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I have done it. It works fine. Just make sure you have some flow and surface agitation so your tank doesn't smell.

Keep your lights on the cycle you will be normally running them

Introduce at least a cup of substrate, water, and a rock or two from an established tank to kick start the bacteria cycle. It will go much faster if you do it this way.

Do NOT add a thing for at least a few weeks, the amonia, no2, no3 are 0, and then not until you see some kind of algae bloom. Then you can start adding inverts. Once your inverts can get a handle on some of the algae or have been surviving for a couple of weeks you can add fish.

Dont rush, be patient. The nicest tanks were not set up overnight. This is the most important stage in the tanks existence and will determine how well your tank thrives in the future.

The biggest mistake you can make right now is having an incomplete cycle.
 

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Te reason you want the decaying material is so it can be food for the "good" live bacteria. If it was live the bacteria would not feed on it and you wouldnt be cycling your tank.

I think you are misunderstanding the concept of a tank cycle, and you have some research to do.

The reason why people use fish is because they eat food a produce waste. It usually takes much longer to cycle. The ammonia does not spike as high, you wind up with less good bacteria leading your tank to mini cycle every time you increase the amount of waste in the tank by adding waste by fish and food.

In order to cycle your tank with a fish people use the most hardy species. The problem here is not only is it extremely inhumane to subject your fish to a tank cycle but also generally speaking the more hardy the fish the more aggressive. Once the fish is subjected to the cycle and if perhaps it survives it will be extremely aggressive towards any new tank mates.

You need flow. If you let decaying material sit in the tank with no flow the water will get stagnant and produce scent. If you have flow the material will move, dissipate, and if you have surface agitation you will introduce o2 into the water column and not smell. The flow will also circulate nutrients from the dead shrimp to other parts of the tank increasing nitrifying bacteria growth.

Freshwater tanks can not have decaying material because they do not have any real means of removing it unless you have a great filtration system. The material raises the ammonia levels and stresses the inhabitants. In marine tanks we have biological filtration, flow, skimming ect...All aid in removing excess waste and ammonia....

Do some more research.

Do you have rock in the tank? Filling the tank with rotting waste without any way of housing bacteria wouldn't be smart.

Its is very smart like I said previously to introduce established water, sand, crushed coral, rock....from a very established tank from a friend or LFS a cup is really all you need of each but the more the better. IT will populate your tank much faster.
 

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I used a medium cut in half in two small filter socks for my 55. It worked fine.

I also used a cup of LS, a small LR, and a gallon of water from an extremely established tank from the LFS. Along with 45LBS of live rock from live aquaria.com

Once the ammonia spike started to drop and the prawn was gone I added some mashed flake food and water emulsion to squirt into the tank which continued to feed the bacteria. Testing a few times a day for a month I had tiny spikes that got gradually smaller until tank was ready in slightly over 1 month.
 

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Cycling a FW tank compared to a reef or fowlr tank is actually a lot different. The difference in biological filtration is tremendous. Generally freshwater tanks use filters/media to trap excess organic matter and dispose of it. HOB filters generally have few different chambers of filtration and are cleaned quite often. Generally not to much is involved in cycling a freshwater tank unless you intend on creating an extremely natural environment with sand/gravel bed, woodwork, planted ect...Most fresh water tanks can be ready for fish in less than a week. Heck I have seen people come from the store fully furnish an aquarium and house fish the same night.

Same goes for a saltwater FO tank. Not much is involved as far as cycling. Some RODI mixed with salt, a decent filter, some bio-spira and you can have your display in 24 hours.
 

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Using a fresh water fish to aid in cycling a fresh water tank is not as inhumane as saltwater FOWLR or Reef tanks. There is a lot less living organisms and the system only needs to produce enough bacteria to support the fish waste. It doesn't take long at all before a FW system is able to compensate for one or two fishes waste at a time.

Much more life exists in a FOWLR and reef tank and that is why many people to not understand why it should tank so long to cycle compared to a FW tank.

FW tanks are very easy in certain instances and they can cycle themselves. Filter media is changed weekly and no unnecessary fouls occur. Many people who have FW tanks do not even know what a cycle is.
 

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I kept freshwater tanks for years as a child from as early as I could remember to the age of around 20. I had no clue as to what a cycle was as I didn't have a computer to look up all this nifty information and I was too nieve to read a book. I rarely ever lost fish and never truly cycled a tank, not nearly the way I have with SW. All i ever did was set up aqua scaping, fill the tank, water treatment, startup filters and heater, then let clear up for a couple of days and stabilize temps with heater. After about 48 hours I was generally ready for fish, never really introduced more than one at a time, and never kept too many for the tank. Bi-weekly to monthly water changes with gavel vac and changed filter elements. That many years ago I also always used tap water and nothing else.

I have kept every thing from goldfish to danios, barbs to angel fish, to rare species of turtles. All without any issues. So IMHO there is a huge difference between the introductory phases of FW and SW aquarium keeping.

I made novice mistakes when getting into this hobby with TAP water and certain things with cycling and top offs as well as lighting and dosing that cause me to have detrimental issues. All of which were because I was used to keeping FW years ago and never had any problems.
 
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