I'm no stranger to cycling tanks. I have 15 various fish tanks scattered around the house. They are all heavily planted and heavily stocked with tropical fish and shrimp. Like the one pictured below.
I'd like to share my fish tank experience with y'all. I use Aquasoil Amazonia II, which is an organic substrate for planting. From day 1, adding water to it it leaches a massive amount of ammonia from all the organics in the soil. So to soak up the ammonia I put in a seasoned canister filter as well as some ammonia/nitrogen loving plants called Amazonian Frogbit. Amazonian Frogbit is a fast grower. It looks like Duckweed on steroids. For me it doubles it's mass every 48 hours. So it's a good ammonia/nitrogen scrubber. I found that with this method the canister filter isn't overwhelmed with the excess ammonia/nitrogen and the tank cycles in about a week.
I've seen a lot of talk about the "water" being cycled. When in fact it is the tank and all of its surfaces that are in contact with the water are the things that get cycled. So by just moving water from a cycled tank to another uncycled tank will not seed it with bacteria. You'll have to move some sort hard media into an uncycled tank to seed it. That is why I keep a filter baggie full of bioballs or filter media in one of my quarantine tanks to seed new filters/tanks.
With all that being said. I got too excited with my AP system loaded it up with fish and seedlings and proceeded to kill everything. OOPS! I forgot to cycle my tank!
I hope some of this will help y'all
but I am wondering if it is the kind of bacteria we want.
I always cycle a tank fishless unless you dont have a choice. I use a starter nitrifying bacteria like Proline or Bacta-Pur, bring the concentration of ammonia up to 2ppm and add my bacteria directly to the biofilter. I aerate the biofilter for a few hours to give the bacteria a chance to start binding to the media, then start the system as a whole. If im not using a dedicated biofilter, I add it directly to the system water and keep it running.
From there I measure ammonia levels and bring them back to 2ppm daily to make sure I have plenty of nutrients for fast bacterial growth. If at all possible, I like to keep the temperature at 80deg or above to keep their metabolism fast and let them replicate faster. As the system finishes cycling, nitrites drop and nitrates rise, I bring the temperature into the acceptable range for the fish/plants. Then I wait for the ammonia levels to drop to zero before adding the fish. If you cycled everything properly, your good to go. If you have too many fish and get an ammonia spike, it's good to have some cloram-x on hand to bind up any extra ammonia. It will make it non toxic to fish yet keep the ammonia bio-available for the bacteria so it's a great thing to have for emergencies.
Thats how I cycle