Oh how did we ever mange prior to Fishless cycling and Bio spira?
Add lots of plants, add mulm, do not pack the tank full of fish immediately, be a little more patient et.
Adding plants redcues NH4, often extremely effectively.
Plants have lots of bacteria on them.
Adding some floating or easy to grow stem plants will remove most of the NH4.
A simple test shows this.
The issue is also about the rate of NH4 being produced
by the fish load, the type of food uses and quanatity of food being added etc etc.
If you add CO2, the NH4 uptake is about 5-10X faster relative to a non CO2 plant tank. Unless you really over load the tank with fish right away or add very little plant biomass/actively growing plants, you are not going to exceed the rate of uptake by the plants easily.
For all the folks suggesting less is more, we should have very few fish and dose the fish food very carefully just like the ferts i you buy into that logic
I have other goals personally as do most.
Adding mulm, which is primarily organic matter with bacteria, adds instantly and precisely what is issing from an estblished tank's filter and sediment that is lacking in a new tank.
Again, instant cycle.
That's what we did at the LFS some 30 years ago and never had any issues.
Other common sense things:
Use zeolite in the filter, cheap as the dickens, and is exhausted after about 30 days, about the time the bacteria kick it and establish well.
Can be recharged using a strong NaCl brie to exchnage the NH4 for Na and reuse.
Zeolite also makes a great biomedia thereafter and an excellent surface for bacteria as well as a nice site for NH4 source for the bacteria.
The other very common sense notion, and on you ought to be doing anyways if you have a CO2 enriched new plant tank:
Large frequent water chages, eg 2-3x a week 50-60% for the first month or so.
We have plants(Bio)
We have mulm(Bio)
We have water changes(mechanical/physical).
Add fish wisely and feed carefully.
Now...........if you add these all together, how is this not going to produce a "silent" cycle?
I add lots of plants, do my water changes, add the zeolite, add the mulm.
I add the fish somewhat slowly and feed well and consistently.
Even with higher stocking levels, the mulm alone has a pronounced effect.
And I have some higher stocking levels and large predatory fish etc that produce far more waste than some school of tetras. Plants and mulm and water changes ought to take care of most folk's needs.
Lazy to do water changes?
Zeolite, might be for you.
I like it as a good biomedia personally, but given NH4's role in toxicity and algae inducement, I like it for those reasons as well.
I do not lose fish or inverts.
And I do not use Bio spira, nor Fishless cycling, nor see a need for either, but you are welcomed to buy into the marketing of the bio spira and other commericical items. I think the Marineland product is good and better than the others but the reasons and marketing are still the same.
As fas a FC, that's simply silly to add that to the tank, you can do that easily in a bucket as mentioned, no tank damage or testing is needed then, just wait 3 weeks, 1 if you add mulm.
Adding high levels of NH4 will produce a lot more bacteria than can possibly be supported in the tank also, so those levels will decline pretty quick and settle in.
Same thing with mulm.
Mulm and the above solutions to cycling reduce the time and wait to zero though, FC?
Weeks.Testing etc for NO2/NH4. Numeruous folks inducing GW algae.
I wonder why I was never able to get GW for decades, until I toss some NH4 and urea in there. Then I was able to get some.
But I've been adding mulm for a very long time as well as water changes and other common sense stuff that does not cost much etc.