1. How often must I add the prawn? Only one time?
I'm in the process of cycling a new tank myself, but I'm using straight ammonium chloride (and water from my established tank, which has a lot of residual nutrients in it.) My plan is to keep adding ammonium chloride as it's depleted to build up the filter capacity. Will then use ammonium chloride to maintain a live filter, as this is supposed to be a quarantine tank with fish in it only occasionally.
If you want to try something similar, try adding another prawn whenever the ammonia drops below 2 ppm or so. When adding prawns no longer bumps up the ammonium ... you've cycled, or at least the first step. (Might still be wise to check nitrite.)
Iím expecting this to take about a month or so before I could add fish
Seed the tank well, and it should not take that long.
Also would adding bacteria in a bottle help at all?
If you had an established tank to seed from, that would be much better. Bacteria from a bottle is a less satisfactory substitute. If you plant at the start, the plants themselves will help seed the tank (unless they're all from tissue culture.)
Some aquarists seed with some pond water or even a pinch of soil or compost. If the tank is cycling for a month, any of the more common parasites should all be starved out.
2. When do I put plants in, if the plants will eat up nitrates, will that inhibit me seeing nitrates on my test? Should I plant after itís cycled?
Most folks seem to plant right at the start, because it's easier to work in the empty tank. It's what I plan to do with my next tank (a 10-gallon shrimp tank, for my upcoming birthday. I turn old again.
) If the plants are just getting going, they are unlikely to consume all the nitrate, though they will compete for ammonium; you will need to be sure there is plenty. 3-4 ppm during a fishless cycle is supposed to be optimum.
3. When should you do water changes? I know you have to water change with fish in cycling to reduce ammonia but in a fish less cycle is it necessary?
Not until nitrate builds up. You want
a reasonable amount of ammonium in the tank. But if you are building up the filter with additional doses of ammonium, you can build up too much nitrate. My plan is to start water changes when the nitrate level hits 20 ppm or so, so it won't screw with the fish when I use the tank for quarantine.
Sorry for these basic questions, I would like to cycle humanely this time.
Fish keeping for me is a personal hobby, I donít have any friends with aquariums to help me cycle.
My pleasure. Fishless cycling does have the advantage of being humane.