I've never really cycled an aquarium before. I bought a 38 gal
tank (used) for $20, and it had a lot of algae, so I scrubbed it down with a sponge and water. I filled it last night. I know what cycling is, but I'm not sure how to go about initiating it. I've read as many articles as I can find on it, but I want to be as sure as possible before I actually start. Please forgive me if the questions are stupid. So, my questions about cycling:
1) Normally, I treat the water with Start Right, Ammonia & Chloramine eliminator, and add Stress Coat and aquarium salt. In order to start cycling, do I treat the water, and with what?
2) I know when to check the pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels. I read that water changes are necessary only when the nitrite and ammonia levels are dangerously high, because changing the water at any other time can hinder the cycling processes. Am I correct in doing this? And if I do need to change the water, do I treat it after I add more?
3) At the moment, I can't afford a canister filter, so I'm going to get a power filter. Would the Marineland Penguin 200 BIO-Wheel Power Filter be all right for my 38 gal
? I know that changing the filter media during the cycling process shouldn't be done, because the necessary bacteria is growing there.
4) What air pump would you guys recommend?
5) I've only had mollies. The two generations of mollies that I have right now are between six months and one year old. I don't want to cycle with them, even though they have proven to be very resilient and tough. Which fish would you recommend for cycling?
6) Once the tank has cycled and all the levels are stabilized, what exactly does that mean? Do I treat the water with the appropriate amount of Start Right or whatever after I do weekly water changes? I'm assuming I do. Will changing the filter cartridges regularly and using a gravel vacuum maintain the water quality? I know that these are basic questions, but I'm so paranoid about hurting my fish.
Aside from being nervous about the entire cycling process, I'm so excited! I've had a sailfin molly (named St. Upton Sinclair!) for a little over a year, and I can't wait to put him into a larger aquarium.
Thanks in advance for any advice and answers you can give me...!