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I am starting a new 20L and have the substrate and hardscape in it and filled it up last night. I have another cycled canister running a different tank that I was going to take half of the bio balls out of and put into the new tank's canister, which would basically make the tank cycled instantly.

I wanted to get the tank filled to get the cloudy water taken care of from the substrate, and once my plants arrive I will drain it, plant, then fill it back up and get fish.

Should I transfer the bio balls now while the tank is sitting unoccupied, or should I wait until I get the plants put in? If it will help at all with the tank I can just transfer now, but if there is some reason not to then I won't. I will have to feed the bacteria with some fish food until the actual fish arrive, that part I am aware of. Just don't want to harm the bacteria at all if I don't have to. Also concerned if there are any downfalls to just running plain water in the tank (canister is flowing) for a few weeks.

I have new driftwood in the tank that will undoubtedly grow the icky white fungus for a while. I'd like to get that part out of the way and also wondering if the bacteria is what makes that happen, or if it's just being in water that does it.
 

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I would wait to transfer until you are ready to have fish in the tank. Those bacteria need ammonia to feed on, and if you have them in the tank for an extended period of time (more than a few days) then many of them will just die off.

That said, if you're going to dose ammonia until you are ready for fish, by all means move it over right away, you're basically doing a seeded fishless cycle at that point.
 
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