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Plus 1 for what @Betsy just said. I think tanks with plants cycle 'better', because the plants and the bacteria that do the cycling have a commensal relationship. Live plants have an enormous amount of surface area and provide additional nutrients in the form of sugars and other carbohydrates that aid the beneficial bacteria.

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Depends, I used to plant right away, however the current tank I'm running I did a dark start after I heard from a friend in Germany about it, I placed the substrate and hardscape, kept adding Seachem Stability on a regular basis, left the lights off but ran the heater, canister filter, and surface skimmer for four weeks without water changes. After four weeks I turned the light on drained the tank, planted and refilled the tank with fresh water. After a week following I added invertebrates, after another week fish.

No algae phases with diatoms, or green algae until the tank was balanced, no fluctuations in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, the only adjustments were to figure out my light settings in regards to intensity, and how much amber, or yellow I wanted to add. 

From now on if I'm going to cycle another tank I'll do another dark start. However, what my preference is doesn't mean you have to do it that way. I did plenty of tanks planting right away, some without diatom and green algae phases, some with depending on how the local water was but always with frequent water changes every few days, I just never experienced as easy a cycling period as I did with the dark start method now, and I also want to mention that I still did run my water tests, especially since this was my first time giving my friend's method a try..

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Planting right away made it so much easier to cycle my tank, especially stem plants, because it's a very visible sign that "Oh, there are things living here, there are actual biological processes happening" plus I absolutely adored the snails. The first snail I ever saw in my tank I watched and photographed for an hour.

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