fish, but illegal to return them to the wild. "Fred" will actually complete his "circle of life" experience as fertilizer for our juvenile maple tree.
* If you're wondering how you catch a 2 inch bluegill, try a #16 Adams. (fly fishing)
Hope this helps someone...