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I recently added a new tank to my collection of aquariums (35g bowfront) and im eager to get it going. Right now its completely planted with different species of plants and is running with heater and filter. In the past ive cycled my tanks with the fishless method and time using pinches of flakes to add amonia but im very eager to stock this one as the others took about a month to fully cycle. Ive heard of seeding the new aquarium with a filter pad from my other tanks so i tried it out. I put the filter in a ziplock with a little water and shook till all the gunk fell off then I poured the gunk in my filter and threw the pad in to the tank to float around. My questions are should i have left the gunk on the filter pad and let it float around like that? And how fast will the cycling time increase by seeding it??
Thank you all fine fish folks!
 

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I think you usually seed the filter by putting a piece of old filter media in with the new filter media and letting it seed that way. I've seen as little a week with that method. You can still add pure ammonia and see if it dilutes 2ppm to 0ppm over night and shows zero nitrites.
 

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Just add your old media under or behind the new media in your filter (very easy if you have an aquaclear) so that the water is flowing directly through the established media into your new media. This will seed your new media quickly. I've had new media turn brown/grey with bacteria within a week with this method.

Dropped it into a filter in a completely fresh tank with pre-dechlorinated water and the tank tested 0ppm in 24 hours.
 

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If you have several tanks take 25% of the filter media from each tank.
Rinse off the gunk and put these in the filter of the new tank.
Put new media in the places where you removed old media in the established tanks.

I have often removed as much as 25% of the media from a well cycled system. There are more bacteria all over the tank itself, so that 25% of the media might actually be only about 1/8 of all the bacteria. Not a problem for the donor tank.
~As media ages (especially polyester floss) I throw it away in the regular course of maintenance, so replacing a bit of media like that is just fine.

The loose stuff that washes off the filter media does not have a high bacteria population. The bacteria live stuck to surfaces in a bio film.
~If there was a substantial bacteria population in the gunk the tank would be going through a mini cycle every time you cleaned the filter or vacuumed the substrate, removing a lot of gunk.

Other ways to cycle faster:
Add a bottle of Nitrospira species of bacteria. Make sure is has Nitrospira, do not waste money on anything that is 'just as good'. It is not.

Add enough plants so the tank is very densely planted (cannot see the back of the tank). An experienced planted tank person should be able to get the plants off and running right away, and the plants will be the bio filter. The plants may also bring in a fair amount of bacteria on their leaves and stems.

Split the set up with a similar sized tank:
New tank gets the old, cycled filter and half the fish.
Old tank shares half the fish, gets a new filter.
Then restock both tanks slowly.
Lots of plants helps balance the bacteria population and fish population, but I have done this with non-planted tanks. Gotta monitor the situation. In general about 50% of the bacteria is in the filter, 50% is all over all the surfaces in the tank.
 
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